Material compiled and presented by Abdulmalik J. Merchant
“Our Government is honoured to once again welcome His Highness the Aga Khan to Canada. Our country has a warm and lasting friendship with His Highness, who was granted honorary Canadian citizenship for his leadership as a champion of international development, pluralism and tolerance around the world.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Muslims leaders who have addressed the Canadian Parliament (l to r): 2006 – Hamid Karzai, 1989 – His Majesty King Hussein Ibn Talal, 1956 – His Excellency Dr. Sukarno, 1950 – Hon. Liaquat Ali Khan. Photos: Wikipedia.
ADDRESSES BY DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
A Joint Address to Parliament is a speech made by a distinguished visitor, usually a foreign head of state or head of government, to Members of the Senate and the House of Commons. Fifty-two heads of state and five non-heads of state have addressed the Joint Sessions of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada since 1939.
When His Highness the Aga Khan delivers his address on Thursday, February 27, 2014, he will become the first faith leader in 75 years and fifth among Muslims to address the Joint Sessions, since His Majesty King George VI (1895-1952) of the United Kingdom delivered the first ever address on May 19, 1939.
Photo of the Centre Block and Library of the Parliament of Canada from the Gatineau side, overlooking the Ottawa River. Photo: Wikipedia.
These extra-parliamentary events usually take place in the House of Commons Chamber and the regular proceedings of the House are suspended for the occasion. The assembly does not constitute a sitting of the House and the Mace (a large, heavy and richly ornamented staff which is the symbol of authority of the Speaker) is not present at its usual location on the Clerk’s Table.
The proceedings are jointly presided over by the Speakers of the Senate and of the House.
Sample of the Canadian Hansard from The House of Commons, 1895. Shows sample of several members speaking as described in the text. The Canadian Hansard is not strictly verbatim, and is guided by the principle of avoiding “repetitions, redundancies and obvious errors.” Photo: Wikipedia.
The House usually decides to broadcast the event (see link below) and to append the text of the address to Hansard, the daily printed record of the debates of parliament. The Hansard was adopted by Canada in 1880 and quickly gained a record for its excellent quality.
WELCOMING CEREMONY AND THE SIGNING OF THE VISITORS’ BOOK
Distinguished visitors are met in the Rotunda of the Centre Block by the Prime Minister, the Speakers of both Houses and other dignitaries where they sign the Senate and House of Commons visitors’ books.
The Rotunda, also called the Confederation Hall, is the formal entrance to Centre Block. Its grandeur immediately reveals the significance of the building and the institutions it houses. It welcomes visitors with an elaborate representation of Canada’s political landscape. With carved and sculpted symbols of every province and territory, it also welcomes every Canadian home. Photo: Wikipedia.
US President Barack Obama signs the distinguished Visitors’ Book of the Canadian Senate and House of Commons during his visit to Ottawa shortly after taking office. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is standing to President Obama’s right. Photo credit: The Whitehouse.
At the appointed time, the official party enters the House of Commons Chamber. After being introduced by the Speaker of the House, the Prime Minister provides an official welcome and invites the visitor to address the assembly.
WHO ATTENDS AND WHERE DO THEY SIT?
When a Joint Address takes place, the House of Commons becomes a grand hall, accommodating both Members of the House and the Senate, and the various guests invited for the occasion.
The seating arrangements in the House are not what they would be for a regular sitting. The Speaker of the House takes the Speaker’s Chair, with the Speaker of the Senate seated in a chair to his or her right. The Clerk’s Table is cleared of its usual material and a lectern placed at its head.
House of Commons Chamber.
The Prime Minister and the distinguished visitor are seated along the side of the Table to the Speaker’s right; the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Commons are seated along the other side of the Table.
Senators and Justices of the Supreme Court are seated on the floor of the House in front of the Table. Members of the official delegation and other dignitaries are seated along the back wall of the Chamber. Members of the House of Commons take their usual seats.
All seats in the galleries overlooking the House of Commons are assigned to invited guests. Gallery privileges are suspended and access to the galleries is strictly controlled for this occasion.
At the conclusion of the address, the Speakers of the Senate and of the House make remarks. At this point, the official party exits the Chamber and proceeds to the House of Commons Speaker’s Chambers.
LIST OF DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
Heads of States and of Governments who have addressed Joint Sessions of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada
- 2011.09.22, Rt. Hon. David Cameron, P.M. of the U.K. of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- 2010.05.27, His Excellency Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of the United Mexican States
- 2008.05.26, Victor Yushchenko, President of Ukraine
- 2006.09.22, Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan President
- 2006.05.18, Hon. John Howard, P.M. of Australia
- 2004.10.25, His Excellency Vicente Fox, President of the United Mexican States
- 2001.02.22, Rt. Hon. Tony Blair, P.M. of the U.K. of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- 1999.04.29, Václav Havel, President of the Czech Republic
- 1998.09.24, Nelson Mandela, President of the Republic of South Africa
- 1996.06.11, His Excellency Ernesto Zedillo, President of Mexico
- 1995.02.23, Bill Clinton, U.S. President
- 1992.06.19, His Excellency Boris Yeltsin, President of the Federation of Russia
- 1991.04.08, His Excellency Carlos Salinas de Gortari, President of Mexico
Her Majesty the Queen has addressed the Canadian Parliament on three occasions.
