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House of Commons Emblem

Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development


NUMBER 021 
l
1st SESSION 
l
44th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Monday, May 16, 2022

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (1105)  

[Translation]

    Good morning, honourable members.
    Welcome to meeting number 21 of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.
    Pursuant to the motion adopted on May 5, the committee is meeting to discuss the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

[English]

     As always, interpretation is available through the globe icon at the bottom of your screens, and for members participating in person, please keep in mind the Board of Internal Economy's guidelines for mask use and health protocols.

[Translation]

    I would like to take this opportunity to remind all meeting participants that screenshots or taking photos of your screen is not permitted.
    Before speaking, please wait until I recognize you by name. When speaking, please speak slowly and clearly. When you are not speaking, your mike should be on mute.
    A reminder that all comments by members and witnesses should be addressed through the chair.
    We are pleased to welcome our first witness this morning, Françoise Vanni, director of external relations and communications for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

[English]

    Madame Vanni, you have a five minutes for your opening remarks, after which we will proceed to questions from the members. The floor is now yours. Please go ahead.
     Thank you very much, Mr. Chair and members of the committee, for the opportunity to testify before you today.
    My name is Françoise Vanni and I lead the external relations and communications team at the Global Fund. I had the honour to testify before this committee three years ago in the context of the sixth replenishment of the Global Fund, and I'm really grateful to have this opportunity again today as we run our seventh replenishment campaign for the Global Fund.
    Let me start by expressing my gratitude on behalf of the Global Fund and our partners around the world for your long-standing support and leadership in the fight against HIV, TB and malaria and in global health more broadly.
    Canada is a founding donor of the Global Fund and has always been one of our strongest partners. Our fifth replenishment, hosted by Canada in 2016, was the most successful ever at the time, and Canada was our sixth-largest donor in 2019 in Lyon when we broke that record by raising $14 billion for the sixth replenishment. This was made possible by the strong, consistent support we have received from our allies in the Canadian Parliament, so thank you.
    In addition, in 2020 and 2021, Canada supported the Global Fund's COVID-19 response to assist over 100 low and middle-income countries. The Global Fund is now the primary funder for all the non-vaccine components of the COVID-19 response, including tests, treatments, medical oxygen and personal protective equipment for health workers, among others.
    The Global Fund recently marked our 20th anniversary, and the programs we fund have helped save over 44 million lives since our creation in 2002. Also, the combined death rate from the three diseases has been reduced by more than half in countries where the Global Fund invests. This is proof that global commitment combined with community leadership can force deadly diseases into retreat and advance the 2030 sustainable development goals.
    Over the last couple of years, of course, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating, particularly for the most vulnerable. For the first time in the Global Fund's history, key HIV, TB and malaria programmatic results declined. Malaria deaths, for example, increased by 12%, which is about 69,000 more deaths, the vast majority of them children under five in Africa. It could have been much worse without our agile response, but it's still devastating, and even more so knowing that these diseases are preventable and treatable.
    The direct cost of the war in Ukraine is another major human tragedy, and its knock-on impacts on lives and livelihoods around the world will also be severe. They include food crises, energy crises, debt crises and so on. These will, again, disproportionately affect the most vulnerable—those already most exposed to HIV, TB and malaria.
    In that context, the Global Fund's seventh replenishment this year is crucial. We need to raise sufficient resources to regain lost ground and get back on track in the fight against HIV, TB and malaria towards the 2030 targets, while also building stronger systems for health that ensure countries are better prepared for future pandemics, which we know will come.
    Our target for the seventh replenishment is to raise at least $18 billion. This is an almost 30% increase from the previous cycle because of the enormous setback the world has experienced over the last two years. With at least $18 billion, our technical partners, the WHO and others estimate that we would be able to save an additional 20 million lives over the next three years and avert approximately 450 million new infections across the three diseases. The stakes could not be higher. If we do not provide the resources that are necessary, then we must acknowledge that we are essentially abandoning the 2030 commitments. This would be a tragedy that would cost millions of lives and harm economies in many low- and middle-income countries.
    President Biden, who is generously hosting the seventh replenishment in New York in September, has already included a $6-billion pledge commitment for the seventh replenishment in his budget. U.S. law requires that every dollar the U.S. commits must be matched by two dollars from other donors. Without a similar 30% increase from other major donors like Canada, for example, it will be difficult to raise the remaining $12 billion needed to unlock the full U.S. pledge. Therefore, we are here today to seek your help to secure a Canadian pledge commitment that meets this target as we do not want to leave money on the table.
    The Global Fund has proven to be an effective and agile partner in development, as well as in times of crisis, whether by supporting low and middle-income countries in their responses to COVID-19, or by ensuring the continuity of life-saving treatment for conflict-affected populations in Ukraine—or, indeed, in many other places.
    It also a powerful tool to advance human rights and gender equity, which are at the very core of our strategy. We have, for example, significantly increased our investments for adolescent girls and young women to prevent HIV in 13 priority countries where HIV burdens are highest. In these countries, the number of new infections has dropped by 41% over the past 12 years. Also, in Global Fund-supported countries, the percentage of mothers receiving treatment to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies reached 85% in 2020 compared with 44% in 2010.
    By focusing on breaking down human rights or gender-related barriers to health, the Global Fund ensures that no one is left behind.
    Thank you again for this opportunity today, and I would be very happy to answer all of your questions.
    Thank you so much.

  (1110)  

[Translation]

    Thank you very much for your opening statement, Ms. Vanni.
    We will now begin our first round of questions. Each questioner will have six minutes.

[English]

    We will go to Mr. Genuis, please, to lead us off for six minutes.
    Thank you for being here, Ms. Vanni. I appreciate the opportunity.
    My questions will focus on issues of maximizing fund effectiveness and understanding some of your internal processes along that line.
    To start with, there was a report out last month from your inspector general raising concerns about fund allocations in Liberia. I wonder if you could just update the committee on what is happening in Liberia and what the response has been.
    We have, first of all, no tolerance for any sort of fraud or any misbehaviour across our programs. We fund programs in more than 120 countries, subject to three lines of defence. We have, obviously, our financial controls first. We have our risk department, which also oversees the allocation of the funds in countries. Then we have the inspector general, who is entirely independent, and when they investigate they we provide public reports. We publish all of their reports, and then obviously we take relevant actions and also publish the progress in those actions that we take in response to any misconduct that may have been identified.
    You can find all of those reports from the OIG, as well as all of the responses made by the Global Fund, on the website. At the moment, I'm not on top of the details of the Liberia investigation, but this is the general process that we follow.
    Thank you.
    I think it's certainly much to your credit that the inspector general identified these issues in Liberia, so I don't mean this to be a criticism at all of your overall work, but I wanted to raise the question. Maybe if there are further details, we would welcome them in writing.
    You spoke about efforts to advance human rights and gender equality. My understanding of your model is that it's not based on country selectivity. You provide funding essentially to all countries regardless of their policies. How does not having a country-selectivity approach mesh with pushing on issues of human rights and gender equality, or at least how do the mechanics of advancing those things work?
    The way the Global Fund allocates the resources that our donors are providing us is through an allocation methodology that looks at the disease burden. Then obviously the countries that have the largest burden of HIV, TB and malaria get the most resources. Also, there's the economic capacity of the countries themselves to respond to the three diseases. This is the basic methodology through which we allocate our resources.
    Then we have a strategy that guides the way we operate, and the strategy includes the understanding that in order to effectively fight against and end HIV, TB and malaria, we need to tackle human rights and gender barriers. Otherwise, we won't be able to end those diseases. That's part of the analysis of the determinants behind those diseases. In that sense, we push the boundaries, if you wish.
    We work with local partners. The Global Fund doesn't have country teams or offices. We work with global partners, including communities, civil societies and other partners on the ground, to assess what are those human rights and gender-related barriers to accessing health care. We work with them to push the boundaries and ensure that if laws are impeding access, those laws need to be changed, or if the practice needs to be changed, then we work again with in-country partners to make sure that those are gradually removed.
     Thank you.
    Just to clarify that point, it sounds like you engage in policy advocacy. You try to inform countries regarding a policy or other changes that are linked to combatting these diseases. If a country refuses to go along with you on some of those issues, will that impact their eligibility or availability for funding, or is it purely based on the earlier criteria? You mentioned that capacity and need determine which countries get which resources.

  (1115)  

