Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law)

An Act to provide for the taking of restrictive measures in respect of foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights and to make related amendments to the Special Economic Measures Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment enacts the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law) to provide for the taking of restrictive measures in respect of foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. It also proposes related amendments to the Special Economic Measures Act and to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Oct. 4, 2017 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill S-226, An Act to provide for the taking of restrictive measures in respect of foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights and to make related amendments to the Special Economic Measures Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Sergei Magnitsky LegislationStatements By Members

November 1st, 2017 / 2:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer, accountant and whistle-blower. While working on behalf of Bill Browder, he uncovered an elaborate tax fraud being carried out by the Russian government. For this, Sergei was arrested, beaten, tortured, and murdered in a Russian prison.

On October 18, the work of parliamentarians of all parties came to fruition when Senator Raynell Andreychuk's Bill S-226, the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, the Sergei Magnitsky law, received royal assent.

This legislation ensures Canada will not be a safe haven for foreign officials responsible for corruption and gross human rights violations. It is a tool to project our values abroad while protecting our own sovereignty.

Visiting Ottawa today is Sergei Magnitsky's widow Natalia and son Nikita. They are accompanied by Magnitsky's champion and human rights defender, Bill Browder. They wish to thank all parliamentarians for our unanimous support of Bill S-226.

On behalf of everyone here and in the Senate, I thank Mr. Browder and the Magnitsky family for their tireless efforts in defending human rights on the world stage.

October 23rd, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to thank our witnesses for appearing.

Mr. Westdal, I don't have a lot of time, so I want to go through some stuff fast.

Have you ever read Bill S-226, yes or no?

October 20th, 2017 / 2:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'm going to start with No Fly List Kids, and then I'll move to Mr. Goodis.

Mr. Fergus asked a lot of the questions I was going to ask. I just want to say that I look at your son, and he is about the same age as my oldest. I have three kids, and I can't imagine what you go through. You have my sympathy and support, as well.

I also want to draw a parallel. I used to sit on the foreign affairs committee. We completed a report a few months ago where we offered recommendations to the government on changes to the Special Economic Measures Act. As well, we passed Bill S-226, and it has received royal assent.

In that act, for cases of mistaken identity, we offer foreign nationals an opportunity to get off the sanction list Canada has. In the report the foreign affairs committee put together, we also say that, in cases of international sanctions, people with mistaken identity who wind up on no-fly lists and have their assets frozen should have a legal mechanism to seek redress. I find these two situations completely ridiculous—that we offer foreign nationals a better opportunity than we do for our kids here in Canada.

Mr. Goodis, you have been one of the public advocates against the proposed changes. There are extra proposals now, proposals for the proposal that was put down in July. Obviously, you are a seasoned tax professional. In your professional opinion, how does the series of consultations that the government has put out compare with past consultations on tax policy that Finance Canada has put forward?

October 18th, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall Ottawa

October 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that Ms. Patricia Jaton, Deputy Secretary to the Governor General, in her capacity as the Deputy of the Governor General, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 18th day of October, 2017, at 1:00 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Wallace

The schedule indicates the bills assented to were Bill S-226, An Act to provide for the taking of restrictive measures in respect of foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights and to make related amendments to the Special Economic Measures Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and Bill S-231, An Act to amend the Canada Evidence Act and the Criminal Code (protection of journalistic sources).

October 16th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Thank you, Chair, and I want to thank our witnesses for presenting today and knowing how important this study is. For those of us who have been to Ukraine many times and those of us who have Ukrainian heritage, it's something we're quite passionate about. As the sponsor in the House of Bill S-226, I'm proud that all parliamentarians of all parties supported the bill unanimously in the House of Commons, and I'm sure similar results in the Senate. I think this sends a message to all human rights abusers around the world that Canada will not be a safe haven for their money that they've been able to garner through abuse of authority and by treading on the rights of their own citizens.

I want to come back to the idea of making sure Ukraine gets the weapons they need to defend their territory. Professor Luciuk and Professor Kuzio, both of you who are students of eastern European history, if we look at military studies and their impact on the future, do you believe that diplomacy is gained through strength of negotiations because of a powerful military?

October 16th, 2017 / 4:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Thank you.

You spent a bit of time criticizing the House's unanimous passage of Bill S-226. All five parties, in a rare show of unanimity, passed this legislation, global Magnitsky legislation against gross human rights abusers.

I'd like to follow your logic. You said the passage of this bill precludes us from doing some of the work that we're discussing today here in Ukraine. Would it also preclude us from doing work in Venezuela and Myanmar? If we follow the opposite tack, if we're not to enact legislation that would sanction gross human rights abusers wherever they're found, and for a country that is militarily invaded and has territory annexed, something we haven't seen in Europe since the 1930s, that country is not to be provided with defensive weapons, and we're not to support human rights people who stand up against dictators and corrupt regimes for basic human rights, isn't that the definition of diplomatic appeasement?

October 16th, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Peggy Mason President, Rideau Institute on International Affairs

Thank you very much for inviting me here today.

I apologize as I don't have a written text, but I did provide a copy of my notes to the interpreters.

I want to focus very specifically on what might be possible now. It seems to me that there is an urgent need to focus on the opportunity that has opened due to proposals from both Ukraine and Russia for a UN peacekeeping operation in support of the Minsk agreement. Of course, they're differing proposals and they're a long way apart, but nonetheless, it is an opportunity for dialogue in support of the Minsk agreement.

I would note that very recently the Ukrainian minister of defence, President Putin, and Chancellor Merkel have all reiterated strongly there is no alternative to the Minsk agreement, so it seems to me that we, and I include in that Canada, but the west in particular, must urge both sides, that is, Russia and Ukraine, to do much more to arrange and implement local ceasefires, including humanitarian ceasefires. There is a terrible humanitarian situation on the ground, but there's a long UN experience—and OSCE, I might say, not as long as the UN but nonetheless important—with trying to facilitate and implement local ceasefires, including humanitarian ceasefires and, of course, negotiation of the last of the three agreed disengagement areas. That would improve civilian lives in the war zone, but it would also be a step towards addressing the grave danger that exists right now of the deployment of hostile forces and weapons systems close to the line of separation. There's no doubt that in the context of those elements discussion, good faith discussion, on a UN peacekeeping operation, its scope and mandate, can help in those areas.

In order for this fragile opportunity to bear fruit, it seems to me there is a need to avoid any escalatory actions, such as delivery of weapons, even defensive, which from all I can gather from my review of the commentary, provide little military advantage yet could undermine fragile prospects for progress. The escalation would result because each side feels it must respond to a show of force by the other. In this regard it seems to me that Canada should be guided by the caution that Europeans have shown to the prospect of weapons supplies to Ukraine.

Speaking of a Canadian role, despite the calls by some, regrettably in my view—and I speak to this with 20 years of experience in UN, NATO, and European Union peacekeeping training—I do not think that Canada can contribute to a potential UN peacekeeping operation due to our military role in Ukraine as part of NATO, which vitiates the requirement of impartiality, and also the potential passage of the Canadian version of the Magnitsky Act, which will only exacerbate our perceived hostility against Russia. I'll say more about that.

This act, and I speak as a lawyer with a long experience of how Canada has handled this in the past, involves, in my view, Canada adopting American unilateralism and extraterritorial application of its domestic law, which we have always avoided doing, except in a couple of cases, such as UN sanctions, UN arms embargos, and also, I think, child trafficking. I think those are the only areas where we have extraterritorial application of our domestic law. It involves adoption as well of American double standards when it comes to addressing gross human rights violations by friends and allies.

I say adopting American double standards because does anyone seriously think we're going to apply this law to Saudi Arabia, which is routinely listed as one of the worst human rights abusers in the world? What about Israel for its actions in the Palestinian-occupied territories or Gaza? What about the question Russia asked: does anyone believe that Canada would sanction the U.S.A. for legalizing torture and unlawful detention in Guantanamo Bay and secret prisons in Europe? That's very topical again because the CIA has recently declassified information that reveals the vast scope and horror of those events beyond what we even thought we knew.

Unless there is a jurisdictional connection through harm to Canadians, the consistent Canadian approach in the past has always been to follow international law and multilateral approaches through the UN Security Council and Human Rights Council.

I want to end, because that leads me to the bigger problematic background to the crisis in Ukraine. It's really the main reason I wanted to have the opportunity, for which I'm grateful, to testify here today. It is in relation to the overall context in which we consider the Ukraine crisis.

I speak as someone who was very actively involved as a Canadian official during the Cold War at many multilateral and some bilateral tables. This is the new cold war, as it's being called, that is in many ways more dangerous than the original one.

Because the epicentre of the conflict is not Berlin or the third world, but directly on Russia's borders, this puts the urgency of progress on the Minsk protocol in very sharp relief. We have other fronts, and the possibility, with recent activities, of direct engagement between Russia and the United States in Syria. There is an unprecedented deterioration in Russia-U.S. relations. In the height of the Cold War, this was not the case.

There is the demonization of Russian President Putin in the U.S.A. in a way that was never seen during the Cold War. Commentators have noted that if this demonization had taken place during the Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy would never have been able to take the steps he took to avert that crisis. Russiagate paralyzes Trump's ability to engage in any crisis negotiations with Russia.

The other aspect is that there's no anti-cold war media. During the original Cold War, there was a vigorous debate about the approach we should take with regard to Russia. There were those who wanted a hard line, and those who wanted a very different approach, and very often, Canada, of course, was taking the very different approach, as in the six-nation five-continent peace initiative by Pierre Elliott Trudeau in the height of the Cold War.

I end, regrettably, with a very interesting op-ed in The Globe and Mail today by former NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen. He was calling for Canada to play a kind of bridge-building role in support of the Minsk protocol and this discussion that's opened up on the kind of UN peacekeeping operation to help the OSCE monitor and verify the ceasefire. Regrettably, Bill S-226, if it passes, would effectively remove our ability to play that kind of bridging role, and it's really one that's needed very much.

Thank you very much.

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials ActPrivate Members' Business

October 4th, 2017 / 6:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill S-226 under private members' business.

October 4th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Ironically, Mr. Chair, I am going to do it in an unusual fashion. Normally I ask very short questions and ask for answers, but this time I'm going to read into the record bits and pieces of letters I have received, which I think will be of interest to all colleagues here, and which I think are right on point with what Mr. Kolga's testimony was about.

All of us received from the Russian Congress of Canada a letter dated June 15, a statement of the Russian Congress regarding the “announced adoption of the so-called Magnitsky Act, Bill S-226”.

In it they say that it is a “dangerous precedent” and “divisive identity politics” that is “further closing dialogue with Russia“ at this time.

In addition, they say that the “Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Commons heard only one side of the Magnitsky controversy” , and it was detrimental to Russia's interests.

They say that Magnitsky was an accountant, not a lawyer—somehow or another that's very important—and that Magnitsky was “arrested and put in a pre-trial detention facility” and “After 11 months...he died”.

“The official Russian investigation...did not find any evidence of maltreatment or torture”, they say. “The reports of his beating by prison officials...have not been based on empirical or documentary evidence.” However, just in case it's possibly true, “several high-level functionaries in the prison system” and the bureaucracy “were fired or demoted”.

They go on to say that they won't do it again, because they've changed the law. Then they say that the “death of Sergei Magnitsky was unfortunate indeed”.

Like all colleagues, I dismissed this as a bit of a crank letter. After I read that into the record last Monday night in the debate, we got an opinion from the very person you quoted, Mr. Kolga, namely, Natalia Veselnitskaya , who had some dealings with the Trump administration. This sentence is the most incoherent sentence I've seen a lawyer read. I'll read it to you, and if any of us can make any sense out of it, I'd be appreciative. Natalia Veselnitskaya wrote:

Now, a “new Prevezon” on the example of the new “Denis Katsyv” will appear in Canada, “having received a dollar from the blood money stolen from the people of Russia”, cases would be initiated, will bring Russian judges and prosecutors on the lists of “non-entry” to Canada, as if they were ever there at all or were going to visit, their mythical assets will be arrested, and the cases will “go out” for years with zero results until the generation of these politicians ready to betray their people and dance to the tune of a transnational criminal group will change.

By the way, we are the politicians who have betrayed our people, which again, you would dismiss as crank nonsense.

Yesterday evening I received a letter from the Russian Embassy, signed by the press secretary, Kirill Kalinin. He references a couple of articles where prisoners have died in Canadian jails, as if these deaths of Canadian prisoners are analogous to the torture and death of Mr. Magnitsky.

So, I would say that it's here, it's present, and it's real, and it's very interesting that we should be having the Magnitsky debate at the same time that we're talking about this very thing.

Mr. Kolga, what are your comments?

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials ActPrivate Members' Business

October 2nd, 2017 / 6 p.m.
See context

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to support Bill S-226, also known as the Sergueï Magnitsky law and the justice for victims of corrupt foreign officials act.

The background to this important bill reads like a John le Carré novel. A Russian lawyer uncovered corruption, theft, and tax fraud by a group of senior bureaucrats and police. He reported it and suddenly found himself arrested and imprisoned. Days before he has to be released he mysteriously dies. A former business associate, who had asked the lawyer to look into the corruption, is himself expelled from Russia under threat of criminal charges. Years later, the U.S. agree on sanctions against the perpetrators of the corruption, only to find representatives of the Russian government, people with close ties to the corrupt officials, lobbying a U.S. presidential candidate to repeal the legislation. All of this happened. The lawyer was named Sergei Magnitsky, and after he reported high-level corruption in 2008, he was thrown into a brutal prison where, according to many well-respected sources, he was tortured for months until he died.

The Washington Post wrote:

Independent investigators found, “inhuman detention conditions, the isolation from his family, the lack of regular access to his lawyers and the intentional refusal to provide adequate medical assistance resulted in the deliberate infliction of severe pain and suffering, and ultimately his death.”

In 2012, the United States passed the Magnitsky Act, which named the individuals connected with the corruption and Magnitsky's death, and imposed financial and travel sanctions on them. The European Parliament has passed a similar act, and both the United Kingdom and Ireland are also looking at new laws.

In Canada, a resolution was adopted in 2010 that also imposed sanctions, much to the annoyance of Russian officials, one of whom, according to The Washington Post, called it, “none other than an attempt to pressure the investigators and interfere in the internal affairs of another state.”

