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Promoting Cross Cultural Understanding In Canadian Society

Remarks by Hon. David Kilgour at a Roundtable in Room 237-C, Centre Block, 
House of Commons, Ottawa, April 7, 2003

Vos excellences, leaders religieux distingués, sénateurs et députés, mesdames et messieurs :

My allotted time from my friend Secretary of State Jean (Augustine) is very short, so let me get right to the point.

Plusieurs actes de violences et pertes de vies pendant le 20ième siècle sont attribuables à des tyrans tels qu’Adolf Hitler, Joseph Staline, Pol Pot et plusieurs autres dont leurs idéologies respectives abhorraient la religion et souvent aussi, la diversité culturelle/linguistique.

After 1989, many people of good will hoped there would be constitutional space for diversity everywhere on this shrinking planet. Instead, harassment and much worse are now occurring in too many lands among members of differing faith, cultural and linguistic communities. Normally, it’s members of a larger group picking on a smaller one; no country, including Canada, is immune to the age-old phenomenon.

Can there ever be sustainable peace on earth until there is genuine harmony among our religious, cultural and linguistic communities domestically and internationally? Is it enough today for, say, a  political/religious/cultural/ linguistic leader to speak of peace and love when some of their own supporters are actively persecuting persons of other faith, cultural or linguistic communities? How can we all learn to welcome diversity or “otherness” in these vital areas? We Edmontonians have lessons to learn like everyone else, but, ladies and gentlemen, I don’t think I was ever prouder than the day several years ago when hundreds if not thousands of us of all faiths rallied at our city hall to protest the persecution of our Muslim brothers and sisters in former Yugoslavia.

At an interfaith service of prayer for peace in this city on March 23rd, in which a number of us here today participated, the concluding prayer included this thought:

If a man said, 'It’s not one gesture of love which will save humanity'...There would never be friendship and peace on earth...and Peace depends on each irreplaceable one of us.

This morning, I hope that your individual insights will teach us all and those many watching on CPAC beyond how cross-cultural understanding can be enhanced from sea-to-sea-to-sea in Canada and perhaps beyond it.

Thank you.

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