“Commemorating and Preserving Canadian Values”
This week Canada marked the 65th Anniversary of the Victory in the Far East, known as VJ-Day, and the official end of the Second World War. On August 15, 1945, Japan surrendered to allied forces and Victory in the Far East was declared.
While the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour is familiar to most, other Japanese forces also attacked the British colonies of Hong Kong and Malaysia. As has often been the case, Canadian soldiers were there from the beginning to serve.
Of the approximately one million Canadians who served in the Second World War, 10,000 fought in Far East Theatres. Of the 2,000 Canadians stationed in Hong Kong when the Japanese attacked, 290 died. For those who survived, the horrors were just beginning.
The survivors remained prisoners of war for four years, suffering unimaginable conditions. Forced to carry out backbreaking labour while being beaten frequently and fed a starvation diet, 264 more young men died before the emaciated and diseased survivors were freed in 1945. The majority of those who returned to Canada suffered serious disabilities as a result of their prisoner of war experience, and many died premature deaths.
VJ-Day is a day to remember the bravery and sacrifices of those Canadians who served so valiantly in the Far East Campaign and persevered after the war ended in Europe. It is thanks to all of the brave Canadians who served in the Second World War that we enjoy the security, peace and democratic freedoms that we do today.
In that same spirit and tradition we also remember the current generation of brave men and women who continue to defend the same time-honoured Canadian values around the world, including in Afghanistan, Haiti and Sudan.
If you would like to learn more about Canada and the War in the Far East, go to the Canada Remembers section of the Veterans Affairs Canada website at: www.vac.gc.ca.
MV Sun Sea Update:
In present day here at home, federal security and public health officials are processing 492 passengers found aboard the foreign vessel MV Sun Sea when it was boarded in Canadian waters off British Columbia’s coast.
Evidence continues to suggest that this is part of a large human smuggling operation carried out by an organized and professional criminal enterprise. The MV Sun Sea, whose point of origin was Thailand, was modified to maximize the number of persons and the resulting profit.
We are a compassionate nation with a long history of offering refuge to those who legitimately require it. However, our Conservative Government will not tolerate those who attempt to jump the queue or abuse the system through human smuggling, illegal migration and other means.
As Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated this week, “We are a land of refuge, but Canadians are pretty concerned when a whole boat of people comes — not through any normal application process, not through any normal arrival channel — and just simply lands. We will not hesitate to strengthen the laws if we have to because ultimately, as a government and as a fundamental exercise of our sovereignty, we are responsible for the security of our borders.”