Evidence of meeting #13 for Foreign Affairs and International Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was thank.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

I'm certainly supportive of the projects that are funded in the West Bank and elsewhere.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

In terms of Canadian NGOs, I'm curious as to the kinds of partners, if there are partners, either through the START fund or other funds, that your department is using to deliver some of these democracy-building and capacity-building initiatives.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

We would be very pleased to get you a list.

For example, prior to the revolution in Egypt, Rights and Democracy had been involved with the project to support bloggers, about 50 bloggers. Those types of activities were pretty central to the changes in Egypt.

We'll get you a list.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

That would be great.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Frankly, I think on democratic development we're better off in maybe not giving money but giving Canadian expertise directly.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

I agree.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

The National Transitional Council requested some legal support. We provided them with a lawyer to assist them in their transitional efforts.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Rosenberg would agree with me that money spent on legal fees is a good thing, of course.

8:55 a.m.

Some voices

Oh, oh!

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

The former Deputy Attorney General.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

My final question, as we're running out of time.

Minister, I noticed you made some comments recently about Iran, North Korea, and Syria, and said that Canada's not going to stand by, they shouldn't expect Canada and other allies to stand by. Can you expand on what that might mean in terms of a more robust engagement? I mentioned three complicated places and I was curious. I read that phrase and I thought, I agree with that. I'm just wondering what you meant when you said that.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

If you look at Syria, we've been a very vocal critic of the situation. We have been among the first countries to bring in tough sanctions.

On Iran, we're working with our allies, particularly the United Kingdom and the United States, on ramping up our diplomatic efforts against the regime.

In Iran, we're concerned for a number of reasons. One is their deteriorating human rights situation. Canada sponsors an annual resolution against the human rights abuses in Iran. We have a record number of people voting yes, and a growing number of people who used to support, used to vote no, are now abstaining, so we're pleased with that.

We're obviously concerned about significant evidence that Iran was looking at assassinating the Saudi ambassador in Washington by blowing up a restaurant in downtown Washington, and of course the nuclear program causes us deep concern.

Frankly, it's not just an issue for Israel. The fear in the gulf countries and the fear in North Africa and the Middle East about Iran is palpable. Whenever I've travelled, I've been quite surprised at the level of concern, of course.

We're not just concerned about Iran, but if it acquires nuclear weapons, what other countries in the region will want to follow suit? Regrettably, too often countries that acquire nuclear weapons like to share them with their friends, and they’ve provided substantial support to non-state actors: Hezbollah, Hamas, and others, and that causes us deep concern.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

Thank you.

We're going to move back and start our second round.

Five minutes, Mr. Goldring.

December 1st, 2011 / 8:55 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you for appearing here, Mr. Minister and gentlemen.

Remaining in the democracy theme of discussion, I'd like to talk a little bit and get your comments on the progression of events that are happening in the Ukraine and former Soviet countries as well. It goes without saying that even among the diaspora here in Canada, the 1.2 million, there's a great disappointment in the turn of events in Ukraine, from the Orange Revolution--the hopefulness of that--showing to the world a peaceful demonstration for democratic change. And following that, we seemingly saw it, because the follow-up elections, both parliamentary and presidential, were deemed to be fair and free and accepted. Even the last presidential election was deemed so.

With the turn of events now, we've seen the municipal elections that were not deemed to be fair and free, and now we have the circumstances of Tymoshenko, who was charged and jailed and she is in jail as we speak. Your comments to that were very much appreciated.

Where do we now go with this? What else can be done? I understand that Ukraine is up for the presidency or chairmanship of the OSCE in 2013, and we have an upcoming annual meeting with the OSCE in July. Normally, we send a group to these functions. Would that not be a good place to also reinforce your message and reinforce disappointment in the turn of events in Ukraine? Because it would appear as though democracy is slipping there.

As well, later this morning we'll be having the Belarus people here, and there are equally some concerns there. In other words, it seems to be turning back toward the old Soviet-style era of political intimidation. This is perceived to be politically motivated. It seems to be to eliminate Tymoshenko's candidacy in the upcoming elections.

Could I have your comments on that, please?

9 a.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

We're deeply concerned about the Tymoshenko case. The clear issue in front of us is the judicial independence of her prosecution. We are now concerned about her health as well. Our colleague, the member for Wascana, both on Friday and yesterday raised this in the House. We are certainly prepared to offer support for her that I think, frankly, is also support for the democratic movement in Ukraine. If she needs medical treatment, she is certainly welcome to travel to Canada. We would facilitate that or, if necessary, see what we could do to provide medical assistance for her there.

This concern about her developing a strange illness is eerily familiar and causes us deep concern. We have spoken up very loudly and clearly on this issue directly to the political leadership in Kiev. I will be attending the OSCE meetings in Vilnius next week, where I'll raise it as well.