    We do have a performance-based funding model by which, indeed, a country that wouldn't be investing enough.... We ask countries to also invest in the fight against the three diseases. It's co-funding, so we have a performance-based funding mechanism.
    When it comes to human rights and gender-related barriers, it's not a straightforward response, obviously, because, if we did have those as criteria, then we would leave a lot of people who need lifesaving treatment behind and put their lives on the line. It's more of a progressive approach, if you wish, trying to convince them and change, as I said, the policies and practice on the ground step by step.
    With respect to corruption, is a possible consequence for countries that misallocate funding that you might direct funds towards other countries, as opposed to them? Is that something that happens? Is that a potential risk for Liberia, for example, or are the funding determinations made purely based on whether those countries are prepared to make contributions financially and their capacity and need?
    We track funding requirements, and we push hard for that. We have a very good return performance in terms of differing requirements from countries.
    When it comes to corruption cases, we have a series of instruments that we can use. One of them is that we can change the recipients of the grants, because we have multiple recipients. We usually have a principal recipient for, say, the malaria grants. In most scenarios, it would be the ministry of health. Then you would have sub-recipients, which could be civil society organizations, specific branches of the ministry of health or others.
    Normally we take remedial action, but, depending on the gravity of the facts and whether no remedial actions are being taken by the recipients, we can change the recipients, but still with the idea of ensuring continuity of treatment for the people we serve. We try to find alternative routes.
    Thank you very much.
    Thank you, Mr. Genuis.
    Thank you, Madame Vanni.
    We will now go to Mr. Ehsassi, please, for six minutes.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Thank you, Ms. Vanni, for appearing before our committee. We're very grateful for the explanations you have provided.
    I should say right off the bat that the results have been quite impressive. Since 2010, I understand that fatalities and mortality are down 47%, and we are the sixth biggest donor overall and the second biggest when it comes to tuberculosis, if I'm not mistaken. Most recently, there was a 16% increase in our replenishment, so thank you for all of the hard work you're doing.
    I do understand, however, that, because of COVID, there has been a bit of a setback and you had to come up with a new strategy, a new strategy that incorporates greater considerations for equity, sustainability and innovation.
    Even though I understand those terms in the abstract, I was wondering how that plays out on the ground insofar as introducing these programs is concerned.
     Thank you very much for the remarks. Indeed we are quite proud that together over the past 20 years we have saved 44 million lives. It's quite remarkable and humbling.
     You're right that COVID-19 has been a shock for everybody—for countries, rich and poor alike, and for organizations and partners like the Global Fund. There are a lot of lessons to be learned. In a way, we were challenged but also lucky enough to be developing our new strategy for the next six years in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were learning literally by the day and feeding the new strategy through all of those lessons that we were learning.
    The new strategy reflects all of that, including the importance of community and people-centred health services. We've learned that very much through COVID-19. Without the communities on the front line and the community health workers on the front line, it's very difficult to fight a pandemic, whether this is an old pandemic like tuberculosis or a new pandemic like COVID-19. Communities and people are much more at the centre of the new strategy.
    It's similar with equity. We've learned that no one is safe until everyone is safe. The most efficient way to respond to COVID was actually also the most equitable way to respond to COVID globally. We couldn't fix it somewhere and let it go somewhere else. Equity was very much at the centre of what we learned through the COVID-19 response and at the heart of the strategy.
    In terms of innovation, we have also the ambition of being much faster at developing and scaling up the introduction of new products in the fight against HIV, TB and malaria. We've seen how transformative that can be and how fast that can be. When there is the political commitment, when there are various investments, and when there is a “burning platform”, as has been the case for COVID, innovation can be extremely fast and extremely transformative and just save lives. We will be investing much more in that space to accelerate progress on HIV, TB and malaria.

  (1120)  

    Thank you.
    It's your estimation that the 2030 target that was set by the United Nations will be met, correct?
    At this stage, we are off track. If we continue at the same pace, rate and way in which we are currently going in the fight against the three diseases, we are off track. We were already slightly off track before COVID, but COVID-19 pushed us far, far off track.
    There is the possibility of getting back on track if we take action now. If we don't scale up the investment and the innovation and the co-operation now and in the coming two or three years, then we will be off track. But if we do, we can reach the target, absolutely.
    Excellent. That's great to hear.
    In which region would you say progress has been most pronounced so far?
    Well, it depends; 75% of our investment is in sub-Saharan Africa, because this is where the highest burdens are and the lowest economic capacities can be found. We have seen progress across the three diseases and across the regions, but perhaps I would flag that the disease that was mostly left behind before COVID, and that most suffered from COVID as well, is tuberculosis. The innovations have not been as active as they could have been. The treatments are still the old treatments, etc. Innovation has not been sufficient in that space. There are a lot of challenges in the tuberculosis space. We saw that in the context of COVID as well. The two have been very much combined and have created more vulnerability for the countries with a high prevalence of tuberculosis, such as India, for example.
    I wouldn't say that a region is doing particularly better than another one, but we do have perhaps more entrenched challenges in the tuberculosis space that we need to tackle.
    Speaking of entrenched challenges, when it comes to HIV infections, just so you can elevate our appreciation of the many challenges you're contending with, could you tell us what some of those specific challenges are for HIV infections?
    In the interest of time, please give a brief answer.
    Yes.
    Very quickly, with HIV the challenge is mostly on the prevention side. We've made a lot of progress on the treatment side. We are able to save people's lives and allow them to lead healthy lives with antiretroviral treatment. On prevention we need to scale up our efforts, mostly in two areas, one being adolescent girls and young women. This is where most new infections take place in Africa, at an additional almost 900 a week. It's massive. Then there are the key populations of people who are most particularly vulnerable to HIV, such as sex workers, men who have sex with men, and drug users in particular. This is where we absolutely need to focus our efforts.
    Thank you.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Ms. Vanni and Mr. Ehsassi.
    We now go to Mr. Bergeron for six minutes.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Ms. Vanni, thank you for being with us today and for educating us on the importance of these three ongoing pandemics. Although they took a back seat to the COVID‑19 pandemic, they are no less deadly.
    I listened carefully to your opening statement, and I was surprised that you gave the whole thing in only one of Canada's official languages. Feel free to answer in the language of Molière, if you so wish.
    Mr. Ehsassi referred to the negative effects of COVID‑19 on the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. I just mentioned it as well. Nevertheless, there is a positive side to the COVID‑19 pandemic, especially the development of mRNA vaccine technology.
    In early 2022, Moderna announced that it would be conducting clinical trials of an mRNA vaccine for AIDS. We also learned that BioNTech planned to conduct a clinical trial of an mRNA vaccine against malaria this year.
    Are you able to give us an update on how those clinical trials are going? Are any results available yet?

  (1125)  

    Thank you.
    I would, of course, be very glad to answer your questions in French.
    I'm delighted to hear it.
    You're right. The devastating effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic on AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria have been well-documented. In fact, we have lost ground in the fight against the three diseases, which we have invested so heavily in over the past two decades.
    It is true, however, that some positive things came of the COVID‑19 pandemic. As just mentioned, the investments required led to innovation, so the momentum generated by the pandemic sped up the development of vaccine technologies and other breakthroughs. Obviously, that gives us tremendous hope, since vaccines have yet to be found for all three of the diseases we target, even though they have been around for decades.
    The potential for new technologies to be deployed—like mRNA vaccines, as you mentioned—and the fact that a number of labs are now exploring those possibilities are very positive developments. As you know, clinical trials are complex undertakings that often take many years, so we will have to wait and see, but we are cautiously optimistic.
    One piece of positive news, however, is the World Health Organization's recent recommendation of the first-ever malaria vaccine. That is one more tool in our malaria toolkit. Of course, it has to be used in conjunction with other tools because it doesn't have a high enough efficacy rate to allow for indiscriminate use. In any case, there is progress in the fight against malaria, and it could help us step up efforts in the next few years.
    Speaking of drugs and vaccines, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Canada adopted Canada's access to medicines regime with the intent of making HIV/AIDS drugs available to developing countries.
    I'm not sure whether you've heard of the regime, but since its creation, only one country has tried submitting a request through the regime—Rwanda, in 2007. It says a lot that only one country has sought to use the regime. Recently, an initiative involving Bolivia and COVID‑19 also proved unsuccessful.
    Is that an effective way for Canada to make drugs available to countries in need?
    Should we instead focus on waiving the patents for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria drugs to pave the way for new medicines and expanded distribution?
    Thank you for your question.
    I don't know enough about the regime you mentioned.
    Nevertheless, generally speaking, the Global Fund partnership is an excellent tool, because we can sit down with the board and talk about which tools are working and which ones aren't as effective in relation to implementing countries. Those partners can also help us adjust our mechanisms.
    I don't know the situation with the specific regime you brought up, but on our end, we have set up something I think is very useful, the pooled procurement mechanism. Through the mechanism, we are able to provide high-quality medicines to the countries we invest in and support, to prevent the use of counterfeit drugs or products that do not meet the necessary quality standards. Of course, the mechanism also gives us the ability to negotiate prices. The Global Fund's scope of activity gives us some influence so that we can bring down prices, whether for AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria drugs, or COVID‑19 antigen tests.
    Our pooled procurement mechanism makes it easier to access quality-assured medicines at lower prices. As mentioned earlier, it also helps mitigate corruption risks in the supply chain.

  (1130)  

    Thank you, Ms. Vanni and Mr. Bergeron.

[English]

     It's to Ms. McPherson, please, for six minutes.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Ms. Vanni, I would also like to thank you for joining us today. It's such a pleasure to have you here. I want to thank you and your whole team for the incredible work you do around the world.
    I think what I'll start with is just that we're, of course, very happy that the Canadian government did have the replenishment of $930 million for the 2020-22 period. Of course, that period is ending now. We are looking at the replenishment of the fund. What do you require from Canada? What is the timeline that you would like to see that happen within?
    Thank you very much for your kind words.
    We are at the moment implementing the funds that we raised in the sixth replenishment. It's not over, and thank you, Canada, again, for your very robust pledge. Implementation is ongoing. Indeed, we have never deployed as many resources in the past. It's really been a scale-up of the Global Fund supports for low and medium-income countries in the fight against these three diseases, let alone COVID.
    That being said, this year we aim to raise at least $18 billion ahead of and at the pledging conference, which is being scheduled by President Biden for September in New York, the date still to be seen. This money would be made available to countries. We will be negotiating the grants next year, 2023. Then they will be implementing such grants in the period from 2024 to 2026. This is how it works. We raise money in one year; we negotiate for one year; and we implement in the following three years, more or less.
    With regard to the mobilization on the Canadian side, we thought it would be really interesting to explore the IAS conference as a potential platform for Canada to express its commitment and potentially announce its pledge. That would set up the momentum and show the commitment ahead of the New York pledging conference later in September.
    What amount would be needed from us? This is an opportunity for you to speak to the Parliament of Canada. What would you like us to pledge? What would that number be?
    Thank you.
    In fact, what I tried to explain at the beginning is that the $18 billion target represents an increase of 30%, roughly, compared with the sixth replenishment. That 30% is not because we have suddenly become more expensive. In fact, we have very low operating costs. For your information, 5.2% is our level of operating costs; so it's very, very low. The increased target is because of the COVID-19 knock-on impact on these three diseases. This 30% increase is what our funding needs are. This is what we expect our major donors to consider as a potential pledge this time.
    As I said, what is happening is that the U.S., as the host, but also as our largest donor, has already committed that 30% increase, with a commitment of $6 billion. If we want to unlock the $6 billion from the U.S., we need to find the other $12 billion. This is why it's so important that all of our major donors step up. If they don't, we won't be able to find the $12 billion and therefore will leave the U.S. money unavailable on the table.
     I think we can all agree at this point in time, coming out of COVID-19, that this is not a situation we want to be in. Realistically, the quicker Canada can make that pledge of 30% more than the 2020–22 pledge, it would be really really extremely helpful to the organization and to saving the lives of countless people around the world.
    I have a concern, as somebody who has worked in international development for some time. We have heard that the countries will be allowed to use their vaccines as part of the calculation for official development assistance. This would mean that there could be less money within that pot for actual development work going forward. Knowing where we are and knowing the gains we've lost over the past two to three years, it would be devastating for development around the world, particularly with the food shortages we're seeing out of Ukraine and many other contributing factors.
    Can you talk a bit about what that would look like if ODA was reduced because vaccines were included in the calculation?

