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 »  Home  »  Bilingual  »  A Strong Voice for Croatian Canadians: The Legislative Legacy of Borys Wrzesnewskyj
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A Strong Voice for Croatian Canadians: The Legislative Legacy of Borys Wrzesnewskyj
By Stan Granic | Published  07/14/2011 | Bilingual , Politics , Community | Unrated
Wrzesnewskyj attended or addressed several Croatian Canadian gatherings in his capacity as Member of Canadian Parliament


Former Etobicoke Centre M.P. Borys Wrzesnewskyj addressing the House of Commons in Canadian Parliament.

From left to right, 2006: Kitchener City Councillor Berry Vrbanovic (past president of Queen Helena Croatian Folklore Group),
former three-term Member of Parliament for Cambridge Janko Peric, Associate Critic for Foreign Affairs and Member of Parliament
for Etobicoke Centre Borys Wrzesnewskyj, and the President of the Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce John Marion.


 
Nepokolebljiv glas kanađana hrvatskog porijekla: Zakonodavna baština Borysa Wrzesnewskyjoga

Pred kraj svibnja poslije automatskog sudskog ponovnog brojanja glasova, Šef kanadske izborne komisije je najavio da je zastupnik Liberalne stranke u kanadskom zastupničkom domu (House of Commons) Borys Wrzesnewskyj izgubio izbore za izbornu jedinicu Etobicoke Centre sa samo 26 glasova.

Od prvog dana kad je bio izabran 2004 godine, da predstavlja svoju Torontske izborne jedinicu u zastupničkom domu saveznog sabora, Wrzesnewskyj je uvijek bio nepokolebljiv i čvrst glas za kanađane hrvatskog podrijetla.

Čim je stigao u glavni grad Ottawa-u da prihvati svoje dužnosti Wrzesnewskyj je postao jedan od osnivača te član izvršnog odbora Kanadsko-hrvatske saborske prijateljske skupine (Canada-Croatia Parliamentary Friendship Group). On se također istaknuo kao prvi zastupnik, od kada je Kanada stvorena 1867 godine, koji je pokrenuo svoj zakonski prijedlog koji se tiče i specifično spominje Hrvate Kanade. Radi se o zakonskom prijedlogu (Bill C-374) “Zakon o priznanju interniranja osoba hrvatskog podrijetla” (“Internment of Persons of Croatian Origin Recognition Act”) koja je novina “The Winnipeg Sun” smjestila među deset najčuvenije zakonskih prijedloga (9. studenog 2006.).

Cilj ovog zakonskog prijedloga je da se prizna i komemorativno obilježi tragična epizoda u povijesti Kanade kada su osobe hrvatskog podrijetla uhićene, zatočene, te korištene kao prisilna radna snaga poslije početka prvog svjetskog rata. Skoro 6,000 tzv. neprijateljskih stranaca, od kojih više od 400 Hrvata, su bili uhićeni i zatočeni.

Za vrijeme predstavljanja zakonskog prijedloga kad su članovi Odbora za obrazovanje, kulturu i baštinu pri Kanadsko-hrvatskoj gospodarskoj komori bili prisutni u galeriji zastupničkog doma, Wrzesnewskyj je izjavio:

“Dok bi neki najradije ovu tragičnu epizodu interniranje od 1914. do 1920. pomeli u kantu za povijesno smeće, hrvatsko-kanadska zajednica sjeća se i putem javnog vladinog priznanja želi zatvoriti ovu bolnu epizodu naše zajedničke povijesti” (Službeni izvještaj, Zastupnički dom, 30. listopada 2006.).

Kroz sedam godina kao zastupnik, Wrzesnewskyj nikad nije kolebao u borbi da se ukinu posjetničke vize za hrvatske državljane koji žele posjetiti Kanadu. Bio je jedini zastupnik koji je uputio saborsku proceduru (Private Members’ Motion M-99 u travnju 2006. te M-247 u studenom 2008.) tražeći od vlade da se ukinu posjetničke vize za hrvatske državljane.

