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MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
 
Meeting No. 15
 
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
 

The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development met in a televised session at 10:17 a.m. this day, in Room 237-C, Centre Block, the Chair, Kevin Sorenson, presiding.

 

Members of the Committee present: Bill Casey, Peter Goldring, Hon. Albina Guarnieri, Francine Lalonde, Hon. Keith Martin, Alexa McDonough, Deepak Obhrai, Bernard Patry, Kevin Sorenson and Peter Van Loan.

 

Acting Members present: Omar Alghabra for Bernard Patry, Hon. Dan McTeague for Hon. Bryon Wilfert, Maria Mourani for Diane Bourgeois, Hon. Andrew Telegdi for Bernard Patry, Mark Warawa for Deepak Obhrai and Borys Wrzesnewskyj for Hon. Bryon Wilfert.

 

Associate Members present: Raymonde Folco.

 

Other Members present: Meili Faille.

 

In attendance: Library of Parliament: Gerald Schmitz, Principal; Allison Goody, Analyst.

 

Appearing: Hon. Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

 

Witnesses: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Foreign Affairs): Peter Boehm, Assistant Deputy Minister, North America (and Consular Affairs); Robert Desjardins, Director General, Consular Affairs; James Fox, Assistant Deputy Minister, Bilateral Relations; Martial Pagé, Acting Director General , Assignments and Executive Bureau.

 
Pursuant to Standing Order 106(4), the Committee commenced consideration of the request by four (4) members of the Committee in relation to the current Middle East Crisis and the evacuation of Canadians from Lebanon
 

The Minister made a statement and answered questions.

 

At 12:12 p.m., the sitting was suspended.

At 1:06 p.m., the sitting resumed.

 

Bernard Patry moved, — That the Committee move to the consideration of Committee Business.

 

After debate, the question was put on the motion and it was agreed to.

 
The Committee proceeded to the consideration of matters related to Committee business.
 

Francine Lalonde moved, — Given the strong bonds of friendship that unite Canada, especially Quebec, with Lebanon, a pluralistic and francophone democracy and given that it is committed to its security;

Given that Canada is a long-standing friend of Israel, that it actively contributed to its creation and that it is also committed to its security;

Given that these friendships require a balanced position that takes into account the interests and viewpoints of both sides in the conflict;

Given that Canada’s balanced position has, in the past, earned the respect of all camps in the Middle East conflict and allowed it to further the peace process;

Given that, of all Western countries, Canada had the largest number of nationals in Lebanon at the outbreak of hostilities and that the government’s apparent lack of preparation for the crisis has raised questions and dissatisfaction;

Given the right to self defence included in international law in article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations and the principle of proportionality;

Given that the parties involved in a conflict have the obligation to respect international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War and the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts, which are an absolute imperative in the conduct of war and place personal criminal responsibility on those involved;

The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs:

Offers its sincere condolences to the families of Canadians who have died during the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon and deplores the lack of compassion shown them by the government;

Questions the government’s delay in implementing an evacuation plan for Canadian citizens in Lebanon, calls upon it to extend the evacuations to Canadian permanent residents and to implement concrete measures to help those who are in the southern part of Lebanon where the hostilities are the most intense;

Recommends that the government hold a public inquiry into the evacuation operation as soon as possible and draw lessons from this experience;

Condemns the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers;

Condemns the Israeli bombings that followed those two kidnappings as not respecting the principle of proportionality that constrains the right to self defence;

Believes that the Government of Canada, the only country in the world to have called Israel’s attack on Lebanon “measured,” not taking into account the extent of the destruction of essential civilian infrastructures, destroyed Canada’s reputation as a trusted third party abroad, and urges it to reconsider its position to conclude in the disproportionate character of those attacks;

Strongly condemns the launching of Hezbollah rockets on Israeli territory;

Strongly condemns the bombings that affect on a non-discriminatory way civilians and combatants and destroy civilian infrastructures essential to the populations such as roads, bridges, airport, and electricity plants;

Urges the government to support the calls of almost all other countries for an immediate ceasefire on both sides;

Urges the government to require Israel, by the time a ceasefire – which should be immediate – is declared, to make a far greater and more credible effort to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure;

Strongly deplores that, by taking sides, the government has prevented Canada from playing a conciliatory role in restoring and maintaining peace in the region;

Questions the Prime Minister’s weak reaction to the bombardment of the UN post that led to the death of a Canadian UN military observer;

Reminds the government that Canada’s official foreign policy is still based on the need to resolve the conflict through negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and the Arab world and that the Committee expressed this same opinion in its report on Canada’s relations with countries of the Muslim world, adopted unanimously on March 25, 2004;

Considers that there will be no peace in the region without a global and negotiated settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict;

Maintains that the use of force will never resolve the conflicts in the Middle East;

Reiterates its commitment to the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Lebanon and deplores that the damage caused by the bombardment has weakened the ability of the Lebanese government to effectively oversee its territory;

Calls on the Government of Canada to provide aid to Lebanon so that the Lebanese Government, with the help of the international community, can peacefully disarm the militias;

Urges the government to announce an assistance plan for Lebanon that is appropriate to the needs;

Decides to report this resolution to the House, including its preamble.