  (1135)  

    That's a very daunting question, because what we are facing at the moment is a false dilemma. On one hand, we're going to stick to our 2030 targets, the long-term sustainable development goals, for which we need sustained funding from donor countries, and also sustained commitments from implementing countries. On the other hand, we have crises that we need to urgently respond to: COVID-19, Ukraine, Afghanistan and many others. This is a false dilemma, because if we jump into responding to one crisis after the other—you could add the climate crisis to that list—at the expense of sustaining of the long-term investment that is needed to reach the targets, what we will be doing is laying the groundwork for future crises.
    If we think about the 2030 targets as our compass, we really need to make sure that this ODA funding or other funding mechanisms—I don't know which ones at this stage—are at the right level to address both challenges at the same time. Otherwise, we will go backward. Indeed, we already are going backward. Going backward is much more costly. It costs more in lives, but also in dollars.
    Yes.
     Mr. Beasley from the World Health Organization said that we will pay a thousand times more if we don't deal with this appropriately now.
    Thank you so much.
    Thank you very much, Ms. McPherson.
    Thank you, Ms. Vanni.
    Colleagues, we have time, because everyone adhered to the time limits very closely today. Thank you. We have time for a full second round.
    The first allotment is for five minutes to Mr. Chong. Please go ahead.
    Thank you, Madame Vanni, for appearing in front of our committee.
    The Global Fund is looking for $1.2 billion over three years from the Canadian government for its replenishment. Is that correct?
    Yes.
    Have you had discussions with Canadian government officials about this replenishment, the $1.2 billion request?
    Not only have we had discussions with the Canadian government, but the Canadian government sits on our board. We are always discussing it with the board member and others, including through our governance.
    We have basically discussed in depth the strategy of the Global Fund. The strategy was designed and approved by our board. The strategy says we stick to our 2030 targets and to our commitments—to our mandate, if you wish—to end AIDS, TB and malaria by 2030. Based on that, we've calculated the funding needs over the next three years in order to be back on track to reach those targets. Those calculations were made by technical partners, not by us, based on their global plans.
    That gives us the $18 billion target for the Global Fund, which represents a 30% increase. This was discussed with the Canadian board member and the Canadian government as the basic requirement in order to get back on track.
    To give you an idea, that $18 billion still leaves $28 billion unfunded in the global plans to end HIV, TB and malaria by 2030. It's not a very ambitious target. It leaves a lot of funding needs still unmet if we are to meet the 2030 targets.
    Yes, we have discussed that, but we have, obviously, not come to a conclusion when it comes to the Canadian commitment.
     You indicated that Canada's board member is supportive of the overall strategy, including the $1.2-billion request from the Canadian government. Is that correct?
    Canada adopted the strategy alongside the other board members. We haven't had a formal discussion yet when it comes to the target.
    Okay, so we don't know if they're going to support this request.
    We don't know yet. We will need all of your support for that.
    Yes. Thank you.
    You mentioned that while there's been a significant decline in HIV/AIDS mortality in recent years, there hasn't been a commensurate decline in HIV/AIDS infections.
    Can you tell us what challenges there are in trying to reduce infections?

  (1140)  

    That's a very good question.
    That's the beauty of innovations, right? When we found the antiretroviral treatments and were able to make them available equitably to all people who needed them, we made a huge step forward in the fight against the disease. Where we are struggling is indeed in stopping new infections from happening. Obviously that means we will always have a large population of people who would need ARV treatment for life going forward, and this is not a good prospect.
    The key challenges are discrimination, criminalization, gender inequity, poverty and vulnerability. These are all factors that drive new HIV infections, very clearly. This is why I was referring at the beginning to our investment in breaking down barriers to health and our focus on gender.
    Could you elaborate a bit more on something you mentioned earlier? There seems to be a disproportionate number of adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa who are being infected with HIV/AIDS. Could you tell us why that is?
    Yes. Actually, the majority of new infections in Africa come from adolescent girls and young women. Between 15 and 24 years old, they are twice as likely to get HIV compared with their male peers. As I said, vulnerability factors include gender-based violence, early marriage, not going to school and things like that.
    This is why we have focused our investment in the 13 countries where new infection rates for HIV are the highest in Africa. It's essentially the southern part of Africa, if you wish, where we have multiplied our investments and very much focused on that area of work. We are keeping girls in school and making sure we give them the possibility to have their own businesses and be more empowered economically so they can exercise more and more control over their lives. We also support organizations that provide peer-to-peer counselling among adolescent girls and young women. These sorts of activities go very much beyond the biomedical interventions, if you wish. We are very much working across health, education, economic development and youth engagement to reduce the new infection rates. We've managed to decrease those rates by 41% over the past 10 years in those 13 countries.
    Ms. Vanni, my apologies, but I'll stop you there, if I may, in the interest of time.
    Thank you, Mr. Chong and Ms. Vanni.
    We'll go to Mr. Sarai for five minutes.
    Please go ahead.
    Thank you, Chair.
    Ms. Vanni, I want to commend you and your organization. It has a very impressive record given the number of lives that are saved with the small amount of investment for the prevention of tuberculosis and malaria. You save millions and millions of lives in the long run, so I really commend you and your organization. I'm very proud of Canada's contribution towards that. It's something we're all very proud of.
    You mentioned that COVID had an effect that changed things, perhaps in your reach and delivery or in other factors. Can you elaborate on how COVID-19 affected your programming?
     Thank you very much for your kind words and for the question.
    COVID-19 has impacted the programs in many ways. First of all on the offer side, health workers and community health workers were completely overwhelmed and under stress by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of them were sick—we've lost many health workers—and/or couldn't access the health facility and/or could not cope with the level of demand.
    That applies obviously to frontline health workers, but also labs were completely overwhelmed. That means that health workers or the labs that were usually used to fight tuberculosis, malaria or HIV were busy dealing with COVID-19 and could not cope with everything at the same time.
    The other aspect is more on the demand side. For example, you had a lot of people who had a fever, let's say, in Burkina Faso. Having fever, they understood that they shouldn't go out from their houses and that they should not go to the health centre because it could be COVID and therefore they could contaminate others. There are contradictory instructions. For TB, similarly, if you cough you should immediately get tested and get treated, but if you cough and you have COVID you should stay home. It was very difficult for people to actually know what to do. Also lockdown orders prevented people from getting access to treatment or prevention services.
    We've seen indicators go backwards very significantly in HIV testing, which was very badly affected. TB testing and treatment were very badly affected as well. Malaria resisted a bit more because programs and actors on the ground managed to adapt, for example, the way they distributed mosquito nets. They went door-to-door and therefore such programs were more resilient to COVID-19, but TB and HIV were very badly affected because of those different factors.

  (1145)  

    Are there broader ramifications for malaria infections that happened as a result of the increased malaria outbreaks?
    Malaria also got worse. I mentioned the increased deaths, which means basically a child dies from malaria every minute as we speak, which is not acceptable really. We've gone backwards on malaria as well.
    The countries where malaria incidents are the highest were not hardest hit by COVID. Also the map of COVID-19 has impacted some countries more than others. Malaria may suffer from a couple of things. One is the ODA risk where money goes to other priorities, including COVID-19, but perhaps forgets other priorities that still kill millions of people, including children around the world.
    The other one would be an illusion that because there is now a new vaccine, it's fixed. It's not because, as I said, the vaccine has an efficacy rate that is still modest. It needs to be deployed alongside other tools like bed nets, prevention programs and so on in order for us to be able to drive numbers down.
    Were you able to assist with COVID vaccinations at the same places just because of your experience in giving vaccinations? Was there any coordination between the COVID vaccinations and your own organization with tuberculosis and malaria vaccinations?
    That's interesting because we did work very much in coordination and indeed we were one of the founders of the ACT-Accelerator, which is the coalition that brought together all the global health agencies like Gavi, the Global Fund, WHO and others. They really came together to mount an entire end-to-end response to COVID-19, including all the different tools.
    The Global Fund has taken a leadership role in everything but vaccines because Gavi is taking care of that part, including through the COVAX mechanism that you know about. We haven't been involved in vaccines ourselves, but we've been focusing very much on tests, diagnostics, treatments, oxygen, protective equipment, laboratory strengthening and all of those things. The coordination was there, but it's not that the Global Fund itself was involved in COVID vaccination campaigns per se.
     Thank you very much, Mr. Sarai and Ms. Vanni.

[Translation]

    Go ahead, Mr. Bergeron. You have two and a half minutes.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Ms. Vanni, you said that Canada was the sixth-top donor to the Global Fund and had a seat on the board. It's quite telling and troublesome, then, that the Global Fund isn't really aware of Canada's access to medicines regime. The regime was the centrepiece of Canada's strategy to help developing countries combat the AIDS epidemic by providing them with access to medicines.
    You talked about a pool of medicines provided by the fund's donor countries. Does Canada contribute to the pool?
    If so, what medicines does Canada contribute to help combat the three diseases globally?

