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  • The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, welcomes His Highness the Aga Khan in the House of Commons before a gathering of Senators, Members of Parliament and distinguished guests.
    AKDN / Gary Otte
Special joint session of Canadian Parliament

Merci Monsieur le Président du Sénat,
Merci Monsieur le Président de la Chambre des communes,
Mesdames et messieurs les parlementaires,
Distingués invités,
Mesdames et messieurs.

It is my honour to welcome to Canada’s Parliament, His Highness the Aga Khan.

I’m also pleased to recognise his family members and Ismaili leaders who have come from across the country, and around the world, to hear His Highness address the Canadian people. Please colleagues, welcome them all.

As we all know, Canada is home to a well-established and fast-growing Ismaili community. His Highness has therefore become an increasingly frequent visitor, and always a welcome one.

En fait, votre Altesse, vous n’êtes plus simplement un visiteur. Vous êtes maintenant citoyen canadien à titre honorifique.

I remember well, Your Highness, the day you accepted honorary Canadian citizenship — something agreed to by all parties of this House.

It was during the foundation ceremony of Toronto’s Ismaili Centre, Aga Khan Museum and Park.

I’m told construction there has gone well, and that the Centre will soon portray Islamic contributions to the enlightened pursuit of knowledge.

Et cette histoire, cataloguée avec soin, sera accessible à tous.

In any case, Your Highness, know this: When you are in Canada, you are home!

Dans quelques instants, Son Altesse nous fera part de quelques réflexions.

Our decision to extend Canadian citizenship to His Highness recognises the reality of values shared, and values acted upon. His Highness’s lifelong advocacy for humanitarianism, pluralism and tolerance has gone far beyond words.

Par exemple, le Centre mondial du pluralisme ici à Ottawa, a été établi en partenariat avec notre gouvernement au tout début de notre mandat.

His Highnesss’s Global Centre for Pluralism, here in Ottawa, advances good governance and engages with societies on the precipice of crisis.

Similarly, through the Aga Khan Development Network, His Highness has been tireless in humanitarian and development initiatives in Africa, in Asia, including in Afghanistan, where the Network continues to be a brave partner in Canada’s efforts to secure and improve the lives of Afghan citizens.

Over the years, then, we have built together a solid record of genuine assistance to some of the world’s neediest people.

Today, that work goes on.

In particular, our Government and the Network cooperate on the development priority that Canada assumed at the Muskoka G-8 – the promotion of maternal, newborn and child health.

La mort vaine – je dirais scandaleuse – de tant de femmes, de nourrissons et d’enfants dans des pays en développement est une tragédie sans nom à notre époque où le savoir médical est si étendu.

In this work, Your Highness, we are delighted to have your personal support, and the capable assistance of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada, and the Aga Khan Development Network.

Les Canadiens et Canadiennes ont le plus grand respect pour leur travail, et votre leadership nous inspire l’éspoir dun monde meilleur.

Mr Speaker, Mr Speaker, colleagues, Canadians are strongest when we have the support of those who share our values.

Aussi révérées soient-elles en Occident, ces valeurs profondément ancrées ne sont pas l’apanage d’une seule culture.

Those who love freedom and democracy, those who desire peace, those who will uphold the basic rights of every man and woman, and those who, such as His Highness, share our belief that pluralism, diversity within a united country is the basis of all these things – these are our friends.

Your Highness, we have met on several occasions, and, like our country as a whole, I value your counsel and your friendship.

Il est devenu clair qu’il existe ce que j’ai qualifié à une autre occasion, « d’exquise symétrie » entre vos valeurs et les valeurs canadiennes.

You once said: “We cannot make the world safe for democracy without first making the world safe for diversity.” This is a most Canadian way of seeing things.

Effectivement, c’est dans cet esprit et en étant convaincu que la liberté de religion et de conscience sont les fondements de nos libertés, que l’an dernier, notre gouvernement a établi le Bureau de la liberté de religion.

Your Highness, the depth of our relationship suggests more frequent and deliberate dialogue between the Imamate and the Government of Canada would be beneficial.

J’ai donc le plaisir d’annoncer qu’à la conclusion de ce processus, l’Imanat et le gouvernement du Canada signeront un protocole d’entente, dans le prolongement de notre vaste relation historique.

I am therefore pleased to announce that after the conclusion of these proceedings, the Imamat and the Government of Canada will sign a Protocol of Understanding that builds upon our broad historic relationship.

Let me just conclude, Your Highness, by returning to the subject of Canada’s Ismaili community, which began its life here more than forty years ago as penniless refugees from Uganda. Yet, from that moment on, Canada’s Ismailis have become one of Canada’s most successful immigration stories.

Votre Altesse, la prospérité de vos fidèles, leur intégration harmonieuse à la société canadienne, et le respect qu’ils ont inspiré, pourrait être considérés comme un hommage à la manière d’être pluraliste du Canada.

Et c’est le cas, dans une mesure considérable.

The Ismailis, the Ismaili combination of self-reliance, and their willingness to give of themselves for the betterment of others, and of Canada itself, is a reflection of your teachings.

And, Your Highness, it was a good day – a good day for all of us – when you told your followers to “make Canada your home.”

You must be very proud of them – certainly we all are.

Maintenant, monsieur le Président, monsieur le Président, mesdames et messieurs, les parlementaires, veuillez vous joindre à moi pour accueillir un grand ami et partenaire du Canada, Son Altesse, l’Aga Khan.