I am proud to say that the NDP has long been at the forefront of calling for targeted sanctions against those responsible for human rights violations. We have consistently called for Canada to coordinate our sanctions regime with the United States and the European Union, and to tighten sanctions to address major gaps. We believe that the individuals targeted by sanctions should also be inadmissible to Canada.

Unlike the U.S. and EU versions of the legislation, which targeted individuals connected with the case, the bill that is before us today is a type known as a “global Magnitsky law”, which is broader and meant to be used to impose sanctions on any individual or official from any country, not just Russia. This is an important step in fighting government corruption worldwide.

Last January, I had the opportunity to travel with the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs to Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Poland, and Latvia to cement our diplomatic friendships. On those visits we continually heard from officials and NGOs about their concerns with ongoing Russian aggression and the need for continuing and even increasing sanctions against Russia.

Paul Grod, the national president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, stated:

Through its invasion of Ukraine, illegal imprisonment of Ukrainian citizens, and widespread and systematic abuse of human rights, the Russian regime continues to demonstrate its contempt for international law and democratic values….The adoption by Canada of Magnitsky legislation, and the sanctioning of Russian officials responsible for human rights violations would be a strong signal that their actions are unacceptable to Canada. We call on Canada’s Members of Parliament to swiftly adopt Magnitsky legislation, and the Government of Canada to enhance sanctions on the Russian Federation, and ensure appropriate enforcement of the sanctions.

I could not agree more, and I am glad to see that our legislation can be applied not only in Russia but also to corrupt officials anywhere in the world. Corruption is a global problem and a global threat. Transparency International, which is dedicated to exposing and ending corruption worldwide, has stated that “the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery continue to ravage societies around the world.”

They go on to say:

From children denied an education, to elections decided by money not votes, public sector corruption comes in many forms. Bribes and backroom deals don't just steal resources from the most vulnerable—they undermine justice and economic development, and destroy public trust in leaders.

Canada is a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument. It covers five main areas: preventive measures, criminalization and law enforcement, international co-operation, asset recovery, and technical assistance and information exchange. It includes bribery, trading in influence, abuse of functions, and various acts of corruption in the private sector among its definitions.

The Sergei Magnitsky law we are discussing today dovetails perfectly with our international obligations under the UN convention. It does more than commemorate a man who fought a corrupt regime and died for his work. It provides real sanctions against corrupt individuals.

This bill includes the ability to freeze, seize, or sequester the Canadian assets and property of foreign nationals who have been deemed responsible or complicit in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.

Sergei Magnitsky began looking into the accounts of Russian officials at the request of an American-British financier, Bill Browder, who has taken on global corruption as a lifelong cause. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Browder last year at a lunch meeting here on Parliament Hill. He is now the head of the International Justice Campaign for Sergei Magnitsky. He wrote:

one of the questions I got at various different stages of my advocacy work in Ottawa about the Magnitsky act was, what does this have to do with Canada? The fact that we found millions of dollars from the blood money of the Magnitsky crime coming to Canada makes Canada directly involved in this thing. This is not a hypothetical or an abstract notion. This is a situation in which a man was murdered for money, and some of that money came to Canada.

I believe that everyone in this House believes that Canada should not have any role in assisting government corruption abroad. This bill will ensure that Canada can no longer be an unwitting accessory to such acts, and it sends a strong message to corrupt officials everywhere: we are watching, we are paying attention, and we will not help you get away with it.

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials ActPrivate Members' Business

October 2nd, 2017 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to speak about Bill S-226, Justice for Victims of Corrupt Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law).

First, I would like to pay tribute to Sergei Magnitsky, who lost his life in a brave campaign to expose massive corruption at the highest levels in Russia. The circumstances surrounding Mr. Magnitsky's death have made it abundantly clear that state corruption and human rights violations go hand in glove. To protect their ill-received wealth, kleptocratic regimes dismantle the rule of law and then the institutions of democracy. These regimes steal the people's wealth, then their rights, and in the end their people's futures.

Like Sergei Magnitsky, countless brave individuals across the globe have suffered violations of their fundamental human rights for speaking out. Like Mr. Magnitsky, many have been victimized by the very institutions and individuals entrusted with protecting them. Like Mr. Magnitsky, many have not seen the perpetrators brought to justice, and instead have found themselves incarcerated, and tortured on behalf of criminals by prosecutors and judges in show trials, not to uphold justice but to uphold the power of the corrupt. Many are eliminated, or murdered, as was Mr. Magnitsky, to send a message to those foolhardy enough to take a stand on behalf of truth and justice.

Human rights are integral to Canada's international engagements. We stand up for these inalienable rights and we do not hesitate to speak out against human rights violators and abusers, wherever they reside. Speaking out is important. However, words are not enough. That is why Canada needs to, and intends to, have a wide range of tools at its disposal to protect and promote human rights. We will assess the circumstances and then choose the tools that have the best chance of getting the job done for the people directly affected and for the cause of advancing human rights globally.

At the end of the 20th century, with the fall of the Iron Curtain, there were those who celebrated the end of history. Democracy, human rights, and the international rule of law were victorious. Clearly, the celebrating began too soon. Today we find ourselves in a world where too often our shared western principles of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law are being flouted or undermined, not just by small dictatorial countries but also by major powers.

We seem to be entering a world of disorder in which there are those who believe they can disregard the human rights of their citizens, flaunt international law treaties and agreements, or undermine the stability of their neighbours. It is not coincidental that the worst human rights violators, from Syria to North Korea, are also major threats to international peace and security. It is no surprise that a kleptocratic Russia, which killed Magnitsky, has militarily supported both of these states and militarily invaded and illegally annexed neighbouring Ukraine's territory. This has important and dangerous consequences for all of us.

Canada and our government has and must continue to engage constructively and deliberately. Let me briefly illustrate Canada's current human rights tool kit, and then speak to how Bill S-226 will make an important contribution to Canada's ability to lead on human rights and anti-corruption efforts worldwide.

First, no one should doubt that Canada and our government puts human rights on the agenda when we talk to other governments at all levels, from officials to heads of state. These dialogues are not finger-wagging exercises. Canada raises concerns, and does so forcefully when needed, privately and publicly. However, we also seize opportunities to learn from each other, and work together to effect positive change. As the Prime Minister said in his speech at last week's UN General Assembly, we pursue human rights as a partnership through “listening, learning, and working together” as a way to build a better world.

Second, Canada provides funding to multilateral, regional, and civil society organizations to protect and promote human rights. This includes the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which is the principal human rights focused UN office.

Third, we support human rights defenders. Recognizing their critical role, Global Affairs Canada has recently released the document “Voices at risk: Canada’s guidelines on supporting human rights defenders”. This practical tool helps Canadian officials abroad to provide human rights defenders with the support they need to be more effective advocates and to do so safely.

Bill S-226 would add a new and important tool to this particular tool kit: the ability to take restrictive measures to sanction foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of human rights.

To be effective, sanctions must be used wisely and selectively. During its review of the Special Economic Measures Act and the Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development heard from some of the world's top experts on sanctions and the effective use of sanctions as a tool. As was heard in that testimony, sanctions are a “policy instrument that can be useful in combination with other tools as part of an integrated political strategy.”

The role of sanctions as part of our engagement tool kit was evident recently when the Minister of Foreign Affairs announced sanctions against individuals in the Maduro regime in Venezuela. Doing so sent a clear message that anti-democratic behaviour, the physical abuse and murder of protesting citizens, and incarceration of opposition leaders would have consequences. These sanctions are targeted against people responsible for the deterioration of democracy in Venezuela and are part of the multifaceted effort that the Government of Canada has been undertaking to pressure for a return to democracy.

Bill S-226 would provide another tool to add to Canada's human rights tool box, by creating a new mechanism to respond to gross human rights violations, as well as significant corruption in a foreign state by imposing sanctions on individuals responsible for these violations.

The government proudly supports Bill S-226 and we are confident it will become a valuable addition to Canada's efforts to promote and protect human rights internationally.

I would like to say a few words about the importance of the non-partisan nature with which all members of the House have approached Bill S-226. On an issue as fundamental and as important to Canadians as the defence of human rights, it is uplifting to see we can all work together.

In particular, I would like to thank our Minister of Foreign Affairs who so proactively engaged on this file; Senator Andreychuk from the other place, for her passion in bringing this legislation forward; the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman for all of his hard work; and the chair and members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development for their diligence and perseverance and their unanimous report which provided invaluable guidance for the legislation.

I would also like to thank Marcus Kolga. His facilitation and advocacy has been invaluable.

Finally, I would like to thank Magnitsky legislation champion Bill Browder, who I came to know during this process. His relentless and principled efforts to honour the memory of his friend Sergei Magnitsky is enshrined in this legislation.

I would also like to thank Natasha and Nikita, the wife and son of Sergei Magnitsky. Their husband and father was by profession a skilled lawyer and principled auditor. However, within this lawyer and auditor resided a hero who would shine a light on the darkness of a corrupt regime. He sacrificed himself and his future for the future of the Russian people.

[Member spoke in Russian]

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials ActPrivate Members' Business

October 2nd, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to rise and speak to Bill S-226 at third reading.

I have to first thank Senator Raynell Andreychuk , who is the author of this bill in the Senate. She has been advocating for this legislation, along with a number of us, for a number of years. It goes back to Irwin Cotler, a former colleague of ours here in Parliament, who brought it forward in 2015 calling on the Government of Canada to institute Sergei Magnitsky-style legislation, similar to legislation that has been adopted around the world. Therefore, we are continuing in that vein. I made some amendments to the bill that was originally proposed, and Senator Andreychuk went even further to make sure that this bill first and foremost is focused on human rights violators as well as corrupt foreign officials who are taking advantage of their citizens and abusing their positions of power. We have to make sure that those individuals do not use Canada as a safe haven.

One of the main pushes, of course, behind this legislation is Bill Browder, who was put on red notice and wrote a book about his experience of dealing in Russia and whose lawyer was Sergei Magnitsky. Sergei Magnitsky had uncovered the biggest tax fraud in Russian history, and for that he was falsely arrested and accused, then was imprisoned, tortured, and beaten to death in a Russian prison outside of Moscow.

I also want to thank Marcus Kolga. Marcus has been an unwavering advocate for Sergei Magnitsky and this type of legislation in Canada. He has worked across party lines to ensure that we get as close to possible to unanimous consent in support of this bill.

I want to thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs for her support for Bill S-226 and for working with me and Senator Andreychuk and all parliamentarians to find a way that the government could also support this bill. The report stage amendments that we just concurred in really do strengthen the bill in a lot of ways and clarify the language so there is consistency between Bill S-226 and the Special Economic Measures Act.

I think all of us would be remiss if we did not thank the huge diaspora in Canada: the Ukrainian diaspora, the pro-democracy Russians in Canada, the Vietnamese community, the Iranian community, and the Falun Gong and Chinese community here. They believe that having this legislation in Canada, the Sergei Magnitsky law, would enable the Government of Canada to hold those human rights abusers in their countries to account and ensure that they do not hide their money or bring their families and protect them here in Canada, and that we do not allow Canada to be used as a safe haven. I thank all of them for their support, petitions, and advocacy and holding seminars and spreading the world about how important Bill S-226 is.

As I said, this legislation is about anti-corruption. It is about protecting human rights and protecting Canadian values. It is really not just about sanctions and travel bans; it is about ensuring that Canada cannot be used as a safe haven by those criminals. By all accounts, as corrupt government officials and human rights abusers, these individuals are criminals. Each and every one of them should be held to account in The Hague at the International Criminal Court. Until that happens and until the proper investigations take place, we have to ensure that Canada is doing its part in lock step with the rest of the international community to ensure that we are not used to educate these criminals' children, to hide their families and their extra-marital affairs here in Canada, to buy homes and properties over here, or to make use of our very strong banking system.

I know some of the research that has been done shows that we have already been able to uncover oligarchs from Russia who have hidden money here in Canada and essentially used a shell game to clean their money before taking it back to Russia. Russian oligarchs have abused their authority to enrich themselves, to commit tax fraud, and other devious schemes to acquire money from the citizens of Russia, or elsewhere for that matter.

We know they would love to put their money in trusted banks like we have here in Canada, rather than being in Russian banks that are often sanctioned because of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, Georgia, and elsewhere, due to their support for Vladimir Putin's expansionist adventurism.

As I said earlier, there are other countries that have already passed Magnitsky-style legislation. The United States did it in 2012. Last year, the United States made sure that the Sergei Magnitsky law became a global Magnitsky law. It was not just about Russia, but other countries that are human rights abusers, with the people getting rich by being human rights abusers, which is atrocious.

We also know that the European Parliament passed it in 2013, Estonia in 2016, the United Kingdom passed it earlier this year, and Canada needs to get this done so that it falls in line. All three main parties, as I have said in the House before, all supported Magnitsky-style legislation in the 2015 campaign. This is about the three main parties all coming together, supporting this legislation, and bringing it into reality.

People are probably asking why we need this. Are we not already sanctioning officials, Russian oligarchs and Ukrainian oligarchs, responsible for the violence in Donbass and the illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea? The current government and the previous Conservative government have already sanctioned what I think are over 250 individuals and entities, and travel bans have been put in place. However, that only applies to the situation in Donbass and Crimea. It does not speak to the broader context of all of the different abuses taking place in Russia, or any other country, for that matter. Right now the way that the Special Economic Measures Act works is that other international organizations have to direct Canada and member states to sanction because of a certain conflict or issue, saying that we are going to put in place travel bans and economic sanctions.

Bill S-226 would put another tool in the tool box for the Government of Canada, so that we can project our Canadian values and ensure that Canada is not being used as a safe haven by corrupt foreign officials and human rights abusers. This would enable Canada to go after other countries and entities that are human rights abusers. It is not just about Russian aggression and the war in Ukraine. It is not just about Crimea's illegal annexation. This is also about the torture of political prisoners in places like Iran, the human rights abuses that we have seen in Vietnam, and the current genocide that is taking place in Myanmar with the Rohingyas.

This would give the authority to the Government of Canada to act unilaterally in the interests of Canada to stop these types of human rights abuses, send the signal that corrupt officials will not get away with it, that Canada is taking notice, and that Canada and its partners will ensure that we shut down their ability to launder their money, hide their families, and enrich themselves by benefiting from Canada's strong financial institutions and assets, whether it is real estate, businesses, or investments. This is a great piece of legislation.