  (1150)  

    Thank you.
    I will look into Canada's regime and get back to the committee with an answer.
    What I was talking about was a pooled procurement mechanism, not a pool of medicines contributed by donor or non-donor countries. Through the mechanism, the Global Fund is able to proactively negotiate with labs and suppliers of the various health products we need. Those products are then made available to countries in accordance with their requests. Countries determine their own needs. The Global Fund uses a funding mechanism based on each country's own priorities in combatting the three diseases. Countries seek out use of the mechanism, and we provide them with the medicines requested. It's not a pool of donated medicines. Rather, it's a pooled procurement framework to negotiate better prices for high-quality drugs.
    I hope that answers your question, Mr. Bergeron.
    Yes, definitely, Ms. Vanni. Thank you. Also—
    Thank you very much, Mr. Bergeron. Sorry, but you're out of time.

[English]

    Madam McPherson, please go ahead for two and a half minutes.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    This has been so fascinating. Thank you.
    I have a quick question.
     Knowing that COVID-19 is a new pandemic, which we have heard many times is going to be with us for the long term, is there any discussion about the Global Fund looking at including COVID-19 in the HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria bucket?
    That is an excellent question.
    At the moment, we continue to deliver our COVID-19 response. Thanks to Canada's support, and other donors, we have been able to deploy an additional $4.3 billion to countries to help them fight COVID-19. That is ongoing.
    Funding needs, by the way, are not covered for the COVID-19 response coordinated by the ACT-Accelerator coalition, as I mentioned.
    When it comes to the Global Fund's long-term intent, the common strategy remains to focus on AIDS, TB and malaria, because that is our mandate. That is why we were created, and we really need to meet our commitment there.
    However, it also includes the recognition of the Global Fund's role in pandemic preparedness. It's beyond COVID, in a way, recognizing that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the very same infrastructure and systems and networks that the Global Fund has been able to support in countries to fight AIDS, TB and malaria were the ones that countries used to respond to COVID—exactly the same community of workers, labs, supply chains, data systems and so on.
    In that sense, the decision made by our board was not so much, let's continue with COVID, because it isn't something that we can foresee. We will, if needed, but it is isn't something that we can foresee scientifically.
    However, the board has agreed that we should play a more deliberate role in helping the world get better prepared for future pandemics—leveraging our investments in health systems. In that sense, the $18 billion target that I mentioned includes an investment of an estimated $6 billion in health system strengthening, which means essentially helping those countries get better prepared for pandemics. That is what health systems do: respond to the current pandemic battles and prepare better for what may come.
     We've heard that from so many experts on how to deal with COVID-19, so thank you very much.
    I think that's all the time I have.
    Ms. McPherson, thank you very much.
    Mr. Duncan, welcome to the committee. Five minutes go to you, please. Go ahead, sir.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. It's good to be joining the committee today on an interesting and important topic.
    I want to ask some of my questions pertaining to the financing model. I have a couple of questions on that.
    In the replenishment, as it's noted, over 90% of the funding that helps the fund comes from governments, but there is an amount there from private sector foundations. In your replenishment, can you speak to the role that those private aspects have? Is that something you're looking to increase as well? I look at that from a synergy perspective of the performance-based model that you have and transparency in terms of the inspector general in the system you have. Are you seeing more of an uptake or interest in that when it comes to funding opportunities as part of this replenishment? Is the private sector done at the same conference as well?
    Perhaps you can address those first.

  (1155)  

    Indeed, in terms of the funding model, we do have more than 90% of our resources coming from governments or sovereign donors—93% exactly at this point in time. The rest does come from private sources. In that space, we have a long-standing partnerships, and we also have very high ambitions for this replenishment.
    We are ambitious because COVID-19 has demonstrated to everyone, including the private sector, how important it is to invest in health systems and prevent outbreaks from becoming pandemics, as we've seen with COVID-19 and the COVID-19 crisis.
    To respond to your question, there is indeed more momentum. We are very ambitious with two or three things with the private sector. One is targeting and mobilizing philanthropists, high-net worth individuals, and asking them to step up and to fight against the three diseases. We already have a few engaged with us, including the Gates Foundation and others. We want and expect more contributions from that angle.
    We are also mobilizing the private sector and particular corporations for their know-how and bringing them onboard to bring particular innovations, tools and capacities they have to help us accelerate our work and drive innovation in particular areas where we are finding bottlenecks and we are not as impactful as we would like. For example, data management is one area where we have a number of partnerships with the private sector to help us leverage change. In that space also, the supply chain space, bringing private sector experience is very, very helpful.
    Can I ask if that is part of the replenishment conference then? I'm assuming that the private sector foundations are invited there, and that's where they make their pledges. I would assume from your answer that there would be a mix of cash contributions, commitments or pledges, but also in-kind contributions as well. Could you speak a little bit about that?
    Indeed. There are two ways in which private sector partners can contribute. They can contribute directly in cash towards the $18 billion, and we very much hope to get such commitments, not only at the conference itself but before that, and the team is already working on securing early pledges in the coming weeks, hopefully. There are also pledges of what we call “innovation partnerships”, namely, bringing know-how to the table. That can also be announced at the replenishment conference. Those are very, very welcome. They do not contribute to the $18 billion, though, because they do not bring cash; they bring something else, but it's very, very valuable and can be announced there as well.
    I didn't start my timer, so I apologize, Mr. Chair. Cut me off when you—
    You have about a minute, Mr. Duncan.
    Please go ahead.
    Thank you.
    We raised the issues of where some of the demographic concerns are with regard to HIV infections. One thing you talked about and a few colleagues have alluded to in their questions is focusing more on preventive measures, as you've acknowledged.
    Could you break down perhaps where this should be done? Is it with education? You've talked about raising awareness via education, but also perhaps maybe more on the medical side. Here I am thinking of prep and medications and different things along those lines. What type of balance or direction do you see the majority of that preventative funding or effort going towards to reduce the number of new infections? Is it mostly via education to raise awareness, or is it purchasing medications that could help prevent infection rates from rising?
     Please give a brief answer in the interest of time, Ms. Vanni. Thank you.
    That's a fascinating question. The mix will differ from country to country. Essentially, prevention takes education, and awareness in particular, in highly vulnerable populations. This is where you need community leaders and you need peer-to-peer education. You don't need a formal doctor going into those populations. You need a particular approach, in that sense.
    You also need tools. You need tests, tests, tests, and in that sense, you need self-tests, for example. We need to scale up self-testing. This is one of the lessons we learned from COVID as well. These tools are really important, as is all the treatment, obviously, including prep.. There is still a lot to be done in that space.

  (1200)  

    Thank you very much, Ms. Vanni and Mr. Duncan.
    Our final series of questions this morning goes to Ms. Fry for five minutes, please.
    Thank you very much, everyone.
    Ms. Vanni, you are doing a yeoman's job here, answering all of the questions thrown at you. I want to thank you for your knowledge and for spending the time to talk to us about this.
    I have only five minutes and I need to ask you a couple of questions. First, what about the old vaccine for tuberculosis? Does that work? Are we still giving them out? I don't know if we're doing that. Now that we have the drug-resistant tuberculosis, why is it we have it in only certain countries? Is there work being done on new drugs? This is a moving target. As we well know, the tubercle bacillus is able to evolve as new drugs come in. What is your hope for tuberculosis?
    I also need to ask you about malaria and HIV, so perhaps you could make that short and quick. Thank you.
    I'll try. Thank you very much for your question.
    Let me start by saying that tuberculosis is underfunded. We are not following the high-level summit on tuberculosis that was held in New York three years ago. It's underfunded. Across the three diseases, it's the one that kills the most people—1.6 million a year.
    Multidrug-resistant TB is a high risk for global health security. MDR-related deaths already represent a third of the deaths in the world related to antimicrobial resistance. That is very, very critical. There is indeed a lot of effort being put into the search for new drugs for MDR-TB. Indeed, this absolutely is one of our key areas of work.
    Malaria is still a difficult problem. I remember back in the fifties and sixties that the eradication of the mosquito was very important. In many countries, removing standing water and all of those kinds of preventative measures were very successful, but then so was the drug DDT, which is gone now. What do we have in order to actually kill the mosquito that carries malaria?
    The final question, which you can perhaps answer at the same time, is about HIV. As you said, for AIDS we have the treatment and are bringing down deaths from AIDS, but for the actual HIV infections, I find it astounding that it is twice as high amongst 15- to 24-year-old girls. You gave the reasons, but what are we going to be able to do to change some of those things? I know that a lot of these girls don't even have access to contraception. If it's early marriage, what do they do when it's their husbands who actually bring the virus into them? What do they do? How can you change that? Those are cultural practices. Those are economic practices. This is a very difficult thing to try to prevent.
     Those are massive questions, and I can see the chair in front of me telling me not to take too long.
    On malaria, the interventions vary greatly between, for example, a high-burden setting like the Sahel or an area where the incidents are not too high but you want to eliminate malaria. Let's remember that our goal is to eliminate malaria. Sometimes this last mile, such as in the Mekong area where the rates are not very high, to reach elimination requires very focused interventions so that we can eliminate it. Then it's done. We don't need to go back to that.
    So it varies, but one thing we've been investing in a lot is a new generation of bed nets that can be much more effective against the vector. We're investing a lot in that area. On HIV....
    The chair is asking to me wrap up.
    It's a mix of interventions. We find ourselves investing in areas that are very far from biomedical inventions—giving money to girls so that they stay in school, strengthening girls' empowerment groups, running programs to prevent gender-based violence, supporting adolescent-friendly prevention programs and sexual education programs.
    We're investing in all of that, but the only way we can do that is through partners. It's not the Global Fund that does that. It's working with communities through societal organizations, youth organizations and women's organizations on the ground. Through doing that, we can address the high level of prevalence in adolescent girls and young women, and similarly with key populations. That's the model we need to fight—

  (1205)  

    Dr. Fry, thank you very much. We'll have to leave it there in the interest of time. I apologize.

[Translation]

    Ms. Vanni, on behalf of the committee, I want to thank you for being with us today. We appreciate your expertise and, above all, the important work you are doing.

