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Commonwealth Day

 

Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Honourable senators, on Monday past, Canada officially marked Commonwealth Day. The day is a celebration not only of our institutional heritage but, of equal importance, the vital role that the Commonwealth plays on the world stage as an eloquent force for the principles of democracy, peace and equal rights for all citizens.

All Canadians will recall when Prime Minister John Diefenbaker stood as a leader in the Commonwealth and became the driving force in the anti-apartheid movement that eventually resulted in South Africa's expulsion from the association. As the prime minister responsible for Canada's Bill of Rights, Mr. Diefenbaker made Canada proud of moving this file forward, a fact that many years later was recalled with great fondness by Nelson Mandela.

Today the Commonwealth is an association of independent nations, comprising about a quarter of the world's population, spanning all continents and forming a bridge between rich and poor. It enables people to discuss common problems and to work together in finding solutions. Regardless of their form of government, all Commonwealth countries regard Queen Elizabeth II as their head and as a symbol of the association united by a common set of values and ideals.

The theme for Commonwealth Day this year is "Science, Technology and Society." It highlights the important role of science in the lives of people around the world, and the role technology can play in development of green energy, health care and food security — issues that are a concern to all of the world's citizens.

Honourable senators, please join me in marking Commonwealth Day.