Dalai Lama talks peace in Ottawa

About 7,000 people packed into Ottawa's Civic Centre today to hear the Dalai Lama speak about positive thinking, optimism and his vision of a kinder future.

"I think this century can be the century of peace," Tibet's spiritual leader told the crowd to a round of applause.

"We have to develop the concept of the oneness of humanity," he said.

Warm hearts, optimism and self-discipline are the only way to combat the fear, anxiety, distress and frustration that comes with being self centered, he said.

During his speech and question-and-answer session, the exiled spirital leader of Tibet offered advice about dealing with personal problems and talked about fear and violence in the modern world. The Dalai Lama said more and more people all over the planet are choosing peace.

The event wrapped up around 12 p.m. ET, and was followed by a news conference.

Convention on Tibet taking place in Canada

The 76-year-old Buddhist leader is in Canada this weekend for a convention of world parliamentarians on Tibet. The Ottawa visit is the Dalai Lama's only Canadian stop on a worldwide tour.

Conservative, Liberal and NDP parliamentarians are taking part in the conference, along with academics and experts on China and Tibet.

Actor Richard Gere, a longtime supporter of Tibet, is also attending and introduced the Dalai Lama at the Civic Centre on Saturday.

"I don't think there's anyone like him in our lifetime," Gere told the crowd. The Dalai Lama then got a standing ovation when he appeared on stage.

Harper thanked for 'standing firm'

Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with the Dalai Lama Friday afternoon. The two met on one of the spiritual leader's previous visits to Canada, in October, 2007, drawing a rebuke from the Chinese Embassy.

During his news conference, the Dalai Lama told reporters he thanked Harper during their meeting for the country's plan to bring 1,000 Tibetans living in eastern India to Canada over five years. He also said it took "courage" for the prime minister to agree to meet him in spite of Canada's growing ties to China, and that he thanked Harper for "standing firm."

Canada has been trying to increase its trade with China and could soon begin exploratory talks to eventually negotiate a free-trade agreement. But Harper said during his February, 2012, trip to China that the country can expect him to continue to advocate for improved human rights conditions.

Official Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair also met with the Dalai Lama Friday afternoon, a spokesman confirmed, with a small group of MPs from all parties.

China claims Tibet as part of its territory, and Canada officially recognizes China as the government of Tibet.

In 2006, the House of Commons voted to give the Dalai Lama honourary Canadian citizenship. That move also drew criticism from China.

Tibet is an autonomous region of China. The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in northern India since 1959.