Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 52

Wednesday, February 15, 2012
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

His Royal Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan

Congratulations on Honorary Degree

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, on Friday, January 13, His Royal Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, received an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa for his service to humanity.

For over 50 years, His Royal Highness the Aga Khan has worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life of people living in the poorest and most disadvantaged areas of the world, particularly Africa, Central and South Asia and the Middle East. Allan Rock, President of the University of Ottawa, said the following about the Aga Khan’s accomplishments:

His Highness speaks directly to the goodness in all people. By his words and actions, he has demonstrated that there are no divisions among us if our desire truly is to create a better world.

Honourable senators, when speaking to the people assembled at the graduation ceremony, His Highness shared several important messages, some of which pertain directly to the work that we do in this institution. In his speech, which focused mainly on governance and public policy, His Highness talked about the challenges facing many developing countries that are seeking to establish sustainable democracies and constitutional systems. He also emphasized how important it is to remember that solutions that may work in more affluent societies may not work in developing countries. This must be taken into account when we provide assistance to developing countries in the area of governance. We must adapt our solutions to individual countries, taking into account their history and the realities that define them.

Honourable senators, His Highness the Aga Khan recently selected Canada to direct a number of high-profile projects, namely an Ismaili centre, a museum and a park in Toronto, as well as the Global Centre for Pluralism located here in Ottawa.

We must remember why His Highness chose Canada to implement these very important projects. To end his speech, His Highness made this very profound statement:

In my experience, a country’s standing in our contemporary world is no longer recognized by what it can achieve for itself, but by what it can do for others. In this context, Canada has truly become a great world power.

Honourable senators, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan has put his trust in our country because he believes that Canada is a fair and tolerant nation that takes pride in equality. Let us continue to work hard and strengthen these values.