Mr. Speaker, last week I asked a question in the House about the Commonwealth scholarships and the answer I received was, to say the least, unsatisfactory. The reason I asked the question is that the government of Britain has indicated that Canadian students will no longer be eligible for the Commonwealth scholarships. It is cause for concern.
People know the government is an embarrassment in its conduct of foreign affairs. The Prime Minister says on occasion that Canada is back in international affairs. I think what he means is Canada is back of the pack in international affairs.
We have the current Minister of Foreign Affairs embarrassing Canada by calling for the ouster of the governor of Kandahar. At the same time that the chief of defence staff was saying he was doing a great job, we were interfering in the internal affairs of another country.
We have another embarrassment on the issue of capital punishment. The Conservative government is overturning a long held position of the Government of Canada that we would oppose capital punishment for Canadian citizens abroad.
The member for Calgary West once called Nelson Mandela a terrorist, and compared China to Nazi Germany.
We have Canada now apparently backing away from seeking membership in the UN Security Council because it is afraid it will not win the seat.
I could go on and on, but let me highlight the Commonwealth scholarships. These are prestigious scholarships that were set up for the Commonwealth nations by the government of Great Britain. Many great Canadian scholars have been the beneficiary of them, including the current Governor of the Bank of Canada, the Clerk of the Privy Council and many others.
We have had in Canada a great history of international champions: Nobel Peace Prize winner Lester Pearson; Mr. Trudeau; Mr. Clark; Mr. Mulroney and the work he did in South Africa; Jean Chrétien and the work he did for Africa; and the current member for LaSalle—Émard.
This decision by the government of Great Britain was called a slap in the face to Canada by Jennifer Humphries, the vice-president of membership and scholarships at the Canadian Bureau for International Education. It is of great concern. Jim Fox, the president, said, “We're hoping our government will put pressure on the U.K. to reinstate the program”.
When I asked the question last week, the answer I got from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development was, “Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of the scholarships”. That is unbelievable when we consider the importance that these scholarships have held for Canadian students.
I am pleased to see that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs is here. Canada has been given a slap in the face by our longest and closest ally, Great Britain, which said that Canadians will no longer be eligible for the Commonwealth scholarships.
My question is simple. Will Canada stand up for Canadian students? Will Canada stand up for Canadian inclusion in the Commonwealth scholarships?