Prime Minister Stephen Harper commemorated the 75th anniversary yesterday of a famine that killed millions of Ukrainians, but stopped short of calling it a genocide, according to the Canadian Press.
Holodomor, or death by hunger, is believed to have been orchestrated by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, claiming the lives of up to 10 million people in 1932-33.
To date, 13 countries, including the United States and Ukraine, formally recognize Stalin`s forced starvation as genocide – a deliberate attempt to eliminate an ethnic group.
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress had hoped Ottawa would offer similar acknowledgment. After meeting privately yesterday with Harper, congress president Paul Grod said the Prime Minister recognizes the famine as a tragedy, but not a genocide.
"What was not yet in the cards, so to speak ... is formal recognition," Grod said in a telephone interview.
Formally, Canada refers to what happened as a "famine," said a Harper spokesperson.
Another official said there are no plans to recognize the deaths as a genocide.
The word genocide did not surface in Harper`s address to famine survivors and Ukrainian-Canadians on Parliament Hill on last night.
Harper spoke of the honest, hardworking Ukrainian farmers who were forced to toil for the Soviet state.
He noted "collectivization destroyed most of their agricultural production, and the Soviets stole the rest," calling the famine "one of the worst history has ever known."