OTTOWA–Canadian opposition Leader Stephen Harper of the Canadian Alliance–met with a delegation of Armenian community leaders on November 5 to discuss issues of concern to Canada’s Armenian community.
The Armenian delegation was composed of representatives Hagop Der Khatchadourian (ARF Canada Central Committee)–Dr. Haroutioun Arzoumanian (ADL)–Arto Kabasakalian (Armenian Prelacy of Canada)–Megerdich Kanounjian (Canadian-Armenian Leadership)–and Chris Chakmakjian (Alberta community).
Lead by Harper–the Canadian Alliance delegation included senior caucus officers Jim Abbott–Jason Kenney–and James Rajotte.
After warm introductions–Der Khatchadourian conveyed that the Armenian community of Canada is fundamentally concerned with Canada-Armenia relations–Canada’s official recognition of the Armenian Genocide–and minority rights issues.
Addressing the issues individually–the sides first reviewed steps taken to strengthen Armenia’s government and possible areas of assistance. They emphasized the necessity to target exchange programs between the two countries–the need to establish a Canadian embassy in Armenia–and the anti-Armenian policy recently adopted by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)–which is responsible for the majority of Canada’s international cooperation program.
Harper pledged to review the issues in detail and pursue them.
On formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Canada’s House of Commons–Harper also pledged the support of the Alliance–despite past pro-Turkish sentimen’s by a Canadian Alliance representative.
The Armenian side asked the opposition leader for his party’s active assistance in advancing the Armenian Genocide resolution when introduced in Canada’s Parliament. Although the Senate has officially recognized the Armenian Genocide–the House of Commons remains to do so.
The Armenian representatives conveyed to Harper the Armenian community’s appreciation for the support and effort of Canadian Alliance Foreign Affairs Representative Day Stockwell–and Representative Jason Kenney–in promoting Armenian issues.
After discussions on minority right issues–Harper spoke about his party’s priorities and readiness to establish close ties with the Armenian community.