Remarks by Premier Dalton McGuinty on Yom Hashoah Shabbat


Transcript of Premier of Ontarios Yom Hashoah address.


By: NEWS STAFF  
Published: May 1st 2011
in News » Local


Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty

As we are about to commemorate Yom Hashoah, we are pleased to present to you remarks delivered by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty as he addressed the congregation of Shaar Shalom synagogue of Thornhill on Yom Hashoah Shabbat, Saturday April 30th 2011:

 

Rabbi Berman.

 

Distinguished guests.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, friends.

 

Thank you for inviting me to share in this ceremony. It's a pleasure to be here today with Bernie Farber. I want to thank Bernie for all he's doing to build a more caring and always vigilant Ontario. By doing things like contributing to the Province's Hate Crimes Community Working Group. And helping lead the Canadian Jewish Congress.

 

I also want to thank all of you for the very important work you do. Raising families, building careers, helping the vulnerable, strengthening your community, and contributing to a stronger Ontario.

 

As we gather on the Sabbath before Yom Hashoah, we remember those who died.

 

Six million dead.

 

A number as unfathomable as the hatred behind it. We remember those who survived, too. And all they have endured in the decades since.

 

As Eli Wiesel wrote in his memoir, Night:

 

"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp which has turned my life into one long night.

 

Seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke.

 

Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.

 

Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live.

 

Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust.

 

Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never."

 

My friends, for those who survived, time has moved on more than half a century. But the memory remains fresh and powerful, so deeply etched into their lives, nothing can erase it. All of this, the lives lost and the lives forever changed, are what we remember today.

 

I have, together with my colleague Monte Kwinter who is here today, visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. We laid a wreath there on behalf of Ontarians in the Hall of Remembrance.

 

I have also visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, I brought my children with me.

 

And for seven years now, as Premier, I have hosted a Yad Vashem ceremony at Queen's Park.

 

Each of these experiences has saddened me, frightened me, and angered me. I'm always left with the same haunting question:

 

How could we ever do this to each other?

 

So, I can't even begin to imagine the depth of the impact of the Holocaust on those whose experience has been personal. I mean the survivors and their families. I feel I owe a great debt to survivors who shared their stories

 

. Because those of us who were not there need to be reminded; again and again, of the inhumanity that humanity is capable of.

 

Not only out of a duty to remember the past but because we share a responsibility to build a better future, right here right now.

 

We live in a place - Ontario, Canada - where we invite everyone from every nation, race, religion and culture to come together, to accept each other, to support each other, and when called upon to do so, to stand up for each other.

 

In no small measure, the success we have enjoyed in building our society is because those among us who survived the Holocaust, remembered and chose to believe, despite all they had seen, that love is stronger than hate.

 

Last night, when I was preparing these remarks, I came across a powerful text written in 2002. It's a letter to the world written by Holocaust survivors. They called it: "Our Living Legacy, A Message From Holocaust Survivors For All Generations." Let me leave you with this passage from that letter:

 

"We who staggered through the Valley of Death, only to see how our families, our communities and our people were destroyed did not descend into despondency and despair. Rather, we struggled to extract a message of meaning and renewed purpose for our people and for all people, namely:

 

A message of humanity, of human decency and of human dignity. The holocaust, which established the standard for absolute evil, is the universal heritage of all civilized people.

 

The lessons of the Holocaust must form the cultural code for education towards humane values, democracy, human rights, tolerance and patience, and opposition to racism and totalitarian ideologies."

 

Thank you.



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