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article imageSenator Stanley Haidasz, Canada's first multiculturalism minister, dies

By David Silverberg     Aug 8, 2009 in Politics
Stanley Haidasz passed away today at 86. He was known as one of the foremost trailblazers of multiculturalism in Canada, and became the first Member of Parliament of Polish-Canadian background in recent history.
The well-recognized Canadian politician Stanley Haidasz was known for many attributes, but his most notable achievement occurred in 1978, when Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau appointed him to the Senate, where he served until 1998.
He was Canada's first multiculturalism minister, an appointment that comes as no surprise to a specific demographic: Haidasz was an immense supporter of the Polish-Canadian community, his parents arriving in Canada in 1910 from the Polish city of Stanislawów. Haidasz was born March 4, 1923, in Toronto.
After studying medicine at the University of Toronto and completing post-graduate work in cardiology at the University of Chicago, Haidasz found a different calling: politics.
In 1957, he was the Liberal MP for the Toronto riding of Trinity. He assisted many communities, assisting immigrants in his ethnically diverse riding.
Soon after, he returned to the House of Commons in the 1962 election, and kept his seat through five succeeding elections until his appointment to the Canadian Senate in 1978.
A passionate doctor, Haidasz was instrumental in the passage of Medicare, the Canada Pension Plan and Income Supplement, the Clean Air Act and other civil liberties and human rights legislation. He got the Anti-Smoking Tobacco Bill off the ground, a testament to his environmental attitude. He was also a pro-life supporter.
Of his many achievements, he was decorated by Pope John Paul II with the Order of St. Gregory the Great with Silver Star.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said in a statement: "Stanley Haidasz was an anchor of the Polish community in Canada, and served Canadians of all backgrounds throughout his life as a doctor, Member of Parliament and Senator."
Another aspect to Haidasz's life was his passion for the Internet. An early supporter of technology's benefits, he saw the digital era as a revolutionary period to promote free speech, a motive made apparent by his support for Digital Journal's initiatives. He recognized the importance of Internet as a powerful tool for education, communication and commerce.
Haidasz leaves his wife Natalia, and children, Marie, 55, Walter, 53, Barbara, 50, and Joanne, 47. He will be buried Monday.
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