Good afternoon, everyone. It is my pleasure to call this meeting to order. I welcome each and every one of you to meeting number 32 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House order of January 25, 2021. The proceedings will be made available via the House of Commons website. So you are all aware, the webcast will always show the person speaking, rather than the entirety of the committee.
To ensure an orderly meeting, I would like to outline a few points. First, members and witnesses may speak in the official language of their choice. Interpretation services are available for this meeting. You have the choice, at the bottom of your screen, of floor, English or French.
For members participating in person, proceed as you usually would when the whole committee is meeting in person in a committee room. Keep in mind the directives from the Board of Internal Economy regarding masking and health protocols.
Before speaking, please wait until I recognize you by name. If you are on the video conference, please click on the microphone icon to unmute yourself. For those in the room, your microphone will be controlled as normal by the proceedings and verification officer. This is a reminder that all comments by members and witnesses should be addressed through the chair. When you are not speaking, your mike should be on mute.
With regard to the speakers list, as always, the committee clerk and I will do the very best we can to maintain the order of speaking for all members, whether they are participating virtually or in person. When I raise the hand in my box there, that's the indication that you have one minute remaining in your speaking or in your introduction.
With that, members, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted by the committee on March 23, 2021, the committee will now begin its study of the government's response to the Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 tragedy.
I would now like to introduce and welcome our witnesses today. Appearing for the first hour, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., is the Honourable Omar Alghabra, the Minister of Transport, and the Honourable Marc Garneau, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Between 4:30 and 5:30, we will have, from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Sandra McCardell, assistant deputy minister; Arif Lalani, director general, international organizations bureau; Brian Szwarc, director general, consular operations; and Michelle Cameron, head of the PS752 task force.
From the Department of Transport, we'll have Kevin Brosseau, assistant deputy minister, safety and security; Patrick Juneau, director, aviation safety policy and intelligence; and finally, John Velho, director, passenger protect program and targeting operations.
Starting us off for the first hour, we have both Minister Alghabra and Minister Garneau.
I'm not sure which one of you wants to go first, but whoever does, you have the floor for five minutes. Welcome.
I'm happy to start, if you want. Thank you very much.
Mr. Chair and colleagues, good afternoon. Thank you very much for inviting me back to be with you once again. This is, I think, my third appearance since my appointment, and I am also delighted to join with my colleague, Minister Garneau, who was the previous Minister of Transport. He has been working diligently on the file on this tragedy since he was Minister of Transport, and he is continuing the hard work that Canadians and families deserve as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
I'm also here with officials who can offer some assistance as needed.
Mr. Chair, I would like to thank the committee for the opportunity to participate in this discussion.
I am happy to join you virtually today.
Transport Canada appreciates the work of the committee on all matters related to air safety and security and is available to assist in any way it can.
On January 8, 2020, the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 claimed the lives of 176 innocent people, 138 of them with ties to Canada, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents. The loss of so many lives was a terrible tragedy.
We honour the memory of those who perished and offer our sincere condolences to all who mourn the victims of the PS752 tragedy. We share the grief of the families, relatives and friends who lost loved ones. It left behind a void that can never be refilled for all Canadians, but especially for the victims' families. Over the last year, I've had the privilege to work closely with many family members, including those represented by the PS752 family association.
Their strength, resilience and determination should set an example for all of us.
We have a duty to learn from past events. We have to do better. We owe it to the victims and their families. The Government of Canada's priority since the downing of PS752 has always been to provide families and loved ones with the support they need. We continue to work with other impacted countries to hold Iran to account for this tragedy and seek transparency and justice for the victims and families.
Canada has been at the forefront of global efforts to uncover the full truth of what happened when flight PS752 was shot down, including by highlighting the major shortcomings of the Iranian investigation and demanding that Iran provide answers to Canadians who lost loved ones.
Through the safer skies initiative, we are addressing the gaps in how the civil aviation sector deals with conflict zones. The safer skies initiative commits Canada to working with international partners to improve the safety and security of worldwide air travel. Much progress has been achieved at the international level to advance Canada's safer skies initiative, including the creation of the safer skies consultative committee, the safer skies commitment statement and Transport Canada's hosting of the first global safer skies forum, focused exclusively on the risks that conflict zones pose to civil aviation operations.
