Governor-General Michaëlle Jean held a private meeting with the Dalai Lama here yesterday, an event likely to rankle Chinese leaders who consider the Tibetan Buddhist leader a separatist determined to achieve the independence of Tibet from China.
The meeting took place after both spoke to the We Day celebration organized by Craig and Marc Kielburger's Free The Children charity. Unlike on previous visits to Canada by the Dalai Lama, no one from the federal government has scheduled any contact with the widely revered 74-year-old, exiled from China for the past 50 years.
The Governor-General's spokeswoman, Marthe Blouin, said the meeting lasted about 15 minutes. "Normally we do not talk about private meetings, but I can tell you, of course, that the Governor-General was very pleased to see the Dalai Lama again."
Ms. Jean met the Dalai Lama for the first time while she was still a journalist in 2004, according to Victor Chan, a friend of the Dalai Lama who organized his visit to Vancouver and was present for the interview.
"There was good chemistry between them," Mr. Chan recalled. "His Holiness really enjoyed her and found her story of being a Haitian refugee very compelling."
Chinese officials have not commented on the Dalai Lama's session with the Governor-General, but before his arrival, the local consulate issued a statement accusing him of trying to "sabotage the unity of our people. It has been proved that wherever the Dalai Lama goes, his purpose is merely to advocate separatism. We hope that people will not be deceived by him."
China was particularly incensed in 2007 when Prime Minister Stephen Harper met privately for about 45 minutes with the Dalai Lama, who holds honorary Canadian citizenship.Report Typo/Error