Mr. Speaker, I would like to raise briefly or should I say provide a brief update on one of the obvious inconsistencies in the discourse and policy of this government, namely the relationship that may, and indeed must, exist between the Canadian foreign policy and human rights promotion.
To address this contradiction we have no reason to be proud of, I shall refer to a question I had put to the Deputy Prime Minister on June 10. I asked the Deputy Prime Minister this question on June 10, following a visit by the Prime Minister in exile of Burma to the Standing Committee on Human Rights.
We realized, as a standing committee responsible for the promotion of human rights both within Canada and outside, how much of a discrepancy there was between what this government said -all this talk about legislative instruments and active involvement outside the country being required to promote human rights- and reality.
Such discrepancy is easy to understand considering that as early as 1990, the Canadian government had been pressing for democratic elections to be held in Burma, which is currently run by a military junta. Canada can be said to have participated in this international campaign for elections in Burma.
We realized in the committee that, while Canada had lobbied for Burma to be requested to uphold human rights within its boundaries-because as we know, Burma is one of those Asian countries with the darkest, most worrisome history in that respect, a country where the Nobel Peace Prize winner is imprisoned, where torture is practised and very serious cases of abuse are reported-it also prohibited Canadian businesses from trading with Burma for reasons relating to human rights that we agree with. We believe that foreign policy and the promotion of human rights should be linked somehow.
Imagine our surprise when we discovered that, in the case of China, there was a double standard. And yet China is the main country supplying arms to the military junta currently in power.
The question we can ask ourselves is this: if Burma's human rights record is so important that Canadian companies are not allowed to do business there, why is China, which also commits its share of abuses, which is also inconsistent in promoting human rights-as the 1,200 executions recorded in Amnesty International's latest report demonstrate-not subject to the
same policy? Must there be two types of countries from a political standpoint? The Canadian government will overlook the human rights record of important countries with significant growth and large markets while imposing restrictions on countries with less impact on the international economy.
I say that there should not be a double standard. The government must make adjustments and use the same language so that when we talk about promoting human rights abroad-and I think the government has a responsibility to talk about it-we should have exactly the same requirements for a country of 1.2 billion people as for a country of 3 million inhabitants.
This is-and I will stop here as my time is up-an example of an inconsistent policy the government has no reason to be proud of.