Madam Chair, I am thankful for the opportunity to discuss my mandate commitment, our government, and I hope to some extent our country's priorities in the world, and Global Affairs main estimates for 2017-18. I will be using my time to deliver some remarks and then take some questions.
The member for Thornhill spoke about the importance of parliamentary committees. I certainly I believe in that. I have already spoken about the great work done by the committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, As I bear continued responsibility for the Canada-U.S. economic relationship, I also want to acknowledge the great work being done by the the committee on international trade. Its former chair is sitting across from me. We all benefit from having such great, experienced parliamentarians and committed Canadians.
First of all, I want to thank the Standing Committee of International Trade and the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development for their excellent work. Our government is a champion of human rights. In Canada and around the world, imposing sanctions for human rights violations is a hot topic, and rightly so.
Right now, however, no Canadian legislation exists to authorize sanctions specifically for violations of international human rights obligations in a foreign state or for corruption. Bill S-226, introduced by my friend, Senator Raynell Andreychuk, and sponsored in the House by the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, seeks to fix this problem.
This bill expands on the work of an exemplary Canadian, Irwin Cotler, whose 2015 motion called for sanctions to be imposed on violators of human rights. That motion received unanimous support in the House. The tireless efforts of the hon. member for Etobicoke Centre on this issue also need to be recognized.
Today our government is proud to announce that we support this important legislation. The question of how to effectively apply sanctions for human rights abuses and for foreign corruption was among the issues examined by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Our government is delighted to have the unanimous support of the committee members for a new tool that will enable us to impose sanctions for these violations and this corruption.
As hon. members are certainly aware, similar legislation received royal assent last month in the United Kingdom. The United States has also enacted similar legislation. This approach has also been debated in the EU Parliament. Human rights are a non-partisan issue, and I appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the opposition on this important initiative.
Our government is a strong defender of human rights. In Canada and around the world, the issue of human rights sanctions, and in particular the case of Sergei Magnitsky, have drawn strong interest, and rightly so. However, there is no current Canadian law that authorizes the imposition of sanctions specifically for violations of international human rights obligations in a foreign state or for acts of corruption.
Bill S-226, introduced by my good friend, Senator Raynell Andreychuk, and sponsored in the chamber by the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, aims to address this gap. The bill builds on the work of a great Canadian, Irwin Cotler, whose 2015 motion calling for sanctions on human rights violators received the unanimous support of the House. I was glad to be sitting as a member. I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge the tireless efforts of my friend, the hon. member for Etobicoke Centre, on this issue. Today, our government is pleased to announce our support for this important legislation.
The question of how to effectively apply sanctions for human rights abuses and foreign corruption was among the issues examined by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Our government was very encouraged to see unanimous support from committee members, many of whom are here this evening, for a new instrument to impose sanctions on human rights violations or corruption. Our government supports expanding the scope under which sanctions measures can be enacted under the Special Economic Measures Act to include cases of gross violations of human rights and foreign corruption.
As hon. members are surely aware, last month comparable legislation received royal assent in the United Kingdom. The United States enacted a similar law in 2012, and this approach has been debated in the EU Parliament. I truly believe this is the direction the world is going, and it will send a strong message to the world that we are able to work in a non-partisan fashion together to advance this important legislation. We hope it will receive unanimous support when it comes to a vote in the House.
I will certainly work hard for that, and I really want to thank members on both sides of the House for their hard work. We know this has not been an easy issue to support, and I am sure there will be some objections, but we as Canadian members of Parliament can be united. Together, we will advance Canada's resolute defence of human rights at home and abroad, and advance our national values.
Let me now turn to my mandate: restoring Canada's constructive leadership in the world, promoting our values and interests, and ensuring Canada makes a meaningful contribution to global peace and prosperity. Through our progressive international agenda, we are strengthening our credibility and influence, contributing to a more just and inclusive world, helping to make the world safer and more secure, and contributing to a more prosperous world for Canadians and everyone else. There is more work to do.
Today is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. I was very pleased to announce earlier today that Canada will seek to co-chair the Equal Rights Coalition, a group of 33 governments committed to promoting and protecting the rights of LGBTQ2 people around the world. One of the coalition's recent priorities is addressing the deplorable human rights violations against gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. Canada has led on this issue since we spoke out publicly on April 15, and I want to assure hon. members that our government continues to be very deeply engaged in this specific issue, and I am personally very involved.
Abroad, we have taken a feminist approach to our foreign policy and international assistance, providing significant support for sexual and reproductive health rights, including abortion, which I know my beloved colleague will discuss this evening at greater length. Our leadership on key international issues has also been evident on the environment. Together with my colleagues, Canada has been implementing significant contributions to the Paris agreement, and I want to note that at the recent meeting of the Arctic Council, which I attended, I personally was glad to see that the Paris agreement was mentioned in that shared declaration. That was important, as was climate change.
In the realm of international security, our government is implementing a strategy for security, stabilization, and humanitarian development assistance for Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. Of the $1.6 billion allocated in budget 2016, $1.1 billion is dedicated to humanitarian assistance and development programming. Again, we will hear more from my colleague about that later tonight. Through our strategy, we are making meaningful contributions to the region. Another significant contribution is our welcome of more than 40,000 Syrian refugees to Canada, something that all Canadians can be proud of, and is really a distinctive contribution of Canada to regional security, Europe's security, and investment in the future of our great country, to which immigrants have contributed so much.
In eastern Europe, we have recently extended Operation Unifier in Ukraine. Canadian women and men in uniform are leading a multinational NATO battle group in Latvia. Canada values NATO's role as a critical contributor to international peace and security, and we view NATO as the cornerstone of North Atlantic security and defence policy.
One of our closest NATO allies is, of course, the United States. As all Canadians would expect, our government has made it a priority to build a relationship with the new U.S. administration. Since the election, we have been focused on engaging with our counterparts on how to collaboratively grow our economies and support our middle classes.