Statement from the Honourable Stéphane Dion, Leader of the Official Opposition, on the Golden Jubilee Year of Imamat Day
July 10, 2007
On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our Parliamentary caucus, I am happy to extend my best wishes to all Canadians celebrating the Golden Jubilee Year of Imamat Day.
This special observance celebrates the day the Imam of the Nizari Ismaili Muslims, Aga Khan, became the 49th hereditary Imam on July 11, 1957, at the age of 20.
Ismailis should be proud of the contributions the Aga Khan has made to promote culture, education, social development, health and architecture around the world.
The relationship between Canada, the Aga Khan and the Ismaili community is a long and proud one.
In the early 1970’s former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau worked closely with the Aga Khan to accept Ismaili refugees recently ousted from Uganda. This cooperation continued throughout the 1970’s as an influx of Ismaili immigration from Kenya, Rwanda, Zaire, Madagascar, and the South Asian region continued to enrich our Canadian multicultural mosaic.
Both Prime Minister Chrétien and Martin met with the Aga Khan on numerous occasions and continued what the Aga Khan described as, “an outstanding partnership” between Canada and the international Aga Khan Development Network (“AKDN”). The AKDN spends in excess of US$320 million annually on social and cultural development activities, including schools, hospitals and health care institutions.
Canada is proud to partner with the AKDN and is fortunate to have been selected for four major initiatives including the Delegation of Imamat, the Global Centre for Pluralism, a high profile Toronto Ismaili Centre and a Toronto Museum.
His Highness has been at the forefront of promoting pluralism and he has touted Canada as a beacon to the world.
It was with particular pride that former Prime Minister Paul Martin announced the commitment of $30 million in 2005 to the Global Centre for Pluralism’s founding here in Canada to ensure that we continue to export our pluralistic philosophy around the globe.
The AKDN also works with other Canadian institutions and has agreements with Universities in Canada, like McGill, McMaster and UBC to promote and engage in a global “knowledge society”.
I look forward to a continued productive relationship between Canada and the Aga Khan as we strengthen our own pluralistic society here at home and promote this ideology of acceptance and partnership throughout the world.
I encourage everyone celebrating the Golden Jubilee Year of Imamat Day, to reflect on the ideals of compassion and generosity the occasion represents and which are needed in greater abundance in our modern world.
I offer you and your loved ones my best wishes and those of our Party and Caucus.