OTTAWA–Armenian National Committee of Canada Chairperson Dr. Jirayr Basmadjian and ARF of Canada Central Committee member Krikor Der Ghazarian met with Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan on March 29. The meeting was arranged through former Federal Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Stephan Dion.
The ANC representatives focused on the government’s position on M-380–a Motion in the Canadian parliament acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and condemning it as a crime against humanity.
They expressed the Armenian community’s deep disillusionment regarding the Canadian government’s long-held negative position vis–vis official recognition of the Armenian Genocide. They pointed out that in the past the government had not merely adopted a negative stance–but also actively lobbied against adoption of motions on the Armenian Genocide.
The Armenian representatives stated that Canada has fallen far behind the countries on the list of those that have recognized the Genocide as historical fact–despite the fact that Canada is considered a foremost defender of human rights.
Dr. Basmadjian reiterated the current understanding that at this stage–the ministers constituting the government would be voting against the measure–but that members of parliament (MPs) belonging to the governing party would be allowed to vote according to their conscience. The ANC reps therefore requested that the government not apply indirect pressure against those MPs.
Dr. Basmadjian explained that all MPs from two of the opposition parties–and the vast majority of MPs from the third opposition party–are expected to vote in favor of the M-380. Therefore–he pointed out–the government party would find itself in an untenable position if its majority were to vote against a motion that is a matter of conscience and human rights.
After discussing various details–Deputy Prime Minister McLellan promised to give serious consideration to the practical suggestions and proposals presented to her during the meeting.