[English]

    Again, Ms. Vanni, our deepest thanks for your appearance today.

[Translation]

    Thank you very much.

[English]

    Colleagues, we have a few points of business to discuss. The first portion of the next hour is intended to be in public. It's the half-hour session to discuss a number of motions, including one by Mr. Chong. Then there is an in camera portion, where we have a number of housekeeping items as well. Hopefully, we will get to that in about half an hour.
    I would like to give the floor to Mr. Chong for the introduction of his motion, please.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I move the following:
That the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development supports the full participation of Taiwan in the International Civil Aviation Organization and its 41st Triennial Assembly to be held on September 27, 2022–October 14, 2022, and that this be reported to the House as soon as possible, and that the committee request a government response.
    Mr. Chair, I am moving this motion because I think it's important that the committee voice its support for Taiwan's inclusion in the upcoming assembly of ICAO. I believe the health committee is moving a similar motion with respect to Taiwan's participation at the World Health Assembly.
     I think Taiwan has much to contribute in the area of international aviation as well as in the area of global health. I think it would be useful for the committee to adopt this motion. That's why I asked you to set some time aside for deliberation on this.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Chong, thank you very much.
    With the support of the clerk, we will work on achieving an integrated speakers list from colleagues who are connected virtually and in person.
    Who wishes to intervene?
    I see Mr. Oliphant.
    If you're online and you wish to speak, just signal to the clerk by raising your hand virtually.
    Monsieur Bergeron; okay.
    It will be Mr. Oliphant and then Monsieur Bergeron.
     Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    It's nice to be back. I've missed you. I hope you missed me while I was away doing government business.
    I very much appreciate and support the intent of the motion. I think that there is unanimity around this table about the importance of finding ways for Taiwan to participate, not only for the benefit of Taiwan, but for the benefit of the world. There are meaningful ways that Taiwan can participate in international organizations. We have not only seen that through the pandemic, but previously as well. There have been many options and opportunities for Taiwan's wisdom, expertise and contribution, which is not unique from the Asia-Pacific countries. It is significant, interesting and important for us to be in constant communication with Taiwan on their opinions, attitudes and insights. I'm absolutely supportive of the intent of the motion.
    I have one concern with the motion. That concern relates to our engagement multilaterally and our respect for the organizations of which we are a part. They have set their own rules for membership and concerns about how members become members, participate, etc. I want to be somewhat sensitive to our responsibility as one partner in a multilateral organization, despite the fact that we have a particular interest. Maybe it is unique in this one, as an international organization housed in Canada. I think that we still want to add something to this motion that respects the right of that body in its own way of engaging in memberships.
    I am going to propose an amendment. The first amendment would be inserting after “participation of Taiwan in the International Civil Aviation Organization” the phrase “while respecting the membership requirements of the organization”.
    I think that we, as a multilateral country, are a middle-sized power, and this is the way Canada operates best. We find ways to engage through UN organizations and other organizations and bodies that come together, whether it's on trade, health or anything else. This one's civil aviation. I think that we should at least acknowledge that.
    The insert then would be the words “while respecting the membership requirements of the organization”. That would be my suggestion.

  (1210)  

    Thank you very much, Mr. Oliphant.
    It is moved as an amendment, to be clear.

[Translation]

    Mr. Bergeron, you're on the speaking list. Would you like to speak to the amendment, or would you prefer to speak to the main motion after?
    I can definitely speak to the amendment, Mr. Chair. If that's what we need to do to make sure Mr. Chong's motion passes unanimously—and I have no doubt it will—I'm willing to support Mr. Oliphant's amendment.
    I believe it's important to support Taiwan's participation in international organizations where it can make a valuable and relevant contribution. That is the case with the International Civil Aviation Organization given how many millions of passengers transit through Taiwan every year. Despite not being a member, Taiwan adheres to most, if not all, of ICAO's regulations. As you can imagine, if Taiwan remains outside the organization, it could eventually decide to stop adhering to ICAO regulations, and that could have huge consequences on air traffic in the oh-so-important Asia-Pacific region.
    I think there is unanimous agreement on the need to admit Taiwan to the organization. By the way, I fully recognize that each of the international organizations in question has its own set of rules for membership.
    Although I support Mr. Oliphant's amendment, I do have a comment. We are being extremely cautious in the case of ICAO, but the Canadian government was not nearly as concerned about Taiwan's potential membership in the World Health Organization and World Health Assembly. It did not express the same desire to specifically recognize the membership rules of those organizations. Nevertheless, I do appreciate that an organization's membership rules take precedence, of course. For that reason, I support both Mr. Oliphant's amendment and Mr. Chong's motion.

  (1215)  

    Thank you very much, Mr. Bergeron.
    On the list, I have Mr. Chong and Ms. McPherson.
    Mr. Chong, over to you.

[English]

     Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I support Mr. Oliphant's amendment. Thank you.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Chong.
    Ms. McPherson.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair. I would also like to reiterate that Taiwan has an awful lot to offer, and so I support both the amendment and the motion..
    I'm just looking at the room and virtually. Are there any other interventions on Mr. Oliphant's amendment. Seeing none, can we pass the amendment unanimously?
    (Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    The Chair: We're back to the main motion. Is there any discussion on the main motion as amended, either in the room or virtually?
    (Motion as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    The Chair: Thank you very much.
    We are still in the public portion of committee business. Are there any other items that members wish to bring forward?
    Dr. Fry.
    Thank you, Chair.
    I would like to bring forward a motion. I think you all have it in front of you. It is:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), given recent reports of international backsliding related to women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs undertake a comprehensive study on the global access to the full range
    —and I underscore “full range”—

of health services, including family planning and modern contraception; comprehensive sexuality education; safe and legal abortion and post-abortion care; laws restricting or prohibiting women’s rights to abortion, the medical and socioeconomic importance of maintaining the right to access safe abortion; and prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections and what actions Canada can undertake to support women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights globally; that the committee hold no fewer than (5) five meetings; and that the committee report its findings to the House.
     Dr. Fry.
    Chair? Sorry, did want me to elaborate on the motion?
    If you wish to, you can. Members have heard the motion as you read it.
    Yes, I'd like to elaborate on the reason for the motion.
    Let me pause you for one second, Dr. Fry.
    I have a point of order, Mr. Chair. Is Madam Fry moving the motion right now or is she giving notice of motion?
    No, I understood Dr. Fry said that she is moving it. It had been put on notice.
    Dr. Fry, let me just confirm with you. Are you actually moving the motion?
    I am moving the motion.
    Yes, she is moving it. It had been put on notice before. If you wish to elaborate, you still have the floor on that, Dr. Fry.

  (1220)  

    Thank you.

[Translation]

    I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.

[English]

    One second. I'm sorry to interrupt. We have another point of order.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair, I see that we received three motions from Liberal members, and at first glance, they all look acceptable to me. I don't object to any of them, but it seems to me that the members are forcing the committee's proverbial hand regarding future business and scheduling. I have to tell you that makes me uneasy.
    Usually, our practice is to meet, to share potential study topics and to discuss them. Now, we have three motions before us solely from the Liberal Party. We weren't told that we had to provide topic ideas for future studies. This makes me uneasy.
    Unless we come to a friendly agreement on how to proceed going forward, Mr. Chair, I have to tell you that I will be forced to vote against all of these motions. The way Ms. Fry is foisting this on the committee is not in keeping with our usual procedure for determining future business.
    I repeat, the three motions that the Liberal Party has put forward strike me as most relevant, but I don't think forcing the committee's hand on future business is the way to do things. In the circumstances, short of a friendly agreement, I fear we will wind up in a drawn-out debate that won't end well.
    Thank you.
    Thank you for your comments, Mr. Bergeron.

[English]

    That's not quite a point of order because members are free to move motions as they see fit, but it does go to how the committee will tackle its work plan in the future.

[Translation]

    Your comments are duly noted, however. Thank you very much.

[English]

    Dr. Fry, we'll bo back to you if you wish to elaborate briefly on the motion, and then we will open it up for discussion by members of the committee.
    Chair, I wanted to say that this motion was sent to everyone on the committee on May 6 in both official languages, so this is not new. The committee should have had an opportunity to look at it. However, I moved it because we need to discuss this motion at some point in time, as it has been duly presented. If there is no time to do it today, I will listen to the Chair's ruling on this, but I wanted to present this motion because it is extremely important.
    Chair, there are 121 million unintended pregnancies every single year. Sixty percent of these unintended pregnancies end in abortion and 45% of abortions are unsafe and result in 7 million women a year either being hospitalized or dying from unsafe abortions. Two hundred and fifty-seven million women in the world are unable to get contraception, and the complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among girls 15 to 19, and we see among girls aged 15 to 24, high incidence of HIV.
    The whole issue of the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health and rights is almost an emergency. It's getting worse. COVID has made it worse. I think when we realize that only 55% of women and girls worldwide are able to take and make decisions about their own sexual and reproductive health and rights, I don't think we can let this get any worse than it is now.
    I just wanted to lay that on the table, Chair, so that we can discuss this motion at a date that you deem appropriate, but I need to make sure that we take it seriously.
     Dr. Fry, thank you very much. You are free to move it, and you moved it in a committee business session. It's completely in the hands of the committee as to how they wish to deal with it. We will make space if the committee agrees that it should be discussed. We still have some minutes in the allotted time, which was for half an hour of public committee business.
    I have a speakers list right now that includes Mr. Chong, Madame Bendayan, Mr. Oliphant, Ms. McPherson and Mr. Genuis, as well.
    I think it would be opportune given the time that we have to hear from those colleagues and to see where that takes us in the course of the time that we have allotted.
    Mr. Chong, please.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I agree with what Mr. Bergeron said about Ms. Fry's motion. The committee's schedule until Parliament rises at the beginning of the summer has already been planned. I think the committee members should all discuss the committee's schedule. We should consider not only this motion, but also motions that deal with other issues affecting the country.

