Canadian Tamil Congress

Canadian Tamil Congress

January 15, 2007 10:28 ET

Canadian Elected Officials Pledge Support at Ottawa Tsunami Memorial

Ottawa M.P. Pierre Poilievre to deliver report on tsunami aid to Foreign Minister Peter MacKay while Saskatchewan's Maurice Vellacott promotes federal partnership with trustworthy NGOs

Attention: News Editor, World News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor OTTAWA--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 15, 2007) - The Canadian Tamil Congress marked the sombre two-year anniversary of 2004's deadly tsunami disaster by holding an evening-long memorial at Ottawa's Ben Franklin Place. The event, which began with the lighting of a memorial candle by guest of honour Sgt. Rick Mercier of the Canadian Armed Forces and its Disaster Assistance Relief Team, drew over 200 guests. The memorial honoured the memory of Sri Lanka's 38,000 victims as well as showcased speeches by elected officials and relief specialists, who suggested new methods of providing more equitable aid distribution in an area where corruption and ethnic conflict have isolated the majority of Tamils from Canadian relief funds.

Pierre Poilievre, M.P. for Nepean-Carleton, pledged to draft a detailed report on the status of Canadian relief efforts in Sri Lanka, which he intends to present to Foreign Minister Peter MacKay within three months. Poilievre, who described his visit to post-tsunami Sri Lanka as a disturbing and unforgettable experience, also urged all Canadians to be outspoken against the crimes of what he described as a "corrupt government" in Sri Lanka.

M.P. Maurice Vellacott affirmed CTC Coordinator Julian Francispillai's appeal for a special task force to monitor the distribution of Canadian aid money to NGOs involved in relief efforts. Noting that only a portion of Canada's pledged aid money had been disbursed at the present moment, Francispillai suggested that the Canadian government "protect its investment in a closer working partnership with NGOs rather than continue to blindly donate money in good faith to a questionable government." Francispillai proposed the creation of a special task force, comprised of government officials and specialists from the CTC, to select a responsible NGO to put Canada's money to good use in Sri Lanka.

Similarly, Vellacott shared his enthusiasm for such a plan, explaining that in his experience, close partnerships between "governments and NGOs are oftentimes the most effective way to help in such cases."

"I'm very proud of tonight's event," explained Francispillai. "Not only was there a good turnout, but we got politicians of all stripes to share ideas and make commitments towards the peaceful rehabilitation of the Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka's north and east.

"Canadians need to be made aware of the violence and corruption that are oppressing our relatives in Sri Lanka. They need to see images and hear accounts of the unimaginable suffering that is taking place there. Tonight was an inspiring step in the right direction, however. I'm hopeful that the government will come through for us."


Contact Information

  • Julian Francis, Ottawa Coordinator, Canadian Tamil Congress
    Primary Phone: 613-789-9371