Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2017-10-03 13:35 [p.13878]
Mr. Speaker, this is more of a comment. I do not have a question.
The member talked about having read the proposal, so let us start there. On the issue of retroactive taxation, proposed section 246.1 of the proposal is an extra tax on CDAs, capital dividend accounts. That has been confirmed by tax specialists and tax accountants.
In section 84.1, there is a problem. Tax specialist John Wonfor presented before the committee and said that it is not true that, as the government says, it is not retroactive. Different ministers and the Prime Minister have said different things, saying it is retroactive or it is not. Mr. Wonfor said, “That's not true, because you have to look back at all the transactions and determine whether you have a section 84.1 problem.” The proposal the government has put forward is retroactive, despite all the talk on that side that it is not.
Furthermore, when we go to the taxation of estates, double and triple taxation was confirmed by Allan Lanthier. Allan Lanthier is a fellow of more accounting associations than I can even describe. He is an FCA and a CPA right now. He is also the president of the Canada Tax Foundation. He said, “I was going to say they're murdered by these proposals, which was a bad turn of phrase in the context of post-mortem planning, but yes, they can face tax rates up to 92%. Those are the proposals with respect to section 84.1 that the government's put out for consultation.”
When we read the proposal, they are retroactive, and they punish small businesses, estates, and the family farm.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2017-10-03 14:49 [p.13891]
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance has called small business owners tax cheats. The Prime Minister implied that these hard-working Canadians are cheating on their taxes. The Liberals announced the most dramatic changes to the Income Tax Act in the dead of summer when farmers were busy with their crops and getting ready for harvest, and when parents were on vacation with their children and then getting them ready to go back to school. Now, the consultation has been bungled in every possible way. The minister has expressed zero regret. Will he do the right thing and extend the consultation, yes or no?
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2017-10-02 18:45 [p.13836]
Mr. Speaker, I am rising to follow up on a May 2 question I asked.
I get this privilege because iPolitics had an access to information request that came back with 100 pages of information showing emails of diplomatic staff that showed a growing confusion over how to work with the dual appointment of special envoy Stéphane Dion to the European Union and to Germany.
There is a quote I want to share with the House: “No idea if true of how it would work.” That could almost explain any Liberal policy that has been put forward by the current government.
There is a large block of text as well that was redacted, no doubt showing the gong show that this appointment has become with our allies. The fault lies completely with the Prime Minister, as special envoy Dion said to the foreign affairs committee when he appeared before it on May 2 of this year. He said that the agreement was not in place at the time, and that is something that is very important among diplomatic staff. Before making a diplomatic appointment, they typically ask their allies and ask the countries whether they are willing to accept it, and that had not been done in the case of the European Union.
In another quote, an ex-Canadian ambassador said, “We look like amateur hour.” The German and EU jobs are more than full-time jobs on their own. The German appointment by itself implies that the government believes that German leadership of the EU—this was pre-Brexit—took precedence over our allies in the United Kingdom, that their leadership of the European Union at the time was not as important as the leadership of Germany. We were taking sides in what was truly an internal diplomatic matter.
The question I want to continue today with the parliamentary secretary is this: was the appointment of special envoy Dion made to advance our national interest, or was it to deal with a niggling personnel problem that the Prime Minister had, namely that he had an incompetent minister at the time and wanted to move him out of the way—shunt him across the pond, so to speak—to the European Union and to Germany so it would be someone else's problem. Further, if that is going to be the behaviour of the government—to ignore the foreign service, ignore the diplomatic staff at Global Affairs—which minister is next?
I think that the Minister of Finance is ready for an ambassadorship. There are countries like, perhaps, Mongolia or North Korea—maybe Cuba would be nice this time of year—that we could send the Minister of Finance to. No doubt he has bungled the consultation on his small business tax proposals and he has bungled the ending portion of it and has refused to apologize. Which minister is next? Are future ambassadorial appointments going to be made to get rid of personnel issues on the front bench, or will they be done in the best interests of Canada?
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2017-10-02 18:52 [p.13837]
Mr. Speaker, I would first like to compliment the hon. member for Fredericton on the quality of his French today. I see that he is working hard to join his cabinet colleagues on the front bench. That is good because the government will soon have a position to fill.
I also hope, at that time, they will also find some cushy appointment, especially for the Minister of Finance.