I talked about the changes that were brought forward by the government with a number of amendments, a lot of which dealt with the language, to ensure that the lines between the Special Economic Measures Act and Bill S-226 are reliable, appropriate, and evident. We want to make sure that there is also fairness. I accept the government's amendments that would enable individuals on the list who are sanctioned with travel bans to have the ability to say they have been confused with someone else and have a right to a just process to appeal it. That was not available before in the way that the legislation was drafted, so Senator Andreychuk and I accepted that amendment. It is also about making sure that there is a way to determine who is a foreign official, a public office holder, and other individuals, and that it is consistent in all torts in legislation. We want to make sure there is not just an open-ended list of indicators, but hard evidence of acts of significant corruption.

It still gives power to the Governor in Council to make the determination of who goes on the list, what sources of information are used, how we compel different agencies, financial institutions, and others to provide information, and also making sure that it is valid. The government proposed a lot of major changes that cleaned up the bill and provided more strength and more tools and mechanisms, which we support.

We talked about some of the examples of where we are seeing human rights abuses outside of Russia. I already mentioned what is happening in Myanmar, with the genocide being committed against the Rohingyas. There are individuals who are responsible for that. We should be going after the current military leadership in Myanmar: Sen. General Min Aung Hlaing; Lt.-Gen. Sein Win, who is the minister of defence; Vice Senior General Soe Winn. These are individuals who are carrying out genocide, ethnic cleansing, and they need to be held to account. Canada can act unilaterally and do that.

In Venezuela, with President Maduro and everything that is happening, they are clamping down on human rights and there is no freedom of the press. We are talking about a recession and skyrocketing costs and inflation impacting everything from food to medicine to medical supplies. He is capturing his political dissidents, and imprisoning and torturing them. The Venezuela regime needs to be sanctioned. This is all about making sure that all the political leaders, military leaders, and police agencies are being held to account. The United Nations Human Rights Council says that just since April, 5,000 people have been detained, and 1,000 of them are still in custody. Bill S-226 would be able to put proper economic sanctions in place, as well as travel bans, to send a message to Maduro and his regime that this is not warranted.

In Iran, President Rouhani continues to not just imprison his political dissidents, but to executive them. Under Rouhani, who everyone thinks has this charm offensive, political executions have increased by 55% under him versus under Ahmadinejad. This individual cannot be trusted, and the Iranian regime must be held to account. He is imprisoning not just political prisoners, but ethnic and religious minorities. He continues to push out their theocracy and impugn thousands of people all the time.

We cannot forget that under Ayatollah Khomeini back in 1988, 30,000 political prisoners were killed in one summer. Those who orchestrated and participated in that, who are responsible, still serve today in the current regime. They have never been sanctioned. We could do that now with Bill S-226.

We cannot forget about what is still happening in Ukraine, in Russia, and in Chechnya. We see the human rights violations. There were 200 men who were rounded up and put into detention centres, based upon their sexual orientation. Those individuals who belong to the LGBTQ community had their rights violated, and at least three of them were killed. Those Chechen leaders who are responsible for it, especially Ramzan Kadyrov, have to be held to account. These individuals are no different than any of the other ones we want to sanction.

I will leave my final comments to the end of the debate today, but I do want to thank all members of Parliament for their support. I am looking forward to seeing this go back to the Senate as quickly as possible.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 11:30 a.m.
See context

Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I disagree completely with the comments my colleague made. It saddens me to do that because we have worked so well together on other pieces of legislation. I think of bill S-226, and I know through that work that he understands the important role Canada has to play in the world in upholding human rights and the rule of law and holding people to account on some of the bad things that happen in the world. I would think he would agree it is important that we properly play a leading role in regulating the trade of arms that get into conflict areas and have severe negative effects, most often on women and girls. I am sure he would support that.

Let me also provide him the opportunity to correct the record and admit that what this bill would do is, in fact, keep in place the exact same record-keeping regime of conventional arms that was in place under the Stephen Harper government, of which he was a member, a parliamentary secretary if my memory recalls correctly. I do not know what he is talking about in the creation of some new long-gun registry. It is completely non-factual, and he knows this. He was in a government that allowed for the exact same regime we are talking about through this Arms Trade Treaty.

June 22nd, 2017 / 9:10 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

I move that Bill S-226 in clause 17 be amended by (a) replacing line 37 on page 10 with the following:

17(1) Subsection 35.1 of the Immigration and

Also I move that clause 17 be amended by (b) replacing lines 1 to 4 on page 11 with the following:

being a person, other than a permanent resident, who is currently the subject of an order or regulation made under section 4 of the Special Economic Measures Act on the grounds that any of the circumstances described in paragraph 4(1.1)(c) or (d) of that Act has occurred;

Moving on, Mr. Chair, in proposed paragraph (e), which begins with “being a”, the following is to be included, “person other than a permanent resident”, and after the word “is”, the words “currently the” should be added, and then after the word “subject”, the word “of”.

It continues. I also propose that clause 17 be amended by (c) adding after line 7 on page 11 the following:

(2) Section 35 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (1):

Clarification

(2) For greater certainty, despite section 33, a person who ceases being the subject of an order or regulation referred to in paragraph 1(d) or (e) is no longer inadmissible under that paragraph.

June 22nd, 2017 / 9:10 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

That's right. This is longer so I'll do it as I've been doing it for the longer sections, which is that Bill S-226 in clause 16 be amended by replacing lines 9 to 36 on page 10 with the following, and the section to pay attention to here is proposed paragraph 1.1(d). In the first line, the word “national” is to be included next to the word “a”. Right after the word “state”, the following words are to be included: “who is either a foreign public official, within the meaning of section 2 of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act”.

On the third line, next to the word “the”, the word “misappropriation” is to be included, and on the fourth line, next to the word “foreign”, the word “states”. Following on, next to the word “or”, the following is to be included: “any act of”.

In the next line, next to the word “resources” and the hyphen, the following is to be included: “which amounts to acts of”. A couple of words over, next to the word “significant”, the following is to be included: “corruption when taking into consideration, among other things, their impact”, and, next to the word “the”, the words “amounts involved”.

Following on after the word “the” in the second-last line “foreign national's influence” is to be added. Then there's a space there, where the word “or” is, and the word “position” is to be included, and next to the word “of”, the word “authority” is to be included. Then, next to the word “the”, the word “complicity” is to be included. Finally, it ends with “the government of the foreign state in question in the acts”.

June 22nd, 2017 / 9:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

I'd like to speak to that, Mr. Chair.

I move that Bill S-226, in clause 16, be amended by replacing lines 21 to 23 on page 9 with the following:

I'll just read it out:

The Governor in Council may, if the Governor in Council is of the opinion that any of the circumstances described in subsection (1.1) has occurred,

It's short enough to be read out as a whole.

June 22nd, 2017 / 9:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Chair, on clause 15, I move that Bill S-226 in clause 15 be amended by replacing lines 10 to 17 on page 9 with the following. For efficiency, I'll just read in the words.

Under the term “Review” in this paragraph, in the second line, the second word should be “may”. Moving a few words over, between the words “review” and “the”, the word “concerning” should be included.

In the third line, between the words “report to” and “together” the words “the appropriate House” following should be included. Between the words “recommendations” and “to” the word “as” should be included, and between the words “to” and “foreign”, “whether those” should be included.

Finally, in the last line, next to the word “nationals” the following should be included: “should remain, or no longer be, the subject of that order or regulation”.

June 22nd, 2017 / 9:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

That's right. I move that Bill S-226 in clause 10, be amended by adding after line 8 on page 8 the following:

Offences

Offence and Punishment

10.1 Every person who knowingly contravenes or fails to comply with an order or regulation made under section 4

a) Is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years; or

b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable to a fine of not more than $25,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or to both.

June 22nd, 2017 / 9:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

I move that Bill S-226in clause 10 be amended by (a) replacing lines 26 on page 7 with the following, under “Reasonable expenses”, in subclause 10(1) the term “A foreign national” should be included.

Further down the page, under “Delay”, I'll read in the full change:

The Minister must make a decision on the application and, if applicable, issue a certificate within 90 days after the day on which the application is received.

June 22nd, 2017 / 9 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

I'd like to speak to that, Mr. Chair.

I move that clause 9 in Bill S-226 be amended by replacing lines 19 to 25 on page 7 with the following.

Under “Mistaken Identity”, the first word in the paragraph should be “Any”. Next to the word “person”, the following should be included: “in Canada or any Canadian outside Canada whose name is the same as or similar to the name of a foreign national”. Toward the end of line 21, “if they claim” should be included in between the words “may” and “not”. The word “that” should be included at the end of line 21, and the third-last word in the line should be “that”.

Under “Determination by Minister”, line 24 should begin:

(2) Within 45 days after the day on which the application was received

Moving on, proposed paragraph 9(2)(a) would begin with the following: “if he or she is satisfied”. The amendment would also add these words: “applicant”; “the”; and “the”.

June 22nd, 2017 / 9 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

I'd like to speak to that, Mr. Chair.

I move that clause 8 of Bill S-226 be amended by replacing lines 6 to 18 on page 7, and the heading before clause 8 on page 7, with the following:

Rights of Foreign Nationals Who are the Subject of an Order or Regulation Application

Under this part, the amendment would insert the phrase “foreign national”.

Under “Recommendation”, the amendment would insert a number of phrases, including, “On receipt of the application”; “decide whether there are”; “be amended” and “repealed”; “ceases to be”; and “it.”

I believe everything else stays the same. I can read further, if you like.

June 22nd, 2017 / 8:55 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Okay. I move that Bill S-226 be amended by adding after line 5 on page 7 the following:

Duty to disclose — supervising and regulating agencies

7.1 (1) Every entity referred to in section 7 must disclose, every month, to the principal agency or body that supervises or regulates it under federal or provincial law, whether it is in possession or control of any property referred to in that section and, if so, the number of persons or dealings involved and the total value of the property.

Duty to disclose — RCMP or CSIS

(2) Every person in Canada and every Canadian outside Canada must disclose without delay to the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service

(a) that they have reason to believe that property in their possession or control is owned, held or controlled by or on behalf of a foreign national who is the subject of an order or regulation made under section 4; and

(b) any information about a transaction or proposed transaction in respect of property referred to in paragraph (a).

Immunity

(3) No proceedings under this Act and no civil proceedings lie against a person for a disclosure made in good faith under subsection (1) or (2).

June 22nd, 2017 / 8:55 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

I move that Bill S-226, in clause 4, be amended by adding, after line 37 on page 5, the following:

Order authorizing Minister (4) The Governor in Council may, by order, authorize the Minister to

(a) issue to any person in Canada or Canadian outside Canada a permit to carry out a specified activity or transaction, or class of activity or transaction, that is restricted or prohibited under this Act or any order or regulations made under this Act; or

(b) issue a general permit allowing any person in Canada or Canadian outside Canada to carry out a class of activity or transaction that is restricted or prohibited under this Act or any order or regulations made under this Act.

Ministerial permit

(5) The Minister may issue a permit or general permit, subject to any terms and conditions that are, in the opinion of the Minister, consistent with this Act and any order or regulations made under this Act.

Revocation, etc.

(6) The Minister may amend, suspend, revoke or reinstate any permit or general permit issued by the Minister.

June 22nd, 2017 / 8:50 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

I propose that Bill S-226 in clause 4 be amended by replacing lines 36 and 37 on page 5 to include the words “any other”, “to, for the benefit of or on the direction or order”.

I can read the whole thing, but perhaps this is more efficient.

June 22nd, 2017 / 8:50 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Yes, there are, Mr. Chair.

I propose that Bill S-226 in clause 4 be amended by (a) replacing lines 13 to 15 on page 4 with the following:

Orders and regulations

4 (1) The Governor in Council may, if the Governor in Council is of the opinion that any of the circumstances described in subsection (2) has occurred,

I also propose that clause 4 be amended by (b) replacing lines 18 and 19 on page 4 with the following:

referred to in subsection (3) in relation to a foreign national that the Governor in Council considered

I also propose (c) replacing line 29 on page 4 with the following.... I'm guessing at the photocopying here.

June 22nd, 2017 / 8:50 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

I propose that Bill S-226 in clause 2 be amended by deleting lines 8 to 10 on page 4.

June 22nd, 2017 / 8:50 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

I propose that Bill S-226 in clause 2 be amended by replacing, in the French version, line 34 on page 3 with the following:

étranger Individu autre :

June 22nd, 2017 / 8:50 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

I propose that Bill S-226 in clause 2 be amended by deleting lines 6 and 7 on page 4.

(Amendment agreed to)

June 22nd, 2017 / 8:45 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

I move that Bill S-226 in clause 2 be amended by adding after line 17 on page 3 the following:

foreign public official has the same meaning as in section 2 of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. (agent public étranger)

June 22nd, 2017 / 8:45 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Before I read the amendment, I simply want to say, since I hope this is the last meeting the committee will have before the fall—Tom, we can come back, if you like, although I might not be here—that this bill has been, in all honesty, a real collaborative effort. We do disagree in this committee. We certainly disagree in the House of Commons. That is just part of politics, but any time you can work collaboratively with colleagues and find a common path, as we've done here, I think it's something to be celebrated.

Mr. Chair, you mentioned Senator Andreychuk. I too want to acknowledge Senator Andreychuk, who may or may not be in the room. Regardless, it's important for me to do that. This is a real testament to her interest in human rights.

Of course, I also want to acknowledge the efforts of Irwin Cotler, responsible for putting forward the bill to begin with a number of years ago.

That said, I will read the first Liberal amendment. I propose that Bill S-226 in clause 2 be amended by replacing line 6 on page 3 with the following:

Definitions

2 The following definitions apply in this Act.

June 22nd, 2017 / 8:45 a.m.
See context

Liberal

The Chair (Hon. Robert Nault (Kenora, Lib.)) Liberal Bob Nault

Colleagues, I want to bring this meeting to order.

This is meeting 69 of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Pursuant to the order of reference of Tuesday, June 13, 2017, we are considering Bill S-226, an act to provide for the taking of restrictive measures in respect of foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights and to make related amendments to the Special Economic Measures Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

This morning, colleagues, I first want to acknowledge Senator Andreychuk, the sponsor of this bill in the Senate, and Mr. James Bezan, the sponsor in the House of Commons. Later on in the process, Mr. Bezan will get an opportunity to speak to his bill as we go through the process of clause-by-clause.