Budget 2021 provides $9.1 million for the safer skies initiative, including a permanent, dedicated and fully resourced conflict zone information office within Transport Canada. This office will enhance our ability to monitor foreign conflict zones and rapidly warn air operators of new or emerging risks.
We began engaging with dozens of countries on how to make the world's airspace safer. We held the inaugural safer skies forum in December, bringing countries together with the united goal of preventing these events from ever happening again. People travelling from one part of the world to another should have confidence that they will not be exposed to safety and security risks that conflicts pose to civilian flight operations.
We will further address the clear shortcomings and failures of Iran's final accident investigation report at the International Civil Aviation Organization. We are also examining the annex 13 regime, which so far has worked as intended, to see if any improvements can be made.
The tragedy of flight PS752 was heartbreaking.
Another terrible incident like it would be unthinkable. We must never forget, but we must move forward. We can demonstrate our commitment to the families by working to prevent potential future disasters.
Today, the announced a new public policy to offer a pathway to permanent residence for in-Canada families of victims of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 and Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 who were Canadian citizens or permanent residents. This measure is an important part of the Government of Canada's ongoing support to these families. In-Canada families of victims who were Canadian citizens, permanent residents or foreign nationals who were found eligible on their permanent residence application can apply for permanent residence under the policy, which will remain in effect until May 11 of next year.
The Government of Canada is committed to supporting these families, who have demonstrated strength, courage and grace throughout this difficult and challenging time. Every aviation tragedy and each loss of life is one too many. This is why we continue to ensure better and safer air travel for all Canadians, both at home and abroad.
To honour all victims of air tragedies, the Government of Canada has designated January 8 of every year as a National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Air Disasters. On this day, every year, we will stand with Canadians across the country to remember and honour the people who were lost in these tragedies and mourn alongside those they left behind. We will continue to work to ensure that this never happens again.
I want to thank you again, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to meet with you virtually today.
I will be happy to answer your questions.
I welcome your questions. Thank you.
Members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before the committee today. I am happy to be back, this time as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
We all remember January 8, 2020. We remember our feelings of devastation from the tragedy. We remember our grief over the incredible lives lost. The downing of flight PS752 is a Canadian tragedy.
Let me begin by reiterating my deep condolences to the families for their loss.
I have had the opportunity to speak with families a number of times over the past year. Each encounter is a painful reminder of their heartbreaking loss. The stories and incredible lives of their loved ones touched so many of us. They will be remembered.
From the beginning, the government has been focused on providing families and loved ones with the support they need.
Global Affairs’ consular team worked around the clock to deliver services and deployed a team to Iran to provide immediate local assistance to families. Officials worked to respect the wishes of the families to repatriate their loved ones. They brought in Farsi speakers to translate documents and answer questions. Counselling services, legal advice and expedited banking support were all arranged for families free of charge. Visas were facilitated to enable relatives to travel to Canada to settle affairs and to support surviving family members, with all fees waived. RCMP coordinated local police across the country to offer continuing support to all family members.
To reduce the immediate financial burden, as families dealt with the loss of their loved ones, $25,000 per victim was made available to families for emergency costs. Canada matched private donations to the Canada Strong campaign. Talks were opened with the airlines to ensure prompt compensation, as required by law.
Our support to the families continues to this day, with regular communication with families. In December the Prime Minister designated January 8 of each year as the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Air Disasters. We are offering a pathway to permanent residence to family members, establishing scholarships in memory of those lost on PS752, and will establish a physical tribute in remembrance of air disasters.
From that very first day the Prime Minister was also absolutely clear. Canadians and the families have questions, and they deserve answers from Iran. We knew that getting a full accounting of the causes of this tragedy from Iran was going to be a long and difficult process. Only Iran has full access to the evidence, the crash site, witnesses, and those ultimately responsible. Iran’s initial denials of responsibility, and their lack of transparency since, has not inspired confidence.
