Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) walks with the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims, in the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa February 27, 2014.
Canada has a population of 100,000 Shia Ismaili Muslims. This group must have been excited to welcome Aga Khan as its spiritual leader to the country.
Khan is the leader of 15 million Shia Ismaili Muslims worldwide. When he attended the House of Commons, all he asked for was Canada's cooperation to make the world more peaceful and tolerant.
The Muslim leader, 77, addressed the senators and MPs at the House stresseing he considered Canada to be a leading force internationally. He received standing ovation not only once but several times as he was welcomed to the packed House. The Star reported there were several Shia Ismaili Muslims present who had been invited as representatives of their community.
Khan did not forget to congratulate Canada on its recent gold medal in hockey at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He said in good humour that he being an honorary citizen of the country would like to have played hockey for Canada. He noted the Canadian team would have got tough defense in the form of him and the Dalai Lama.
He has always been a welcome guest to Canada. He has been a frequent visitor to the country. He had several trips to the country, especially between 2008 and 2010, when he was given the honorary citizenship during his visit. He finished his education from Harvard University. He fluently spoke in English and French, the official languages of Canada.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper earlier introduced Khan to the House by calling him a "tireless humanitarian." Harper applauded him for his development partnerships with Asia and Africa. It was a warm welcome for Khan as the Canadian PM said Canada was home for the Muslim leader.
Canada's House of Commons witnessed a rare address on Thursday Feb. 26, which was not led by any head of state. Khan is the third non-head of state to address the House after Kofi Annan (2004) and Nelson Mandela (1990).