Many of you have been through this process before. If not, unfortunately the chair does more talking than he normally does just to go through the clauses. There are some amendments that I understand the government will be putting forward. They are listed for you, and we'll go through those as well.

The process of clause-by-clause is that we will go through the clauses, and they will be carried either as amended or as intended, until we get to the end of the bill. I will be able to sign this to go back to the House, through special order, for tomorrow. Later on today, if we get this done, I will be able to send it to the House. That's the objective of this exercise, as per the motion passed yesterday, I think, by the House leader.

We will now begin our clause-by-clause consideration.

Pursuant to Standing Order 75(1), the consideration of clause 1, which is the short title, and the preamble is postponed until the end.

(On clause 2)

Clause 2 has five amendments.

I will turn to floor over to Mr. Fragiskatos for those amendments to clause 2.

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2017 / 6:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Madam Speaker, I want to thank all members for their interventions over the two hours of debate on Bill S-226. There are so many people to thank. First of all, I want to thank Senator Raynell Andreychuk, who brought this bill forward.

As I said in my opening comments, the last paragraph in the preamble best sums up what this bill accomplishes. It reads:

And whereas all violators of internationally recognized human rights should be treated and sanctioned equally throughout the world,

We spent a lot of time, and a lot of speakers here mentioned the abuses in Russia. As someone who has been banned from Russia, along with a number of colleagues, I know it is of grave concern to most members in the House to ensure that we take the right actions against Russia's aggressions in Ukraine; and against Russia's human rights violations within Russia and its neighbouring countries as it continues to crack down on the freedom of the press, the LGBTQ community, and political dissidents.

We have witnessed it again this week, just yesterday. Alexei Navalny is the leader of the official opposition in Russia. He is a Russian Opposition Coordination Council member and the leader of the Progress Party. He has been described by The Wall Street Journal as “The Man Vladimir Putin Fears Most”.

Yesterday, which was kind of like Russian Independence Day, Alexei Navalny organized a number of large-scale demonstrations promoting democracy and human rights and attacking the political corruption of Putin and the kleptocrats at the Kremlin. He has been arrested before, in 2011 and 2017, and he was arrested yesterday morning before he even got out of his house. Before he even got onto the streets to participate in a peaceful protest, he was pulled from his house. All communications were cut off in his house and office. Along with thousands of other people, he was arrested yesterday in Russia and imprisoned for 30 days for holding an unsanctioned rally.

This is 30 days in prison, and we know that prison time in Russia is hard time. It is where Sergei Magnitsky was detained, beaten, tortured, and ultimately murdered, because he was a whistleblower on Russian corruption, on calling out the kleptocrats who were enriching themselves at the cost of individuals who had been committing a large tax fraud and blaming Bill Browder.

I would like to thank Bill Browder for the hard work he has done, not only in coming to Canada to have us bring forward Sergei Magnitsky-style legislation, but also to the United States, Britain, the European Parliament, Estonia, and other countries that are adopting this type of legislation, so that we as western nations, as democracies that love human rights and freedoms, can go out there and start to change the channel on these human rights abusers, these corrupt foreign officials who continue to enrich themselves and think that they can hide their wealth and their families in our countries. Bill S-226 provides the tools and mechanisms for the government to go out there and sanction them so that they cannot benefit from their crimes.

We also have to remember Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated on the bridge outside of the Kremlin just two years ago. The last time he was in Canada speaking to the foreign affairs committee, he said that Magnitsky-style legislation is pro-Russian legislation. It is about making sure that the people of Russia enjoy the freedoms of democracy and the rule of law that we take for granted here in Canada, in the United States, and in western Europe. This is about trying to modernize that.

A couple of weeks ago, opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza was here, and he too, after being twice poisoned—two assassination attempts on him—still had the power and strength to come and speak to us as parliamentarians and again say that we should pass this legislation.

I am glad that the government, the NDP, and all members of Parliament are supporting this legislation. I know the government has brought forward amendments. I have met with government officials from foreign affairs, and I can tell the House that the Conservatives are okay with these amendments. There are a few on which we are still working on some wording, but let us get the bill to the foreign affairs committee, which has already done some great work on studying the Magnitsky-style legislation. The committee has the ability to quickly analyze the amendments, implement those amendments, and get them back here to the House so that we can pass them before we break for summer, and then the Senate can deal with those amendments.

Again, I thank everyone who has participated in this debate.

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2017 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to speak on Bill S-226, a very important piece of legislation. I listened intently to all of the comments made today, within the last hour. It is unfortunate that the government did not make this a priority to introduce on day one, because during the election everybody acknowledged the importance of Magnitsky legislation. I am not a member of the government, but I am glad the government is onside, supporting legislation that was introduced by the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman and Senator Raynell Andreychuk.

Bill C-267 was the bill of choice for the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman. He introduced the Holodomor legislation in Canada, the first western country to recognize the horrific human rights violations, with more than 10 million Ukrainians killed by the brutal hands of Stalin. We are here today because of continued violations in the same part of the world, where Sergei Magnitsky was brutally killed. He was imprisoned in a Russian prison, detained, tortured, and murdered in 2009.

There is a pattern here. Boris Nemtsov came to Canada in 2012. He was the official opposition leader in Russia opposing the Putin regime and the human rights violations, the torture, the poisoning, the aggression, and the violations, and he was brutally murdered too, just outside of the Russian Parliament buildings.

The violations continue in Ukraine with the annexation of Crimea by Putin and his regime. Sergei Magnitsky's murderers have gone unpunished. Each of us in the House has a responsibility. I start each day praying, asking God what he would have us do in the House, how we can bring justice to this country and the world. May we never shirk from that duty and accomplish what each of us has been called to do. I believe this piece of legislation, Bill S-226, is one of those things.

I am thrilled, but I also realize that this is a House where politics are often practised, and at times things are promised, things are said, and there are other things happening behind the scenes. I am thankful the government is going to support this bill. I have indicated that there is agreement on the amendments, but we need to pass this legislation, and we need to pass it quickly. It needs to go back to committee and the Senate. If we amend it, it has to go back to the Senate; if we accepted it the way it came from the Senate, it could be enacted. However, it has to go back to the Senate.

I know everyone on this side will support this bill, and I encourage everyone on the government side to do the same so that it passes, goes back to committee, comes back to the House, which can be done in one day, and then it can go back to the Senate so that this important legislation can be enacted.

I again want to sincerely thank Raynell Andreychuk and the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman. I have been on trips to Ukraine with them and have seen their passion and love for that country. The roots of their heritage are in Ukraine, as are mine; and many in the House, in all parties, have those wonderful roots. Let us stand up for human rights. It is not just about Russia's aggression in Ukraine; it is about human rights across the world and Canada being given the tools to enact sanctions that will be effective.

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2017 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism)

Madam Speaker, today I rise proudly to speak in favour of Bill S-226, the Sergei Magnitsky legislation.

Our government supports this bill. Our support comes with amendments that will strengthen its implementation and its effectiveness and better align it with current Canadian sanctions and immigration policy and practice. These amendments will also align with the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development recommendations that were issued on April 6, 2017.

My support for this bill comes for a few reasons that I will expand upon this evening. The first is my riding of Parkdale—High Park and the constituents within it. Second is my own background in practising constitutional and human rights law and prosecuting internationally with the UN. The third is that it resonates with the foreign policy objectives recently outlined by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

On the first point, as a prefatory comment, I want to talk about what Bill S-226 seeks to accomplish. It will create a legal mechanism to allow for the imposition of sanctions in response to gross violations of internationally recognized human rights as well as in response to acts of significant corruption. There is currently no 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, including those in Russia, as highlighted in the case of Sergei Magnitsky. Bill S-226 will address this gap.

Furthermore, our government also 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.

Let me turn now to the category that I talked about at the outset, my constituents, the people I represent. As the member of Parliament for Parkdale—High Park, during my tenure and during the campaign two years ago, I have had literally hundreds of one-on-one conversations with constituents of both Polish and Ukrainian descent who live in my riding. The diaspora is very vibrant in my community. We are home to two pre-eminent festivals for both Polish Canadians and Ukrainian Canadians. Those representatives come with deep, passionate, interest in the affairs of Ukraine and of Poland.

This is communicated to me regularly by such stakeholders as the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Canadian Polish Congress, as well as by individuals like Marcus Kolga of the Estonian Central Council in Canada. What they tell me is the same thing, over and over again: that eastern Europe is embattled because of Russian aggression. They talk to me about the illegal annexation of Crimea, which our government rejects. They talk to me about the ongoing aggression and military activity in the Donbass and the threat of an ever-expansionist Russia moving across eastern Europe. They also talk to me about the violation of human rights of those who dare to speak out in Russia itself.

It is in the effort to combat such human rights violations that this legislation was developed. By promoting respect for human rights, this legislation captures the sentiments expressed to me time and time again by my Ukrainian-Canadian and Polish-Canadian constituents, who desire respect for basic civil liberties in Russia and who want to curb Russian aggression and expansion in Europe.

The second aspect that I want to discuss this evening is the category of human rights violations. I come to this chamber as a lawyer who practised for 15 years, defending charter rights here in Canada and prosecuting international human rights violations abroad with the United Nations. We are lucky in this country to have many rights, freedoms, and privileges when others around the world face real and constant danger for simply opposing their government or daring to speak out.

I would like to take some time to outline the specific type of international human rights violations this bill will seek to curb or stop outright.

We have heard discussion about this, but the most important component is the case of Sergei Magnitsky himself. He was a Russian lawyer. He was tortured, beaten, and killed in a Moscow prison after uncovering a $230-million tax fraud and testifying against the Russian government officials involved. Despite overwhelming evidence incriminating these prison officials, the Russian government exonerated everyone involved.

As most people know, the people who killed Mr. Magnitsky did so for money. We know that criminals of this kind do not keep their ill-gotten gains in their country of origin. They do not keep it in places like Russia. They know all too well how easily it can be taken away from them. They keep their money in the west.

What will this legislation do to address the situation? For this, I turn to none other than Bill Browder, a well-known advocate for defending gross human rights violations abroad and an advocate for his own employee, Sergei Magnitsky, who died in this context.

Mr. Browder has said:

We realized that by preventing these people from storing and spending their money in the West, we could bring an end to the impunity they enjoyed in Russia. By freezing their assets and banning their visas, we could create direct, personal consequences for human-rights abusers, hitting them where it hurts the most — in their wallets. This was the genesis of Magnitsky sanctions — targeted visa bans and asset freezes imposed on individual human-rights abusers.

The Sergei Magnitsky case is not the only case. That is the most troubling aspect. There is the case of Alexander Perepilichny, who suddenly dropped dead in Britain after providing key evidence in the Magnitsky case. There is the case of Vladimir Kara-Murza, who campaigned for a Canadian version of the Magnitsky Law and was poisoned. There is the case of Boris Nemtsov, another Russian opposition politician who campaigned in this very capital for a Canadian Magnitsky piece of legislation in 2012 and was shot dead three years later. In March 21 of this very year, Nikolai Gorokhov, a lawyer for the Magnitsky family, fell four stories from his apartment in Moscow, the fall occurring the night before he was due to give new evidence in court concerning the government cover-up in the Magnitsky case.

What I want to emphasize is that the genius of this legislation is that it is global in reach, and it needs to be, because the problem it targets is indeed global in scope. We are talking about other nations. We are talking about examples such as Buzurgmehr Yorov, a fearless human rights lawyer and whistle-blower in Tajikistan. He was recently sentenced to 23 years of imprisonment simply for doing his job, when he took on the cases of several leaders of the opposition in Tajikistan, the very type of work that I have done here and that many people do around the planet.

Internationally, the global community has responded to these kinds of violations. In 2012 the United States was the first country to adopt such sanctions vis-à-vis Russia itself, passing global Magnitsky legislation and expanding the reach in 2016 with a global act that sanctions human rights abusers from around the planet. Forty-four people from around the world have been banned from the United States under that legislation.

The European Parliament followed suit in 2014. Last year, Estonia passed the first Magnitsky sanctions law in Europe. In Canada, a former Liberal MP, the Hon. Irwin Cotler, a man who was previously our colleague here, introduced in this chamber a Canadian version of the Magnitsky Act in 2011. As members can see, it is important in terms of our international obligations to our partners to enact this legislation and to take action on the underlying issues it seeks to address.

Let me turn to Canada's foreign policy objectives, which were recently announced by the minister. On June 6, the Minister of Foreign Affairs noted that there are:

...clear strategic threats to the liberal democratic world, including Canada. Our ability to act against such threats alone is limited. It requires co-operation with like-minded countries.

When human rights violations occur around the world, they are a threat to democratic values around the world. That is why we must implement legislation such as Bill S-226 in solidarity with other allies and members of the international community. It is only by acting in unison that we can hope to globally curb gross human rights violations and corruption.

In her speech, the Minister of Foreign Affairs also noted that one of the key tenets of our foreign policy has been the basic promotion of human rights at home and abroad. She said:

It is a Canadian, John Humphrey, who is generally credited as the principal author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948. That was the first of what became a series of declarations to set international standards in this vital area.

I wholeheartedly concur with this sentiment. As a former war crimes prosecutor with the United Nations who tried cases on the Rwanda genocide tribunal, I can personally testify to the heavy involvement of Canadians at the UN and at that particular tribunal. Canadian involvement in the promotion and protection of human rights abroad is a long-standing tradition, and it is a key priority for our government and for our citizens.

The minister also noted:

These institutions may seem commonplace today. We may take them for granted. We should not. Seventy years ago, they were revolutionary....

Finally, the minister made a simple yet essential statement when she stated:

...our values include an unshakeable commitment to pluralism, human rights, and the rule of law.

That simple statement captures the essence of our democracy and, in my view, why it is only natural for us to pass this much-needed legislation.

To conclude, I support this legislation because it aligns with the beliefs and the convictions of my constituents, because it seeks to curb gross human-rights violations from being perpetrated on individuals around the world, and because it strongly aligns with our new foreign policy framework. I encourage all members of this House to support it as well.

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2017 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country B.C.