The government continues to work tirelessly and in coordination with other nations affected by this tragedy.
To keep Iran accountable for its actions, Canada founded the PS752 international coordination and response group to bring the voices and efforts of all the grieving nations together. We have repeatedly raised PS752 at the ICAO Council, the UN General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Council and just recently, last week, at the G7.
In March 2020, our government appointed the Honourable Ralph Goodale as the ’s special adviser on PS752. In December 2020, he delivered his report. In it, Special Advisor Goodale asked 23 groups the critical questions we expected Iran to answer.
Despite Iran’s final report, released in March of this year—14 months after the downing—we are still without a complete accounting of the events that led to the disaster.
We knew that we could not trust Iran to produce these answers. This is why we stood up the Canadian Forensic Examination and Assessment Team. We await their final analysis, but we fully expect a transparent account of what Canada knows and an assessment of Iran’s final report, including what questions remain outstanding.
We are now entering into the process of negotiations with Iran to ensure that they make full reparations, which includes a transparent accounting of the true causes of this tragedy, as well as compensations.
We enter this process with eyes wide open. Our focus will be on getting answers backed with credible evidence from Iran, first and foremost, for the victims and their grieving families. We will also ensure that we receive assurances, in concrete terms, that measures have been put in place to prevent such a tragedy from occurring in the future.
Throughout this process we will continue to keep the world’s attention on this issue. We will raise it at every appropriate multilateral venue. Our resolve will not fade. And we will never forget. This is our solemn promise to the families of the victims, and indeed all Canadians.
I look forward to your questions.
I thank my colleague for the question.
As a result of the tragic downing of PS752, we have required those answers from Iran. As I said in my opening remarks, those answers have not been provided to us as of yet.
Special Advisor Goodale, in his final report, put out a list of 21 critical questions that remain to be answered, questions such as why the airspace was left open and why the airlines that were flying out of Tehran airport were not notified that there was a heightened level of security.
Those questions remain to be answered. Iran has not provided all of the answers that we are looking for, and we will continue to push for those answers.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you for having me here today.
Thank you, ministers, for making yourselves available for the umpteenth time to this committee and always making yourselves available on an individual basis.
Minister Garneau, if I could begin with you, sir, since the beginning of this tragic incident 16 months ago, we have all witnessed the Iranian government display unconscionable conduct and a cavalier attitude towards the families as well as its international obligations. Among others, we could cite the fact that we did see the Iranian government bulldoze the scene of the accident the day after the tragic accident.
We have seen the Iranian government intimidate the relatives of those who lost loved ones. We saw and experienced the Iranian government's delaying of the handing over of the black boxes. We have had an opportunity to read their final report, which essentially raises more questions than it answers and says nothing about the decision-making process that happened on that tragic day. We have also seen the Iranian government not pursue culprits in Iran.
In other words, everything we have seen for the past 16 months demonstrates that the Iranian government has acted in an egregious manner and has demonstrated a flagrant disregard for due process and transparency.
Would you agree with my characterization, Minister?
Yes, Mr. Ehsassi, I would agree 100% with your characterization.
It began right away, with Iran first of all denying that they had committed this shooting down of flight PS752, and in the ensuing months, as you pointed out, intimidating family members. It took us repeated communications with Iran and speaking at the ICAO to finally get them to send the black boxes to Paris for analysis.
The report that they have put out is totally unacceptable in terms of accountability. The Iranian final report says that it was human error, and they have recently announced that they are indicting 10 people. What they are doing is laying the blame on some low-level people who operated the missile battery and not providing the accountability within the chain of command and the real decision-makers surrounding this and answering why the airspace was left open and why the airlines were not warned that there was a heightened level of activity.
The behaviour of the Iranian government has been frankly unconscionable in these past 15 months, and we are going to continue to pursue them so that we have accountability for the families.
Thank you for your question.
I'm in constant contact with the families. We meet regularly to talk and so I can answer their questions and provide a progress report that we prepare. We also send them a letter every month and communicate with them on a weekly basis. Minister Alghabra and I are in close contact with the families.
