History was made in Ottawa on this date in 1989 with the arrival of Jordan’s King Hussein, accompanied by his wife, Queen Noor, in Canada’s capital. The highlight of his visit was His Majesty’s speech to Canada’s Parliament, making Hussein the first leader of an Arab nation to address Canada’s MPs and Senators.
The distinguished visitor was introduced by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
“Canadians hold in high regard and genuine friendship those leaders in the region, such as you, your Majesty, who have had the great courage and profound wisdom to look beyond intractable conflict and seek a just and durable peace,” Mulroney said. “We, in this House, know that you have taken great personal as well as political risks to bring an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict. For this, we salute you.”
King Hussein’s address described, from his unique point of view, the various conflicts in the Middle East. In doing so, and in outlining possible solutions, the King quoted from Canada’s Lester B. Pearson.
“Each one of these conflicts-the Lebanese problem and the (Iran-Iraq War) must be brought to a just, comprehensive, and lasting peaceful settlement, and it is imperative for the world community to help in this pursuit,” Hussein said. “Lester Pearson articulated this imperative most eloquently when he said: ‘Aggression, in any part of the world, constitutes in the long run, a threat to every other part. If it is true that we cannot tolerate a city of residential suburbs surrounding slums and degradation, it is equally true that we cannot be safe in a world community which condones lawless aggression in any part of it.’”
“These insightful words have grown even more pertinent with the passage of time,” Hussein continued. “The rapid advances in communications technology have increased the level of exposure and raised awareness of other cultures and ways of life, thus raising the hopes and expectations of the less fortunate to explore and take advantage of the new opportunities unfolding before them.”
You can read King Hussein’s entire address at this link: parl.canadiana.ca/view/oop.debates_HOC3402_04/278
Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist. He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney’s best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy. A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.
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