Debate arose thereon.

 

Peter Van Loan moved, — That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “given” in line one and replacing them with the following:

Given the strong bonds of friendship that unite Canada with Lebanon, and given that it is committed to its security;

Given that, of all Western countries, Canada had the largest number of nationals in Lebanon at the outbreak of hostilities;

Given that Canada is a long-standing friend of Israel, that it actively supported its creation and that it is also committed to its security;

The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs:

Congratulates the government of Canada for the successful evacuation of over 13,000 Canadians from Lebanon;

Calls on the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to conduct a review of the procedures utilized to carry out the evacuation so that the successful principles can be applied to planning for future similar emergency contingencies that may arise;

Offers its sincere condolences to the families of Canadians and all others who have died during the recent crisis in the Middle East;

Recognizes that Israel was attacked on its territory by Hezbollah, unprovoked, and that Israel, as a sovereign democracy, has a right to defend itself;

Strongly condemns the launching of Hezbollah rockets into Israel;

Calls upon Israel to exercise the utmost restraint in its military actions and take all possible measures to protect civilian lives and infrastructure;

Calls on the Government of Canada to continue to support the Government of Lebanon and to support its efforts to peacefully disarm the militia;

Supports the G-8 Summit declaration which emphasizes the importance of a ceasefire that is sustainable and emphasizes the importance of working towards a permanent solution.

 

After debate, the question was put on the amendment of Peter Van Loan and it was negatived on the following recorded division: YEAS: Bill Casey, Peter Goldring, Deepak Obhrai, Peter Van Loan — 4; NAYS: Omar Alghabra, Albina Guarnieri, Francine Lalonde, Keith Martin, Alexa McDonough, Maria Mourani, Borys Wrzesnewskyj — 7.

 

Keith Martin moved, — That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after and including the word “Given” and replacing them with the following:

That the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs calls on the government of Canada to urge an immediate cease fire by all parties across the Lebanese / Israeli border as expressed by the Blue line.

Debate arose thereon.

 

Peter Van Loan moved, — That the amendment be amended by adding after the word “ceasefire” the following: “that is sustainable”.

Debate arose thereon.

 

The question was put on the subamendment of Peter Van Loan and it was negatived on the following recorded division: YEAS: Bill Casey, Peter Goldring, Deepak Obhrai, Peter Van Loan — 4; NAYS: Omar Alghabra, Albina Guarnieri, Francine Lalonde, Keith Martin, Alexa McDonough, Maria Mourani, Borys Wrzesnewskyj — 7.

 

The Committee resumed consideration of the amendment of Keith Martin, — That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after and including the word “Given” and replacing them with the following:

That the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs calls on the government of Canada to urge an immediate cease fire by all parties across the Lebanese / Israeli border as expressed by the Blue line.

The debate continued.

 

Peter Van Loan moved, — That the motion be amended by replacing all the words after “the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs”, by the following: “calls for an immediate end to hostilities to be followed by a sustainable ceasefire” .

Debate arose thereon.

 

The question was put on the subamendment of Peter Van Loan and it was negatived on the following recorded division: YEAS: Bill Casey, Peter Goldring, Deepak Obhrai, Peter Van Loan — 4; NAYS: Albina Guarnieri, Francine Lalonde, Keith Martin, Alexa McDonough, Maria Mourani, Bernard Patry, Borys Wrzesnewskyj — 7.

 

The Committee resumed consideration of the motion of Keith Martin, — That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after and including the word “Given” and replacing them with the following:

That the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs calls on the government of Canada to urge an immediate cease fire by all parties across the Lebanese / Israeli border as expressed by the Blue line.

The debate continued.

 

The question was put on the amendment of Keith Martin and it was agreed to on the following recorded division: YEAS: Albina Guarnieri, Francine Lalonde, Keith Martin, Alexa McDonough, Maria Mourani, Bernard Patry, Borys Wrzesnewskyj — 7; NAYS: Bill Casey, Peter Goldring, Deepak Obhrai, Peter Van Loan — 4.

 

The question was put on the motion, as amended, and it was agreed to on the following recorded division: YEAS: Albina Guarnieri, Francine Lalonde, Keith Martin, Alexa McDonough, Maria Mourani, Bernard Patry, Borys Wrzesnewskyj — 7; NAYS: Bill Casey, Peter Goldring, Deepak Obhrai, Peter Van Loan — 4.

 

Alexa McDonough gave Notice of the following motion:

That the committee condemns the government for failing to call for an immediate ceasefire to the conflict in the Middle East, in light of the deaths of civilians in Lebanon, most recently in Qana, in Israel and the Gaza Strip, as well as Canadians, including a UN Canadian Peacekeeper. If the government fails to call for an immediate ceasefire, the House of Commons should be recalled to consider the government’s response to the situation and to express its opinion

 

On motion of Peter Van Loan, it was agreed, — That the Committee do now adjourn.

 

At 5:42 p.m., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.

 



Angela Crandall
Clerk of the Committee

 
 
2006/08/03 10:48 a.m.