Njegov napor da se ukinu posjetniče vize za Hrvatsku primio je sveobuhvatnu podršku od kanadskih Hrvata diljem Kanade. Pet puta je službeno predstavio peticije u zastupničkom domu tražeći od vlade da se ukinu vize za Hrvatsku. Hrvatska i inozemne medije su više puta izvjestili čitateljstvo o predstavljenju te peticije u slijedećim novinama: “Zajedničar” (Pittsburgh), “Glasnik HSS” (Vancouver), “Croatian World Congress” veb stranica, “Croatian Chronicle” (New York), “CROWN – Croatian World Net” (New York - internet), “Croatiantimes.com” (Udruženo kraljevstvo), HINA, “Vjesnik”, “Večernji list”, “Jutarnji list”, te još nekoliko novina i izvještajnih veb stranice.

U lipnju 2010. Wrzesnewskyj je predložio treći zakon vezan za hrvatsku zajdenicu u Kanadi kad je predstavio Zakonski prijedlog C-537, “Amandman Kaznenog zakona...” (“An Act to amend the Criminal Code (judicial interim release for offences involving firearms)”) koji bi učvrstio uvjete za jamčevinu za one koji su prekršili kazneni zakon vezan s vatrenom oružje.

Ovaj zakonski prijedlog je bio predložen na uspomenu pokojnog Borisa Ćikovića, sedamnaest godišnjaka koji je bio ubijen iz vatrenog oružja u jednom parku koja se nalazi u izbornoj jedinici gospodina Wrzesnewskyjoga. Mladi Boris je bio jedinorođeno dijete Vesne and Davorina koji se doselio sa svojim roditeljim kao jednogodišnjak u daleku i sigurnu Kanadu iz razorenog Sarajeva za vrijeme rata u Bosni i Herzegovini. San o mira i blagostanju, koji su za svog sina sanjali gospođa i gospodin Ćiković, bio je zauvijek mrtav tog listopadskog dana 2008.

Da bi upoznao javnost i dobio potpora za zakonski prijedlog C-537, gospodin Wrzesnewskyj je tri puta  službeno predstavio peticije u Zastupničkom domu koje su bile potpisane od strane prijatelja, poznanika i susjeda pokojnog Borisa Ćikovića.

Uz njegovu čvrstu zakonodavnu baštinu, Wrzesnewskyj je nekoliko puta dao izjave u Zastupničkog doma uključujući: za komemoraciju godišnjice smrti pokojnog Borisa Ćikovića, svratio je pažnju na potrebu da se ukinu posjetničke vize za Hrvatsku, uporno je tražio priznanje i  komemorativno obilježenje interniranja Hrvata u Kanadi od 1914. do 1921., te iskazao počasti katoličkom mučenikom i Zagrebačkom nadbiskupu blaženom Alojziju kardinalu Stepincu.

Kroz sve godine kao clan Zastupničkog doma Wrzesnewskyj je više puta posjećivao te držao govore na nekoliko hrvatsko-kanadskih skupova. Da nabrojim samo neke: to su godišnje proslave Kanadsko-hrvatske gospodarske komore; ljetni skupovi pod pokroviteljstvom Ontario federacije ogranaka Hrvatske Bratske Zajednice, te na izvanrednoj misi u torontskoj hrvatskoj rimokatoličkoj župi Kraljice Hrvata koju je vodio Josip kardinal Bozanić.

S izbornim porazom Borysa Wrzesnewskyjoga, hrvatsko-kanadska zajednica je izgubila izuzetno jaki glas u federalnom saboru Kanade. Kroz njegovu zakonodavnu baštinu i zahvaljujući čvrstoj potpori od strane naše hrvatske zajednicu, Wrzesnewskyj je postavio temeljno mjerilo po kojemu će svi budući članovi zastupničkog doma biti ocjenjivani od strane hrvatsko-kanadsko zajednice.

Stan Granic
Ottawa, Canada

 
A Strong Voice for Croatian Canadians:
The Legislative Legacy of Borys Wrzesnewskyj

In late May following an automatic judicial recount, Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer announced that Liberal Member of Parliament Borys Wrzesnewskyj lost his Etobicoke Centre riding by 26 votes.

From the day he was first elected in 2004 to represent his Toronto riding in the House of Commons of Canada’s national parliament, Wrzesnewskyj was a consistently strong voice for Croatian Canadians.