There is a Yiddish proverb, “As we live, so we learn.” I hope that the government has learned a lesson from this. We cannot treat allies like a dumping ground for washed-up politicians. We have to treat them with the respect they deserve. First, we need to consult with them and get their agreement in the first place before then having to dial it back and say, “Actually, the ambassadorship we meant to give you is not so much that, as it is just a special envoy”.
Former minister Dion will actually be answering to Ambassador Costello. We already have professional and excellent diplomatic staff there.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2017-09-29 13:02 [p.13784]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Langley—Aldergrove for his contributions to the debate so far. I am pleased to be rising to speak to this bill.
Alberta is really known for its coastlines.
There was not even a laugh in the chamber. I thought at least some people would appreciate that.
However, Albertans do care about coastlines. Members may have heard that for the past few years there has been a great debate on the construction of pipelines, for which Alberta is well known and for which Alberta has a lot of technical expertise.
Albertans are especially in pipelines that reach a coastline of some sort, so that we can sell our product at a higher world price. That is what has been consuming the interest, the time, and the debates in politics for the better part of the last few years in Alberta.
This bill to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act also deals with conservation and stewardship. When I worked in Alberta for the Minister of Sustainable Resource Development, we were charged with the stewardship of not only Alberta's natural resources but also its wildlife, fauna, and aquatic resources. We do, indeed, have many of those. Some of the greatest inland sport fishing that can be done is in Alberta. No hooked barbs are used there. It all has to be done in our lakes and waters without any use of hooked barbs, so it takes quite a skilled angler to actually get it done.
Other members have already gone over some of the defects and some of the inconsistencies they see in the bill that the government has proposed, so I would like to focus my time on what is important when we are trying to talk about stewardship and protecting marine environments.
We should be measuring results by outcomes, not necessarily by whatever ranking we are trying to attain on some international statistic. We should not be using the government's stick to impose something on people. We should be using kind words and going out and reaching out to people, asking them what works in their particular area. That type of approach is the “Ottawa does not know best” approach.
Ottawa actually knows very little about places on any coast of this country, especially in our northern territories. People in those localities have a much better understanding of the local needs of the marine environment.
In the example I gave about measurements and ranking systems and international institutions grading different countries for reaching a certain goal or objective, the latter is good to have, but it is not the primary measurement goal. What we should be doing is asking whether we are reaching our own objectives. We, as Canadians, should be setting our own objectives, local communities' objectives.
It is not for Ottawa to set an objective of 1%, 2%, 5%, 10%, 20%, 30% or 40%. What do the local communities want? What are they talking about? What works for them? Is there one model for everyone? Could there be one model on the east coast, maybe another model on the west coast, and another in the north? Can it be made even more varied?
Can we say that we will call them MPAs, but within the MPAs we will allow it to vary and we will allow differences for different people? Can we also consult ahead of time?
I know the government has made a really big deal out of telling people that it is going to consult more and that the previous government did not do that. I feel that like most Liberal promises nowadays, this one should come with a warning label, such as “promise will be smaller than it appears” or “this promise may not be what it appears to be”.
I thought we were on the receiving end of science-based decision-making, which a lot of this proposal lacks. If the government is going to be moving ahead with forcing an MPA onto a local community or region or area, and then deciding after the fact whether it achieves all the goals we wanted to achieve or even to vary what an MPA is, then should it not be based on the best possible local science available first? Should it not be more transparent and have more consultation?
It seems that what the government is doing is very much the opposite. The government is giving the minister a stick to be used against local communities, instead of using kind words and enabling the minister to do the job in a more consultative manner.
What did the Liberals promise in their party platform in the last election? In the environmental section, they actually spent more time talking about Stephen Harper than they did about the marine environment. It is a seven to four difference. Maybe there should be a Stephen Harper protection area created. It could be all of Calgary.
In the document, the Liberals spent a lot more time complaining about what was not done before and saying that Stephen Harper did all these terrible things, and that in the marine environment the Liberals would do X, Y, and Z. However, they talked very little about the actual objectives.
The fisheries and oceans committee met and heard witness testimony. The member for Barrie—Innisfil quoted Sean Cox, a professor at Simon Fraser University, so I will not go over that particular point, but it provided valuable input. He said:
MPAs aren't likely to be effective scientific tools, either.
That was a direct quote.
He also said:
Just enforcing MPAs would be hugely expensive. Again, if you're looking at it from a fisheries management point of view, it's far more cost effective to do other things that don't cost that much.