[English]

    I agree with Mr. Bergeron on this. I think this motion relates to the business of the committee, that is, what we're going to be studying over the next number of months. I think it should be part of a much bigger discussion about other issues that are facing the country.
    The second point I'd like to make with respect to the substance of the motion is that this motion clearly is in reference to the recently leaked potential decision by the Supreme Court of the United States of the America. Clearly, that's what this motion is in reference to.
     It says, “given recent reports of international backsliding related to women's sexual and reproductive health rights”. Clearly that's a reference to the leaked decision that made the news both in the United States and in Canada. If we are going to be undertaking a comprehensive study on global access to abortion, and that's being triggered by this wording of “international backsliding”, then we should invite the ambassador of the United States to Canada to appear in front of our committee to talk about this, if this motion were to be adopted.
    Personally, I think there are issues of much greater import than abortion when it concerns Canada-U.S. relations. Issues concerning trade and investment, a range of issues, I think should be a much higher priority in the bilateral relationship than the issue of abortion.
    I don't think we should be calling a U.S. ambassador to committee to discus the matter of abortion as it relates to Canada-U.S. relations. On the substance of the issue, I don't think this is a matter that committee should be focused on. I think there are much higher priorities than the issue of abortion between the United States and Canada. But if the committee goes down the path of adopting this motion, which I don't think we should, then I will insist that the U.S. ambassador to Canada, Mr. David Cohen, appear in front of our committee to discuss the recent leaked potential decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, because that's what the motion is referring to.
    Those are my two views on this. I think we should incorporate this discussion as part of a much bigger discussion about the future of this committee's business, rather than dealing with it as a one-off issue in the form of this motion.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

  (1225)  

    Mr. Chong, thank you very much.
    I have on the list at the moment, Madame Bendayan, Mr. Oliphant, Ms. McPherson, Mr. Genuis and Mr. Bergeron.
    Madame Bendayan, please.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    First, I'd like to respond to Mr. Bergeron's comments.
    Ms. Fry's motion was sent out on May 6, and this part of the meeting was set aside to discuss committee business. It is entirely appropriate and within the rules to put forward motions. I don't see how this could have caught anyone by surprise. What's more, the motion doesn't specify when the study would be conducted. Obviously, it's up to the committee to decide when it could undertake the study, if the members find the motion to be relevant.

[English]

    On the issue of relevance, I would like to address Mr. Chong's comments. Clearly he does not feel that women's sexual and reproductive health is of great importance, if I understand what he's just expressed.
    There is no reference to the United States in this motion. I'm reading it very carefully for the fourth time now. We have heard testimony and it is, in fact, a fact that at the moment women are being sterilized in China. The Uighur population is facing forced sterilization. Italy is also heavily investing in anti-abortion organizations. This is not a subject unique to the United States.
    If Mr. Chong wishes to politicize the issue by bringing in an ambassador as a threat, that's fine. I do not think that we should dismiss the importance of women's health internationally because of any suggestion that our relationship with the United States is much greater than this one issue. Of course it is, but so too is the responsibility of our committee to address important international issues. This is the committee of foreign affairs and international development. This is a matter of grave concern internationally, which absolutely must be addressed by our committee.
    What I would hope is that we would at least be able to vote on this motion before the end of this session and leave it to the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure to decide when exactly this study would be appropriate for discussion.

  (1230)  

    Thank you very much, Madam Bendayan.
    Mr. Chair, I would like to clarify this motion. I think Mr. Chong may not have read it. If he had read it he would realize that it is not all about abortion. The data that shows the rise—
    I'm going to cut you off.
    One moment, Dr. Fry. If it's a point of order, fine.
    You're on the list to intervene. You can make that point in a couple of minutes once we've gone through the list, but it it's a point of order I'll take the point of order, but it doesn't seem to be.
    Let me go—
    Mr. Chong set up a straw man here [Inaudible—Editor], with misinformation.
    You can debate that with him in future interventions. That will be on the speakers list. Thank you.
    I have Mr. Oliphant, Ms. McPherson, Mr. Genuis, Monsieur Bergeron and then Dr. Fry.
    Colleagues, I have to leave you a little bit early. What I will do is after a couple of interventions I will go to Monsieur Bergeron to make that he has a chance to intervene. He has agreed to take the chair for the remainder of the meeting, but I would like to give him the chance to make his intervention.
    Mr. Oliphant please, and then Ms. McPherson.
    Thank you, Chair.
    On the process part, I just want to affirm what you said. What we are doing is debating a motion. We're not setting an agenda. It is very appropriate that notice of motion was given. It didn't even need to be, because we're in a business meeting. I guess it's not on topic, so it did need to be.
    We are debating that motion appropriately, but we are not saying that this is bumping other work that is currently on our agenda. This should still go to the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure. They can look at all of the work that we're doing, set priorities and come back to us with an agenda.
    What we're doing today is saying that overwhelmingly the majority of Canadians support women's reproductive rights in this country. We want to bring it to this committee to look at reproductive rights of women around the world, as is appropriate given the mandate of this committee.
    I can't imagine we're going to get this work done unless we have a special two days of meetings or something, which is always possible, but I don't see that happening. What I see happening is our passing motions on work that we think is important. That tells Parliament what we think is important and therefore tells Canadians what we think is important. When we get to scheduling it, that will be another discussion that we will have, in which we will look at all of the priorities of the committee.
    The last point I would make is that I don't know what was in Dr. Fry's mind on this. I'm not going to pretend that I always know what's in Dr. Fry's mind. What I do know is in Dr. Fry's mind is the well-being of people. I don't know whether it's related only to a leaked memo from the U.S. Supreme Court. Also, when I travel in the world as I did last week, I see threats to women's reproductive rights everywhere—not just in the United States.
    I think that this is a big question that goes well beyond the American issue. I hope we can study it at some point. I'll be voting in favour of it, but also recognizing that it will go to an agenda discussion.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Oliphant.
    Mr. Bergeron, before I give you the floor, I'd like to thank you for agreeing to chair the rest of the meeting.
    You don't have to thank me, Mr. Chair. I am merely doing my duty as vice-chair. That's my job.
    I would like Ms. Bendayan to know that I never claimed that we were caught off guard, far from it. That wasn't at all what I was saying. Ms. Bendayan will even be surprised to hear that Ms. Fry was very consistent and persistent on this issue. We discussed it for the first time back in December, when we began considering future business. We discussed it again in January. All that to say, I don't think Ms. Fry's motion has anything to do with the U.S. Supreme Court's rumoured decision. Ms. Fry has consistently maintained her position, asking the committee months ago to examine the issue. In no way was I implying that Ms. Fry's motion took us by surprise. It didn't. I was merely pointing out that this wasn't how the committee usually did things.
    If a friendly agreement could be reached, and Ms. Fry were to agree to put her motion on hold, I would be entirely willing to revisit it later and support it. That is my formal pledge, because I believe that what she is proposing is worthy of our consideration.
    My concerns have to do with the form of the motion, not the substance. My concerns don't have anything to do with notice of the motion not being given. On the contrary, Ms. Fry put her motion on notice months ago, so we were very much aware that she wanted the committee to examine the matter. However, I would like us to do things in a co‑operative fashion, as has always been the committee's habit. That is why I am respectfully asking her to hold off on having the committee consider her motion today. I am willing to discuss it before the end of the session, though, and let it be known that I will probably support the motion.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

  (1235)  

    Thank you, Mr. Bergeron.
    Could you clarify something, please? Are you moving that debate on the motion be adjourned?
    No, it wasn't a motion to adjourn debate. I was simply asking Ms. Fry if she would be so kind as to hold off on having the committee consider her motion today.
    With that, Mr. Chair, I can take over now, if you like.
    Yes, please. Thank you very much, Mr. Bergeron.
    We will now go to Ms. McPherson.

[English]

     Thank you to our new chair. Well done. I like to be the first person called.
    First of all, I want to say that I commend Ms. Fry for bringing this forward. Of course I will support this. I'm going to try not to be emotional here, but I am utterly filled with rage when I hear things like trade trumping reproductive health.
    I brought forward this motion last week in SDIR, the international human rights subcommittee, because women's health and access to women's rights is vital. It is vital around the world. We are seeing backsliding, not just in the United States, not just at the federal level, but certainly at state level. We are seeing a lack of access in our own country. We are seeing that reproductive health for women around the world is backsliding in countries around the world.
    Frankly, Mr. Chair, the fact that this is deemed not important enough to study is absolutely appalling. It is terrifying—absolutely terrifying—to be a woman of reproductive age in this world right now.
    I want to talk about ensuring access around the world. I want to talk about ensuring that the rights of women are available around the world. It should be happening at the international human rights subcommittee. The Conservative party has deemed that not appropriate to do at the international human rights committee. I respect Mr. Chong very much for the work that he does on this committee, but I am appalled by his language.
    I will be supporting this motion.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Ms. McPherson.
    Go ahead, Mr. Genuis.

