By RON FANFAIR
Liberals in Canada have enormous respect for Canada’s Muslim community, federal leader Michael Ignatieff said in his address to the 33rd annual Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada convention at the International Centre in Mississauga recently.
“There is a deep sense of connection, of values and principles we have with you,” said Ignatieff. “You are men and women of faith who have known persecution and you have come to Canada, sometimes to escape persecution in other places, so that you could be in this country and live in freedom.
“My party is deeply attached to the freedom that makes the religious life and the religious community possible in a country like ours. We are proud to be the party of the charter of rights and freedoms, the charter that makes you equal to every other citizen in this country. That is, I think, the link between my party and your community.”
Ignatieff, who celebrated Canada Day with the Ismaili Muslim community in Edmonton, suggested that the nature of their religious teachings is also a useful link between their community and Canada.
“All Canadians can associate, identify and connect to the ‘Love for All, Hatred for None’ theme of your convention,” he said. “These are values that every Canadian citizen, whatever their faith and origin, can associate with deeply.
“Canadians are grateful that you have brought that core value and put it at the centre of your belief and the centre of national life, under the guidance of the very faith we all profess as Canadians, that we shall hold fast together and not be divided. And – whatever we do as a community – we seek always to maintain the unity of a great people. That message of unity is a message which comes loud and clear from your community.”
Ignatieff said his colleagues recognize the important role faith can play in the lives of Canadians.
“This convention is an ideal occasion to share ideas, celebrate achievements and strengthen ties, knowing that by working together to enhance the spiritual life of the community, you are doing much to enrich our society as a whole,” he added.
Young academic achievers and outstanding citizens were recognized with awards during the final day of the three-day convention that attracted several politicians and community leaders including Ontario Fairness Commissioner Jean Augustine, Member of Parliament Jim Karygiannis and York Regional Service Police Chief Armand LaBarge.