Friday, February 10, 2017

Aga Khan and Canada

A Decades-long, Multi-Partisan Friendship.

Tory MP Garnett Genuis stated, “It is unfortunate that many Canadians
who are not familiar with the Aga Khan may hear his name for the first time
in the context of this scandal with the Prime Minister”
He forwards a publication written by Chelsea Nash on January 25, 2017.
(The following are excerpts from her article)

With the recent hubbub about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Christmas vacations to the Aga Khan's private island in the Bahamas, the spiritual leader for the world's 15 million Ismaili Muslims has been a topic of discussion in Canada. While he is not usually at the forefront of political scandal, ties between the Aga Khan and the Canadian government go back decades.
Conservative MP Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.)
further stated, “The spiritual leader has often praised Canada as a leader
in pluralism, multculturalism and a beacon for the rest of the world to follow.”

He is personal friends with the current prime minister, as well as with former governor general, Adrienne Clarkson and her husband, John Ralston Saul. Over the course of eight years, Global Affairs Canada spent just under $200,000 on six of the Aga Khan's visits to Canada. In 2010, he became one of only a handful of people in the world to ever receive honorary Canadian citizenship, and he has had a consistently close relationship with the prime minister of Canada, regardless of their political stripe. He was also made an honorary companion of the Order of Canada in 2005 under the Paul Martin government.
According to the National Post, the Aga Khan Development Network,
a non-denominational group of institutions of which Aga Khan is the founder
that helps poor peoople in Africa, Asia and the Middle East
has received nearly $310-million from the Canadian government
since 2004 for 16 foreign aid projects.
In 2016 alone, through its Canadian branch, Aga Khan Foundation Canada, the AKDN lobbied the federal government 15 times, according to the lobbying registry. The Aga Khan has, “Always felt that Canada is a special place,” said Liberal Senator Mobina Jaffer. Ms. Jaffer, herself is an Ismaili. She came to Canada in 1975 as a refugee from Uganda. In 1972, the Ugandan leader at the time, expelled the country's 80,000 South Asians, giving them 90 days to leave. Many of the Ismailis fleeing Uganda found refuge in Canada, in large part thanks to a long-time friendship between the Aga Kahn and then prime-minister Pierre Trudeau. The Aga Khan and the elder Trudeau developed a friendship long before Mr. Trudeau's political ambitions would be realized. The pair met while attending Harvard University and developed a lifelong bond.
The Aga Khan was an honorary pallbearer at Mr. Trudeau's funeral.

When Ismailis in Uganda were fleeing for their lives, Mr. Trudeau answered the request of his friend, the Aga Khan, to provide refuge for Ismailis in Canada. Today, the population of Ismaili Muslims in Canada is estimated to be 100,000 ~ the largest settlement of Ismailis in any Western country...that friendship came to include the men's respective families.
Current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Quebec) grew up
in close contact with the Aga Khan, and his children, having gone on a family trip
with the Aga Khan when he was 12 to Greece.
Today, Mr. Trudeau calls the Aga Khan “Uncle K.”

While the Aga Khan's political ties and friendships are extensive, Ismailis in Canada have achieved their own individual levels of influence. A lot of people who had previously settled in places such as Britain, relocated to Canada. What's happened is...people who have done well in their own fields, go on to serve in various international networks, including the Aga Khan Development Network. Arif Lalani, a former Canadian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan, is now head of the Diplomatic Department for the Aga Khan. They've been selected because of their hard work.

Carlton University professor, Karim Karim, who is an Ismaili migrant from Kenya stated that the Aga Khan is one of the wealthiest royals in the world, with a net worth of $800 million. He inherited his fortune from his grandfather and predecessor, but also runs businesses including horse breeding. Members of the religion also give back to the institution, in order to fund mosques, schools and hospitals around the world.

Ismaili Liberal MP Yasmin Ratansi (Don Valley East, Ontario) said, “ Ismailis aren't that different from other communities who've come to Canada. The first generation works very hard to get their children educated. The bottom line is...we are a well-integrated community...we believe in giving back.
The Aga Khan is able to advocate for all Muslims to governments
like Canada's...regardless of the government of the day.”

Prominent Ismailis in Canada

Nadir Mohamed ~ former Rogers CEO
Mobina Jaffer ~ Liberal Senator
Mohamed Dhanani ~ Hill & Knowlton's new vice-president of public affairs
Arif Lalani ~ Canada's former ambassador to Afghanistan and the UAE
Alykhan Velshi ~ former director of issues management in Stephen Harper's PMO,
now senior associate at McKinsey & Company

Rumina Velshi ~ Member of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
(Alykhan's mother)
Rahim Jaffer ~ former Conservative MP, first Muslim
elected to the House of Commons
Arif Verani ~ Liberal MP
Yasmin Ratansi ~ Liberal MP

Naheed Nenshi ~ Calgary Mayor
Ali Velshi ~ MSNBC journalist, formerly with Al Jezeera and CNN
Murad Velshi ~ former Ontario Liberal MPP and father to Ali Velshi
Aliza Vellani ~ actress, including the

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...February 4, 2017

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