[English]

     Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I think there's the question of process and then there's the question of substance. I want to comment initially on the question of process.
    We're discussing what the committee's agenda should be going forward. I think, as it has been rightly pointed out, the rules of committee permit somebody to put forward a motion during committee business and this motion has notice. That doesn't change the fact that, as you've pointed out, Mr. Chair, the typical procedure for this committee to consider matters of any level of importance is for those to be considered by the subcommittee on agenda and procedure, which is the vehicle that we have set up. The subcommittee on agenda and procedure reviews the items that come forward to consider how we prioritize those studies, and then to weigh up the different issues that may be on the agenda. At the foreign affairs committee, we deal with so many issues that are of such consequence all the time. I think the best way to adjudicate that prioritization is through the subcommittee.
    This particular motion doesn't just seek to introduce a general topic, it also has some very prescriptive direction in terms of the scheduling and study. For instance, it says “no fewer than five meetings”. Is five the right number, or is it three or seven? These are the questions that I think are most appropriately dealt with at the subcommittee on agenda and procedure, which is set up precisely for that purpose.
    The other point I would make is that I think colleagues should be aware of the fact that we have a responsibility as a committee to prioritize legislation. Again, that's not with reference to people's views on particular topics; it's the fact that as a standing committee of the House of Commons, the House of Commons at times directs us to study legislation, and we have to prioritize that study of legislation.
    There is a scheduled vote on Wednesday on the organ harvesting bill, and I was hoping to have some discussion of that a bit later, but I want to flag that unless the vote goes very differently from how I expect it to go, that piece of legislation will be coming to the committee after Wednesday. In addition to the existing studies we have on COVAX, Ukraine and Taiwan, we will need to adjust our agenda to put that on the list.
    Also, there is Mr. McKay's bill. Originally, it's Senator Dechêne's bill on supply chains and human rights. After that is adopted by the House at second reading, it will come to this committee as well.
    In addition to any discussion of the existing priorities we have as a committee—the studies we're already doing—we will first need to study both of those pieces of legislation. On the subject of agenda again, I suspect and I hope that the study on the organ harvesting bill will be fairly quick. I suspect that we will need a bit more time with the supply chain slavery bill, because it is a bill that, at least in our committee, hasn't been studied before. I think there will be some stakeholders that will want to be heard on it, and some potential amendments that people will want to bring forward.
    Very respectfully, as a matter of process, there are other things we could talk about. It's already been mentioned here and I know from others that there are multiple committees that are bringing forward the same discussion. We can talk, as well, about that, but I would prefer to say let's let the subcommittee deal with this. On our side, out of respect for our caucus, I'd like our vice-chair to be able to be part of those discussions as well.
    Mr. Chair, what I'll do is move that this matter be referred to the subcommittee and that the subcommittee can report back to the main committee.

  (1240)  

[Translation]

    Madam Clerk, I need some guidance regarding Mr. Genuis's motion. Does it take precedence over Ms. Fry's?
    It would seem so.
    Do the honourable members wish to vote on Mr. Genuis's motion, which seeks to send Ms. Fry's motion to the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure?
    I'm taking down names for the speaking list.
    Ms. Fry, go ahead.
    Mr. Chair, the motion cannot be debated. It must be put to a vote immediately.
    Sorry, Ms. Fry, but we can't debate the motion. We have to proceed with the vote immediately.
    I'd like a recorded division, please, Mr. Chair.
    I will now let the clerk proceed with the recorded division.
    (Motion negatived: nays 6; yeas 4 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    We are now back on Ms. Fry's motion.
    Ms. Fry, you have the floor.

[English]

     Thank you very much, Chair.
    I really need to speak to this. I don't get furious; it's not something I do very much, but I am emotional about the very idea that Mr. Chong, for whom I have a great deal of respect given his integrity, ethics, etc.—

  (1245)  

    Mr. Chair, I have a point of order.
    I'm shocked that Mr. Chong—

[Translation]

    Just a moment, Ms. Fry. We have a point of order.
    Mr. Chong, go ahead.

[English]

    Mr. Chair, I have always spoken to the substance of issues at this committee. I have sat through a number of interventions now where my reputation and my intentions are being impugned by members of this committee, and that is out of order.
    I don't mind if members speak to the substance of what is at hand and whether they agree or disagree with my position on a particular issue. However, I don't particularly feel that it is in order for members to impugn my motives or interpret my position on various issues.
    Mr. Chair, I ask, through you, that members stick to the substance of the issues instead of attacking me on this committee.
    I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chong.

[English]

    Mr. Chair, I would like—

[Translation]

    Just a moment, Ms. Fry. We have another point of order.

[English]

    Every time I try to speak, I am being railroaded out of speaking and that's annoying me.

[Translation]

    Just a moment, Ms. Fry.
    Who had the point of order, Madam Clerk?
    It was Ms. McPherson.
    Ms. McPherson, you may speak to your point of order.

[English]

    Mr. Chair, I just want to point out that it is entirely appropriate to respond to somebody's intervention in committee.

[Translation]

    I fully understand your concerns, Mr. Chong, but I'm going to let Ms. Fry finish explaining her rationale, if you don't mind. You're next on the list, so you'll get the opportunity to respond to her comments, if you so choose.
    Go ahead, Ms. Fry.

[English]

     I did not insult Mr. Chong. I said I have the greatest respect for him.
    What I think he just argued is that people should not impugn his motives or, in fact, assume or interpret his intention. Well, that is precisely what he did on this motion to my intention. Mr. Chong assumed that this was about abortion. Well, I want to tell Mr. Chong that I brought this forward in December. It was shoved under a table or a rug somewhere. Nobody ever talked about it again.
    I am a physician. I have to tell you, I chair the Canadian Association of Parliamentarians for Population Development. I also work on this at the G7 and G20 levels. This is one of the most important issues. This is an SDG issue, Mr. Chair.
    I want to say that this has nothing to do with abortion, but it has. If you are going to talk about the range of sexual and reproductive health, it starts with contraception. It starts with education to young people about their sexuality and taking chances, etc., without knowledge of contraception and sexually transmitted diseases. It moves into prenatal care, pregnancy and delivery, postpartum care and neonatal care.
    This didn't start; this has been going on and escalating. Since COVID started, this has moved forward exponentially around the world. I am reading from the UNFPA statistics that started in 2019 about the rise in deaths from postpartum hemorrhage, which is the biggest and the largest cause of death in Africa today in young women between the ages of 15 and 19. This is a preventable problem we're talking about here. Women make up 51% of this world, 51% of this global population. If we don't care about their dying in childbirth, we don't care about their dying because of postpartum hemorrhage, we don't care about their having access to a safe delivery if they want to....
    Abortion is one of the issues; it is not the only issue. I think the idea that we should jump to conclusions over something that is clear....
    The UNFPA and the World Health Organization deem this to be a crisis right now. When a woman dies from postpartum hemmorhage, the majority of her children under the age of five do not survive. We're talking about a real problem with people's lives, with people's ability to do something that we think is simple: to have or not have a child, to choose if we get pregnant or not and to have a safe delivery. This is not happening around the world.
    We hear about critical infrastructure needs for clinical care around the world. We hear about it with COVID. We hear about it with TB. We hear about it with malaria. We hear about it with HIV/AIDS. We hear about it in everything. Now that we have rape being used as a tactic of war in Ukraine and around the world, and we hear of about 85 million people being displaced, women and children are at great risk of sexual assault and sexual violence. It's getting worse. I cannot believe that we would think....
    As I said, I brought this up before. I waited patiently. It was not accepted. It was pushed under the table. I am bringing it up again because this is a crisis. This is a critical issue for women, children and infants around the world. This is about sexually transmitted diseases, one of which we just listened about from the Global Fund, which is called HIV. We hear that girls from 15 to 24 are getting HIV. They may not be dying of AIDS, but they're getting HIV, which can ruin their ability to have children later on in their lives. This is something that, as a physician, I feel really strongly about.
    Every single year we take this issue of sexual and reproductive health to the G7 and the G20. International organizations are dealing with this. This is an urgent issue, and I am told that it should be put aside. For what? Don't women matter? Don't 51% of the people in this world and their children matter? Do we not care? Am I hearing this from this committee?
    We can wrap ourselves around process. You know, Mr. Bergeron brought up an important point, and I heard him. I think he may have had a point, but that's not the point. The substance of this issue is so urgent that the World Health Organization calls it a crisis. I guess we don't even know what a crisis is anymore because we face so many of them.

  (1250)  

    The lives of women and children around this world are in jeopardy. I'm bringing up an issue to deal with it. In December it was kicked somewhere out of the room. I will not stand down on this issue because it is so important to the lives of people everywhere. Even the bare access to contraception is denied because of costs and for the fact that there are many reasons why young people don't get an opportunity to look at this.
    Sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are all still abounding in the world. We thought we had gotten rid of them about 25 years ago. They're still there. This is something we need to deal with.
    I don't know if any of you know that when a women has more than five children, her uterus becomes like a piece of cardboard. The uterus is a muscle. It clamps together to stop bleeding after a baby is born. When a women is having her tenth child because she has no choice and her uterus is like a piece of cardboard and cannot close down to stop the bleeding she dies. She dies. There's no infrastructure to help her in some of these countries.
    I'm sorry. I am very emotional about this. I delivered 800 babies in my lifetime. I don't want this to be something that we think is not good enough for us but is good enough for people in Africa, Latin America and in many countries where they have no access to this kind of care. I will not stand down.
    I am sorry, Chair. I don't usually get emotional. It's not my way of doing things. I have to be calm when I'm a physician. I can't get emotional. I am being emotional at the callousness of what was said about this motion. It's the callousness, the lack of humanity, the lack of compassion and the lack of caring because what are women? Are we to be thrown away?
    I think that time went by when we were chattel and possessions. We have rights. We all sit on this committee and talk about gender equality and about women's rights are human rights. When we talk about their human rights I am getting this kind of attitude from colleagues of mine. For shame.
    Thank you, Chair.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Ms. Fry.
    Go ahead, Mr. Chong.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

  (1255)  

[English]

