PM Stephen Harper Delivers Remarks in Brampton

Source: Government of Canada | October 18, 2014

Video: Husain F. Neemuchwala (CIEC – CEO) & Kalpa Pathak (CIEC – Director of Public Affairs & Member Services) on Toronto’s CP24 News

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today delivered the following remarks at the 14th Annual Diwali Celebration in Brampton:

“Thank you very much. Good afternoon. Namaste and happy Diwali everybody! I just want to begin by acknowledging all of my colleagues. First of all, by thanking our master of ceremonies today, one more big hand for Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Honourable Chris Alexander. I also want to extend my sincere thanks to my introducer and caucus colleague, as we know who is the gentleman who really put Diwali on our national calendar in Canada, one more hand for the Honourable Deepak Obhrai. And of course colleagues I’m just delighted with how many of my friends and colleagues from both Houses of our Parliament have come here today. So I’d ask everybody – Parm Gill, everyone else –  to stand. Please give one more round for all these great Members of Parliament who are joining us. Colleagues from all levels of government, members of the diplomatic corps, respected religious and spiritual leaders, ladies and gentlemen. I want to extend my personal gratitude to our host here today, the Hindu Sabha Mandir, and to all the regional temples – there are so many – who are playing a role in today’s festivities. This is a very impressive turnout. So a big hand to all of the organizers of this event.”

“Friends, the Indo-Canadian community has a proud and rich history in our country. Since the first Indian immigrants arrived in Canada more than a century ago, the Indo-Canadian community has grown in size and prominence. And you, India’s sons and daughters, have and continue to make lasting contributions to Canada’s strength and to our prosperity. Some of these contributions can be seen, quite literally, all around us. This beautiful Hindu Sabha Mandir, I’m told as Deepak said, the oldest and largest of its kind in Canada, and my second visit – what a beautiful place to hold this, thank you everybody, our hosts here. Not far from here, the extraordinary BAPS Mandir, a stunning complex that I had the great honour to officially open back in 2007. There’s the Gur Sikh temple, the oldest standing SikhTemple in North America. And of course the Vishnu Mandir, which I had the pleasure of visiting two weeks ago. Those and many other impressive Hindu and Sikh facilities are true, visible monuments to the accomplishments and vitality of our Indo-Canadian community. Of course, in addition to stunning temples, you’ve also helped to build stronger cities and communities. Indeed, as a result of your commitment to work and education, to faith and to family, you’ve helped build a better and more prosperous country for all of us. So thank you for that.”

“Now, friends, all of these beautiful temples remind me of my two trips to India, the two trips that Laureen and I have had the pleasure of making. I want to thank you as well for the important role that I know many of you here are playing in strengthening relations between Canada and India. The bottom line is this: the relationship between Canada and India is strong. In fact, it is stronger than it has been in decades. It is a great relationship. Something that we all should be very proud of. And friends, our Government is committed to continuing to enhance this special relationship with India, a rising economic power, and one of the fastest growing regions in the world today. In the world; I should also add in the Solar System, because just recently, India became the first country ever to put a spacecraft in Mars-orbit on the very first try. And I know Deepak had an opportunity to congratulate Prime Minister Modi on that remarkable achievement. Friends, you can be sure that India will remain a key priority in Canada’s international agenda. We will continue to work to eliminate barriers that interfere with bilateral trade and investment, and we will continue to reform our immigration system to make it easier for immigrants to build a life here in Canada and contribute to this country to the maximum of their capacity.”

“Now ladies and gentlemen, I just want to close with this on this occasion. As you know, we’re here today to celebrate the great Hindu, Sikh and Jain tradition, now the great Canadian tradition of Diwali. And I will admit that this year – perhaps more than any other – I am pleased to mark Diwali, ’The Festival of Lights,’ because in this year, much of our world has become a darker place, and certainly, it has become more dangerous. And friends, that is precisely why we need to celebrate Diwali. For Diwali reminds us that light always casts out darkness. That truth always dispels ignorance and fear. That there is good in the world, and that, in the end, good will triumph. Diwali also reminds us that we have much to be thankful for: safe and healthy families in a country – a home – that is peaceful and prosperous and full of opportunities for those looking to build a better life for those they love. Once again, ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank all of you for being here, particularly our hosts, and for all that you are contributing to this magnificent country. Happy Diwali, everybody!”