canada     Sri Lanka is an important country to us, we want to see the island succeed, was the message of senior Canadian cabinet minister Jason Kenney at a recent press meeting with local reporters. The minister also highlighted the importance of reconciliation between communities within the Sri Lankan diaspora in Canada. The country is home to a large population of Sri Lankan expatriates, making the island nation a top priority in the government foreign affairs agenda, he said.

Yet Prime Minister Stephen Harper was not prepared to be used as a prop in a “propaganda exercise” by Colombo at CHOGM next month, he added.

The minister urged Sri Lankans of all ethnic backgrounds to work together to rebuild parts of Sri Lanka devastated by years of war.

He says the government was supporting programs to build bridges and ethnic solutions between Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslims living in Canada. Kenney commended work by the organization Sri Lankans Without Borders (SLWB), described on its website as a “not-for-profit network based in Toronto that provides Canadians of Sri Lankan origin with opportunities to connect, build and lead initiatives that promote dialogue and cross-community engagement in the Sri Lankan Canadian diaspora.”

Minister Kenney denied reports that Prime Minister Harper’s decision to skip Colombo CHOGM was guided by domestic pressure from the large electorate of Tamils of Sri Lankan origin. He described the claim as a “complete lie.”

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