He continued:
Looking at some of the previous testimony, there was a claim that there was overwhelming scientific proof that MPAs are beneficial and widely successful. I think that was misrepresentation of the actual science. Stephen just cited some of the studies that find that they're not broadly successful.
He was not saying that they do not work, but just that they are not as broadly successful as they are made out to be. Therefore, it is really a matter of what the content of the MPAs are. Do they match local community needs? Will they achieve their goals?
Brian Clark, an environmental adviser and registered professional biologist with Pacific NorthWest LNG, asked the following: “Where are the no-go zones? What are the thresholds for impacts?” He also said that “we need specific plans for coastal areas of high industrial activity.”
He added that “there is a lack of clear process for integrated coastal planning that leaves proponents to develop strategies in an information vacuum.” However, that information was collected from the local community. If we impose upon them an MPA and then say that we will formulate what it will actually be later on, what the permanent plan for the area will be, we will create anxiety, panic, and fear. It is like what the Liberal government has done with the small business tax changes it is proposing with a 75-day consultation window. To me, this seems like more of the same.
We have leaders from the territorial governments who have come out and openly attacked this proposal, Bill C-55.
Not to belabour the point, other members have mentioned that the MLA Johnny Mike, who is also the minister of the environment of Nunavut, openly attacked Ottawa. I have a headline that reads, “Nunavut MLA attacks Ottawa, Inuit orgs on proposed federal law.” I have another headline entitled, “Northern premiers present united front against Ottawa”, which is always a great headline for a government to have when it is two years into its mandate.
I will quote from that article:
To industry, the premiers delivered a message that they want to make investment in the territories more attractive rather than increase “regulatory complexity or uncertainty.”
That is exactly what this will create. It is an Ottawa-knows-best approach, one in which we have a box that we are going to impose on a community, a community that will have to live with it and comply with our plans and what we want to do.
Another headline, dated August 31, from Yellowknife is entitled “Territorial Premiers discuss plans to create strong sustainable North.” The article states:
Northern Premiers appreciate the federal government’s interest in improving the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, and recognize the increase in federal oceans protection commitment by 2020. However, the proposed amendments to...Bill C55 allow for the creation of...[these interim MPAs] by a federal minister without prior consultation. This amendment should not be part of Bill C55.
When we have northern leaders telling us that we have it wrong, we should go back and ask, “What did we get wrong?” When they are telling us that those types of amendments should not be in this bill, we should commit to removing them right away or, even better, we should just remove the bill and start over again. That is what I have said that the Liberals should do on many other occasions with many different bills. They should take the bill off the table, such as the access to information law they have proposed before the House and that has now gone to committee. They should go back to the drawing board and get it done right the first time.
I have a Yiddish proverb to recite, which I know many members are probably waiting for. I mentioned the Ottawa-knows-best stick. The proverb goes like this, “It's not the stick that helps but the kind word.” That is what the federal government should be doing. I will make a comparison here with the small business tax proposals the Liberals have brought forward. I think this is very much the same. We can see both sides of this. On the one hand, the government has said there would be 75 days of consultations, and then on the other hand, it had said that it will drop the hammer, leaving no time for small business owners and farmers during harvest to contribute to the debate and provide information on how their businesses will be affected. How will people in these communities be affected by MPAs when these marine protected areas are imposed on them? It is a one-size-fits-all approach for everybody. What works on the east coast will not work on the west coast. Even areas 100 kilometres apart on the same coastline might be different. We have heard it said many times in the House that we have the longest coastline in the world. What are we protecting it for if not for the local communities?
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2017-09-29 13:13 [p.13786]
Madam Speaker, I do not think that marine protected areas should be the same in every community where they are found. I also do not believe that there should be a minimum amount of protection. There can be a lot of differences between those areas and what they protect.
We need to consider the impact on local economies and tourism. If we create a marine protected area, tourists will come see it, as is the case with our national parks. In Alberta, we have national parks that have pipelines running through them, but that does not prevent people from coming to visit them and spending money in local communities. That is the only way for some small businesses there to remain in the middle class.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2017-09-29 13:14 [p.13786]
Madam Speaker, the member for Courtenay—Alberni and I work on various Kurdish issues, so we have had a lot of time to get to know each other. I somehow knew this question was coming, so I looked it up.
