Dalai Lama: Canada doesn't belong to political parties
Published Friday, April 27, 2012 10:42PM EDT
The world belongs to its people, not political parties, the Dalai Lama said at a press conference Friday in Ottawa, where he is attending an international conference on Tibet.
As he motioned to the many MPs in attendance, he said the same applies to countries, whether it's Tibet or Canada.
"I always believe the world belongs to humanity," he said. "Canada belongs to the Canadian people, not your party or other parties."
At the conference the Dalai Lama met with a group of Tibetan exiles and their international supporters. Guests included actor Richard Gere and U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The Dalai Lama also spoke of his retirement from politics, saying he has resigned from political life. He remains Tibet's spiritual leader and says he now focuses on two major goals: promoting human values that will create greater happiness in the world and the promotion of religious harmony.
"Now I have more time to commit to these two feats," he said.
He also spoke of his confidence in the next generation of Tibetans to carry on his life's political work -- freeing Tibet from Chinese rule.
"I really feel happy. Now the younger generation has the ability to take full responsibility," he said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will meet with the Dalai Lama on Friday, a move that is likely to irk China's leadership and possibly strain Canada's relations with the Asian superpower.
The Prime Minister's Office waited until Friday to confirm the meeting was going forward.
"There was a little bit of wondering going on here in Ottawa about whether or not they would meet because of course China is very unhappy when Prime Minister Harper meets with the Dalai Lama," said CTV News Channel's Mercedes Stephenson.
She added: "His office wasn't really commenting earlier this week but they have confirmed today he will meet with the Dalai Lama in private for what they call a courtesy visit."
Harper's meeting with the Dalai Lama could anger an important trading partner he has tried hard to woo.
Beijing considers the Dalai Lama a dangerous separatist and has reacted angrily in the past when Western leaders have provided him with a warm welcome.
"The Chinese have been very direct with Canada. Back in 2007 they told Canada to stay out of China's international affairs, that was the embassy here in Ottawa," Stephenson said.
Despite that, Canada has named the Dalai Lama an honorary citizen of Canada, a title reserved as one of the highest diplomatic honours bestowed on foreigners.
Harper has made two recent diplomatic visits to China to try strengthening trade relations and finding new customers for Canadian oilsands exports.
The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project, which the Harper government has championed, would deliver Canadian oil to B.C.'s Pacific coast, providing easy access to Asian customers.