His Highness the Aga Khan received the title “His Highness” from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on July 26th 1957. Here he is pictured with Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness Prince Philip when the Queeen hosted a dinner hosted to mark the Ismaili Imam’s Golden Jubilee and to acknowledge the close relationship he and his family have had over generations with the British Monarchy and the UK. Photo Credit: Akdn.org
- 1989.10.11, His Majesty King Hussein Ibn Talal, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
- 1989.06.27, Chaim Herzog, President of the State of Israel
- 1988.06.22, Rt. Hon. Margaret Thatcher, P.M. of the U.K. of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- 1988.06.16, Dr. Helmut Kohl, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany
- 1988.05.10, Her Majesty Queen Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands
- 1987.05.25, His Excellency François Mitterrand, President of the French Republic
- 1987.04.06, Ronald Wilson Reagan, U.S. President
- 1986.01.13, His Excellency Yasuhiro Nakasone, P.M. of Japan
- 1984.05.08, His Excellency Miguel de la Madrid, President of Mexico
- 1984.01.17, His Excellency Zhao Ziyang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
- 1983.09.26, Rt. Hon. Margaret Thatcher, P.M. of Great Britain
- 1981.03.11, Ronald Wilson Reagan, U.S. President
- 1980.05.26, His Excellency Jose Lopez Portillo, President of Mexico
President John F. Kennedy addressed the Canadian Parliament in 1961. Here he is seen meeting with His Highness the Aga Khan, Prince Karim al-Husseini, at the Oval Office, White House, on March 14, 1961. The Ismaili Imam had first met the President in France some six years earlier. Photo: Robert L. Knudsen (Robert LeRoy), 1929-1989.
- 1980.05.05, His Excellency Masayoshi Ohira, P.M. of Japan
- 1977.10.18, Her Majesty the Queen (Speech from the throne)
- 1973.06.19, Madam Indira Gandhi, P.M. of India
- 1973.03.30, Luis Echeverria, Constitutional President of United Mexican States
- 1972.04.14, Richard M. Nixon, U.S. President
- 1967.07.01, Her Majesty the Queen
- 1961.05.17, John F. Kennedy, U.S. President (link to video of President Kennedy’s speech follows this article)
An image of the original text of address by President John F. Kennedy to Canadian Parliament, Ottawa, 17 May 1961. Credit: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
- 1958.07.21, Hon. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, P.M. of Ghana
- 1958.07.09, Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. President
- 1958.06.13, Rt. Hon. Harold Macmillan, P.M. of the United Kingdom
- 1958.06.02, Professor Theodor Heuss, President of Federal Republic of Germany
- 1957.10.14, Her Majesty the Queen (Speech from the throne)
- 1957.03.04, His Excellency Guy Mollet, Premier of France
His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam and direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, with Baroness Margaret Thatcher at the banquet hosted by His Highness in London on July 3, 2008 during his Golden Jubilee Celebrations. Baroness Thatcher addressed the Canadian Parliament in 1988 as Prime Minister of Great Britain. Photo: Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim Al Hussaini Aga Khan, Golden Jubilee Souvenir, published by Islamic Publications Limited. 2012. Copyright.
- 1956.06.05, His Excellency Dr. Sukarno, Indonesian President
- 1956.03.05, His Excellency Giovanni Gronchi, Italian President
- 1956.02.06, Rt. Hon. Sir Anthony Eden, P.M. of Great Britain
- 1953.11.14, Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. President
- 1951.04.05, Vincent Auriol, French Republic President
- 1950.05.31, Hon. Liaquat Ali Khan, P.M. of Pakistan
- 1949.10.24, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, P.M. of India
- 1947.06.11, Harry S. Truman, U.S. President
- 1945.11.19, Rt. Hon. Clement R. Attlee, P.M. of Great Britain
- 1944.06.01, Rt. Hon. John C. Curtin, P.M. of Australia
- 1943.06.03, Eduard Benes, Czechoslovakian President
- 1941.12.30, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Churchill, P.M. of Great Britain
- 1939.05.19, His Majesty the King
Non-Heads of State who have addressed Joint Sessions of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada
Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has invited the 49th Ismaili Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, to speak to the joint session of the Canadian Parliament on February 27, 2014. Here they are pictured in the Prime Minister’s Office at the Parliament Building in Ottawa during one of Aga Khan’s visits to the country. Photo credit: Akdn.org
- 2014.02.27, (forthcoming) His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims and the direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad
- 2004.03.09, His Excellency Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations Organization
- 1990.06.18, Mr. Nelson Mandela Deputy President of the African National Congress (note – at this time Nelson Mandela was not yet head of South Africa, which was still under apartheid rule)
- 1985.03.07, His Excellency Javier Perez de Cuellar, Secretary General of the United Nations Organization
- 1964.05.26, His Excellency U Thant, Secretary General of the United Nations Organization
- 1943.06.16, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, Wife of Leader of Republic of China
Date posted: Monday, February 17, 2014.
Last updated: Thursday, February 20, 2014, 8:00 AM EST.
1. Compiled from the following sources:
Prime Minister Harper to Welcome His Highness the Aga Khan
Parliament of Canada – Addresses by Heads of State
Parliament of Canada – Addresses by Foreign Dignitaries
Parliament of Canada – Compendium
Hansard in Canada
2. Link to live broadcast on Thursday, February 27, 2014
(11:00 AM – 11:45 AM EST, U.K. 16:00 – 16:45)
Address to Canadian Parliament by His Highness the Aga Khan
3. For video of Kennedy’s speech click JFK Library Archives.