We tell them we're still looking for certain answers because the preliminary and final reports didn't answer all questions in an open and transparent manner, as was supposed to be the case. We assure them that we'll keep digging for those answers that are so important to them.
In the meantime, we're providing them with several services, which I mentioned in my opening remarks, to support them during this extremely difficult time.
Thank you to both of the ministers for being with us today.
Let me start by saying that my thoughts today are with the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy. I hope that our meetings at this committee can lead, in a constructive way, to getting answers to the questions they have, and can make some positive contribution to ensuring that something like this never happens again.
Some of my questions have been answered already, but perhaps I'll start with Minister Garneau.
Minister, on March 17 you jointly released a statement expressing concern with the final report of the Iranian investigation, and you promised that the Government of Canada will soon disclose the results of its own investigation. I understand from your comments today that the final report is expected in the coming weeks. Is there anything else you can share around the timeline and when we can expect to see the outcome of that investigation?
I will remind my colleague, because I've been in Parliament for a while, that the same demand was made of the Conservatives when they were in power under the Harper government. Former minister Baird, who was the foreign affairs minister at that time, also said that it could not be done.
However, that being said, the Quds Force, which is an element of the IRGC, is classified as a terrorist entity.
The process of deciding whether an entity is a terrorist entity is done very carefully by the government within certain very well-defined criteria, and it is a process that we have to respect.
However, there is no question that the Quds Force, which is a very active element of the IRGC, has been identified—in fact, by the Conservatives, and we support that—as a terrorist entity. We have put sanctions on members of the IRGC over the years.
Thank you for that. And yes, that's definitely before my time.
I need a bit more clarification, if you could, please, Mr. Garneau. You have all the knowledge to share with me here today. Back on Monday, June 11, 2018, there was an opposition motion brought forward by . I'm not going to read it all. It's too long, and I have only a few minutes left. It reads, in part, as follows: “immediately designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a listed terrorist entity under the Criminal Code of Canada”. There was a vote taken on Tuesday, June 12, where that part remained in that. You voted yes to that, Mr. Garneau, and it was passed.
Why would you vote yes to that, and that it not be amended or taken out, if you're saying now today that it can't be done?
My predecessor, , brought the five together under his chairmanship, and they have been meeting on a regular basis since that time. I will be meeting with them very shortly.
The group included the five countries that had citizens on board who died, apart from Iran itself, which had citizens as well. The purpose of creating this coordination group was to arrive at a coordinated approach with respect to how we would deal with Iran, particularly in the context of seeking reparations. The feeling was that it would be very important for us to be unified in approaching Iran with our claims, based on a common approach with respect to what we were looking for.
This group has met on numerous occasions. Since I've become the foreign minister, I've met individually—virtually—with each of the member foreign ministers. We will soon meet as a group to move forward with what's called the notice of claim, which is the official notice to Iran that we are going to enter into negotiations for reparations.
It's a very important group in terms of taking a common approach. It has worked very well up until now.
Thank you to both ministers for being here in front of our committee yet again.
York region was particularly hard hit by the shooting down of Ukrainian flight 752, because so many people of Persian origin live here. They're our friends and our neighbours. In my own riding of Markham—Stouffville, we lost three members of the Rahimi family. The town of Whitchurch-Stouffville organized a candlelight vigil. During the tributes that we heard that evening, it was very clear that they had become really well-loved members of our community.
I'm very pleased, Minister Garneau, that you're keeping those lines of communication as open as you can as you discover more of the answers. We did see in the Ethiopian Boeing Max 8 crash that this was particularly important, bringing as much information as you possibly can to the families' attention.
My first question is for Minister Alghabra.
It's so important that we prevent any future tragedy like this in any way we can. I'm particularly interested in how the federal government communicates risks to safety or security to air carriers. We know there are many areas of conflict across the globe. What does that look like? What kind of communication occurs?
I want to thank Ms. Jaczek for her advocacy on behalf of the families. Undoubtedly, York region has been hit hard. Not only immediate families live in the region, but there are so many friends who live there. I've been there on many occasions, meeting with families and their friends. I want to thank her for her advocacy.
