Interventions in the House of Commons
 
 
 
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View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Scarborough—Rouge Park for his involvement in this important issue.
Our government remains deeply concerned by the crimes against humanity committed against the Rohingya. That is why I just launched a Myanmar crisis relief fund, a matching fund.
The government will match every dollar Canadians donate between now and November 28 to support the efforts of our humanitarian partners on the ground. I urge Canadians to be generous and to visit Canada.ca/myanmarcrisis.
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, hon. members know full well that it is common practice for candidates and volunteers who are actively involved in municipal, provincial, and federal campaigns to work together. None of my resources were used when I went door to door on Saturday. By way of example, the campaign manager for my colleague from Sherbrooke is a municipal councillor.
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I assure the House that we are very concerned about the fact that a tunnel was found under a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. We have taken action and are following this situation very closely.
These kinds of things can happen in this environment, but that is no reason to condemn 30,000 employees and deny a good education to 500,000 children.
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel for his question.
We are all very concerned about the humanitarian situation in Myanmar. There are now 900,000 refugees in Bangladesh. That is why, this morning, I announced additional aid in the amount of $12 million for a total of $25 million in humanitarian aid to the region this year. The funds will be allocated to our trusted partners to save lives, meet basic needs and women's needs, and protect children.
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member that our government is very concerned about the situation in Somalia and is monitoring it closely.
We have already contributed $2 million through the Red Cross to help those who were wounded in the attack. I can assure my colleagues that we are monitoring the situation closely and that we could increase our contribution if necessary.
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, Canada is extremely concerned about the ongoing crisis in the Rakhine State in Myanmar and the collateral effects it is having on the country's neighbour, Bangladesh. Continuing violence against the Rohingya and other minorities considerably limits humanitarian access. Every day, it threatens and limits the delivery of vital aid for the victims of this ethnic cleansing.
In Myanmar, significant numbers of people, both Rohingya and Rakhine, are currently displaced in northern Rakhine State. In addition, more than 120,000 Rohingya people remain in camps, displaced by the violence of 2012. Many of these individuals rely heavily on humanitarian assistance to survive, but have been without this lifesaving assistance for many weeks. The humanitarian needs become exponentially more urgent every day.
Canada commends Bangladesh for its efforts to assist those who are fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar. Bangladesh is currently facing considerable challenges in offering basic services to a huge number of people, many of whom have urgent humanitarian needs.
Without additional international aid, another catastrophe could develop amidst this crisis. There is a heightened risk of outbreaks of infectious diseases and those spread through contaminated water. What is more, there is also a possibility that the tension and violence will intensify in refugee camps.
Canada is continuing its tradition of providing rapid humanitarian aid that responds to needs on the ground. In reaction to the crisis, on September 7, the government made an initial contribution of $1 billion to respond to emerging needs and help our humanitarian partners quickly ramp up existing operations.
As the number of asylum seekers continues to grow, we made an additional contribution of $2.55 million on September 15, for a total of $3.5 million, in order to respond to this crisis. This contribution covers the delivery of food, dietary supplements, and temporary shelters. It also helps to provide clean drinking water and to set up sanitation infrastructure in order to prevent the spread of disease.
Our assistance is targeted specifically at the needs of women and girls and their sexual and reproductive health, particularly to help those who have suffered sexual violence and who too often fall through the cracks in situations of humanitarian crises.
Along with that contribution, Prime Minister Trudeau announced $4.3 million in funding last June to support peace and stability in Myanmar. These contributions will help protect human rights, support peace building, and promote women’s participation in the national peace process.
At the same time, it is important to point out that Canada has been contributing annual humanitarian aid for several years in order to help meet the needs of people affected by conflict in Bangladesh and Myanmar, including the Rohingya.
Earlier this year, Canada contributed $5.63 million in humanitarian aid to its partners in Myanmar and Bangladesh specifically to address the needs of the Rohingya people. Overall, Canada has contributed over $9 million in humanitarian assistance this year alone to those affected by the crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh. We are prepared to do even more as the situation on the ground evolves over time.
Earlier, I spoke about sexual and gender-based violence. I would like to comment further by reiterating that we are especially concerned about the effect of the current crisis on women and girls. They represent about 70% of the asylum seekers. Many of the women who have just arrived at these camps are pregnant or recently gave birth. Although we recognize the urgent need for basic humanitarian assistance, I want to point out to the House the importance of not neglecting sexual and reproductive health rights and services.
During my missions, I saw just how desperately these women in crisis situations need these services. Sexual and gender-based violence is very real. It leaves scars that we can never entirely erase, but that we can diminish if we are prepared to meet the specific needs of women and girls.
Last week, at the UN general Assembly, we asked the international community to give priority to the protection of the rights of women and girls and to ensure that sexual and reproductive health services are part of our response to this crisis.
Canada plans on being a leader in developing a feminist approach to international aid.
Humanitarian assistance, however, does not address the underlying conditions that contribute to crises such as discrimination against minorities, tensions between communities, and disproportionate responses of security forces. It cannot substitute for responsible political decision-making and military action. Alleged reports of the security forces imposing collective punishment upon ethnic Rohingya communities in northern Rakhine, including the unlawful killing of civilians and the burning of villages leading to mass displacement, are unacceptable.
Canada, along with partners in the international community, call upon military and civilian leadership to fulfill their responsibility to protect all civilians and respond to their basic needs in accordance with international humanitarian and human rights law.
We remain very concerned about the threats against humanitarian workers in Myanmar. That is why we are asking all parties to respect the safety of those helping the vulnerable, regardless of their religion or their ethnic origin. Beyond the threats weighing on the humanitarian workers, the situation of humanitarian access in Rakhine State is especially difficult. Canada is calling on the military and civilian authorities in Myanmar to allow the quick, safe, and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief, in accordance with international law.
