TORONTO–The Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, joined 16 multicultural community leaders in a roundtable meeting on September 18 to discuss issues of concern to their respective communities. Among the participants were representatives of the Ahmadi, Armenian, Chinese, Jewish, Korean, Polish, Somali, Ukrainian and Vietnamese communities. Aris Babikian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC), represented the Canadian-Armenian community.
In addition to the Prime Minister, Jason Kenney, Minister of Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity, and Conservative candidates Richard Lorello, Melissa Bhagat, and Chungsen Leung attended the 90-minute meeting.
Kenney welcomed the attendees and explained the purpose of the meeting. Following his remarks, the Prime Minister delivered a short speech about multiculturalism, foreign accreditations, family values, economic policy and other current issues.
Following his speech, the prime minister conducted a question-and-answer session with the community leaders. After talking about issues of concern to the Canadian-Armenian community, Babikian commended the prime minister for his moral leadership on human rights issues, on the opening of a Canadian embassy in Armenia, and Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA) participation in Armenia’s Rural Poverty Eradication program.
In his remarks, Babikian said that ANCC supported the government’s decision not to participate in the Durban II Conference.
The prime minister said that he appreciated the commen’s and the active participation of the attendees in the roundtable and in the Canadian political and civil society life.
After the meeting, Mr. Babikian commended the Harper and Kenney for “initiating a constructive, frank and open dialogue between the executive branch of the government and an important segment of our civil society such as the multicultural community.” The ANCC representative said, “By holding such meetings we will help eliminate many misconceptions, unjust accusations, and build a more tolerant society.”
The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Canadian-Armenian grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Canada and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCC actively advances the concerns of the Canadian-Armenian community on a broad range of issues.