OTTAWA–The Canadian House of Commons during its February 15 morning session discussed for an hour the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The discussion was triggered by a private member’s motion–presented by Jim Karygiannis–member of Parliament for Scarborrow-Agincourt–that was deemed non-votable by the House Management Committee.
The discussion was an occasion for many members of parliament from various political parties (Liberal–Bloc Qubecois–NDP and PC) to once again assert–that the Canadian Parliament should take one additional step from its April 23–1996 ruling–and admit that what it then called the Armenian tragedy should be called by its name–the Armenian Genocide.
The Liberal government’s position in this case–presented by Julian Reed–a deputy for Halton and Parliamentary Secretary to the Foreign Affairs Minister–can be considered as a relapse from its 1996 position to one repeating quasi-verbatim the Turkish official propaganda line. The Reform party’s also showed some relapse. While in 1996 it had not hesitated to use the term of Genocide–it now failed to take a clear stand on the issue.
Attending the discussions were a four-member delegation of the Armenian National Committee of Canada and the new Turkish ambassador. The latter was accompanied by his bodyguards.
In a press release issued after the debate–the ANCC thanked Karygiannis for sponsoring the Private Member’s Motion–as well as the deputies from all parties "who courageously affirmed that the Armenian Genocide cannot be forgotten and that its denial is tantamount to encouraging its repetition".
The ANC also expressed its "profound outrage towards the Foreign Affairs representatives–who pressured Cabinet Members and their Parliamentary Secretaries from expressing their support on this issue"–as well as towards "the Departmen’s’ disgraceful stance on the issue of the Armenian Genocide as expressed during the debate by the Parliamentary Secretary of the Minister of the Foreign Affairs".
Dr. Girair Basmadjian–President of ANCC stated–" the disappointment was even more compounded by the fact that Canada co-sponsored a resolution introduced by Armenia in December of last year on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Genocide Convention at the General Assembly of the United Nations. We view our government’s stance on this issue as contradictory to its policy regarding Human Rights and therefore unjustifiable."
After the debate–two members of the ANCC delegation met with an advisor of the Foreign Affairs Minister and conveyed to him the profound outrage that the Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary’s stance provoked with the ANCC–and will certainly provoke within the Armenian community. Members of the delegation had also meetings with parliamentarians Karygiannis–Bob Mills (Ref.)–Svend Robinson (NDP)–Bill Graham (Lib.) and Eleanor Kaplan (Lib.)–as well as member of parliament Jim Peterson’s aides.