She's right. It is very important, and Transport Canada takes its role extremely seriously, to ensure that we constantly liaise with Canadian air operators to share information—to discuss and provide them with information on risk profiles and appropriate mitigation measures.
We do this on a regular basis, either through notices to airmen, which are known as NOTAM, or through the aeronautical information circulars, which is a notification mechanism that we provide to air operators.
I do want to say that because of what happened, we looked to strengthen our mechanisms or our systems. Transport Canada has recently established a conflict zone information office to be responsible for monitoring foreign conflict zones and issuing notifications to air operators, so they have the information that they may not otherwise have to keep their passengers safe.
In the discussions we've had thus far with Mr. Alghabra, Mr. Garneau and other members of the committee, we've frequently revisited the fact that it's impossible to get answers from Iran and that we're unable to resolve this mystery. As we've noted, the families' questions remain unanswered.
In the report that he tabled last December, Mr. Goodale wrote that where there is concern about the independence, transparency, impartiality or efficacy of investigations being undertaken by other parties in a disaster situation, the government should give prompt consideration to the creation of a Canadian investigative vehicle along the lines of the forensic examination and assessment team to ensure that we have capacity to develop our own analysis of what happened. The families are also calling for an independent investigation.
Do you intend to put that in place?
Thank you to Mr. Garneau and to my colleague for the question.
It is, of course, an important question. We are continuing to advocate for reforms of annex 13. Also, as I said in my earlier response, there's willingness on behalf of ICAO and other international partners to have these discussions. That's not to say that these discussions won't be difficult and that different ideas won't be debated, but we are committed to seeing a way to strengthen annex 13.
I also want to take a moment to answer another question about our resolve to get to the bottom of this. While it is frustrating to see that Iran continues to avoid answering these questions, and while we remain committed to pursuing international processes and multilateral organizations to get these answers, we keep all options on the table. We are going to pursue all options, but we will continue to exhaust international processes. We're going to continue to work with international partners to put pressure on Iran to get there, but all options are on the table.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Minister Garneau, I just absolutely have to compliment your colleagues who are here today, who all just make fantastic points—Mr. Ehsassi in particular. He outlines very clearly, and even more articulately than I do, the atrocities of the Iranian government in its attempts to stymie and hold up this process.
However, the reality is that you have the opportunity to do something significant outside of a bursary, a compensation or a day of recognition—those are all valuable things. I repeat this again: Why are you waiting for these outcomes from the Iranian government, when you have victims' families that clearly feel that your government is not doing enough? Why will you not take significant unilateral action, such as the Magnitsky sanctions, as we have talked about? I feel you've done a valuable job of explaining the IRGC. Why are you not taking further unilateral actions? It is not clear to me, when your colleagues have so clearly outlined that the Government of Iran is.... We cannot rely on the information that it will provide to us.
Your colleague, the honourable Minister of Transport, Minister Alghabra, said that we hope that this will never happen again. It will. It absolutely will, if we do not take accountability as a nation to hold these other governments to account. What will you do, please, Minister?
Thank you, Minister Garneau.
Thank you, Ms. Martinez Ferrada.
I want to express my sincere appreciation to both ministers on behalf of the committee. You both went 20 minutes over your time. You gave us a bit of extra time and we very much appreciate it. It got us through two rounds.
To all members, those were great interventions. It was wonderful to hear from each and every one of you.
With that, we are going to let the ministers go. We're now going to suspend for three to five minutes because we have to do some sound checks. I'll let the clerk take care of that. Once again, we'll suspend for that amount of time.
I'll be pleased to answer.
Yes, as Minister Garneau noted, shortly after the flight PS752 tragedy, Canada began to organize a group of countries whose citizens had died in the crash. We promptly communicated with the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Sweden and Afghanistan so we could work together to get answers regarding the tragedy that had occurred in the sky above Tehran.
