Armenian National Committee of Canada
April 21st, 2004
Contact persons :
Robert Kouyoumdjian: (514) 336-7095
Shant Karabajak: (514) 334-1299
Aris Babikian : (416) 497-8972
Canada Recognizes the Armenian Genocide
The House of Commons adopts bill M-380 presented by Mrs. Madeleine
OTTAWA, April 21st, 2004 – On the eve of the 89th anniversary of the
Armenian Genocide, the Canadian House of Commons, with overwhelming
majority, recognized the Armenian Genocide. The non-partisan vote was
153 for 68 against. When the result of the vote was announced, the House
of Commons chamber, which was packed with Armenians from Montreal,
Ottawa, Toronto and other Canadian cities, burst in applause and ringing
“bravo.” Tears of joy could be seen in the eyes of many Armenians.
Motion M-380, which reads: “That this House acknowledges the Armenian
genocide of 1915 and condemns this act as a crime against humanity,” was
moved by MP Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, Bloc Quebecois) and
was seconded by MPs Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton Centre, Liberal), Jason
Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Conservative Party of Canada) and Alexa
McDonough (Halifax, New Democratic Party). Voting, which began at 6:15
pm, lasted 30 minutes.
The governing Liberal leadership paved the way for this vote by allowing
a “free vote,” meaning that individual members are allowed to vote their
conscience, without any pressure or negative repercussions from their
respective party leaderships. Although Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill
Graham used every means available to him to defeat the Motion, he was
unable to change the historic outcome.
On February 21st, the Parliament held its first reading of Bill M-380,
which included an hour of debate on the measure. Among those speaking
in favor of the Resolution during the first reading were Derek Lee
(Liberal), Eleni Bakopnaos (Liberal), Francine Lalonde (BQ), Stockwell
Day (PC) and the Hon, Lorne Nystrom (NDP).
The second reading of M-380, to recognize the Armenian Genocide, took
place on April 20. During the one-hour debate, only one member of the
House spoke against the motion. The other seven speakers were favoured
of the motion.
In the last two days, the Turkish Embassy and its public relations firms
had launched a concerted campaign against the adoption of the bill. A
delegation from the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) was on
hand to counter the Turkish Embassy’s campaign of falsification and
distortion of the historical facts. An ANCC team has been in the
nation’s capital for the past several weeks representing the community’s
views on this matter.
The passing of this resolution was the culmination of a 25 year process
which encompassed similar resolutions being passed by city councils,
provinces, and the Canadian Senate (July 13, 2002).
Dr. Girair Basmadjian, president of the Armenian National Committee of
Canada (ANCC), was elated by the result of the vote. “As an Armenian, I
was moved and felt grateful for the respect that was shown by the
Canadian Parliament to the memory of the victims of the Armenian
Genocide. As a Canadian, I am proud that the House of Commons adopted
this historic motion.”
“This is a victory for truth and justice.” stated Dr. Basmadjian.
“Implicated in this course of action for over two decades, the ANCC has
constituted the driving force behind the process towards the adoption of
this motion,” commented Dr. G. Basmadjian. “The accomplishment of this
task was made possible through the mobilization as well as the
implication of our grass roots members who made sure that all Members of
Parliament were aware of the importance of this issue for our
The ANCC was actively involved in promoting the passing of the motion.
For the last six months, the ANCC worked very closely with
parliamentarians and foreign affairs critics of all the political
parties represented in the House. The ANCC received strong support from
numerous parliamentarians, including Jim Karaygainnis, Eleni Bakopanos,
Stephane Dion, Derek Lee, Stephane Bergeron, Jason Kenney, Svend
Robinson, Real Menard, and Senators Raymond Setlakwe and Shirley Maheu.
Ms. Libby Davies’ (Vancouver East) gesture to switch her motion with
madam Dalphond-Guiral motion, to allow the vote to take place before the
89th anniversary commemorations of the Armenian Genocide on April 24,
was greatly appreciated. Within the Liberal caucus, the contribution of
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton Centre) also should be noted.
The ANCC mailed a specially-prepared brief to all members of the House.
The ANCC also mobilized the Canadian-Armenian community to counter the
Turkish Government’s propaganda campaign through e-mails, postcards and
telephone calls to parliamentarians.
A NATO ally, Canada now joins a long list of nations including France,
Italy, Greece, Switzerland and Russia which have recognized the Armenian
Genocide of 1915-1923.
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress