March 1, 2007
Conservatives have no intention to live up to internment agreement
Ottawa ?Today during Question Period Secretary of State for Multiculturalism Jason Kenney all but confirmed that the Conservative Government of Stephen Harper had no intention of living up to the Agreement-in-Principle (see http://nouvelles.gc.ca/cfmx/view/en/...icleid=166199&
) signed by the previous Liberal Government and the Ukrainian Canadian Community on August 24, 2005.
Exasperated by the foot-dragging of the Conservative Government to finally live up to the Agreement-in-Principle, Wrzesnewskyj attempted to hold the Conservative Minister and Government to account during today’s Question Period. Following the question, the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism would not acknowledge the agreement, and then lashed out resorting to personal attacks against Wrzesnewskyj claiming there was never a budget for the Agreement-in-Principle during the previous Liberal Government.
Kenney stated that Wrzesnewskyj had made a “complete, blatant and I believe deliberate falsehood.” Commenting on Secretary of State Kenney’s verbal assault, Wrzesnewskyj stated:
“Secretary of State Kenney’s statement in the House of Commons was shocking. The Conservatives continue to attempt to deny that the historic Agreement-in-Principle signed with the previous Liberal Government exists and now they are trying to tarnish me and accuse me of spreading a falsehood. For over fourteen months I and former Liberal MP Walt Lastewka, Liberal Secretary of State for Mulituculturalism the Hon. Raymond Chan, senior officials in Prime Minister Paul Martin’s office (Karl Littler and Heather Watson), and staff from the departments of Justice and Canadian Heritage worked hard to lay the groundwork for the Agreement-in-Principle and its budget. Representatives of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and the Shevchenko Foundation all participated in a conference call with senior officials of Prime Minister Paul Martin’s office where final details of the $12.5 million was agreed to, including the agreement on the Shevchenko Foundation being the delivery mechanism for the funds.”
The August 24, 2005 Agreement-in-Principle specifically stated that “an initial amount of $2.5 million to the Ukrainian Canadian community” was part of the three-year $25 million Acknowledgement, Commemoration, and Education (ACE) Program announced in the Liberal February 2005 Budget (see page 102 of The Budget Plan 2005 http://www.fin.gc.ca/budget05/pdf/bp2005e.pdf)
Attached find the Question Period exchange.
House of Commons Debates
Oral Question Period
Thursday, March 1, 2007
Volume 141, Number 121
1st Session, 39th Parliament
Ukrainian Internment Agreement
Mr. Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Etobicoke Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on August 24, 2005, the Liberal government signed an historic agreement for $12.5 million with the Ukrainian Canadian community for the acknowledgement, commemoration and education of Canadians of the dark episode of internment operations against Ukrainian Canadians.
The program was to be administered by the Shevchenko Foundation. The Conservative government outrageously cancelled the agreement and ripped it away from the Shevchenko Foundation.
Will the government re-announce this Liberal initiative in its budget before Mary Haskett, the sole survivor of internment, dies?
Hon. Jason Kenney (Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity), CPC): Mr. Speaker, this government did no such thing. This government will acknowledge and has acknowledged the injustice of first world war wartime internment measures.
However the member should apologize to the community. He and I attended a Ukrainian event last week in Toronto where he stood up and said that the Liberals had “budgeted” $12.5 million for Ukrainian internment. That was a complete, blatant and, I believe, deliberate falsehood.