Madam Speaker, today I am honoured to speak to Motion No. 163 regarding a plan to appoint a women, peace and security ambassador. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the member for Etobicoke Centre for putting this motion forward.
Before I get into the content of this motion, I will take a moment to send my deepest condolences to Brian in my riding, who recently lost his partner, Marne. I knew Marne for many years through her work in Campbell River at the women's centre and in Port Hardy with North Island Employment. She suffered greatly and her family supported her. I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the family's bravery and strength during this very hard time and through the journey that got them to where they are today. I send my prayers to them.
Having discussions on women, peace and security is something I have done multiple times in my work with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. I have spoken with many parliamentarians from NATO countries about the role of women in conflict and in peacemaking. All of us in the House know that there is much work to be done on this issue, and that many countries are working to advance this process.
On both the civil and military sides of conflict, the world needs to see more women involved and participating. We know, based on research, that when women are involved and at the table, peace lasts longer. As women are empowered and take leadership roles, peace is promoted and society is stabilized. According to the 2018 UN Women website's facts and figures on peace and security, “When women are included in peace processes, there is a 20 per cent increase in the probability of an agreement lasting at least two years, and a 35 per cent increase in the probability of an agreement lasting at least 15 years.” The statistics speak for themselves.
The history of the process of including women in peace really started on October 31, 2000, when the first United Nations Security Council resolution on women, peace and security was made. Resolution 1325 affirmed the important role of women in peacekeeping, conflict resolution, peace negotiation and post-conflict reconstruction. There was a call to action by the UN in 2004, and this was integral to member nations' increasing the participation of women and adding gender perspectives into their peace and security operations.
Several more Security Council resolutions have bolstered resolution 1325, and this has become the women, peace and security agenda, which recognizes sexual violence as a weapon of war, encourages collaborative approaches to peacebuilding with civil society, and supports training for peace operatives on issues of gender and women's empowerment.
In 2010, six years after the UN called on member states to act, Canada quietly released its first Canadian national action plan on women, peace and security. It expired in 2016, and the Canadian government held a two-day consultation just this past April to build a new document. New feminist terminology was added to the document, but the question is and will remain: Will this language actually make its way into action?
When we look at this new Canadian action plan, we will be looking for key indications of action. For example, in her article entitled “The New Era of Canadian Feminist Foreign Policy: Will the new National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security hold up to scrutiny?” Sarah Tuckey asked, “Will we see a feminist lens brought to the Arms Trade Treaty, nuclear disarmament, and other typically militarized issues?” Members in the House are still waiting for some of those things to be acted on in a more meaningful way.
The issue of nuclear disarmament is top of mind for the people in my riding. When I presented to a group of young people, I was very surprised to hear them talk so passionately about nuclear disarmament and wanting Canada to take more of a leadership role in this direction. They are concerned about the reality of the fragile peace in the world and the potential outcomes that a nuclear war would cause. Many young women, in fact, have come to my office to talk about this issue and their concern for the future, not only of themselves and their families but of the planet.
When we look at taking a next step and having a women, peace and security ambassador, this is a step in the right direction. However, without the support of meaningful resources, the work will be a significant challenge and I am concerned that the work that needs to be done will not be done.
The foreign affairs and international development committee did a study, proposed by the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, on women, peace and security. The conclusion of the study was very clear, that greater and more consistent leadership was needed from Canada. This included greater resources and comprehensive coordination at the highest levels of government.
I will be supporting Motion No. 163. In principle, a new ambassador on women, peace and security would be part of a real feminist foreign policy. However, it must be accompanied with a strong mandate and a significant financial commitment if action is to be part of this role. It is very important that the person put in this role actually has the capacity to do the work. It is important to me that the role be one that can impact change and provide leadership. I do not want this to be an ambassador on paper who cannot participate in the meaningful role that Canada should and could be leading on.
The motion has a section which says that the role will “lead the implementation of the Canadian National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security”. This is an important step, but I have to come back to the reality that if there is not a line in the budget, this will be nothing more than feel good rhetoric. If we want to see the Canadian government move forward with a strong feminist foreign policy, it simply must have resources and be financed. It cannot simply be talked and written about.
I think all of us in the House are recognizing that we are coming to a time when the Centre Block is going to be closed and we will be moving to a new location. This may be my last speech in this space, and I want to take the opportunity to recognize what an honour and privilege it has been to stand here in this place. When we talk about the importance of legislation, when we get up speak, as the member before me spoke quite passionately for an extensive amount of time, we recognize the history of this place, the decisions that were made in this place and that we continue to do all of our work to represent our constituents as honourably as we can. I am so proud to represent North Island—Powell River. It has been an honour to speak in this House.
Hopefully, all of us collaboratively will continue to focus on peace in the world, to build a world that looks at diversity, that makes sure that women are at the forefront of leadership so that we can move towards a more peaceful place. I will support Motion No. 163, and I hope that in the next step we will see some dedicated resources to fulfill the mandate of this position and the work that we all hold so sacred here and outside of this place.