Dhalla Creates History: Komagata Maru Motion Passes Unanimously - forcing the Conservative Government to Apologize
Ottawa - The historic Private Members motion put forward by Brampton-Springdale Member of Parliament Dr. Ruby Dhalla, which asks the Government to apologize to the Indo-Canadian community for the 1914 Komagata Maru tragedy was unanimously passed in the House of Commons at 6:25 pm today. In a surprising move, the Conservative government finally gave its support to the motion and reversed its original opposition to the motion when it was first tabled in the house on April 2, 2008.
After extensive community outcry and pressure from MPs, the Government was forced to change its original position.
"Mr. Speaker, this is one of those issues where partisanship needs to be put aside" said Dr. Dhalla in her remarks to the House. "It is my hope that regardless of political stripe, all parliamentarians will come together when this motion comes to a vote…and do the right thing."
"I want to commend all Members of the House for standing together to right a historic wrong," said Dr. Dhalla after the vote. "It is a rare and moving moment when all parties can put aside their partisanship for a greater good. Today is an inspiring example of what can be accomplished when we all work together."
In 1914, 376 passengers from India arrived in Vancouver aboard the Komagata Maru streamliner and were denied entry into Canada due to immigration laws that were exclusionary, racist, and discriminatory.
After being detained for almost 2 months in conditions of famine and starvation the passengers were ordered to return to India. Except for 24 passengers that were given permission to stay in Canada, the Komagata Maru and its passengers were forced to leave Canadian waters on July 23, 1914. Upon arrival back in India many of these passengers were subsequently killed and imprisoned. The Komagata Maru is one of the greatest injustices and marks one of the most shameful chapters in Canadian history.
"These injustices will forever serve as a reminder of the struggles and challenges that so many immigrants have encountered in their hope for a better future in Canada. It is time, Mr. Speaker, for us to move forward. It is time to put closure on this dark chapter in our nation's history. It is time to begin the process with three simple words... "We …Are… Sorry" concluded Dhalla in her speech.