Canada has 243,042 kilometres of coastline, 1% of which would be about 2,500 kilometres of coastline. We have the largest coastline in the world, but where is it being protected? If we protect it in certain regions, say the Northwest Territories, are any people going to be able to enjoy this marine protected area? I really and truly believe that if we are not doing this for people and we are just doing this to get a plus one from the World Wildlife Fund or getting a higher ranking in some international organization's ranking system, then we are not doing it for the right reasons. We should be doing it for local people, tourists, and Canadians to enjoy pristine landscapes. They should be for that.
It is not about the 1%, 10%, 20%, 30% or 40%. We should do what we can for 100% of the coastline. However, if it is not for people and local communities, then we have it all wrong.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2017-09-29 13:16 [p.13786]
Madam Speaker, the previous Conservative government did quite a deed for stewardship and conservation. It looked at what it could do for local communities and how it could improve access, say, to national parks. More national parks and more natural landscapes were protected because Canadians wanted to take advantage of that. They want be able to visit pristine landscapes, go camping, fishing, and hunting. The vast majority of anglers and hunters want to do that as well.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2017-09-28 18:21 [p.13750]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Kitchener Centre for tabling Motion No. 132 so that we are able to have this debate.
I have had the honour of serving with the member on the foreign affairs committee. We have had conversations on the side, mostly related to foreign affairs, but he did bring up his past as a pharmacist many times.
Unfortunately, the member talked about physicians and not about pharmacists, but I have a Yiddish proverb: Time is the best physician. However, time is actually not the best physician. This Yiddish proverb is wrong, because it says that if someone with an ailment or disease just waits, eventually it will get better. Mostly this proverb is used for something like tripping stubbing a toe, and in that sense it is true that it will pass without medication or a physician's help.
A proverb that applies much better to this situation is “Health comes before making a livelihood.” We have seen it in the House before, and we just heard a member today speak about her health. Health comes first. It comes before everything else. It is the most important matter in our lives, both the health of our families and our personal health. It is the greatest determinant of whether we can pursue our dreams and our careers and take care of our families.
Time is also something that patients do not have. When we talk about health care, we are not talking about buildings or research; we are talking about patients, people with an illness or disease for which they need healing, treatment, or some type of therapy so that they can extend their lives or have a better quality of life.
The motion speaks about increasing benefits to the public from federally funded research, which is a laudable goal. As a Conservative, I like to think that we get value for our money, a bang for our buck. We should always try to maximize the return on investment. Therefore, absolutely, I support the motion, and the principle and the wording of it. Having to report back within a year with some solutions for Canadians is especially valuable.
I remember serving on the Kidney Foundation of Canada Southern Alberta Branch. Value for money is what the Kidney Foundation is all about, with 60% of the dollars raised going toward private sector research, and there it is always about what the best thing is for the patient. What do patients want? What can be achieved for patients with the dollars raised? This is how I feel and what federal government research should be about. It should not be about building a research empire or clusters or superclusters or hiring new university adjunct professors. It is really about what can be done for patients. This is what it should be all about. The goals of lowering drug costs and increasing access to medicines are all for patients, for their families. It is for a better quality of life and to extend lives.
I would like to focus most of my comments on rare diseases and the orphan drug framework, which was supposed to have been introduced and in action about two years ago. We are still waiting to see it.
I bring up rare diseases because this is one of the fastest-growing fields in medical research. There are many new rare diseases. Diseases that used to be considered one disease have been split into two or three or four as our knowledge has improved.
I say this as a father with kids and a wife who have a rare disease. My family has Alport syndrome. I do not have it, but all three of my kids do. There are 40,000 patients with Alport syndrome globally. However, out of six and a half or seven billion people, 40,000 is not very many. This is something that I have mentioned in the House before. There is no known cure for it, and eventually it leads to terminal failure of the kidneys. There are six other families in Calgary who have exactly the same condition as my kids and wife, but there are hundreds of Canadians—one in 12, and now they say it may be as high as one in 10—who have some type of rare disease, which varies between terminally lethal to something that might be more benign or something in between.
Sometimes there are therapies available to improve people's quality of life. Other times, there is simply nothing, because there is not enough knowledge, although public research is being directed toward discovering a better therapy or that first stepping stone toward creating an opportunity for a drug that might relieve or improve the condition of a patient.
Clinical trials, as I have come to learn over the past two years in learning about how the health system works, take a long time, and the length of time is getting longer. Every physician I have spoken to who is in the field of public and even private medical research say it is being delayed by longer clinical trials in phase I, II, and III.
