OTTAWA – A private member's bill to designate April 2 as Pope John Paul II Day in Canada passed third reading in the House of Commons June 12 with support from all political parties.
Conservative MP Wladyslaw Lizon's Bill C-266 passed 217 to 42, with support not only from his fellow Conservatives, but also from New Democrats, Liberals and even Bloc Quebecois MPs.
More than a dozen cabinet ministers supported the bill, as did Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, former Liberal Leader Bob Rae, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and former NDP interim leader Nycole Turmel. All of the opposing votes came from the NDP.
Lizon said the purpose of his bill was not religious but "to recognize Pope John Paul II's legacy, which goes well beyond his role in the Catholic Church.
"Pope John Paul II stood up for populations that were oppressed by totalitarian regimes.
"He will be remembered for his role in the collapse of several stifling dictatorships, and for the way he inspired peaceful opposition to Communism in Poland, leading to its eventual collapse in Central and Eastern Europe."