Meeting with Minister of Consumer Services
Pandit Roopnauth Sharma on March 30, 2011, met with the provincial Minister of Consumer Services John Gerretsen regarding Hindus needs for the immersion of the cremated ashes in the major water bodies around the GTA. Pandit was accompanied by members of the Hindu Federation, Jay Patel, Teekah Ramnauth, Kanayalal Raina and Premendra Verma. The Minister was accompanied by five staff members.
Pandit Sharma made the opening remarks pertaining to the contentious issue of the disposition of ashes and explained in detail about it and why it is so important for the Hindu Community. He emphasized upon the urgency to have the issue resolved as it has been dragging on for the last 7 years. With the growing number of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists in Ontario it was highlighted that it is imperative for the government to have a precisely phrased by-law passed and to have 2-3 spots identified in and around the Greater Toronto Area. The Minister complimented Pandit Sharma for his eloquence and persuasive arguments. The issue of Crown Land and engaging the Conservation Department was discussed in detail. The Minister was informed about the wrong language in earlier correspondence pertaining to cremated ashes. During this period MPP Harinder Takhar as minister had used the term “human remains” instead of cremated ashes.
Pandit Sharma discussed with Minister Gerretsen the needs of the Hindu Community and how it would be appreciated if it is resolved in a timely manner. Pandit Sharma gave the Minister an account of how he had to dispose of his dear father’s ashes 12 years ago in the early hours because he was afraid. The Minister listened to Pandit Ji intently and commented that he could see how he still felt about that incident.
The meeting ended on a friendly and cordial note. The Minister committed to get this very important issue resolved soon. He instructed his staff to look into it and also contact the other relevant agencies.