Phase I, often called the “first-in-man studies”, is where healthy volunteers are used to determine the maximum dosage of a potential new drug or new therapy. It is a very expensive initial phase.
Phase II, consisting of a small number of patients over an extended period of time, is used to see whether there are health improvements and any safety issues.
Phase III, consisting of a larger group of patients with a control group, investigates whether there is some type of worth for clinical practice.
It is taking longer and longer as we try to develop therapies and to develop new drugs or to have a secondary use for a current drug that could find some new use in treating a condition that might not have been thought about before.
The private sector is pursuing all of those opportunities, but there is a very high cost. What the government brings with public funding, typically, is the opportunity to provide a large amount of financing to focus people on a very specific goal. Curing cancer has typically been one. Curing diabetes is another. It can pool resources.
All members of Parliament have the power to convene. Government has the power to convene resources and people to focus on a specific issue. We should be getting bang for our buck.
In the case of Alport syndrome, there is a private sector company, Reata Pharmaceuticals, that is developing a second-generation drug with bardoxolone methyl, which they are now testing to see whether it could provide some type of relief for sufferers of Alport syndrome.
There are many other rare diseases that could use public sector financing and/or private sector financing.
One thing I want to point out is that when we talk about national goals, do we want to be world leaders and do we want to have a supercluster of health research? National goals should be synonymous with patient goals, not with meeting some percentage or having Canada come first in an international ranking of G7 countries, or the OECD, or versus the European Union. I could not care less whether we are at the bottom or top of a list. If we are meeting the goals of patients in Canada, if we are actually developing real therapies and new drugs and new opportunities for people to get better or to extend their lives, that is what we should be doing. If we happen to wind up at the bottom of the list, then so be it. Therefore, when we talk about national goals, we should be talking about patient goals. The terms should be inverted.
All of this research has to be for patients. If it not for patients, then it is not meeting its goal. In this regard, I have gone through the websites of CIHR and a lot of public sector bodies, and they do a lot of good research. A lot of that research, though, is basic research, trying to understand the basic functioning of the human body, the basic functioning of different drugs that are being developed, and the secondary uses of drugs. Sometimes what is missing is that patient focus.
Have they actually gone to the patient community with that particular condition, with that particular illness, to ask them if that would be something they want pursued, if it is something that would be helpful, and how they could be reached to better understand what the families are going through.
I recognize that it is very difficult with rare diseases. Some rare diseases in Canada could have as few as 60 sufferers. That is one of the reasons the company that developed Soliris is facing so much opposition and anger, both from patients and provincial governments that are attempting to negotiate an agreement with them. That effort has failed so far. It is because there is a very particular drug that treats a very particular autoimmune disease.
Advancing the frontiers of knowledge is fine, but we have to do it for people, kids, and families. I feel that this motion is reaching that goal. We are trying to reach for the goal, trying to find an opportunity.
I will be supporting this motion. I think its intent is in the right place. Let us invert the terminology and never talk about national goals, but patient goals.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2017-09-26 20:56 [p.13610]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to join the debate at this late hour today.
First, I want to thank the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands for his contributions and his intervention. He kind of laid out some of what Canada was doing that it should not be doing with respect to grants still being given to the Myanmar government despite its actions or inactions it was taking.
I also want to thank the member of Parliament for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan. Over the past two years, he has raised consistently in the House the issue of the human rights violations against the Rohingya people in the western parts of Myanmar. Of any member in the House, by far he has the most credibility on the human rights violations, having spoken up repeatedly to draw the attention of the government to this case.
It is sad to say that it has taken two years for us to have an emergency debate caused by the current situation with the military activity in the province where most of the Rohingya are.
Like I have done before, and I always do it, I have a Yiddish proverb. This proverb describes exactly what the government is doing, and actually describes what a lot of western governments are doing. It is not just the Canadian government not doing enough; it is the entire western world that is standing by. The proverb goes, “Hoping and waiting makes fools out of clever people.” We have a lot of clever people in the government. We have a lot of clever people in the House and across a lot of the western democracies. Again, we are hoping and waiting for a solution to simply happen, just like we were hoping and waiting for a good outcome to what was happening in Rwanda before the western governments reacted and took action.
