Ottawa, ON – The Hon. Pierre Poilievre, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and the Official Opposition, released the following statement on the anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident:
“In the Spring of 1914, 376 brave Punjabis left their homes and boarded the ship Komagata Maru. Together, they embarked on a long journey to Canada to bring their skills and talents to our country and build a better life for themselves and their families.
“Shamefully, governments of the day had erected racist laws and regulations specifically designed to exclude South Asians from immigrating to Canada. Consequently, these ambitious individuals who sought freedom and opportunity on our shores were unjustly denied entry. The passengers of the Komagata Maru were instead forced to wait aboard their ship for two months before the government demanded that they turn around. Upon their return to India, political turmoil tragically led to the death and imprisonment of many of these passengers.
“On the anniversary of the arrival of the Komagata Maru in our waters, Canadians reflect with sorrow on the disgraceful bigotry that motivated the decision to turn it away. Today, that decision and its consequences remain a dark moment in our history. However, we cannot claim to faithfully uphold our core principles of compassion and freedom if we do not acknowledge where we have failed to live up to these values in the past.
“Today, we take pride in the fact that Canada is now home to more than two million South Asians, and we honour the contributions that Punjabis have made to our country in the years since their countrymen faced such discrimination. As we reflect with profound regret on the Komagata Maru incident, let us recommit to making our country a place where people worldwide can come and find the hope and opportunity that has made our country so great.”
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