Madam Speaker, when I tabled brought Motion No. 128 with the House in the spring it was to urge the government to respond more actively to the ever-deepening crisis in Venezuela. This is a continuing crisis, not only in terms of the brutal denial of democratic process, free speech, free assembly, and the rule of law, but also because of the humanitarian tragedy that worsens by the day.
Let me offer congratulations to the government for finally acting to impose targeted sanctions against some of the worst abusers of human and democratic rights in the Maduro regime, starting with President Nicolás Maduro himself. The Canadian sanctions have been properly hailed by Venezuelans living under Maduro's increasingly violent oppression, and by the thousands of Venezuelans living in Canada who contribute so much to our society while dreaming of a day when democracy will return to their homeland.
I will come back to Canada's newest sanctions and the challenge of enforcing them in a few moments. First, I remind members that the extreme socialist policies, corruption, and cruelty of President Nicolás Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez have imposed incredible suffering on the people of Venezuela, once the richest nation in Latin America but now overwhelmed by inflation that the International Monetary Fund predicts will hit 721% by the end of this year, and 2,000% by the end of next year if this tragedy continues.
Extreme shortages of food and medicines, the result of the Maduro regime's imposition of extreme and often contradictory socialist policies, have resulted in chronic malnutrition among children and adults. At least 125 people have died in five months of increasingly deadly street protests in the capital of Caracas and in communities across the country.
The people have been demanding a new presidential and national election that would be internationally observed, freedom for jailed politicians and pro-democracy advocates, and humanitarian aid from the international community for the sick and hungry masses.
OAS Secretary General Almagro has announced the creation of a panel to evaluate ways of taking Venezuela to the International Criminal Court. It is worth noting that our former colleague and human rights champion Irwin Cotler is one of those panel members. As noted earlier by my colleague, the United Nations potentially has the clout to intervene, but so far the democracies among its members have limited themselves to verbal concerns and calls for reconciliation.
The United States imposed targeted sanctions against individuals identified with the Maduro regime repression some months ago. The Liberals, while saying then that it was impossible to follow suit under our existing dysfunctional sanctions regime, finally announced that they could. They did so late on Friday afternoon last week, though a day after the missed opportunity for the Prime Minister to tell the world at the United Nations.
It is true that Canada's new Magnitsky legislation will soon make it easier to designate and enforce sanctions against gross individual abusers of human rights, not only in Venezuela but around the world. However, first the Liberal government needs to heed the recommendations of the foreign affairs committee's report on much needed sanctions reform and not only name sanctioned individuals but also specify the reasons they are listed, and direct government departments and agencies to devote much greater effort and resources to monitor and enforce sanctions.
With regard to potential additions to the new list of sanctioned Venezuelans, I respectfully suggest to the government that it direct responsible agencies to investigate allegations made in testimony before the foreign affairs committee of the House last November 2 of the alleged movement and laundering of many millions of dollars of fraudulently obtained Venezuelan funds through an American company Derwick Associates, and a Canadian entity known as The O'Hara Group. The testimony, along with the names of alleged perpetrators, can be found in the foreign affairs committee transcript of November 2 last year and in testimony before the U.S. Senate judiciary committee in July this year.
In conclusion, I call on all members to support Motion No. 128 calling on the government to actively work to develop a plan with our democratic allies in the Americas and around the world to provide urgently needed humanitarian aid and to support and demand free and fair elections in Venezuela.