Again, we are also hoping and waiting in other parts of the world. I drew the attention of the House just this week to the human rights violations against the Sindh people in Pakistan. I have been championing the cause of the Kurdish people in northern Iraq, Iran, Syria, and in Turkey. There are minority groups all across the world, indigenous peoples to the lands they are in who do not have a voice in government, who do not even have a voice in the administration of the lands on which they live. They do not even have autonomous governance of the areas in which they live. They are imposed upon by a larger ethnic group, by a larger conglomeration of people who determine for them, typically through a non-democratic process, what the laws, customs, and culture of the land shall be.
In Myanmar we see the unfortunate effects of military action being taken against a lot of very innocent people who did not ask for this to be dealt upon them. They did not have a choice. They have simply lived there for generations upon generations in a land they simply call home.
Now, again, we stand and we watch. The important thing the government should be doing is taking concrete steps. I know the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands mentioned some of them. It could be a simple thing, like cutting aid money that goes directly to the Myanmar government, not directly to the people. It could be putting more pressure on NGOs that are assisting the Myanmar government in one way or other. We could be adding certain individuals in the government to our sanctions list.
Just saw last week the government, finally, after years upon years, put 40 members of the Venezuela regime on Canada's sanctions list, including the president of the Republic of Venezuela.
Things can be done, especially when public pressure is placed upon the government. It is unfortunate that it may take another two years before the government chooses to react and do something. In the case of Venezuela, it might have had something to do with the electronic petition I tabled with over 4,500 signatures on it, and then the motion of my colleague for Thornhill, which comes up for a vote tomorrow. It deals specifically with the Venezuelan crisis.
However, on the Rohingya crisis, we cannot wait another two years to see concrete actions, a signal from the government that is more than a really tersely worded press release that most western governments have become really adept at, with very carefully worded language. It is like we have become central banks when it comes to human rights and monetary policy. There is very carefully worded language so as not to offend anybody, but which does not really indicate anything more than we are unhappy with someone. Just like the central banks put out very confusing press releases about the future of monetary policy, we do the same thing on human rights.
What to do? Hoping and waiting is what we do. Again, in this situation, the Prime Minister has reached out to Aung San Suu Kyi and expressed his concern, but so much more could be done and so many more actions could be taken. This is not new. It is not as if this Parliament and the government, and the broader Canadian society, have not heard about this. I have a graphic from a data team, to which I am will to refer. It shows all the ethnic cleansing that has happened over the past 20 years. The last time people in the provinces affected where the Rohingya are, 600,000 people were forced to flee from their homes. Today it is 422,000.
Rwanda was 2.3 million people. Iraq was 1.4 million people. Kosovo was 900,000. Syria was 5.5 million people. They were all for different situations, typically involving a dictatorship, and all had accompanying massive human rights violations: rape, murder, and the indiscriminate killing of civilians.
I also want to draw attention to the political context of the conflict. Sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar has raged sporadically for nearly a century, so it is nothing new to the international community. Aung San Suu Kyi's National League For Democracy is not avowedly a Buddhist or ethnic Burmese party, but it still effectively exists as one. The junta has declined, the military government has declined, and Aung San Suu Kyi has risen in power. They still depend heavily on the support of Buddhist monks, as William McGowan wrote in 2012 and since then.
Various leading members of the NLD have made disparaging statements about the Rohingya. I draw attention to one of their spokespersons, who said in 2012, “The Rohingya are not our citizens.” As the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands said, in fact they have had their citizenship cancelled, in many cases. They are not even citizens of their country. They have been robbed of the right to basically govern themselves and decide who will lead them and make decisions on behalf of the community.
The province in question is on the western side, which is probably one of the reasons this conflict has grabbed so much attention. They are being streamed straight into Bangladesh and into international waters, where they are fleeing this conflict.
One thing Canada could be demanding is access for international monitors. I do not mean just United Nations monitors. I mean that any willing third party should have free and fair access to the region with the certainty that they can go in there freely, without the government imposing any minders on them.
I mentioned that this Parliament has dealt with this before. In fact, there is a June 2013 parliamentary report written by the Subcommittee on International Human Rights, chaired by the member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, of the foreign affairs and international development committee, chaired by the member for Niagara West. The headline is “Conflicting Realities: Reform Repression and Human Rights in Burma”. It is a 99-page report, and it details every single issue. It is not edifying or uplifting reading in any way, because it details the human rights violations; the violations of the rule of law; how freedom of expression, assembly, and association have been restricted; and forced labour. It describes the conditions political prisoners were living through. It goes on to describe the armed conflict and the humanitarian crisis in Kachin State and Rakhine State, where a large number of Rohingya live today. This is nothing new for our Parliament to be dealing with.
