Statement in the House of Commons

May 9, 2001.

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege.

First and foremost, I would like to thank all members of the House for their restraint and understanding in not attacking me on the recent controversial statements attributed to me by the media.

The members have allowed me an opportunity to explain myself. I have sent all members a media release dated May 8, 2001.

As many members know, I am a Hungarian refugee who fled the Soviet oppression through minefields as a 10-year-old boy with my parents, my 12-year-old brother and three-year-old half sister.

My Roman Catholic mother and my Jewish stepfather suffered terribly under both Nazi and Soviet dictatorships. I loathe everything that those regimes stand for. This is very much part of my family's legacy and forms my frame of reference.

Recently, some comments I made have been misunderstood, misinterpreted and misstated. It was not my intention to imply or suggest that our country or our judiciary is in any way to be compared with Naziism or Stalinism. I meant no offence to any group or individual and if my lack of clarity caused any hurt or discomfort, I apologize.

I have always worked to bring people and communities together in order to create a stronger Canada and I have a lifetime record of fighting for justice. That will continue.

I resigned as parliamentary secretary because I believed then, as I believe now, that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms should apply to the six million Canadians who are citizens by choice. Revocation of citizenship is a matter for the courts not a matter of political decision.

My concern is for the principle of fair and proper treatment of everyone, whether born in Canada or, like me, a Canadian by choice.

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