Madam Speaker, I am prepared to answer all the questions the member has raised.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade manages its relationship with the diplomatic and consular community in Canada through the office of the chief of protocol. The department's deputy head has traditionally delegated the responsibility to interact with the diplomatic and consular corps to the chief of protocol, and in his absence the deputy chief of protocol.
As part of its duties, the office of the chief of protocol is to be accountable for upholding the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations so as to guarantee to this community that Canada will respect its rights to immunities and privileges under the convention. A corollary to this responsibility is that the office of the chief of protocol endeavours, to the extent possible, to ensure that diplomats and consular representatives respect Canadian laws and regulations.
In cases involving a breach of Canada's obligations under the Vienna convention, the offended diplomat entity can at times merit an apology. Each such incident is treated on a case by case basis. Traditionally this responsibility has been delegated to the deputy head of the chief of protocol or his representative.
In the specific case which the member raises in which a letter of apology was sent to the embassy of the Russian Federation in July 1999, the facts were deemed to merit such an action. The diplomat in question was handcuffed by the police, taken to the police station and detained for a number of hours. This form of detention of a diplomat is specifically prohibited under the Vienna convention, and thus an apology was provided.
This apology did not receive ministerial approval but was effected by the office of the chief of protocol under the authority delegated to him by the deputy head.
As a result of the department's analysis surrounding this recent tragedy, a number of corrective measures are being taken to strengthen the accountability and policy frameworks. As such, letters of apology will receive greater scrutiny in the future and, when appropriate, higher levels of sign-offs will be given.