8 October 2009
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Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Namaskar. Sat sri akal. Thank you, Deepak Obhrai, for your kind introduction. For more than a decade Deepak has been bringing together Parliamentarians and Indo-Canadian community leaders to celebrate the great festival of Diwali, right here on Parliament Hill. This is a tremendous contribution to our traditions. And thank you to all the organizers and sponsors for the work you've done.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm often asked what is the most rewarding part about being Prime Minister.
My answer is always the same: having the unparalleled opportunity to travel far and wide in our vast land and to meet and to work with Canadians, in every region and every community, who are building the greatest country on Earth. Canada may be as diverse as all the continents of the world, but we are a people united by a common purpose.
No matter where we come from or what language we speak or what god we worship, we are working together to build a country where every citizen enjoys equality of opportunity, a country unwavering in its commitment to freedom, democracy and justice, a country that serves as a model of peace, prosperity and pluralism for the nations of the world. A country, in short, in which we can all belong, a country of which we can all be proud.
In Canada, our embrace of pluralism is not an act of faith, but a product of experience. It is what has helped to shape our country from the very beginning. It is what allows us to harness the strengths and unleash the potential of all our citizens.
Today, Indo-Canadians are at the forefront of our ongoing national quest to build an even better country for the generations to come. From coast to coast to coast, our country has been, and continues to be, immeasurably enriched by your contributions. In every field of endeavour, business, academia, science and technology, government and politics, arts and culture, Indo-Canadians aren't just succeeding, you are raising the standard of excellence. Your ambition, work ethic and entrepreneurialism are propelling yourselves, our local communities and our country to ever greater achievements.
Just as the Indo-Canadian community is growing ever larger, so Canada's relationship with India is growing ever stronger. Ever since our government came to office nearly four years ago, we've been working tirelessly to build stronger, better relations with the rising giant of South Asia. While we've accomplished much, there is still much to do, and as we move forward, the knowledge, expertise and connections of the Indo-Canadian community will be of invaluable help to our government. Working together, ladies and gentlemen, we will bring our two great nations closer than ever before!
Friends, tonight we celebrate one of India's greatest gifts to the world, a celebration that embodies some of humanity's highest ideals. I speak of Diwali. The festival of lights illuminates the universal hope of all peoples for the renewal of life and the triumph of good over evil. At its heart lies the diya. The lamp is a metaphor for knowledge, the light that overpowers the darkness of ignorance, that exposes injustice and oppression, and that guides and inspires our collective and individual quests for enlightenment.
Please accept my best wishes, on behalf of the government of Canada, for a joyful and memorable Diwali, and thank you for the opportunity to share in this celebration. As you gather with your loved ones, please also accept my best wishes for good health and good fortune during this special time of year.
Sat sri akal.