In the following days, we organized an initial meeting at the ministerial level in London and began a coordination process. We were assisted in that effort by the presence and advice of the Dutch minister, who had experienced a similar tragedy when flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine. Right from the start, we established a form of organization that is still in place today. The group's legal subcommittee is coordinating the introduction of a negotiation process ultimately designed to secure reparations from Iran.
So Canada has put itself forward from the start. We had the largest number of victims, consisting of citizens, permanent residents and family members with ties to Canada. We took on the role of leader, we put ourselves out there, and we continue to do so.
My second question is for Ms. Cameron.
Welcome to the committee, Ms. Cameron. It's a pleasure to see you again. The last time we saw each other, I believe, was in Lebanon, in Beirut.
Since January 2020, Canada has mobilized its allies and international partners to hold Iran responsible for its acts.
What steps has Canada taken nationally and internationally?
Could you please tell us about Canada's interactions with the other countries on these matters?
That was a very comprehensive answer that covered our domestic efforts within the Government of Canada across departments. I would just supplement the answer.
We've worked with both municipal governments and provincial governments to ensure that when families come to us with their needs.... As they're processing their grief and as they're settling their estates, they come to us with a number of challenges. We also work domestically to make sure that services are aligned across the various levels of government.
In addition to the international efforts that Ms. McCardell outlined, I wanted to highlight as well, because it really is worth reiterating, that with our coordination group partners and standing together with them, we were able to bring a strong statement to the Human Rights Council. We were able to garner support for the annual human rights resolution around Iran, which included the failures of Iran around PS752. Leveraging our allies and our international partners, we also made a strong case with the G7 ministers, at the G7, that PS752 was indicative of Iran's continuing human rights abuses.
I would just add that to supplement.
I'll start that answer, and perhaps my colleagues from Global Affairs might want to speak about public notice.
I'll say, first of all, that we knew, based on the activity and the heightened tensions in that area, that the conflict had escalated. On that date, we talked to Air Canada, which was our only Canadian air carrier that was flying in and around that region on a flight from Dubai. They had decided to reroute so they weren't flying over that specific region, given its tensions. We spoke with Air Canada and had discussions with the FAA as well. The FAA had issued a notice—we call it a NOTAM, a notice to airmen—about three hours before PS752 took off.
Back to your direct question, what specifically was told to the passengers on that plane, I do not know. Our interactions, again, were with Air Canada. We also tweeted out information that Canada and Transport Canada were actively monitoring the area that night because of the concern.
I'll speak to a couple of aspects related to that.
First of all, the report that was released by Iran, their final investigative report, talked about measures that had been taken, but I think it left significant gaps and questions in our minds associated with the measures and steps they had taken to ensure that the airspace was safe.
Second, ministers have spoken about the forensic team report. I don't want to prejudge it, but the purpose is to be able to tell the full story about what actions were taken, which then, I think, will lead to being able to make a proper assessment of the safety of that airspace in the future.
Finally, I would say that today Canada does have a NOTAM over Iran and Iraq that it didn't have in that space on January 7, 2020. Steps have been taken, and more needs to be happen, for certain.
Thank you to all of the officials for answering our questions.
Mr. Brosseau, I want to pick up on a line of questioning that I started with . This is around the different levels, if you will, of notification that are provided to airlines, related to the risk of flying into or over conflict zones.
If I understood him correctly, there are a number of different notices that can go out. The most stringent level is the ban. However, at all of the levels prior to a ban, the ultimate risk assessment still lies with the airline, with the company. I'm wondering about the incentive that those companies have to continue flights into higher-risk situations and how that should be managed so that they're responding appropriately to a given level of risk.
I'm not sure if I'm making that question clear, but there is a decision made about whether a flight goes ahead. It's based on all the information they have, but obviously there's an interest there in pursuing that activity. They have a financial interest at stake.
How do you see the safer skies initiative managing that decision-making process?
Thank you, Mr. Bachrach, for the question. Let me lay out the groundwork in terms of some of the decision-making in the first place.
You are correct that most airlines have some sort of a security function or a safety function that will make a determination based on the carrying out of a risk assessment as to whether or not that particular flight is safe to proceed.
