At a fundraiser to build a memorial in Ottawa honoring victims of communism, conservatively estimated at around 100 million dead in the last century, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (shown) lashed out at what he called the “evil” and “poisonous ideology” that brought about “hell on earth.” On behalf of the government of Canada, the Conservative Party leader also spoke out for the hundreds of millions of men, women, and children who have struggled and continue to struggle “against the tyranny of communism” — both those who lived, and those who did not.
“During the 20th century, communism’s poisonous ideology and ruthless practice slowly bled into countries all around the world, on almost every continent,” Harper said. “The result was nothing short of catastrophic. More than one hundred million souls were lost, an almost incomprehensible number. We must never forget that these are not numbers, they are not statistics. They were mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors. Their futures, their potential, their hopes and dreams, were stolen from them.”
While building a permanent monument for victims of communist horror in Canada’s capital is important to Canadians today, Harper said, it is even more crucial for future generations. “For they must be forever reminded — forever — that the freedom and peace they stand to inherit was earned through struggle and sacrifice, and must always be cherished as a precious and unique thing,” he continued, thanking everyone involved in the effort.
“Our hearts break for those who suffered and we mourn for those who were crushed,” Harper said. “What history has taught us is one clear thing: that the political ideologies that promise utopia lead to the opposite: hell on earth. That’s why Canada needs this monument, and why we are so grateful to the work of Tribute of Liberty that reminds us of the names and the stories of those lost to one of the deadliest ideological plagues ever spread, to communism.”
The Canadian prime minister, who assumed office in 2006, noted that in Canada, people feel the pain so acutely because nearly one fourth of the population was either “held captive by communism’s chains, or are the sons and daughters of those who were.” Throughout the 20th century, Harper continued, Canada became a haven for people around the world seeking to flee communist tyranny and live in freedom. They came from Russia, Eastern Europe, the former Yugoslavia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba, North Korea, Communist China, and more.
“And when these freedom-seekers arrived, many having risked their lives to get here, instead of communism’s oppression, they found Canadian safety,” he said. “Instead of communism’s restrictions, they found Canadian freedom. Instead of communism’s grim determinism, they found Canadian opportunity. Instead of communism’s fear, they found Canadian hope.” Those values still represent Canada today, Harper added.
According to Harper, while welcoming refugees from communist oppression, Canada also stood with victims of communism around the world. Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, for example, stood alongside British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, President Ronald Reagan, and Pope (now Saint) John Paul II until the formal end of the Cold War. Canada also threw its support behind the people of the Baltic republics for over 50 years until those nations were finally liberated, refusing to recognize the Soviet regime’s “illegal annexation.”
Harper also drew praise for acknowledging the horrors inflicted upon the people of Ukraine by the Soviet terror regime in Moscow — horrors that establishment mouthpieces such as the New York Times did their best to conceal from the world. “We called the Holodomor what it was: A mass genocide by starvation,” Harper said. In 2008, under Harper’s leadership, the Canadian Parliament also passed an act declaring the fourth Saturday of November to be Holodomor Memorial Day in Canada.
Throughout the speech, the Canadian prime minister suggested that his government should not and would not remain neutral in the world, preferring to stand “for freedom” worldwide. Among other foreign-policy actions under his leadership, Harper cited condemning human-rights abuses, cutting support for “terrorist-led governments,” defending basic human freedoms, and “unequivocally” standing with “the people of Ukraine.”
In his powerful speech, the prime minister also lambasted those who “preached moral-equivalency” and that Canada “should learn to accept totalitarian communism as just another option.” Those were the same people “who showed blindness to the unparalleled crimes of Maoism in China,” Harper added. He also blasted National Socialism (also known as Nazism), Marxism-Leninism, terrorism, fascism, and other “evil” totalitarian systems and tools of oppression.
Today, though, Harper said that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is the latest threat to freedom worldwide. “The impact of the Putin regime’s expansionism and militarism extends beyond Ukraine,” Harper argued, saying it threatens Eastern Europe and even the “security of the world.” He said Canadians, who have “always supported freedom ... for all people,” would stand with Ukrainians and do “the right thing.”
Speaking at the “Tribute to Liberty” charity’s dinner in Toronto, the Conservative Party leader’s May 30 keynote speech promptly grabbed headlines. Canadian lawmakers and victims of communism also spoke at the fundraiser. Harper announced in 2010 that his government would support the effort. A jury will select the winning monument design in the coming months to honor communism’s “hundreds of millions” of victims.
“This monument is part of marking our path as a nation, and, thus, helping to ensure that we do not lose our way,” Harper concluded.
Photo of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper: AP Images