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House of Commons Hansard #194 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was information.

Topics

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, all of us on this side thank the hon. member for Ottawa Centre for his speech. He has raised some moving and very tragic cases of individual suffering. We have seen it on our television screens. We find it reprehensible that air power is being used indiscriminately against Syrian civilians and that a government is literally butchering its own people.

Would the hon. member not agree that beyond the horrors we have seen recently and for too long, the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would be intolerable, not just for us in this House and in this country, which has always stood for decency and against the use of weapons of mass destruction, but for the whole world and the international community? It is in light of that terrifying prospect that we all pin very urgent hopes on the work of Special Representative Brahimi to bring the members of the Security Council together to take the actions necessary to prevent this new and dangerous phase from being entered.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his point and agree with him. We are hearing reports today that Secretary of State Clinton has been engaged with the Russians and the Chinese to do just that. We in the House are supportive of that. That is important for all Canadians to know.

I also want to underline that we have seen the use of torture. We talked about chemical weapons. We have already documented torture being reported in every single city and town throughout Syria. Government forces are using it in a diabolical way. We are talking not just about people implicated on the rebel side, which is horrific; we are also talking about the torture of children who are younger than my kids.

The world has to understand what is going on. As a country and as a Parliament, we need to do what we can to provide humanitarian support and ensure that we are also able to give safe haven in Canada to Syrians in Syria or on the borders so that they can be removed from the present danger.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for speaking so passionately about the current situation in Syria. I have had a chance to hear from Syrian Canadians as well about the tremendous concern and worry that only they and family members who have gone through similar circumstances with family overseas could have.

I wonder if my colleague can speak a bit about the conditions and challenges in the refugee camps in the various countries that are accepting refugees. Why is it so important for Canada to support the needs in these refugee camps?

As he noted, it is very problematic that the minister spoke in general terms about Canada's commitment to the UNHCR rather than on the specific commitment Canada must make to the refugee camps that are accepting refugees from Syria.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Churchill for that question. She is asking what is happening to the civilians and about the conditions they are living in. She has a background in international affairs and knows that it is important that we supply all the necessary tools they need in the border regions if we can.

There is some aid getting into Syria, although it is very difficult to get it there. It is important, because we are talking about malnourished children. In some of these refugee camps in Jordan, Turkey and so on, they just cannot meet the demand. They do not have adequate sanitation. They cannot get food to people who need it. That means that there are more people being left inside Syria who cannot get out of Syria to the camps.

We are now hearing not only about the danger they are in because they are trapped. Within some of these internally displaced camps in Syria, there are malnourished children, and winter is coming. We are talking about starving children who need help. That is why we have to do everything we can not only to help them there but to bring as many as we can to Canada. That is our tradition, and that is what we should be doing.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I move:

That the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering be now heard.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. parliamentary secretary has moved a motion that is non-debatable and as such, other members cannot rise on the point of order until it has been dispensed with.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Foreign Affairs and International DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #578

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

I declare the motion carried.

Resuming debate. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the whole House for the support it has shown for this concurrence motion and for the support that members are showing by being here today for the people of Syria, and to the members opposite for having brought this most important issue before the House on a Friday at a time when there are other issues on the front pages on newspapers.

We need, as Canadians, to be active. We need to be building on the proud legacy of engagement that we have had with the Syrian people, above all on the humanitarian front, but also to be speaking out for the larger issues of international peace and security that are at stake, because 40,000 civilian deaths is beyond comprehension for most of us. They have come quickly. They have come in horrific ways. It has been a civilian toll for the most part. The threat to Syrians has come from the air. It has come from snipers. It has come from bombs. It has come from a government using heavy weapons against its own population. From what we heard in this debate and in committee, the House is of one voice and of one mind in thinking that the despicable strategy of the Syrian government is absolutely reprehensible.

It does not accord with our values. We spoke about those on both sides of the House in question period and in the period for Standing Order 31 statements. We are concerned about the possible use of chemical weapons. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has been absolutely forthright on this point, joining his international partners, joining the whole international community, in reaffirming that any kind of use of these weapons of mass destruction is unacceptable. It runs against not only our values but the principles of the United Nations charter.

Every arms control agreement and framework that we hold dear has stood against the use of chemical weapons since at least the First World War. To think that a government could be using such weapons against its own people in 2012 boggles the mind.

It is important for us to be engaged on this issue. It is important for us to be thinking of our friends and allies in this endeavour. Obviously the one NATO nation that has a direct border with Syria is Turkey, and Canada supports the request made by Turkey to NATO for support in the defence of its own border.

NATO is a defensive line. Turkey is looking for support to defend its borders, seeing refugee flows, seeing bombardment coming across its borders, which is obviously targeting refugees who have crossed over in all innocence, trying to save their lives and their families. We stand with Turkey and other regional partners and believe they have the right to defend themselves and their citizens against the reckless Assad regime.

I do not think this is anything other than obvious to us as Canadians, but it may not be obvious to those in Syria who are seeing a distorted picture of events, given the state control of media. We call for calm, and we are calling on the Assad regime to stop drawing in neighbouring countries to this self-inflicted, violent struggle to hold on to power. It is the absolute lowest of the low in terms of the behaviour that reckless states can engage in.

It will end. We are confident that Bashar al-Assad's days are numbered, that he will go, that it is the will of the Syrian people that he go, and obviously the international community is more and more united on this point. The sooner that happens the better for Syrians, for the neighbourhood and for the world.

We are obviously looking to the Syrian opposition to take the lead, to the Syrian National Council, to pull those elements opposed to President Assad together. We have been encouraging the Syrian opposition to come together and the Government of Canada has been very clear on this point.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has played an active role in encouraging those groups to take that action. We congratulate them on the recent announcement that they made, which is a major step forward. However, to be successful, any opposition has to demonstrate that they have the support of the religious minorities. This is a fundamental issue for this government and for Canadians.

We judge our success by the status of our minorities, by the freedom they feel they have. We see that success in other democracies around the world. We encourage it in countries that do not yet have it.

For the Syrian opposition to be successful, it is going to need to be composed of Christians, Kurds, Alawites, Druze and others. We believe in a united opposition to ensure there is a place for all religious minorities in a new Syria.

With that, I move:

That the debate be now adjourned.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

At this time and in accordance with past precedence, as stated on page 571 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, I have no choice but to interrupt the bells as the motion that the debate be now adjourned has lapsed. Accordingly, the debate on the motion will be rescheduled for another sitting.

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-377, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations), as reported (without amendment) from the committee.