Humanitarian access is necessary for assessing the needs on the ground. To be able to intervene quickly in the crisis, humanitarian organizations, the international community, and the Government of Myanmar must have a full and impartial understanding of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State.
Promoting and protecting human rights, which includes freedom of religion or belief, is an integral part of Canada's leadership in the world. Canada shows that leadership by actively supporting the international fact-finding mission being independently led by the United Nations and mandated by the Human Rights Council in March 2017.
Ethnic cleansing in Myanmar underscores the continued need to shed light on the events in Rakhine State. Unfortunately, the Government of Myanmar is slow to fully cooperate in the fact-finding mission by giving it full and unfettered access.
During the United Nations General Assembly, I met with ministers from the main countries concerned about the situation in Myanmar. I clearly reiterated Canada's position on the current crisis, citing the tremendous repercussions it is having on women and children. I stated that the government of Myanmar urgently needed to put an end to the violence and allow humanitarian access. I also brought up the need to come up with long-term solutions that will guarantee the basic rights of every citizen of Rakhine State, including the implementation of the recommendations developed by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.
We remain in regular contact with our humanitarian partners and other governments as we stand ready to respond further in light of the conditions on the ground.
In closing, I would like to assure the House that the situation in Rakhine State is being taken very seriously. The goal of Canadian assistance is to preserve and elevate human dignity, and that is why we will continue to apply pressure to ensure safe, unhindered humanitarian access.
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
When we support a government in any kind of transition towards democracy and peace, we do this through trusted international partners that have been completely and thoroughly vetted before any contract is awarded.
Obviously, we are doing follow-up on these projects promoting good governance and democracy as needed through our ambassador on the ground and our usual checks and balances.
I want to reassure my colleague that we are taking every possible action to ensure that no money is given directly to the government that could be diverted for any reason whatsoever and that could compromise the safety of certain communities in the country.
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his sincere interest in international development and humanitarian aid.
As members know, we held broad consultations with 15,000 people, primarily Canadians. These consultations were held in 65 countries and I met several of my counterparts from developing countries and also from other donor countries. I can say that Canada was asked to provide three things: leadership, a good policy, and, naturally, money, with which I absolutely agree.
There are different ways to provide leadership for the values that we protect such as human rights, the rights of women and girls, and sexual and reproductive health. I would even add climate change. We provide leadership in these three very important areas.
Second, we need to have a good policy, specifically a feminist policy. Our objective is to always focus on poverty reduction or elimination, based on the goals of sustainable development. The best way to achieve this is to use a feminist approach and to enhance the power of women and girls.
Third, we must give more money to international aid. In addition to official development assistance, this is one of the areas that I will pay more attention to. I agree that we could give more, but it is important to look for new partners, both Canadian and private sector partners and also partners from other countries that are not inclined to donate. Therefore, we must use Canada's contribution and leadership to do more and to attract more money.
At this time, official development assistance totals $140 billion. To attain the sustainable development goals, we must collect between $5 trillion and $7 trillion, with each trillion being 1,000 billion dollars. Yes, we need more official development assistance, but it is even more important that we use our leadership to identify new donors.
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Alfred-Pellan for the question.
I was very proud this morning to unveil Canada's new feminist international aid policy. From now on, all of our partners will have to ensure that they contribute in a tangible way to gender parity and to the empowerment of women and girls.
I am confident that our new feminist approach will help reduce poverty and inequality, and create a more inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous world.
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, we are deeply concerned with the ongoing flooding in Sri Lanka and our thoughts are with those affected. I can already announce an initial envelope of up to $250,000 to respond to the humanitarian impacts of the flood. Obviously, we remain in close contact with our humanitarian partners.
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Davenport for her question.
Today, we launched the famine relief fund to help 20 million people facing starvation in South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen, and Somalia. The government will match every eligible donation made to registered Canadian organizations between March 17 and June 20.
I encourage all Canadians to give to the famine relief matching fund. Information is available on Canada.ca or by following #zerofamine.
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 83(1), I wish to table a notice of a ways and means motion to amend the Income Tax Act.
Pursuant to Standing Order 83(2), I ask that an order of the day be designated for consideration of the motion.
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I thank my colleague for the question.
Absolutetly, I believe that there is no doubt that Canada is back on the world stage and on the international development scene. We conducted a major consultation over the past year, and 15,000 people from 65 countries took part. Most of the participants were Canadian, of course.
People asked us three things. Naturally they asked us for more money and a more direct contribution, but they also asked us for leadership and good policies. We have already demonstrated our leadership on several occasions. I will give just one example, that of the global fund. Through that fund we brought together our international partners and raised $13 billion to put an end to tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS. They asked us for good policies. I look forward to presenting in the House my new policy, which will be focused on women and girls.
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, we are indeed finalizing the international development policy for release before the summer. I will summarize into three basic points what we heard during all these consultations and what will be found in this policy. First, we have human dignity and human rights. Then we have the emancipation of women, which is an extremely important issue. When we invest in making women agents of development and peace, that changes things. Finally, we have the importance of working with local communities and building up their means. These points that were brought forward during the consultations will certainly be reflected in the new policy.
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I can assure my colleague that nutrition and vaccination are important components of our international aid policy. Actually, we are very proud of the organization that used to be called Micronutrient Initiative and is now known as Nutrition International. This is a Canadian initiative that we are very proud of and will continue to support. One of the programs we are supporting is the special project for the nutrition of adolescent girls.
With respect to vaccination and other major topics for which Canada is known, we will ensure that all of our partners find the best way to include women and strategies to empower them in their programs.
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