As soon as he arrived in Ottawa to take up his duties, Wrzesnewskyj became a founding member and served on the executive of the Canada-Croatia Parliamentary Friendship Group. He also holds the distinction of being the first Member of Parliament (MP) since Canada became a country in 1867 to introduce legislation specifically mentioning and dealing with Croatian Canadians. This was his Private Members’ Bill C-374, Internment of Persons of Croatian Origin Recognition Act., which The Winnipeg Sun placed in its top ten list of bills (9 November 2006).

The purpose of this legislation was to acknowledge and commemorate a tragic episode in Canada’s history when persons of Croatian origin were rounded up, interned, and used as forced labour following the outbreak of World War I. The Canadian government of the time interned close to 6,000 so-called “enemy aliens,” of which more than 400 were Croats.

During the introduction of the bill, with members of the Committee of Education, Culture and Heritage of the Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce present in the House of Commons gallery, Wrzesnewskyj stated:

“While some would prefer to sweep the tragic episode of the internment operations from 1914 to 1920 into the dustbin of history, the Croatian Canadian community remembers, and through public acknowledgement by the government seeks to bring closure to this painful episode of our common history” (Hansard, House of Commons, 30 October 2006).

Throughout his seven years as MP, Wrzesnewskyj never wavered in his fight to lift visitor visas for nationals of Croatia wanting to visit Canada. He was the only MP to ever introduce a Private Members’ Motion in April of 2006 (M-99) and again in November of 2008 (M-247) calling on the government of the day to lift visitor visas for Croatia.

His efforts to lift visitor visas for Croatia were widely supported by Croatian Canadians throughout the country. On five separate occasions he tabled their petitions on the floor of the House of Commons calling on the government to lift visitor visas for Croatia. The official tabling of these petitions were reported by the media in Croatia and in the diaspora, including: Zajedničar (Pittsburgh), Glasnik HSS (Vancouver), Croatian World Congress website, Croatian Chronicle (New York), CROWN – Croatian World Net (New York, online), Croatiantimes.com (United Kingdom), HINA, Vjesnik, Večernji list, Jutarnji list, and many other internet media sites.

In mid-June 2010, Wrzesnewskyj brought forward his third piece of legislation with a Croatian Canadian connection when he introduced Bill C-537, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (judicial interim release for offences involving firearms) to toughen up bail conditions for perpetrators of crimes involving guns.

This bill was introduced in memory of Boris Cikovic, a 17-year-old constituent of Wrzesnewskyj’s who was shot and killed in a local park. Boris, the only child of Vesna and Davorin, emigrated with his parents at the age of one to the presumed safety of Canada far from the violence and destruction of Sarajevo during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mr. and Mrs. Cikovic’s dream of peace and a bright future for their only child was forever shattered on that tragic October day in 2008.

To gain support for, and raise awareness of Bill C-537, Wrzesnewskyj tabled on the floor of the House of Commons petitions that were collected by friends and neighbours of Boris in the area in which he and his parents lived.

Outside of this strong legislative record, Wrzesnewskyj delivered several statements on the floor of the House of Commons including: commemorating the anniversary of Boris Cikovic’s death, drawing attention to the need to lift visitor visas for Croatia, urging the recognition and commemoration of the internment of Croats in Canada from 1914 to 1921, and paying tribute to martyred Catholic prelate Blessed Aloysius Cardinal Stepinac.

Over the years, Wrzesnewskyj attended or addressed several Croatian Canadian gatherings in his capacity as Member of Parliament. These have included the annual business awards ceremonies of the Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce, the summer gatherings of Ontario Federation of Croatian Fraternal Union Lodges, and the special mass celebrated by His Eminence Josip Cardinal Bozanić at Our Lady Queen of Croatia Parish in Toronto.

With the electoral defeat of Borys Wrzesnewskyj, the Croatian Canadian community has lost an exceptionally strong voice in our national parliament. Through his legislative legacy and level of support for our community, Wrzesnewskyj has established the standard against which all future Members of Parliament will surely be measured by the Croatian Canadian community.

Stan Granic
Ottawa, Canada



At the 30 October 2006 press conference for the Croatian Internment Bill, left to right: former Members of Parliament Janko Perić,
Omar Alghabra, Andrew Telegdi, and Borys Wrzesnewskyj with Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce officials
John Marion (President), Frank Jankač, Steve Pocrnić and Joe Draganjac. 

Formated for CROWN by prof.dr. Darko Žubrinić
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