Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prime Minister Stephen Harper meet ahead of Hazar Imam's address to the Parliament of Canada. TheIsmaili / Gary Otte
Ottawa, 27 February 2014 – Mawlana Hazar Imam delivered a historic address to a joint session of the Parliament of Canada in the House of Commons today. He spoke before the Prime Minister of Canada, Members of Parliament, Senators, and distinguished guests, including members of the Imam's family, the Ismaili Leaders' International Forum, AKDN Resident Representatives, and heads of AKDN agencies.
“Welcome to Canada's Parliament,” said the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, to Mawlana Hazar Imam in the House of Commons today. “When are you are in Canada you are home.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam thanked the Prime Minister for inviting him to address Parliament: “I am grateful for this invitation, for our association, and for so thoughtfully enabling leading representatives of our community and institutions, around the world, to join us on this occasion. I am thankful they will have this opportunity to see for themselves why Canada is a leader in the community of nations.”
“The Aga Khan Development Network has worked over five decades to assist in the enhancement of Civil Society,” said Mawlana Hazar Imam. “As we look to its future, we are honoured that Canada views us as a valued partner.”
At the conclusion of Hazar Imam's address, the Speakers of the Senate and the House of Commons, the Honourable Noël Kinsella and the Honourable Andrew Scheer thanked the Imam for his remarks.
Mawlana Hazar Imam is one of only a handful of individuals who are neither a head of state nor head of government to be accorded the privilege of addressing the Parliament of Canada. He is also be the first faith leader to be so honoured.
Mawlana Hazar Imam arrived at Parliament Hill earlier this morning, accompanied by Prince Amyn, Prince Rahim, Princess Salwa, Princess Zahra, and Prince Hussain. Canada's Chief of Protocol presented the Imam and his family to Prime Minister Harper and his wife Laureen. They then proceeded to the Parliamentary Rotunda where Hazar Imam signed the official visitor books for the House of Commons and the Senate before attending a private meeting with the Prime Minister.
“Our Government is honoured to once again welcome His Highness the Aga Khan to Canada,” said Prime Minister Harper in a statement released earlier this month, when he invited Mawlana Hazar Imam to address Parliament. “Our country has a warm and lasting friendship with His Highness, who was granted honorary Canadian citizenship for his leadership as a champion of international development, pluralism and tolerance around the world.”