It was only fitting that Canadian PM Stephen Harper visited Vishnu Mandir on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary on October 2nd.

It was a bright sunny afternoon at the sprawling and impressiveVishnu Mandir located on Yonge Street and Hwy 7 in Richmond Hill. Close to two hundred carefully selected well-heeled guests were invited to attend this event and very select members of the media.The guests were asked to arrive by 1 pm, much too early for manygiven that PM Harper was running late. Earlier in the morning he participated in a moderated question and answer (Q&A) session with members of both the Mississauga and Brampton boards of trade which was held at Millennium Gardens in Brampton and moderated by Paul Woolford, Chair of the Mississauga Board of moderated by Paul Woolford, Chair of the Mississauga Board of Trade. The Prime Minister was joined by Kyle Seeback, Member of Parliament for Brampton West.Perhaps given the heightened security threat, there seemed to be many more personnel assigned to PM Harper’s security detail. RCMP officers in suits moved about discreetly, watching all entrances and scrutinizing everyone. More than the PM feeling safe, everyone here felt even safter in one of the safest countries in the world.
Even though PM Harper ended up coming at a little past 2.30 pm, no one seemed to mind one bit, it was just the perfect opportunity to mingle and enjoy what turned out to be a really pleasant afternoon. Clusters of guests were networking in the parking lot. There was Markham Mayor Frank Scarpiti saying hello to many of his friends and talking about Diwali celebrations. Well-known businessman Navin Chandaria was around talking to everyone, so was Reetu Gupta, of Easton Group fame and her brother Suraj. Naval Bajaj the ex-President of Indo-Canadian Chamber of Commerce who was looking pretty fit given he was fasting all nine days of Navratri said he was fasting. “I’ve been doing it for years now and I have lost 10 pounds for sure,” he said.

Once PM Harper’s motorcade arrived, all attention turned to him. He was met by Dr B.Dube, the founder of Vishnu Mandir and taken to Mahatma Gandhi’s statue where he placed a wreath and had a moment of silence. The Prime Minister was also taken to the memorial to the fallen soldiers in Afghanistan, both these were outside.
PM Harper was then escorted into the Mandir where he posed for pictures with the heads of various temples in the GTA as well as hard-working volunteers. Dr Dube said how deeply grateful he and the community was for all that PM Harper is doing. Dr Dube mentioned that he had their support for Canada’s role in the war against ISIL and the other challenges facing the country. Following this, he then made his way to the Wall of Peace, which is dedicated to all religions. It has the busts of men who contributed to world peace like Nelson Mandela.
PM Harper spent about half an hour and then departed. He didn’t eat anything although there was plenty of food and refreshments in the foyer.Everyone was really touched that the PM made the visit to Vishnu Mandir on Mahatma Gandhi’s 145th birth anniversary. It was for all who attended an afternoon to remember.

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