Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement to pay tribute to Václav Havel, former President of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic , who died this morning in Prague at the age of 75:
"On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my deepest condolences to Mr. Havel’s wife, Dagmar Havlová, their loved ones, as well as to the Czech people.
"Mr. Havel will always be remembered as one of the great statesmen of the 20th century and a powerful voice for freedom and human dignity. An acclaimed playwright and activist, Havel led by peaceful example, drawing the world’s attention to the illegitimacy and immorality of the communist regime that imprisoned him and oppressed his fellow citizens.
“With courageous personal conviction Mr. Havel went on to lead the peaceful Velvet Revolution that brought freedom and democracy to his country and helped lift the iron curtain from an entire continent.
“ The first president of the independent Czech Republic , he oversaw the preparations made for his country's integration into both the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. He also promoted the importance of international dialogue on the world stage.
“ Canada is proud to have invested Mr. Havel as an Honorary Companion of the Order of Canada in 2004 for his unwavering commitment to democracy and freedom.
“The world owes a great debt to Václav Havel. In helping to free his own people he helped spread freedom across an entire continent ,and showed us all that even an evil dictatorship can be no match for the power of the human spirit.”
STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA ON THE DEATH OF FORMER CZECH PRESIDENT VÁCLAV HAVEL