Liberal

Pam Goldsmith-Jones LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I speak today to Bill S-226, an act to provide for the taking of restrictive measures in respect of foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights and to make related amendments to the Special Economic Measures Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The bill is also referred to as the justice for victims of corrupt foreign officials act, or the Sergei Magnitsky law.

I would like to thank Senator Andreychuk for her commitment to this important question, and for the opportunity to debate this in the House of Commons.

Having served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs when our government came to power, I know the proposed Magnitsky law was front and centre in question period and was an important area of study by the foreign affairs and international development committee. The issue first arose in the House in the last Parliament, and received unanimous support.

Clearly, the detention, torture, death in prison, and posthumous conviction of Sergei Magnitsky for exposing fraud and corruption in the Russian government constitute gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. There is a clear desire on the part of two consecutive Parliaments to pursue some form of a Magnitsky law similar to U.S. legislation.

Our exploration of a Magnitsky-type law includes many leaders. First, I would like to commend the courage of former Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Stéphane Dion, for creating room for us to properly understand the tools at our disposal and for his tremendous respect for the work of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development as it undertook a comprehensive review of Canada's autonomous sanctions legislation.

The Special Economic Measures Act, or SEMA, and the Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act were the subject of close study, the outcomes of which both entertain the idea of a Magnitsky act and go much beyond that to bring our legislation up to date.

It is important for Canadians to understand how the parliamentary process can work and does work in the best interests of our safety and security and in defence of human rights around the world. For months the former minister and I encouraged parliamentarians to continue their deliberations, and also to wait for the work of the committee to be complete.

We had some lively exchanges during question period thanks to my colleague across the way, as many among us would rather drive toward a prescribed solution than take the time to investigate thoroughly, respect the work of the committee, understand the complementarity of the Senate bill before us, and come to a decision rooted in all that Parliament brings, commensurate with the decision we are being asked to make.

I attended every committee meeting. We learned that Canadians believe that sanctions are an important tool and that there is currently no mechanism that includes a way to impose sanctions in response to gross violations of human rights. We learned that the Government of Canada underfunds its ability to enforce sanctions and that there is room for improvement if we are to be truly effective.

Third, we have an enhanced regard for the seriousness of a Magnitsky-type list. Who is on a list? How does one get on a list? How does one get off this list? The foreign affairs committee report discusses the need for improved transparency and protection of procedural rights of individuals listed under Canada's sanctions regime.

This legislation has been inspired by a particular case in a particular country. The case of Sergei Magnitsky is but one example of systemic violations of human rights and impunity for perpetrators. All victims of gross human rights violations and abuses deserve justice.

However, the Senate and the House of Commons are deeply concerned about the Magnitsky case and the state of human rights and the rule of law in Russia today, as are highly credible human rights organizations globally. Human Rights Watch reports that:

Today, Russia is more repressive than it has ever been in the post-Soviet era. Using a wide range of tools, the state has tightened control over free expression, assembly, and speech, aiming to silence independent critics, including online.

Amnesty International reports that:

Restrictions on rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly increased...Human rights defenders faced fines or criminal prosecution because of their activities...There were reports of torture and other ill-treatment in penitentiary institutions, and prisoners’ lives were at risk because of inadequate medical care in prisons.

In the course of our deliberations on Bill S-226, we heard powerful testimony from a number of individuals close to Mr. Magnitsky, and knowledgeable about the human rights situation in Russia more broadly. As I mentioned earlier, many leaders have fought to bring international attention to Russia's human rights abuses and the tragic case of Sergei Magnitsky.

Mr. Bill Browder, CEO and co-founder of Hermitage Capital Management and the author off Red Notice, has travelled to Ottawa frequently to shed light on the circumstances surrounding Sergei Magnitsky's imprisonment and death, and to implore Canada to take action against human rights violations.

Vladimir Kara-Murza, coordinator of open Russia and deputy leader of the people's freedom party, gave us a first-hand account of the serious human rights challenges Russia faces, given the absence of political pluralism or free and fair elections, the lack of independent media, and the fact that many of the regime's opponents today are in prison.

Ms. Zhanna Nemtsova spoke to the committee. She is a Russian journalist and activist. Her father, Russian opposition politician and statesman, Boris Nemtsov, was assassinated in the heart of Moscow in 2015, just hours after appealing to the public to support a march against Russia's war in Ukraine. Ms. Nemtsova's testimony for all of us was courageous and heartbreaking.

Canadian parliamentarians have not remained silent over Russia's behaviour. Boris Nemtsov, Russia's illegal annexation of Ukraine, prosecution of Crimean Tatars, and gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, Canada has repeatedly condemned Russia's human rights violations and illegal acts. The Government of Canada will not solely use sanctions to solve all human rights abuses and violations. We will pursue a comprehensive approach, from multilateral and bilateral engagement, to development assistance, to trade policy, to find the best and most effective response. My final recognition and deep appreciation on behalf of all Canadians is to the hon. Irwin Cotler, who has stuck with this, of course.

Victims of gross human rights violations and abuses deserve justice. That is why this government is proud to support Bill S-226, with some amendments, to enable Canada to take restrictive measures against foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of human rights and corruption. This is not just the Senate, nor the House, nor the government, Canada is speaking with one voice. It truly does take all of us.

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2017 / 5:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a true honour to speak in support of Bill S-226. I thank Senator Andreychuk for her initiative in another place and I thank the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman for bringing it to the House.

The legislation will effectively add a long overdue dimension to Canada's official sanctions regime by targeting corrupt foreign officials responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. This act will be forever associated with Sergei Magnitsky, a heroic victim of Vladimir Putin's brutally corrupt regime. He was an auditor who discovered and exposed details of a massive corruption racket involving many mid and high-level Russian government officials, oligarchs, best described collectively as “kleptocrats”.

I will not revisit the tragic details of Mr. Magnitsky's cruel detention, his torture and his death or of the Putin regime's posthumous conviction of Mr. Magnitsky on outrageously confected charges of tax evasion. However, I would recommend, for those unaware of the Magnitsky story, the international best seller, Red Notice, written by his employer, the crusading champion of Magnitsky-style legislation in democracies around the world, Bill Browder, CEO and founder of Hermitage Capital Management.

Bill C-226 lays out very clearly the circumstances under which corrupt foreign individuals, not just in Russia but anywhere in the world, would be listed. Listing would apply to individuals responsible for, or complicit in, extrajudicial killings, torture or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, and foreign government officials exposed of illegal activity.

The law would prohibit those individuals from travelling to Canada, investing in Canada or for any funds or properties of these individuals discovered in Canada to be subject to seizure. The law would also provide for penalties against Canadians found to be engaged in activities that would assist the identified corrupt foreign officials.

The Liberal government has come to accept and support the legislation very late in the day, even though in the final days of our previous Parliament, the Liberals joined all parties in unanimously supporting a motion for Magnitsky-style legislation.

The first Magnitsky legislation was passed in the United States in 2012. Other countries have followed such as the United Kingdom and Estonia. The European Parliament has called on member countries to consider imposing entry bans on listed individuals and for co-operation in freezing the assets of listed Russians.

Despite acceptance and implementation of these Magnitsky laws, the former Liberal foreign minister, Stéphane Dion, flatly opposed such legislation last year, saying, more than a little disingenuously, that it was unnecessary. Fortunately, over the past year, encouraged by the official opposition and NDP members of the foreign affairs committee, the Liberal members of the committee came to agree that in fact Canada did need Magnitsky-style sanctions legislation.

Our committee heard testimony from a broad spectrum of witnesses.

Former Liberal justice minister, Irwin Cotler, the sponsor of the House's original Magnitsky motion, said that the main objective “is to combat the persistent and pervasive culture of corruption, criminality and impunity”, and most importantly, to assure victims and defenders of human rights in such foreign countries “that Canada will not relent in our pursuit of justice for them”.

Garry Kasparov, an eloquent advocate of democratic reform in Russia and, of course, former world chess champio, put it this way in his testimony before the committee. He said, “Money is always looking for safe harbour. We are talking about hundreds of billions of dollars, if not more, of this money that will definitely be looking for a place to be invested.” He warned against Canada being considered by corrupt individuals as a “safe haven”.

Zhanna Nemtsova, daughter of the Russian pro-democracy crusader, Boris Nemtsov, murdered on a Moscow bridge in 2015, made clear the importance of targeted sanctions against named individuals. She said, “These are not sanctions against a country or even a government. These are sanctions against specific individuals responsible for corruption and for abusing human rights.”

Equally powerful testimony came from Russian human rights activist, Vladimir Kara-Murza who, after recovering from one sinister attempt to poison him in Russia in 2015, told our committee:

I have no doubt that this was deliberate poisoning intended to kill, and it was motivated by my political activities in the Russian democratic opposition, likely including my involvement in the global campaign in support of the Magnitsky Act.

Mr. Kara-Murza was in Canada a few weeks ago still recovering from a second poisoning attempt on his life. He encouraged Canadian parliamentarians to ensure the legislation was quickly voted into law and then, as importantly, effectively enforced.

That is an important point because, as the foreign affairs committee discovered during our hearings this past year, enforcement of Canada's existing sanction regime is pathetically dysfunctional and ineffective.

The Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act was created in 2011, to respond to events of the Arab Spring, where governments fell and state assets were vulnerable to corrupt officials suspected of moving ill-gotten wealth to locations abroad.

The Special Economic Measures Act has been used in the creation of a number of regulations that would impose restrictive measures and prohibitions on illegitimate activities, to freeze bank accounts, to block financial dealings and seize property.

Sanctions against Iran for its nuclear adventurism and sponsorship of terrorism are within SEMA, as are sanctions against Russia for the invasion and occupation of Crimea and sponsorship of the deadly rebellion in Eastern Ukraine.

However, testimony revealed that Canadian departments and agencies that were mandated to monitor and to enforce such sanctions, operated in counterproductive silos, that the complexities of sanctions enforcement exceeded the capacity of departments and agencies. Most important, we heard from the RCMP and other agencies that there was a lack of capacity to monitor and investigate compliance and that sanctions enforcement was a much lower priority than say, anti-terror responsibilities.

While we in the official opposition are pleased that the Liberals have accepted our unanimous foreign affairs committee recommendations to add this Magnitsky bill, Bill C-226 to Canada's sanction regimes, there is still much more to be done.

There are 12 other recommendations in the committee report aimed at fixing Canada's dysfunctional sanctions enforcement to increase capacity, coordination, and commitment between departments and agencies. The need for just such action was made clear last month. Where bureaucrats, security agency officials, and financial institution specialists tended to scoff that Russian kleptocrats would want to move illegal funds to Canada or to enjoy those ill-gotten gains in Canada, information provided by Mr. Browder to the RCMP last year and to Canadian journalists more recently proved exactly the opposite.

The CBC confirmed that after following up on Mr. Browder's documents, a powerful Russian crime syndicate, accused of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars around the world, appears to have also flowed millions through nearly 30 Canadian bank accounts, without sanctions enforcers noticing. Some of those accounts belonged to individuals. Others were shell companies created to receive incoming funds and to send laundered money abroad.

Lincoln Caylor, a Toronto lawyer who specializes in complex fraud, was quoted as saying that there was so much documentation proving that millions from a sophisticated Russian tax fraud had moved in and out of Canada, that it was groundbreaking.

We in the official opposition are pleased the government has finally decided to support Conservative legislation, which will target the world's worst human rights offenders, as well as from Russia, to Iran, China, Congo, Venezuela, South Sudan, anywhere perpetrators of gross violations of human rights can be identified. We are pleased with the combination of Bill C-226 and the foreign affairs committee's unanimous recommendations to apply Magnitsky sanctions legislation and to enforce them.

The challenge now is for the often foot-dragging Liberal government to actually act.

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials ActPrivate Members' Business

June 13th, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in strong support of Bill S-226, which is entitled “Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act”. The bill would enable targeted sanctions against foreign nationals involved in human rights abuses. It would amend two existing Canadian laws, the Special Economic Measures Act, and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. In doing so, it would allow the government to declare individual human rights abusers inadmissible to the country and would freeze their assets in Canada.

Before I address the substance of the bill, I want to say a few words about where it comes from. Most of us in the House are by now familiar with the sad if not tragic story of Sergei Magnitsky, the man honoured by name in the bill. Mr. Magnitsky was a lawyer in Moscow acting on behalf of Bill Browder, an American businessman managing an investment fund there. Mr. Magnitsky uncovered a $230-million corruption scheme involving officials in Russia's interior ministry. He was arrested, jailed, and held without trial for almost a full year. He was denied medical attention as well. He was tortured and eventually killed. He died in November 2009 at the age of 37, after being beaten by prison guards. He was posthumously tried and convicted of the very fraud he had uncovered. That is Russian justice.

Since then, Bill Browder has been fighting for justice and action from the international community. My colleagues and I have had the privilege of meeting with Mr. Browder on several occasions throughout our work on the bill. The progress we have seen so far, with legislation passed in the United States and the United Kingdom, is due in no small measure to the tireless work of Mr. Browder and his colleagues. Indeed, Mr. Browder has devoted his life to this cause: justice for his former lawyer, Mr. Magnitsky. We in the House owe them a debt of gratitude for championing this cause and for presenting us now with an opportunity to establish Canada as another leader in holding human rights abusers accountable.

Of course, Mr. Browder and the others fighting for justice for Mr. Magnitsky are not alone, just as Mr. Magnitsky's case was, sadly, not unique. Testimony from activists and academics before both the House and Senate foreign affairs committees has reinforced the prevalence of such abuses around the globe and the culture of impunity that too often accompanies them, especially at the international level.

That is why it is so important that the bill be global in scope. Though it is inspired by the memory of Sergei Magnitsky and the fight for justice by those who knew him, its effects will reach far beyond Russia.

As Garry Kasparov told the House foreign affairs committee last year, “Money is always looking for safe harbour”. Bill S-226 would deny safe harbour in Canada to those who deny and destroy the rights of their own citizens, wherever such acts were committed. It would also put wind in the sails of those fighting that corruption and that injustice in their own countries.

The NDP has consistently called for targeted sanctions against those responsible for human rights violations and for greater coordination of Canada's regime with the European Union and the United States. However, what is remarkable today is the degree of agreement across all parties and both chambers. I note that the bill echoes recommendations of both the House and Senate foreign affairs committees, as well as motions passed by both chambers in 2015. Not only that, every recognized party in the House committed to the adoption of this type of targeted sanctions legislation in the last federal election. Therefore, I hope this long overdue bill will now be passed swiftly.