The sanctions imposed on the regime at the time were partially based on good future behaviour, so Aung San Suu Kyi was released and then allowed to lead her political party in a fairly free, not entirely free, election to power. A lot of the international community was hoping that the human rights situation would improve and that free and open access to Myanmar would improve for international investment to improve the lives of the people there. They have done some of that, but the repression has very much continued. Although we have a kind of figurehead leader that many western democracies were looking for and campaigned for, we do not have, in reality, on the ground, a situation that would avoid the kind of ethnic cleansing we are seeing.
The June 7 meeting the Prime Minister had with Aung San Suu Kyi was an opportunity to raise the issue of the treatment of the Rohingya. I have heard some members and others say that in fact he has done so. However, more than words and press releases, we need action. I have described some that could be done. I know that the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan and the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands have done the same. We can do things. We have done it in the case of Venezuela, and we can do it again.
I am looking forward to the questions and comments from other members and am looking for an opportunity perhaps to give the government some ideas on what it could actually do to better the situation.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2017-09-26 21:07 [p.13612]
Madam Speaker, that is obviously a question of realpolitik. What can we do in particular situations?
In the case of what I would call a middle power like Canada, our means are pretty limited. What we do have control of is what happens in Canada and the international reputation that has been built up over the past 10 years by the previous Conservative government and the two years the Liberals have been there. It is time to cash in that political capital with world leaders to get them to do more than send out tersely worded press releases, such as sanctions, a demand for international monitors, cutting aid, cutting grants, and actually putting pressure on governments. That is the way governments actually react. In the case of Venezuela, I think it will bear fruit eventually. It is just a shame it has taken two years in that particular situation. I just hope that in 2019, when we are coming up to the next election, we are not debating this issue again asking what we could have done or if we could have imposed sanctions then.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2017-09-26 21:09 [p.13612]
Madam Speaker, to the best of my knowledge, Myanmar is not a member of the landmine treaty, which is the first part I should mention. The second part is that as far I know, it is still one of the countries that gets quite a bit of military support from the Chinese government.
I like the idea of looking at what Canada can do in the type of foreign aid or foreign support we could be providing. We have expertise in demining operations. However, we cannot do that during an active military operation across the border when there are people still streaming over it fleeing from the conflict.
First we have to focus on the conflict. Once peace is restored in some measure or a truce is called, we can begin the restoration of the Rohingya to their villages.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2017-09-26 21:11 [p.13613]
Madam Speaker, I support the collection of information, such as detailed evidence, because it builds two important cases. One is for the future prosecution of people who target civilians and commit criminal acts, crimes of war, atrocities, and ethnic cleansing. That is one purpose. The other part is documenting acts such as these for future generations to learn from them. I think one of the great benefits post-World War II was the heavy documentation of the Holocaust and the ethnic cleansing. It has given us an opportunity to learn from our past mistakes and to say that never again would we allow this to happen.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2017-09-25 14:04 [p.13475]
Mr. Speaker, I rise to bring the attention of the House to the ongoing human rights abuses against the 50 million Sindhi people of Pakistan. Many other ethnic and religious minority groups, including Christians, Hindus, and Sufis, also call the Sindh province, including the cities of Karachi and Hyderabad, home. Over 1,200 cases of missing persons in Sindh have been reported since 2010.
According to reports from the U.S. State Department, extrajudicial killings, torture, and targeted violence against ethnic and religious minority groups are common practices in the region, and the Pakistani government has done little to prevent this violence. Since February, over 150 political and human rights activists, as well as journalists, have gone missing in Sindh. Violence against women is rampant, with young girls frequently kidnapped and subjected to arranged marriages, including forced conversion to Islam.
The state-sponsored rise of violence and extremism is a denial of the Sindh people's basic human rights. Canada has a duty to stand up now for the protection of the Sindh people, not just through flowery words of support for the victims but through actions that provide practical assistance.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2017-09-25 15:10 [p.13487]
Mr. Speaker, I have four petitions to table.
The first is signed by 100 constituents in my riding regarding the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. I have to thank Tim Reed for getting these signatures on the petition.
What is basically being called for is equal treatment for American plated vehicles owned by Canadians so they receive the same treatment as Canadian plated vehicles in the United States.
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