Dalai Lama to meet with Canada's PM on Monday

Saturday, October 27, 2007

File:Tenzin Gyatzo foto 1.jpg

His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

Stephen Harper will be meeting with the Dalai Lama XIV, 72, on Monday at the Prime Minister's Office in Ottawa at 2 p.m.

The Dalai Lama is scheduled to give a speech the day before in Ottawa in a downtown arena. He will meet with secretary of state for multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, in Gatineau, Quebec on Monday, then hold a news conference, later meet the prime minister, and meet at a reception with all the parliamentarians. Governors General Michaëlle Jean will meet with him at her Rideau Hall residence, followed by a meet with Liberal MPs at a hotel on Tuesday.

This is the second time the Dalai Lama will meet with a Canadian Prime Minister. Former Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Mackay and the PM made a controversial move and appointed the Dalai Lama honorary Canadian citizenship in June 2006. Jason Kenney, who visited the house of former Communist party chief Zhao Ziyang in China, and accidentally went to a rally supporting the People's Mujahedin of Iran, was instrumental in granting him honorary citizenship. Paul Martin later criticised him for visiting the home. Kenney is a member of the Canada-Tibet Committee.

Former Liberal Canadian PM Paul Martin met with the Dalai Lama at a Roman Catholic archbishop's house, showing he respected the figure but there were some wide religious differences. Harper is also a Catholic.

Two weeks before, U.S. President George W. Bush met with the famous religious figure, which sparkled up controversy from the Chinese government. He is the first sitting U.S. president to appear with the Dalai Lama in public.

"I think what some of these countries are now seeing is that the changes that were promised in China have not happened at a fast enough rate, and that the Dalai Lama's travels are an opportunity for those countries to continue the exertion on China for democratic reform and better protection of human rights," said executive director of the Canada-Tibet Committee, Dermod Travis.

"China is not looking very good in all this. They're coming across as bullies. China can send out these press releases, but I don't believe they'll stop doing business with all these countries," said Consiglio Di Nino, a Canadian senator, who is co-chairman of the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet, and was instrumental in organising the visit.

"Whoever this young man was he had taken a tremendous risk. He was just like many others trying to send a message out to the world," said Nino, recalling in the 1990's a young boy from a monastery who left a sad help note in his hand. Nino gave him a picture of the Dalai Lama to reassure him. "It's got to be one of the most wonderful moments of my life, the incredible unspoken message between us."