As I said earlier, the bill would amend two laws, the Special Economic Measures Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, to allow for targeted sanctions against individuals.

How would that work? It would apply to those responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, and other gross human rights violations, as well as those who would use their public office to expropriate public wealth, including through corrupt contracting, bribery, and the extraction of natural resources.

It is therefore broader in scope than the Freezing Assets of Foreign Corrupt Officials Act, which applies primarily to the misappropriation of public property and is triggered at the request of a foreign government.

The bill would allow for sanctions to be imposed on individuals in cases that did not meet the high and government-focused threshold currently required by the existing Special Economic Measures Act. Every sanctions regime currently authorized under that act uses the “grave breach provision” , as it is called, which refers to violations of international peace and security that are “likely to result in a serious international crisis.” In other words, the threshold is very high before action can occur. The murder of an opposition leader or the misappropriation of natural resource wealth may not spark that international crisis, but it ought to bring consequences from the international community. The bill would allow Canada, finally, to do just that.

Bill S-226 would also tighten the linkage between the Special Economic Measures Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. As it stands, listing under the former does not automatically lead to a declaration of inadmissibility under the latter, the immigration legislation.

As the report of House foreign affairs committee correctly noted, the complexity and layering of Canada's sanctions regime, which includes several distinct legislative authorities, can offer flexibility but can also breed, frankly, confusion and overlap. This disconnect between imposing economic sanctions under one act while declaring inadmissibility under another has to be fixed. This bill would fix it.

As Professor Meredith Lilly noted in testimony before the committee, “there's no convincing rationale that the Canadian government would want to impose economic sanctions against an individual yet still allow that person to come to Canada”. The foreign affairs committee appears to have endorsed that conclusion in its recommendations to us.

It is also important to note that Bill S-226 would require the appropriate parliamentary committees to conduct annual reviews of the individuals and entities targeted for freezing of assets and travel bans. This is an appropriate and useful role for Parliament to play. It strikes me as particularly important in light of another recommendation in our foreign affairs committee's most recent report. That report noted a concern, based on the experience of other jurisdictions, that existing mechanisms for ministerial review of sanctions decisions may be insufficient with respect to their procedural fairness and their transparency.

In light of that, the committee recommended the enactment of an independent administrative review mechanism for individuals and entities that felt that they had been wrongly targeted.

In the context of that broader recommendation, the bill's provisions for parliamentary committees to regularly review the government's sanctions targets is important and timely.

I am proud of the spirit of collaboration that has guided the bill through both chambers and their committees. The bill responds to a call for justice by those who know first-hand the corrosive effects of corruption and violence on a political system. Indeed, one of its proponents, Boris Nemstov, a democratic leader in Russia who spoke in support of this legislation in Ottawa in 2012, was later assassinated.

The bill would make Canada a leader in holding those responsible and complicit in such crimes and human rights violations accountable, through targeted economic sanctions and travel bans. Passing the bill would send a powerful signal to those fighting for justice for Sergei Magnitsky that Canada would not be a safe haven for those responsible and complicit in such crimes to enjoy the fruits of their crimes.

Foreign AffairsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 12th, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to present two petitions. They are both from the Vietnamese community. They call upon the Government of Canada to accept the two bills that are in the House right now. We will be debating one tomorrow, my private member's bill, Bill S-226, the justice for victims of corrupt foreign officials act, the Sergei Magnitsky law, which I am sponsoring on behalf of Senator Raynell Andreychuk. Petitioners are asking the Government of Canada and Parliament to accept the legislation as a way to sanction those individuals who are committing gross human rights violations, as well as those enriching themselves through corruption.

One petition has over 400 signatures on it, and the other has 1,262 signatures. The second one is slightly different in that the petitioners ask that we particularly target Vietnam, which is still suppressing political dissidents. Over the last number of years, over 420 political prisoners have been executed, and that has to come to an end.

JusticePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 29th, 2017 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present e-petition 760, which calls upon Parliament to pass Magnitsky-style legislation. Petitioners mention Bill S-226, which is currently in the House at second reading, as well as Bill C-267, which is my version of the Magnitsky act. Both bills are known as the justice for victims of corrupt foreign officials act, or the Sergei Magnitsky law. As we know, the legislation is getting wide support.

In particular, the 646 petitioners that signed the petition are drawing attention to the corrupt officials in the Communist Government of Vietnam and the systematic and brutal human rights violations to political dissidents. Petitioners want us, as parliamentarians, to ensure we pass this important legislation so we can hold to account corrupt foreign officials and those committing atrocities against their own citizens.

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials ActPrivate Member'S Business

May 19th, 2017 / 2:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

Madam Speaker, I will not reiterate everything that has been said today, but I am very encouraged that on a Friday afternoon, we are debating something that is extremely important to Canadians and our relationship with the rest of the world.

I want to thank Senator Andreychuk and the other place for their fine work on this legislation, as well as my colleague from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman for presenting this to the House.

As members may know, I am the chair of the foreign affairs committee and I am very pleased to speak on behalf of the committee and talk about, to some extent, the unanimous report from the committee. It has helped stimulate the conversation, both within the government and through Parliament as a whole. The report entitled “A Coherent and Effective Approach to Canada's Sanction Regimes: Sergei Magnitsky and Beyond” is a very good read for those who may not have followed this initiative of members of Parliament in the past and want to catch up on the history of the work and some of the issues surrounding what we call the sanctions regime, even though it is not the formal name the United Nations and others call this process.

It is my honour to speak to Bill S-226, the justice for victims of corrupt foreign officials act and the Sergei Magnitsky law.

First, I would like to pay tribute to Mr. Magnitsky, who lost his life in a very brave campaign to expose corruption in Russia. The circumstances surrounding Mr. Magnitsky's death have made it abundantly clear why we should not look away when we see human rights violations and abuses, wherever they occur. Like Mr. Magnitsky, countless people across the world have suffered repeated violations of human rights. Like Mr. Magnitsky, many have been victimized by the same institutions and individuals who are entrusted with protecting them. Like Mr. Magnitsky, many have not seen the perpetrators brought to justice.

Today, as part of the human and integral rights of Canada's international engagement, we stand up for our values and we are not afraid to speak up against human rights violations and abuses in Russia or anywhere else. That is the key to this legislation. Yes, it is in honour of Mr. Magnitsky, but it is really in honour of Canada's values and beliefs about the fact that human rights violations should not go unnoticed and that there should be a way of reacting legally to this process.

In the short time that I have, I want to say a few words about the work of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development on the issue of Canada's sanctions regime.

As has been mentioned, in April, the committee adopted a unanimous report entitled, “A Coherent and Effective Approach to Canada's Sanction Regimes: Sergei Magnitsky and Beyond”. In this report, the committee made 13 recommendations to the government, aimed at strengthening Canada's sanctions regime as a critical tool of our foreign policy.

There was a very large debate in committee, with many professional witnesses who were experts in the field. As part of that study, the committee heard compelling testimony from human rights advocates, including the Hon. Irwin Cotler, to whom everyone talked, Garry Kasparov, Bill Browder, Zhanna Nemtsova, and Vladimir Kara-Murza, regarding the powerful impact that sanctions targeting human rights violators and corrupt officials could have in advancing respect for human rights and good governance.

We know the legislation is going back to committee, and we are very interested in it going back as soon as possible, only because the committee would like to conclude the work that has been going on for what seems like a decade.

These witnesses highlighted the practical use of these sanctions, for example, how imposing real costs on human rights violators could help to end the culture of impunity that too often prevailed in some countries. They also underlined the important symbolic value of sanctions, namely, how passing a Magnitsky act would demonstrate Canada's resolve to stand up to human rights violators around the world and encourage other states to follow.

This testimony inspired our committee to dedicate its report to Mr. Magnitksy and his tragic death. Bill S-226 addresses one of the most important recommendations in our report, that the Special Economic Measures Act, known as SEMA, should be amended to allow for sanctions in cases of gross human rights violations. I believe the bill offers Canada the opportunity to join the efforts of our international partners.

The bill also touches on another of our report's recommendations. It calls for greater consistency between Canada's sanctions measures and our immigration policy, which is extremely important to the implementation and process of this legislation. I welcome the amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act included in the bill that make those targeted by human rights sanctions inadmissible to Canada. I also believe, as our report recommends, that this inadmissibility should be extended to all those targeted by sanctions under the Special Economic Measures Act.

I am happy to see from the minister's comments on Wednesday that the government shares our committee's concerns regarding the procedural rights of those targeted by sanctions. I agree with the minister that this bill can be improved by providing a right of appeal to those targeted. Sanctions inflict real costs on the persons they target, which is their purpose. Canada should therefore provide these individuals an opportunity to state their case as to why they do not deserve to be the target of such measures.

In addition, I would like to reiterate another of our committee's key findings regarding Canada's sanctions regime. The administration and the enforcement of sanctions measures is as important as the regulations and legislation that creates them. In order for Canadian sanctions to have their full effect, including the proposed sanctions against human rights violators, they must be fully enforced and effectively administered. We must also provide Canada's private sector with the information and services it needs to comply with sanctions measures.

Finally, let me reiterate what the hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs said in the House of Commons on Wednesday evening. Human rights are a non-partisan issue. I look forward to receiving the bill in the committee so we can do the fine work that Parliament expects of us.

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials ActPrivate Member'S Business

May 19th, 2017 / 2 p.m.
See context

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Madam Speaker, I am going to start by tipping my hat both to Fridays and the Senate today.

For those who think that nothing important ever happens here on Fridays, this bill will show that in fact we do important work here on Fridays, things that might otherwise get swept aside in the daily business of the House of Commons. People know that I am sometimes a very strong critic of the Senate, but I have always said that there are some senators who work very hard and some senators who bring forward important measures, for example, Senator Andreychuk and this bill. I am, again, saluting both Fridays and, for once, the Senate.

I talked earlier with people about how, if I actually read the full title of the bill, the 42-word title, twice, I would not have any time to actually speak to the bill, so I am glad to refer to it either as Bill S-226 or the justice for victims of corrupt foreign officials act, which is the short version of the title.

New Democrats are very proud to be supporting this bill. We have been calling for this legislation for a very long time. It gives Canada a chance to join world leaders in the defence of human rights. We are coming a bit late to the table, but better slow than not arriving.

Since I have been in the House, I think the first time we talked about this was in 2013. In fact, in the last Parliament, we unanimously approved a motion that called for adopting legislation like Bill S-226. All parties supported that. That was more than two years ago. Now I am going to praise a Liberal. It was through the hard work of the former Liberal member of Parliament Irwin Cotler, who was the Liberal human rights critic at that time. I believe he made a very persuasive case that this is what we really need to do in response to the proliferation of the use of torture around the world; that is, when sanctions against governments do not work, and they often do not, we apply these sanctions to the individuals responsible for these acts and who profit personally from these acts. That is really what we are talking about in this bill.

It is something that came about in response to a very specific case. We are calling it the Sergei Magnitsky act. Why? He was the lawyer for a man who was investigating corruption in Russia, a Russian lawyer who ended up imprisoned and tortured for nearly a year, who was denied medical treatment, and eventually died in prison in 2009. Why was he in prison? He was in prison because he was the lawyer for a man who had uncovered massive fraud in Russia. This attempt to fight corruption resulted in his imprisonment.

Mr. Cotler had served as the chair of a group called Justice for Sergei Magnitsky, an interparliamentary group which had 21 parliamentarians from 13 countries. Each of them committed to try to get their countries to take some effective action. So far, I believe we would be only the third country, if we do adopt this bill, to take the action that those 21 parliamentarians were working toward.

The United States did in fact pass a narrow version of the Magnitsky act in 2012, which provided financial and travel sanctions specifically on those Russians involved in the Magnitsky case. This was the first version of the act. However, that U.S. legislation was broadened in 2016 to apply to any foreign nationals involved in gross human rights abuses and profiting from those abuses.

The 2015 motion that we passed in this House called for that broader version of legislation, and that is what we see in Bill S-226 today. However, we are still calling it the Magnitsky act to honour Sergei Magnitsky and the sacrifice he made in the fight against corruption and human rights abuses in Russia.

On April 6, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development issued a unanimous report, which was entitled, “A Coherent and Effective Approach to Canada's Sanctions Regimes: Sergei Magnitsky and Beyond”. It had the specific recommendations, again, that are included in Bill S-226, to amend the Special Economic Measures Act to add situations where sanctions can be enacted to include individuals involved in cases of gross violations of human rights.

What does that mean in practical terms? It means that Canada would be able to freeze and perhaps seize assets of those corrupt foreign officials who are bringing the benefits of that corruption and the benefits of those human rights violations here to Canada by stashing assets here or by sending members of their family to live here on what one might call the avails of crime, the avails of human rights violations. They seek out safe countries like Canada as places to take advantage of the gains they have made through human rights violations.

It would also allow us to attack money laundering here in Canada and to deny entrance to Canada of those individuals who have been involved in gross human rights violations.

This is important for Russia, because what we all recognize now is that Russia is well on its way to becoming the greatest kleptocracy in modern history. Those around President Putin have enriched themselves to unbelievable levels through the corruption in the Russian system and through violating the rights of any who dare to oppose the system and oppose that corruption.

Those listening might ask what this has to do with Canada. We can go back to the original investigations by Bill Browder, the person who did the investigations for which Sergei Magnitsky has paid the price. He found more than $20 million being laundered by Russian banks in Canada.

We can point to others close to Putin, such as Oleg Deripaska, one of the closest associates of Putin. He formerly owned a controlling interest in Magna International, a car parts firm here in Canada, and recently tried to purchase a controlling interest in a major Quebec aluminum smelter. We could look at another Putin-friendly oligarch, Roman Abramovich, whose steel company, Evraz, owns several subsidiary steel companies here in Canada. We could look to companies like Uranium One, one of Canada's largest uranium mining firms, which is owned by Russian interests associated with Putin.

This is a real thing. It is not just a theory that they are trying to use Canada as a way of benefiting from their corruption and their human rights violations. This is taking place now, so it is important for us to advance this legislation, even if, as I said, we are a bit late to the table.

