Evidence of meeting #4 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 libya.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Barbara Martin  Director General, Middle East and Maghreb Bureau, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Craig King  Director General, Operations, Strategic Joint Staff, Department of National Defence
  • Marie Gervais-Vidricaire  Director General, Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Leslie Norton  Director General, International Humanitarian Assistance Directorate, Canadian International Development Agency
  • Vincent LePape  Director, North Africa and Middle East, Canadian International Development Agency
  • Robin Holman  Assistant Deputy Judge Avocate General, Operations, Department of National Defence

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

On the democratic development—

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

Mr. Goldring, be very quick, please.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

I'm thinking of Haiti, where we were quite involved. Actually, Canada was doing the management of elections in Haiti and proposing that on the get-go.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

Thanks, Peter.

We're going to move over to Madame Ayala for five minutes.

9:55 a.m.

NDP

Paulina Ayala Honoré-Mercier, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have a few questions in mind.

Since Libya is not a signatory to the Rome Convention, could Gadhafi's collaborators and Gadhafi himself be judged by an international court? How will Gadhafi's collaborators be brought to justice, since the Libyan justice system has yet to be set up?

How will acts of vengeance be prevented, and how will combatants be disarmed? What are the challenges posed by the demobilization of the many rebel combatants and their integration into the regular armed forces, the police or simply civil society?

I have another very pertinent question. Libya is not an isolated country, it is not an island. How will we stabilize all of the Sahel-Saharan region so as to avoid seeing Libya sink once again into chaos?

According to the press, Ambassador Mohamed Loulichki pointed to the absence of transborder cooperation, the lack of security coordination, and to the convergence of various trafficking activities that make the Sahel-Saharan region a crisis point and a grey zone where collusion is taking place among these various non-state actors, arms dealers and terrorist movements such as al-Qaeda, in the Islamic Maghreb region. He believes that any sociopolitical imbalance will perturb the economic dynamics of the area sooner or later.

So what is there to do to fill the void created by Gadhafi's departure, in the sense that he was able to create a certain cohesion? What strategy should be adopted to compensate for the financial support Gadhafi offered his neighbours? We have to find a way of ensuring that there will be peace in the region.

Thank you.

9:55 a.m.

Director General, Middle East and Maghreb Bureau, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Barbara Martin

I'll ask our colleague from the legal side of the Department of National Defence to respond to the question on the Rome Convention, and then I can try to tackle the other questions you posed.

9:55 a.m.

LCol Robin Holman Assistant Deputy Judge Avocate General, Operations, Department of National Defence

It's important to understand or remember in all of these circumstances that to the extent that crimes are alleged to have been committed by people who are Libyan citizens or within Libyan territory, Libya as a sovereign country has the primary jurisdiction to deal with those offences. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, in article 17, provides for complementary jurisdiction. The ICC only takes jurisdiction if a state that otherwise has jurisdiction is unable or unwilling to exercise that jurisdiction.

It's probably premature to talk about the ICC in this circumstance until the Libyan authorities, having gone through or going through whatever capacity restoration or development needs to be done, have the opportunity to exercise the jurisdiction that they have over Mr. Gadhafi and his cohorts.

9:55 a.m.

Director General, Middle East and Maghreb Bureau, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Barbara Martin

I might add to this that while I am not able to answer the legal intricacies of the statute of Rome and its relationship to the Libyan situation, the International Criminal Court has in fact issued a warrant for Gadhafi's arrest. The question is whether there will be an opportunity to actually exercise that warrant and bring him to justice through that process.

Concerning the legal intricacies that lie behind that, I'm afraid I would have to respond later. I could perhaps consult with colleagues in the department and get back to you on that.

You also asked about the challenges of demobilization within Libya, but also about Libya's situation within the region and the risks of a destabilized environment. You touched on the questions of terrorists and such forces operating through that area.

First of all, the demobilization is a challenge. The fight of the anti-Gadhafi forces was undertaken with various groups of militias who rose up and unified in order to push Gadhafi and his regime from the country. Right now there is the challenge of trying to recover the arms that are in the country.

A number of military bases were captured. The arms stores that were there were taken by various factions in the country, so the country is essentially awash in arms. It is a situation the National Transitional Council is enormously aware of and concerned about. It's one area in which we would be looking to see whether we can help, frankly.

With respect to the broader issue of terrorism through the region, Canada, like many other countries, has been concerned about this for some time. The Saharan region is a vast and unpopulated but also unpoliced region. In the course of recent years we have seen the rise of al-Qaeda in the Maghreb in that particular area. It is something on which we work with a number of countries throughout that region to develop programs that will make it less appealing for individuals to join these terrorist groups.

It's an ongoing struggle. Indeed, there is always the risk of destabilization through the region. But we are very hopeful, with the changes beginning in so many of these countries and the reforms to respond to the needs and the interests of the populations, that the appeal of terrorist groups and criminal groups will begin to diminish over time.

10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

Thank you very much.

We'll now move back to the other side of the table.

Mr. Schellenberger, I believe you had a quick question. Then Ms. Brown will finish it off.

October 4th, 2011 / 10 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Perth—Wellington, ON

Yes. I have a quick question.

Everything was under the Gadhafi regime. We talk about institutions such as the bank. I'm sure he had something to do with their national bank. There were really no institutions, as we know them here in Canada. I've been told that some African countries do not even have records of birth. Libya was not that backward. They do have birth records and the basics of institutions.

With these basics, it shouldn't be too difficult to help them establish democracy, because the basic records are there. Am I correct?

10 a.m.

Director General, Middle East and Maghreb Bureau, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Barbara Martin

I think you are actually correct. I will say that I have personally not had an opportunity to visit Libya so I can't speak from my personal sense of what is available in Libya. Indeed, the population is educated—not as educated as the Libyans themselves would like. They have functioning hospitals, they have had functioning institutions, they have had functioning banks, and the central bank has functioned.

The challenge they face is that these institutions have been dominated by a dictatorship. The problem they will face is how you restructure the functioning of those institutions to operate under more democratic, transparent lines, subject to market forces and not the control of the central authority; how you look at wealth distribution so that the wealth is not accumulating in the hands of the few but is distributed and used for the benefit of the country.

I wonder whether Marie wants to add something.

10 a.m.

Director General, Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Marie Gervais-Vidricaire

I would just add that at the recent meeting I attended, Ambassador McCardell commented on this issue, particularly in the legal area. She was saying you have a legal system, you have lawyers, the problem was the constant political interference in the legal process, not so much the lack of legal institutions.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Perth—Wellington, ON

Thank you.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

Ms. Brown.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Speaking of Ms. McCardell, who was in to see us some months ago, I wonder if we could talk about our embassy in Libya. We've re-established our diplomatic relations with the country, so as things become more settled there we will see all of those functions of our embassy go back into play. Libya is a key geographic area in North Africa for us. Can you talk about what our embassy might look like in the future. Have we had any discussions about whether we're going to expand what we have there and what we offer to Libya? How soon do we expect that to be back in play? Could you comment on those?