Mr. Speaker, from November 16 to 19, I joined the Governor General on a state visit to Vietnam. This visit was the first ever state visit to Vietnam. This visit was to continue establishing our growing relations in trade, education and cultural ties.
While these ties are growing, nevertheless our concerns regarding human rights, the rule of law, religious freedom and promotion of democracy remain. During our bilateral meeting with the president, I emphasized these principles as a major platform of our foreign policy. I also informed him of our plans to open an office of religious freedom.
The next day, on our visit to Ho Chi Minh City, I then paid a visit to the parents of Nguyen Tien Trung, who has been sentenced to 16 years for advocating more democracy. I inquired about Mr. Nguyen's well-being.
Canada recognizes the desire of Vietnam to be a member of the international community. However, it needs to show that it has taken concrete steps to address its shortcomings in human rights, the rule of law, religious freedom and promotion of democracy. Canada is ready to assist.