It is not just the lawyer Magnitsky who has suffered human rights violations. We could talk about others. Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov appeared here before the foreign affairs committee in 2012, asking us to adopt legislation like this. He did this just a little over two years before he was murdered in the streets of Russia.

We could talk about other Russian opposition leaders who have testified here, such as opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza. I forget the year he appeared here, but I think it was also in 2012, a bit after Mr. Nemtsov. He was mysteriously poisoned in 2015. While one could accept maybe one mysterious poisoning, a year later he was poisoned again. He survived two attempts on his life through poisoning after speaking here at this institution in favour of legislation like this. The importance of our proceeding is easy to see.

There are other areas in which we could use legislation like this. I have one that I would like to talk about briefly, and that is Chechnya. The President of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, has been in office since the assassination of his father under various titles because he was too young to assume the presidency at the beginning. He has been in power in Chechnya since 2006. Earlier this year he began a campaign against gay men in Chechnya. Human rights organizations have now documented that this campaign has resulted in the arrests of over 200 gay men in Chechnya, with three confirmed deaths as a result. As I have said before in the House, probably the most pernicious aspect is that the leader of Chechnya has called on families in Chechnya to murder the gay members of their families to protect their honour.

We would be able to use legislation like this to place sanctions on him and those around him so they could not freely travel around the world, so they could not come to Canada, so he could not invest the profits he has made out of the corruption in Chechnya here in Canada.

Right now there are more than 40 Chechen gay men in hiding. They are seeking emergency visas to get out of Russia, which is also not friendly to gay men, and the United States has just refused those visas.

Canada could act very urgently in this case, but once we pass this legislation, we will have an important tool to act against human rights violators like this one.

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials ActPrivate Member'S Business

May 19th, 2017 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Madam Speaker, I am very proud to rise today to speak to Bill S-226, Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, or the Sergei Magnitsky Law.

I want to thank Senator Andreychuk for her work on this file. Over the course of its work, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development heard witnesses on a wide range of issues related to Canadian sanctions, including the circumstances surrounding the detention and death of Mr. Magnitsky. The report presented to the House in April is informing our current review of policies and programs, including those related to our Canadian sanctions regime and promoting our human rights priorities.

As we look at the merits of Bill S-226, we must spare a thought for its namesake, Sergei Magnitsky. Mr. Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer and accountant who fought against the rampant fraud and corruption within the Russian government. Held without trial in 2008, he was denied medical treatment and tortured. He died in prison in 2009. After his death, the Russian authorities found him guilty of the tax fraud he himself had uncovered.

As an ardent defender of human rights around the world, Canada has firmly and repeatedly spoken out against human right violations and abuses in Russia, including in the Magnitski case. We will continue to insist that those involved be held accountable for their actions.

The government supports Bill S-226 because it is committed to doing more to promote and protect human rights and to fight corruption on a global scale. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to all of these issues. That is why Canada's comprehensive approach includes a broad range of tools and involves multilateral and bilateral action.

If Bill S-226 passes, it will create a legal mechanism that will allow Canada to impose sanctions for gross violations of human rights and acts of significant corruption in foreign states. The bill proposes to amend and reshape our legislative tools for imposing sanctions in order to improve the wide range of instruments Canada has for determining the most effective measures to be taken in such cases.

The United Nations Act and the Special Economic Measures Act are the main laws under which Canada imposes sanctions on other countries. These laws give the Government of Canada the legal authority to impose measures and bans in order to limit activities that would otherwise be legitimate. Right now, 18 countries are subject to sanctions under these two laws. The individuals and entities targeted by these sanctions are generally determined in coordination with like-minded countries.

Canada has the authority to impose other types of restrictions under other laws. For example, restrictions can be imposed on travel under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and on trade under the Export and Import Permits Act, and criminal penalties can be imposed on terrorist entities under the Criminal Code.

Canada is currently able to freeze the assets of specific individuals and entities, among other sanctions measures, where one of two situations exists under the Special Economic Measures Act, or SEMA. The first is when Canada is called upon to implement a decision or recommendation of an international organization or association of states of which it is a member. The other is where the Governor in Council determines that a grave breach of international peace and security has occurred that has resulted or is likely to result in a serious international crisis.

Canada typically imposes sanctions under SEMA to complement existing UN-mandated sanctions, or when the UN Security Council is unable to reach a consensus, such as in the case of sanctions against Russia for its violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. While Canada has previously used SEMA to address human rights situations rising to the threshold of grave breaches of international peace and international crises, the current legislation has limitations. Canada also works closely with its international partners through multilateral anti-corruption treaties, and informs to combat corruption and money laundering.

The government's framework is based on our international legal obligations as set out in the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the OECD anti-bribery convention, and other multilateral treaties to which Canada is a party.

The government also fights corruption through criminal provisions in Canada's Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act and the Criminal Code. Additionally, the Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act allows Canada to freeze assets of foreign government officials or politicians when requested by a country in turmoil. This complements the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.

It is also worth noting the existence of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, which assists law enforcement and national security agencies in combatting money laundering, terrorist financing, and threats to the security of Canada.

Bill S-226 will complement the reach of current legislation by creating an additional mechanism that Canada could use to respond to gross human rights violations and abuses or significant corruption in a foreign state. It will also modify the inadmissibility framework of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to create a legal mechanism for those sanctioned under SEMA, or the Sergei Magnitsky law, to be refused entry into Canada.

This legislation is similar to what has been enacted by some of our international partners. It follows on the steps taken by the U.S. to expand the reach of the 2012 Magnitsky act into a broader approach in the recently passed global Magnitsky act. This new act enables the U.S. to withhold visas and freeze financial assets of those individuals thought to have been involved in human rights violations or acts of corruption. Last April, the U.K. Parliament passed the Criminal Finances Act, which expands the powers of the government and courts to freeze the assets of human rights violators.

The government applauds the hard work of Senator Andreychuk in raising important questions on how best to respond to acts of foreign corruption, and human rights violations and abuses.

We will work with parliamentarians to seek amendments that are necessary to ensure that Bill S-226 will be an effective addition to our foreign policy tool kit.

Let me reiterate that our government is a strong defender of human rights in Canada and around the world. We know that the issue of human rights sanctions and the Sergei Magnitsky case have drawn strong interest, and rightly so. As we said, there is currently no 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, including those in Russia, as highlighted in the case of Magnitsky. Bill S-226, currently before the House of Commons, which we are debating today, aims to address this gap. Our government is pleased to announce its support for this important legislation.

Let me also say that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development did tremendous work in its review of SEMA. We applaud the work that was led by the chair of that committee, the hon. member for Kenora, as well as the unanimous recommendations that provide us with some grounding with which to enter this debate.

It is a pleasure to rise today. I look forward to continued debate and the strengthening of this legislation.

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials ActPrivate Member'S Business

May 19th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

moved that Bill S-226, An Act to provide for the taking of restrictive measures in respect of foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights and to make related amendments to the Special Economic Measures Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, it is indeed an honour to rise today, on my birthday, to bring forward a private member's bill from the Senate, from my colleague, friend, and mentor, Senator Raynell Andreychuk. The short title of the bill is justice for victims of corrupt foreign officials act, Sergei Magnitsky law.

In the last Parliament, before we rose and had the election in 2015, we unanimously passed a motion that was brought forward by our colleague who has since retired, Irwin Cotler. It called on the House to set up a Sergei Magnitsky style of law that would hold corrupt foreign officials and human rights abusers to account for their actions. It would prevent Canada from being used as a safe haven from where corrupt officials could launder their money, buy assets, and hide their families, essentially bringing them here to go to school, to live, and call Canada home, while back home taking advantage of their citizens and pillaging their economies.

The story of Sergei Magnitsky goes back to an individual by the name of Bill Browder. Bill Browder owned a corporation called Hermitage Capital Management. It was one of the first western funds to set up in Moscow and do business in Russia after the fall of the wall. Bill Browder, who was an American, now lives in the United Kingdom. He was able to go to Russia to do business and create a lot of assets and wealth for his clients.

After Vladimir Putin came to power, there was a crackdown on a lot of the western investors. Hermitage Capital Management, and in particular Bill Browder, was targeted for a fraudulent trumped-up charge of tax evasion. He had to flee the country. He was put on red notice on Interpol by Russia. Luckily, it was never acted upon by the international community, because they saw it as nothing more than a way to intimidate Mr. Browder. He hired a lawyer by the name of Sergei Magnitsky.

Sergei Magnitsky had risen up as a lawyer and was well recognized for his continued work on anti-corruption. He was able to uncover the biggest tax fraud in Russian history at that time. He was able to prove that corrupt government officials in Moscow were using this trumped-up charge of tax evasion against Bill Browder to pocket money themselves. It was $230 million that they were able to put into their own pockets. Sergei exposed that. He was arrested in 2008, held on trumped-up charges, tortured, beaten, and left to die on November 16, 2009, at the age of only 37. He is survived by his mother Nataliya, his wife Natasha, and his two young sons.

While in prison for 358 days, Sergei Magnitsky filed 450 criminal complaints against his abusers, and not one of those individuals was ever brought to justice. In the very bizarre world that occurs in Russia today, the Russian state posthumously tried and convicted Sergei in a Russian court on July 11, 2013. That is unheard of and unbelievable.

We have to make it clear that Sergei was fighting corruption in Russia and exposing a huge tax fraud being committed by police, judges, and tax collectors in the Russian state.

The kleptocracy around the Kremlin has crept into all departments across Russia. Bill Browder has written a book on this. He has been active on human rights around the world in trying to get Sergei Magnitsky-style legislation passed. The first country to come onside with that was the United States. The United Kingdom just got it done last month. The European Union's Parliament passed Sergei Magnitsky legislation last year. It is great that today we are debating Bill S-226 by Senator Raynell Andreychuk.

We need to first acknowledge the fact that the other night, while we were in committee of the whole, the Minister of Foreign Affairs indicated that the government will be supporting this legislation, with amendments. I thank her very much for putting her support behind this bill. It is a good piece of legislation. I understand that the government wants to improve upon it, bring in some fairness, as she explained it to me, and make a few technical changes. I, as the sponsor of the bill in the House, and Senator Andreychuk, as the sponsor of this bill in the Senate, will look at those changes. The best place for amendments to be considered is at the foreign affairs committee.

This work has been done for a long time. We have been talking about this in this place since 2013. There have been motions passed supporting Magnitsky-style legislation. Hearings were held at the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and at the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which heard from expert witnesses from around the world about stronger sanctioning and bans for those committing human rights abuses and illegal, corrupt activities in governments in other countries. When we think about all of the work that has already taken place, there is no reason we cannot fast-track this legislation. I encourage the government to put forward those amendments as quickly as it can so that the committee can get its work done.

The committee has already produced a great report and I congratulate the committee on that report. I know all members on that committee, under the tutelage of the chair, were able to put together 13 strong recommendations on how to properly implement and resource this type of legislation. I understand and appreciate that we need to especially look at recommendation 8 on providing an appeal mechanism for those placed on the sanctions list by the Government of Canada.

If we recall, in its first form, this bill was brought forward by our friend and former colleague Irwin Cotler. I tabled similar legislation in this Parliament, Bill C-267, and felt I had improved upon it, because I provided a role for parliamentarians to play in both the Senate and the House, allowing committees to look at that sanction list every year to see if people should be added or removed based upon their actions and how situations evolve. Senator Andreychuk, in her version, took it even one step further. She has really opened it up to make sure that it has a strong global focus and concentrates on going after those who are committing human rights violations around the world.

The penultimate paragraph in her preamble sums it up better. It states, “And whereas all violators of internationally recognized human rights should be treated and sanctioned equally throughout the world”. I know there are some who criticize the bill, saying this legislation is just part of Russophobia. We heard from the Russian embassy yesterday, which said that Canada will face push-back if we pass Bill S-226, but we have to remember that this is not just about the corruption in Russia. This has application to other places around the world.

The bill is supported strongly by a lot of different diasporas in Canada. People keep saying that it is just another Ukrainian issue that we are rallying around. However, I have met with the Vietnamese community. It wants human rights abusers in the Communist government of Vietnam held to account for what it has done to its citizens.

I have heard from the Russian community. It wants democracy and human rights protected in Russia.

I have been meeting with organizations like Falun Gong. They want to see those individuals in China who have used the political system to arrest Falun Gong practitioners and then harvest organs and tissues from them after they have had them executed. It has turned into a cash cow for those individuals who are involved in that atrocity.

We need to ensure that these sanctions are enforceable. We need to ensure that the organizations in Canada have the ability to go out there and stop these individuals from using Canada to launder money and hide their families. That includes resources for the RCMP, the CBSA, and CSIS. Our financial institutions are there.

When we talk about the situation today, some of the human rights situations and some of the corrupt officials, we need look no further than the assassination of Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader in Russian. He was shot down on the bridge right in front of the Kremlin. His deputy, Vladimir Kara-Murza, who has been here and has met with the foreign affairs committee, in both the House and the Senate, runs the organization, the Open Russia Movement. He has now survived two assassination attempts on his life.

When he was here last year, what he said to the Globe and Mail in March summed it up best on what was happening in Russia today. He said that for all the similarities between the Soviet era and present day Russia, there was one major difference. While members of the Soviet Politburo were silencing dissent and persecuting opponents, they did not store their money, educate their children, or buy real estate in the west. Many of the current officials and Kremlin-connected oligarchs do. We we need to sanction those individuals.

The way it works today, and a good example is what is happening in the Ukraine, is that Canada, as a member of NATO, a member of the United Nations, a member of the OSCE, acts upon resolutions that are passed at those different organizations. Then we can implement the Special Economic Measures Act and sanction individuals who are tied to aggression, corruption and human rights abuses. They are targeted through those types of resolutions. Then we can also use the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to go after the travel bans that we need to implement to ensure those individuals and their families do not come to Canada and travel throughout the west.

What we are trying to do with Bill S-226, and something all parties support, is providing the tools to the government. We love to talk the talk on human rights and about cutting down on corruption. This bill would allow us a to walk that talk. We can, independently as a country, now sanction and ban those corrupt foreign officials who are enriching themselves through illicit means, through embellishing stories and embezzling money from the governments within which they operate, and committing atrocities, abuses and aggression in places around the world, whether it is in Iran, Saudi Arabia, or in China.