The pilot also has a very heavy responsibility in determining whether it's safe for her—or him—to fly that day, and in fact will inform herself of the NOTAMs and the various other conditions that are in existence in the space at that particular time, as well as the air traffic control and obviously the state where the airport, in this case, would be. There are a number of different players who have important responsibilities.
I recognize your point, and I'll say, as a regulator in Canada, that safety is part of it and we drill it in through our regulations, through the safety management systems, etc., that it has to be the primary concern. The various stops and checks along the way include, as I mentioned, providing the proper information in ensuring that all those decision-makers along the way actually are properly informed and have timely access to the best information they can possibly have.
I hope that answers your question.
There are a number of options. I just referred to the reparations negotiations and how we intend to use that in co-operation with those other four grieving countries to move forward and press Iran to give the answers to ensure this doesn't happen again, as well as compensation. That's the most important avenue, longer-term, to achieve our objectives through international law.
As Minister Garneau referred to, we have not hesitated at every opportunity in multilateral forums and international conferences to raise the importance of PS752 and to use those venues to press Iran to do more to provide answers for families.
Minister Garneau referred to the G7. That was just last week. In March, we did a joint statement with Sweden, the U.K. and Ukraine at the Human Rights Council, where we exactly pressed Iran to meet its obligations and to address the concerns of families. We have that avenue as well, and we will continue to work very closely with that coordination group going forward.
There are a number of areas we're looking at, in addition to the preventive measures that we've been talking about through safer skies and the work on annex 13.
First of all, I would offer my agreement with your assessment that it is an inadequate figure.
There will be a process through negotiations. Our legal subcommittee of that coordination group has already put together a common negotiation position, so that we can work together to achieve a package for families, both on the answers and the financial side, which will be what they deserve. Certainly, nothing is going to compensate for the loss of their loved ones. I think we all fully recognize that.
In terms of how that's going to go forward, obviously there are some precedents in other tragedies where states have paid compensation—a few are highlighted in Mr. Goodale's report—which give a certain kind of parallel where a plane was downed.
All of that will be taken into consideration by the legal teams, both in Canada and those of the other countries we're working with. More broadly speaking, this work is under way and obviously our teams won't be able to share too many details as this is an ongoing negotiation.
Mr. Chair, we brought you a number of witnesses today, so there's a rich group of us to draw from.
I'll just say that the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice is not automatic. There are a number of steps we need to follow before we can get there.
The first part of that is to engage in the negotiations I've described—and good-faith negotiations. We have to show a genuine willingness and co-operation with our CG partners to engage Iran and to negotiate for an outcome that is suitable, acceptable and appropriate for families.
After that, we need to engage a decision-maker, which may be the ICAO Council or another form of arbitration, for a view on those negotiations. Only then, if that's not satisfactory, can we proceed to the ICJ.
There are a series of steps under international law that need to be followed before we can get to the International Court of Justice. There have been instances before where that process hasn't been followed and the court, quite frankly, has rejected outright to hear the case.
I will just underline that we are going to follow those processes. The legal teams across all five countries are highly engaged on this, and I know they will not hesitate to move forward to the ICJ if those good-faith reparations negotiations don't achieve a satisfactory result.
My question is for Mr. Szwarc.
In fact, our understanding is that, during the discussions between the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Iran, there was a willingness on Iran's part to say that it was important for them to restore consular relations with Canada.
Do you think it's appropriate for Iran to seek concessions or to make demands when victims and people here want answers?
If we give in to that approach, aren't we signalling that we're rewarding the perpetrators of attacks?
Personally, I'm uncomfortable with that. I'd like to hear more from you on circumstances and context.
How do you think we can manage that kind of situation?
Thank you, Ms. McCardell.
Mr. Bachrach, thank you as well for your last intervention.
Thank you to all the witnesses. You brought out the entire team today, and we really appreciate that. We had a lot of great dialogue between you and the members, and I want to thank you for that.
To members as well, thank you for the meeting today. It was a great exchange. Please enjoy your constituency week next week. We'll see you back the following week.
With that, I'll take this opportunity to adjourn the meeting. Good night.