Canadian parties commit to active role in Sri Lankan peace process - CTC

[TamilNet, Thursday, 19 January 2006, 01:17 GMT]
The four national parties contesting in the upcoming federal election in Canada, have vowed to play an active role in the Sri Lankan peace process in a public debate organized by the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) at the Delta Toronto East Hotel in Toronto on Tuesday. Referring to a media report Wednesday in the National Post that cited Peter MacKay, a leading member of the Conservative Party, as supporting a ban on the LTTE, the spokesman of the national body of the Canadian Tamils, Ashwin Balamohan, said that the issue has been raised with the Conservative Party and said all the four parties have reiterated their commitment to an "unbiased policy" on the Sri Lankan issue.

Responding to a debate question by the CTC panel asking if the parties will commit to an active role alongside Norway in the peace process, all the four parties have answered in the affirmative, Ashwin said.

NDP candidates
NDP Candidates [L-R] Janice Hagan, David Thomas, Dorothy Laxton, David Robertson
Canadian Liberal candidates
Liberal Candidates [L-R] Roy Cullen, John Cannis and Jim Karigiannis
Canadian Conservative Party candidates
Conservative Candidates [L-R] William Redwood, Jerry Bance
Addressing the meeting organised by the CTC, Pauline Browes, a candidate of the Conservative Party, has told the gathering that the Norwegian facilitated peace process "is a serious issue and one that the Canadian government needs to take a lot seriously."

"It has stumbled recently, but it is important that Canada takes an active role in terms of getting that peace process going again," she added.

On the question of post-Tsunami aid, Pauline Browes noted that she was aware that few numbers of humanitarian relief reached the people in North and East.

“This is disgrace for Canada that those donations came forth and they didn’t get to the people in your province and I am appalled by that,” she said.

"Is Canada committed to working on Norway’s peace [initiative]? Definitely. Has the Prime Minister made his mark on Sri Lanka? Definitely. Will we be there? Definitely," said Jim Karigiannis, a Liberal party candidate and an incumbent parliamentarian in the CTC organised meeting.

New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate Peter Campbell said, “The NDP has a strong record of advocating on these and other issues of concern to the Tamil community. I have been calling on Canada, as a home to the largest expatriate Tamil community to host peace negotiations and for humanitarian aid to be made available to all victims of the tsunami.”

Green Party candidate Wesley Weese also said that he wished Canada would do as much as Norway.

The debate, the first of its kind, was organized to enhance civic engagement by the Tamil community, according to the CTC spokeman. Invitations were extended to all candidates contesting the greater Toronto area and sixteen candidates showed up on short notice despite busy campaign schedules, Ashwin further said.

Other topics raised by the panel include foreign policy, gender equity, youth engagement, political participation, health care, immigration, accountability, crime and care for seniors.

Canada’s first Tamil to contest in a federal election, Mr. David Thomas of the NDP said that if he is elected to parliament, he would ask for aid to be given to the Tamil areas, not through the Sri Lankan government, but through non-profit and charitable organizations working in the NorthEast.

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