“Canadians are rightfully proud of our democratic country that upholds equality before the law. We value our great history and tradition of defending constitutional rights, and respect the founders of our country who believed that human dignity must be protected and enshrined in law.
“On this day in 1834, slavery was officially abolished in British North America - now Canada - and throughout most of the British Empire.
“However, before this historic date, Upper Canada, now known as Ontario, was among the first British colonies to advance the abolition of slavery. In 1793, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, passed anti-slavery legislation in the form of an Act Against Slavery.
“Moreover, Attorney General John Beverley Robinson declared in 1819 that Canadian courts would protect slaves who had escaped to Canada. Indeed, by virtue of their status as Canadian subjects, British law would safeguard their freedom. This laid the foundations of Canadian citizenship.
“Shamefully, modern-day slavery persists around the world in the forms of domestic slavery, human trafficking, and the sexual enslavement of women and children. These abhorrent practices deprive individuals of their natural rights and dignity, and must be vigourously opposed.
“As we mark the historical significance of Emancipation Day, let us all strengthen our efforts to combat slavery where it still exists, and let us reaffirm our commitment to uphold and promote fundamental, Canadian values, such as freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”