Canada Foreign Minister Calls for Genocide Recognition

OTTAWA–As reported earlier–during its February 15 morning session the Canadian House of Commons discussed during a one-hour debate–the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The position of the Liberal government regarding the Armenian Genocide–presented by Julian Reed–member of parliament for Halton and Parliamentary Secretary to the Foreign Affairs Minister–caused profound outrage in the Armenian community.

On Wednesday during the oral question period in the House of Commons–Sarkis Assadourian–Liberal Member of Parliament for Brampton Centre–asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs: "Following the debate on Motion No. 329 in the House on Monday–what new steps are underway to foster and improve communications along with dialogue with the Armenian community of Canada?"

Lloyd Axworthy–Minister of Foreign Affairs–responded: "Mr. Speaker–it is very important that Canadians recognize the serious tragedy experienced by the Armenian people. To further that I have asked the Canadian Armenian community to meet with me so that we can foster a broad dialogue that will help develop understanding–heal wounds and forward the process of reconciliation among all Canadians about this very serious tragedy that occurred many years ago."

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."

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