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‘A debt of gratitude’: Trudeau thanks Ismaili community at Calgary Stampede breakfast

Federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre also attended and spoke at the event
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, centre, walks the grounds of the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Friday, July 7, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Politics and pancake breakfasts can make for strange bedfellows.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith shared the podium Saturday (July 8) as they both attended a Stampede pancake breakfast put on by the Ismaili Muslim community.

The two leaders have had a somewhat frosty relationship but shook hands prior to a private meeting Friday where they discussed Alberta’s concerns about emission reductions, the goal of establishing a net-zero electricity grid by 2035 and the ongoing strike among British Columbia port workers.

“It’s great to be here with Premier Smith. Thank you Danielle for your leadership,” Trudeau said in his opening remarks at the breakfast.

The two didn’t appear to have any time to chat.

“I’d like to thank the prime minister for his comments,” Smith said in response.

Instead of politics, the two leaders focused on the impact the Ismaili community has had on Canada since members began settling here en masse more than 50 years ago.

Trudeau said Ismailis still approach him to express their gratitude for the work his father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, did in bringing members of the community to Canada in large numbers.

“It is much more true that my father and I and Canada owe you a debt of gratitude. Not just for what you’ve contributed to this country but for being a shining example of what welcoming people who are fleeing violence, persecution, fear can do,” he said.

“When we welcome in refugees, we are not only giving them opportunities. We are enriching our country so deeply from everything this community has done in Canada.”

Smith also heaped praise on the Ismaili community for its generosity.

“This Stampede breakfast is more proof of your generosity which knows no bounds,” she said.

“It’s not limited by faith or culture or colour and has marked Alberta deeply. Every day you change lives by volunteering, improving education and practicing social responsibility.”

Federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre also attended and spoke at the event and planned to attend a pancake breakfast and a party barbecue later in the day.

Trudeau spent a short time flipping pancakes before heading to his own second breakfast of the morning at an event hosted by Liberal MP George Chahal.

A huge crowd was on hand to hear the prime minister’s second speech which took a more political turn.

“The reality is George needs reinforcements, and I really much hope over the coming years we’re going to elect more members of Parliament from the Liberal party for Alberta,” Trudeau said.

He also urged those listening to continue working toward making Canada better during these trying times.

“The world is facing tremendous challenges right now. Whether it be war returning to Europe, the destabilization of the world with energy prices and food prices, whether it be climate change having an increasing impact including on the wildfires,” Trudeau said.

“There’s a lot of reasons to feel anxious and worried about the future, but there are also so many reasons to be optimistic and positive and ambitious about the country we get to build every single day.”

Trudeau was swarmed after his speech by people seeking photos and autographs or wanting to shake his hand.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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