I ask that we move this in an expedited manner so we can get it to committee, where it can do the good work that it has done already on making the amendments the government has requested, and we can get it back to this place as quickly as possible and passed.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

May 18th, 2017 / 3 p.m.
See context

University—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I do want to start by saying I was very pleased last night with our discussion of Bill S-226 and I was pleased to announce that the government will be supporting this bill.

I would like to recognize the work of the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman on this bill, as well as my colleague the member for Etobicoke Centre and the great Irwin Cotler. This is a real example of the House working together in across-party support for Canada working on human rights. I also want to support the work of the committee. I am reviewing the other recommendations very carefully. It is a unanimous report, and it is work very well done.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

May 18th, 2017 / 2:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, evidently our foreign minister and her predecessor hold opposing philosophies. Stéphane Dion was guided by a philosophy of responsible convictions.

Dion rejected Magnitsky-style legislation that would make corrupt foreign officials accountable because he was afraid of antagonizing Vladimir Putin.

Yesterday, the foreign minister announced her support for Bill S-226, the Sergei Magnitsky law.

With her support now, would the minister confirm that Mr. Dion's philosophy of responsible convictions and Russian appeasement are no longer guiding Canada's foreign policy?

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development—Main Estimates, 2016-17Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

May 17th, 2017 / 11:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Madam Chair, I am very aware of the research which the member opposite refers to. I would also like to commend Canadian journalists. They have done a really good job reporting on this. They have captured the attention of a lot of Canadians and have made us aware in ways that many Canadians may not have been previously that our country also has been used as a haven for ill-gotten gains of corrupt foreign officials. That is something which no Canadian can support, and that is the reason Bill S-226 will have not only, I hope, unanimous support in this House, but also support across the country.

In terms of providing the resources to be sure that once we get the legislation in place we are able to act on it, I and the government have every intention of doing so.

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development—Main Estimates, 2016-17Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

May 17th, 2017 / 11:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Madam Chair, I would like to thank the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman for his hard work in general, but also very specifically on Bill S-226. The member has been working on this for a long time. This is really a special moment when we can come together in support.

I want to join him also in acknowledging the hard work of our colleague Senator Raynell Andreychuk. This is an example of not only cross-party collaboration, but also an example of the Senate and the House working together.

I want to thank the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman for joining me in celebrating the pioneering work of our former colleague Irwin Cotler, who has really been a leading voice on this. I am glad to be able to recognize him for that.

I also want to underscore that I was particularly glad to hear the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie also acknowledge in her remarks that she supported Bill S-226. To me, that augurs well for us getting the support of the whole House.

The member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman is absolutely right. I discussed with him just today the fact that there were some amendments, largely of a technical nature, that we would like to discuss with him. The cross-party support that was demonstrated in the committee's report and in our discussions today can really be carried through with some of those amendments.

We would like to discuss some technical amendments to make this work better. For example, as we know from problems we have had with no-fly lists, it is important that when someone is put on a list, there be some right of appeal. Believe it or not, government officials, even MPs, can get things wrong sometimes. I know that is astonishing. It is important to have a process that allows people to appeal.

There are some other technical amendments, but I do not have time to mention them right now. I would be happy to do so later.

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development—Main Estimates, 2016-17Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

May 17th, 2017 / 8:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland Liberal University—Rosedale, ON

Madam Chair, my answer to the previous question may not have been clear. I want to be very clear that the issue of the behaviour of our mining companies abroad is one I take very seriously as Minister of International Affairs. I referred to my past role as minister of international trade, simply because when I held that portfolio, I was also deeply engaged in the issue.

I want to assure the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie that this is an issue we take very seriously. My colleagues in other portfolios in the department take human rights very seriously as part of their work.

Going back to the very first point, I was very glad to hear the member for Laurier—Sainte Marie speak of her support for Bill S-226. It is good that we now have support from all three parties in the House. I am also aware of the other elements of the committee's report. I am looking at those—

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development—Main Estimates, 2016-17Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

May 17th, 2017 / 8:15 p.m.
See context

University—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

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.

May 4th, 2017 / 8:50 a.m.
See context

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Filomena Tassi

I'm very happy to call this meeting to order. I wish everybody a good morning on this glorious day.

Welcome to the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

The April 10 list has been replenished. We have 15 items on that list. What we'd also like to do today is add the three Senate public bills. One of them we've had previous notice of, which is Bill S-226, but two were introduced yesterday. They are Bill S-231 and Bill S-233, which we would like to add if we have consensus.

Do we have consensus to add those two Senate bills in the interests of time and efficiency?

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law)Routine Proceedings

April 13th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

moved that Bill S-226, An Act to provide for the taking of restrictive measures in respect of foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights and to make related amendments to the Special Economic Measures Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, be read the first time.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to table my colleague Senator Raynell Andreychuk's bill, Bill S-226, the justice for victims of corrupt foreign officials act, the Sergei Magnitsky law, here in the House.

Sergei Magnitsky was a Moscow lawyer who had uncovered the largest tax fraud in Russian history. He was arrested, detained without trial, tortured, and murdered while he was in prison. He died on November 16, 2009. It is in his memory that this legislation is being brought forward.

In May 2016, I tabled my own piece of legislation, Bill C-267, which was drafted alongside Bill S-226. By working together, we have been able to expedite the legislative process.

I believe the Liberal government must do more than talk a game when it comes to human rights. It must take concrete action. Bill S-226 would make the amendments, as has been mentioned, by imposing more sanctions on foreign kleptocrats and on violators of human rights. As well, it would empower Parliament, in both the Senate and the House through their foreign affairs committees, by giving them the power to review and report on how the Special Economic Measures Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act are working, and review the list to make recommendations on who should be sanctioned.

Corrupt foreign officials who continually abuse human rights and disregard international law have been using Canada as a safe haven. This must stop. Already the United States, Estonia, the European Parliament, and the U.K. have adopted Magnitsky-style legislation on a global basis. We have to work in concert with our allies to ensure that there are mechanisms in place to sanction individuals who are responsible or complicit in gross violations of international human rights or abusing their positions of authority.

This legislation has already been studied in the Senate and by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, both of which recommend its implementation. The Liberals' policy of normalization and the appeasement of Russia, Iran, and others is not working and must stop. It is time for the government to do the right thing, support this legislation, and sanction corrupt foreign officials.

(Motion deemed adopted and bill read the first time)

Message from the SenateOral Questions

April 12th, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed the following bills, to which the concurrence of the House is desired: Bill S-226, An Act to provide for the taking of restrictive measures in respect of foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights and to make related amendments to the Special Economic Measures Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Bill S-231, An Act to amend the Canada Evidence Act and the Criminal Code (protection of journalistic sources), and Bill S-233, An Act to amend the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (presentation and reporting requirements).

It being 4:15 p.m., pursuant to order made Monday, April 3, 2017, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m,. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 4:15 p.m.)

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

April 12th, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister promised to implement Magnitsky-style legislation so Canada could quickly sanction corrupt foreign officials, but he has done absolutely nothing.

Last week the Assad regime perpetrated another war crime. Both Russia and Iran support the Syrian regime. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has spent his time in office normalizing relationships with Russia, dropping sanctions against Iran, and stopping bombing in Syria by our CF-18s.

Last night the Senate passed Bill S-226, the Sergei Magnitsky bill. Will the Prime Minister quit cosying up to dictators and despots and support this bill?

Operation UNIFIERGovernment Orders

March 20th, 2017 / 8:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Mr. Chair, it is indeed an honour to speak about Operation Unifier. I want to thank the minister for her comments, and I want to thank the Liberal government for extending the Conservative Party's original Operation Unifier. It is the same in size and scope, and has the same ideal, which is to provide the training that so many military in Ukraine need.

We have to remember that when this battle broke out, when Russia invaded and illegally occupied and illegally annexed Crimea, Ukraine's military had been somewhat decimated under the leadership of President Yanukovych. Yanukovych had taken away their ability to train and their ability to fight. He had sold the Ukraine military equipment and machine behind it.

To hear the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands talk about a coup, she is completely discrediting the students, the citizens of Kiev, the citizens of Lviv, the citizens right across Ukraine who took to the streets to protest against the corrupt government of Viktor Yanukovych and everything that he stood for.

He turned his back, after negotiating a comprehensive economic free trade agreement and co-operation agreement with Europe that actually was the catalyst for the people of Ukraine, especially the youth, tired of being lied to by Viktor Yanukovych and his regime. He was there, propped up by Vladimir Putin, propped up by illegal money coming in from the Russian mafia, funnelled through Donbass, especially through Donetsk. That individual robbed the treasury of the people of Ukraine. He took all of the gold reserves, all of the cash reserves, and fled to Rostov-on-Don in Russia.

That was not a coup. It was not orchestrated by anyone in the west. This was a citizens' revolution of dignity on the Euromaidan that took place in Kiev and across Ukraine. We must never, ever forget that. For anyone to come in here with fake news from RT television, Russia Today television, I can say upsets me, as members can tell, to no extent of my better judgment.

I have to say that as Conservatives, although we are happy that the government has extended Operation Unifier, we did present the government a couple of weeks ago with our own Ukrainian defence and aid package, because there is so much to be done. There is so much that Ukraine has asked for. There is so much that the Ukrainian community has called upon the Government of Canada to continue to do. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress sent out a great briefing to all members of Parliament for tonight's debate talking about what needs to happen, what the background is for those members who are not familiar with everything that has taken place in Ukraine, of the interference that is coming from Vladimir Putin and the regime in the Kremlin.

I have to share my sentiments with the Minister of Foreign Affairs. I know she is sincere. She is as passionate as I am about Ukraine and everything that Ukraine stands for. As prairie farm kids of Ukrainian heritage, she and I share that ideal and connection to the homeland of our baba and gido and want to make sure that our families' roots of the old country, as we always called it out in the Prairies, are never forgotten, and that we stand with the people of Ukraine.

As is being demonstrated tonight in the debate here, we are in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. We stand with them in their support of democracy. We stand with them as they want to have reform of their judicial system, of their economy. As the minister alluded to, the negotiation of the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement started under the previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper and was finalized by the minister herself. I thank her for carrying the ball over the goal line and making sure that this deal happened to ensure that Ukraine has that opportunity for economic prosperity. That will be the telling tale at the end of the day, that Ukraine has succeeded.

On top of expanding and continuing Operation Unifier, I have to thank the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces. Even though the government just announced a week and a half ago that it was extending the mission for another two years, fresh troops, fresh trainers out of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry stationed in Edmonton were deployed more than three weeks ago. They are on the ground doing the training. They have taken over from the troops that are returning to Canada. I thank all members of the Canadian Armed Forces who are over there helping Ukraine.

As a former parliamentary secretary to the minister of defence I had the opportunity to accompany our delivery of non-kinetic defensive equipment for the military of Ukraine. I am talking 70,000 pairs of boots, winter coats, jackets, night vision goggles, and also the supply of RADARSAT imagery which is so important. Unfortunately, last year the government cancelled that program. I still call upon the Liberals to reinstate RADARSAT 2 imagery. It was saving lives. When he visited here two years ago, President Poroshenko said in the House that RADARSAT 2 imagery was saving lives. We shared that data so Ukraine knew what the Russian-backed rebels were doing in Donbass. When it could see the movement of troops and heavy artillery across the Russian border into Ukraine, Ukraine's troops were able to reposition themselves accordingly. Without those radar images from RADARSAT 2, we are putting those troops in danger.

As we have witnessed since the end of 2016, the Minsk agreements are not at all being enforced. They are not being respected by Russia. They are definitely not being respected by the Russian-backed rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk, and Ukraine is paying the price.

It is contingent upon us, especially the Government of Canada, to resupply Ukraine's military with RADARSAT images so it knows what the Russians are up to and what equipment they are providing and it does not just rely on intel.

We called on the government to add Ukraine to the automatic firearms country control list so that officials could come to Canada and buy Canadian-made weapons. They have to be able to defend themselves. If we could supply them with sniper rifles, Javelin missiles, anti-tank missiles, if we could provide them with the equipment to take out any short-range mortar attacks and defend their sovereignty, defend their troops, defend civilians in Ukraine, they would be better off. Canada would be better off and all of NATO would be better off if Ukraine was better able to defend itself. If the Ukrainian military had the equipment it needs to stop the advancement of Russia and its imperialistic advancement into eastern Ukraine, and who knows how far it is willing to go, Ukraine would be able to slow down the progress and prevent us some point down the line from having to put our troops in harm's way to stop this war in Ukraine. We definitely do not want to see it spread to other NATO members.

I do appreciate that Canadian troops are going to Latvia as part of Operation Reassurance, that our CF-18s are going to be redeployed in NATO, as the Conservative government did, to do Baltic air policing and air policing in Romania, Iceland, and other countries. I also appreciate that our frigate from the Royal Canadian Navy is always in the Mediterranean, in the Black Sea and in the Baltic Sea.

In the past, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has called for Magnitsky-style legislation. I tabled a bill in the House. Our colleague Conservative senator Raynell Andreychuk has Bill S-226 in the Senate, which is at third reading stage. I call upon the government to support that bill when it comes to the House of Commons so that we can have Magnitsky-style legislation to put in place the proper sanctions for corrupt foreign officials and stop the abuse that is happening at the hands of the people of Ukraine and the people of Russia and other countries around the world.

I just wish the minister would put in place the sanctions that she herself had called for. When she was in the opposition as a member of the third party, she used to call repeatedly for the government to sanction Igor Sechin and Vladimir Yakunin and still they are not sanctioned. The minister will have to explain that one herself.

As a Conservative government, we did provide a pile of support. The minister talked about $700 million of support for Ukraine. Some $600 million of that was provided by the Conservative government.

Again, we stand united for Ukraine in this House of Commons, and I just have to say, Slava Ukraini.

November 21st, 2016 / 5 p.m.
See context

Director General, International Economic Policy, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Marc-Yves Bertin

Let me field this one, perhaps.

We're well aware, as you are, that there is legislation moving through Parliament that mirrors a lot of the attributes of the U.S. Magnitsky act. The government has yet to pronounce itself publicly on statutes such as those. I'm thinking in particular of Bill S-226, where the government continues to consider its position. It would be perhaps prejudicial for us to comment and speculate in a context of this nature.