     First off, I did not read into the motion “abortion”. It's explicitly mentioned in the motion four times.
    Look, I appreciate that Madam Fry introduced this motion. Part of the motion I'm concerned about is the part that says “given recent reports of international backsliding related to women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights”. Taken in the context of overall parliamentary business, it's a clear reference to the leaked draft by the Supreme Court of the United States and I think, Mr. Chair, that's the problem in the motion. I think we do not want Canada-U.S. relations to be consumed by the issue of abortion.
    I agree with Dr. Fry about the issue of abortion in many other countries around the world. I agree with her on reports of gender-based violence against women in Ukraine and elsewhere. I agree with her on all of those issues. I think it's important that women have access to reproductive practices. Mr. Chair, I want to emphasize that I fully support women's reproductive and health rights. I do not support any change to Canada's existing legislative framework, both statutory and non-statutory. I have heard loud and clear over many years that Canadians do not want the issue of abortion to be reopened. They do not want this debate to be reopened in this country.
    The framing of this motion is the issue. It is in the context of the recent leaked draft by the Supreme Court of the United States.
    Hon. Hedy Fry: No, it isn't.
    Hon. Michael Chong: Mr. Chair, that's how I read the motion.
    Hon. Hedy Fry: And you're wrong.
    Hon. Michael Chong: That's what it's clearly a reference to. There's no mistaking the fact that the Prime Minister and other ministers of the Crown used the reports of that leaked draft to introduce initiatives and discussion here in this country about domestic abortion policy. That's clearly what happened in the executive branch of government. That was followed up by discussions that took place in other aspects in Parliament. That's how I read this motion. It's done in reference to the recent leaked draft out of the Supreme Court of the United States. I don't believe that should be the focus of Canada-U.S. relations.
    I support Dr. Fry's view that the broader issue of access to reproductive practices is an issue for Parliament. It's an issue for the committee, but I don't think it should be in respect of the United States. That is the whole issue here.
     If the committee were to agree to undertake a study of women's access to reproductive measures in the developing world, in the developed world, where it's not available for women and girls then I think that is a matter the committee could take up. But if it's being done in the context of “recent reports of international backsliding”, which I take to be a reference to the leaked draft by the Supreme Court of the United States—a decision, by the way, that has yet to be released by the court—I don't support a study like that. I don't think that should be the focus of the committee. If the committee decides to study women's reproductive rights in places around the world as a matter of general import, and it's not a study focused on what's going on domestically in the United States, what's going on at the Supreme Court of the United States or what's going on with the potential decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, then that's a whole other matter.
     However, that isn't the context of this motion, and not the context in which this motion was introduced, in light of the Prime Minister's comments, in light of the comments of other ministers of the Crown, in light of what is going on in other parliamentary committees and what is in the black-letter text of the motion.
    It's a very different motion from what Dr. Fry introduced last December. That is my first concern, among others. That is my first concern.
    I do not believe that we should be meddling in a potential decision of the highest judicial body of the United States. While it's not entirely captured by the sub judice convention, it's not appropriate for us to be focused on that potential decision. We should respect the court's independence and let that court make up its mind.
    Further, we should not be interfering in a domestic matter that has no impact on access to abortion services here in Canada. If we want to undertake—

  (1300)  

    I have a point of order, Chair.

[Translation]

    Go ahead, Ms. Fry.

[English]

    Mr. Chair, nowhere in my motion....
     This point is out of order.
    This motion says nothing about the United States. It speaks to “the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs undertake a comprehensive study on the global access to a full range”—
    I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
    —of health services”.
     Mr. Chong is filibustering, Chair. He is not speaking to my motion. Nowhere does my motion speak to the Supreme Court or to the United States.

[Translation]

    I think that's a point of debate, and you'll get the chance to have your say. You're next on the list, after Mr. Genuis.
    Do you still wish to raise a point of order, Mr. Genuis?
    No. Mr. Chong can continue. Thank you.

[English]

    Mr. Chair, I'm not filibustering. I was impugned at this committee on a number of occasions, so I am just responding to make clear what my position is.
    My position is that I fully support women's reproductive and health rights, but I also know that my constituents and Canadians generally do not want the debate on abortion reopened in this country.
    My second broad point is that I do not believe that this committee should be studying the issue of a potential leaked draft out of the Supreme Court of the United States. I think there are matters of much greater importance in bilateral relations between Canada and the United States than that issue.
    The third broad point is that, broadly speaking, I think it is well within the remit of the committee to study women's reproductive and health rights around the world, particularly in war zones and in conflict zones and particularly in developing countries where those services may not be available.
    Those were the three broad clear points I was trying to make, Mr. Chair.
     First, I fully support women's reproductive and health rights and, in that, I support the current legislative framework here in Canada. I support both the common law decisions that have been promulgated over many decades and I support the current legislative framework. I know first-hand from constituents and Canadians that they do not want this debate reopened.
     Secondly, I do not believe it is within the responsibility of this committee to be looking at U.S. domestic abortion policy or to be studying this issue in the context of the leaked Supreme Court decision.
     Lastly, I think it is within the remit of the committee to take a broader look at women's rights globally, but I think that should be done as a broader discussion about where the committee will be going in the future.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chong.
    I want to let everyone know that we have now gone over our meeting time.
    Mr. Genuis, you have the floor, followed by Ms. Fry.

[English]

    Mr. Chair, because Dr. Fry wanted to respond, maybe I'll strike for now. If you could put me on the list at the bottom, I'll have some things to say, but I'm happy for her to go first.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Genuis.
    Ms. Fry, go ahead.

[English]

    I have nothing further to say. I made my points.
    Thank you, Chair.

[Translation]

    Does anyone else wish to comment on the motion?

[English]

     I'll go, then. I did want to comment on this. I thought Dr. Fry had responses.
    I think we have to be honest about what's happening here. Dr. Fry spoke very passionately and said many things that I agree with, but she also said this is not about abortion. Maybe it would be helpful to reread the motion we're debating so that those listening can decide if this is about abortion or not. The motion says:
That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), given recent reports of international backsliding related to women's sexual and reproductive health and rights, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs undertake a comprehensive study on the global access to the full range of health services, including family planning and modern contraception; comprehensive sexuality education; safe and legal abortion and post-abortion care; laws restricting or prohibiting women's rights to abortion, the medical and socioeconomic importance of maintaining the right to access safe abortion; and prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections and what actions Canada can undertake to support women's sexual and reproductive health and rights globally; that the committee hold no fewer than (5) five meetings; and that the committee report its findings to the House.
    That is the motion put forward today, for which notice was given after a Supreme Court leak in the United States, and it mentions abortion four times. For context, as members know, many motions are being put forward at various committees by members of the Liberal caucus with respect to the issue of abortion.
    I recently read the book written by the former justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, who says in the 10th chapter, “I remember decisions being made in an effort to trigger a debate over abortion, which no one had any desire to reopen, for no other reason but to try to make other parties squirm or fuel fundraising efforts.” Again, those are not my words. Those are the words of Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former minister of justice and attorney general, who was speaking to the motivations of her own party. I, of course, am not privy to those internal discussions, but that is a direct quotation from her book.
    I think it is very legitimate for this committee to have discussions about process, but the frame we're being given by Dr. Fry is that to raise questions about this in the midst of the broad range of issues that are going on, and ask what order we should study them in and say these things should be considered by the subcommittee, is somehow dehumanizing. We're simply raising the issue that there's a process for these things to be discussed at the subcommittee, in a context where, as my colleague said, we repeatedly see efforts by members of the Liberal caucus to try to reopen the abortion debate for reasons that I suppose they know.
    I think it's important to underline that I agree with many of the comments Dr. Fry made with respect to the importance of looking at access to certain kinds of services. On the issue of the health of women during pregnancy and health afterwards, and the health of women and children, this committee should be committed to the principle of defending the immutable dignity of the human person, regardless of gender and at all ages and all stages. I think this is consistent with a belief in human rights. It is a commitment to the dignity of the human person and to upholding that dignity in whatever country people live in and whatever other aspects of a person's circumstances are present.
    As I said previously, we have the issue of other legislation that this committee is supposed to be looking at. We have a subcommittee that's supposed to be dealing with these kinds of issues. We also had housekeeping issues that the chair indicated we have to deal with as a committee. Instead, here we are with a motion that we're told is not about abortion but that says abortion four times. It just reflects the fact that the government wants to move the discussion to these particular issues.

  (1305)  

     I think we could take a step back from this. We could frame a study that looks at some of the issues that Dr. Fry raised around access to health and do so in a way that reflects the choices of people and nations in the developing world.
    I don't know if this is a fruitless endeavour, Mr. Chair, but I want to move that we table consideration of this until our existing studies are complete.

  (1310)  

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Genuis.
    Madam Clerk, I assume this situation is the same as the one earlier.
    Not exactly, Mr. Chair. Once the committee has finished its consideration, the motion becomes debatable.
    Does it take precedence over the one currently before the committee?
    Yes.
    You would have to ask Mr. Genuis whether his intention was to move another motion for debate.
    Thank you, Madam Clerk.
    Mr. Genuis, would you be so kind as to clarify what your intentions were regarding debate on your motion?

[English]

    Mr. Chair, I think we should adjourn debate on the motion until we're finished the work that we've already programmed out to do.
    Whether that's a debatable motion or not, I suppose, depends on the rules. My intention was to say, precisely, that we should finish the work we're doing.

[Translation]

    What you just said isn't exactly what you said earlier.
    You are moving a motion to adjourn. Did you want to move such a motion, or did you prefer to continue debating the motion you moved earlier?

[English]

    Mr. Chair, the motion I want to put forward is to table consideration of this until after our existing studies are complete. Does that entail a condition or not? Okay.

[Translation]

    All right. We will begin debate on Mr. Genuis's motion.
    Does anyone wish to comment?
    I have Ms. Bendayan on my list.
    Ms. Bendayan, did you want to comment on Mr. Genuis's motion?
    Mr. Chair, in the few minutes we had left, I would have liked us to vote on Ms. Fry's motion. That's what I was going to propose, but I see that certain individuals would rather play political games.
    The issue before us today is important for both Quebeckers and Canadians. I really wanted the committee to vote on the matter.
    We've already talked about the motion to table the discussion. We could refer the motion to the subcommittee to block off time once our current studies are finished.
    Since committee members see this as worthwhile, I don't understand why we can't vote on the motion before us and leave it to the subcommittee to schedule the dates for the fall. That's precisely what Mr. Genuis asked for.
    The opposition members are trying to prevent us from voting on the motion. That is sorely disappointing.
    Mr. Genuis has his hand up, Mr. Chair.
    Thank you, Madam Clerk.
    Mr. Genuis, go ahead.

[English]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    With respect to Ms. Bendayan's comments, I think it's legitimate for the subcommittee to discuss this issue. If this motion is adopted by the committee, then it is being highly prescriptive about certain aspects of the approach that the subcommittee will take.
    I suggest that the subcommittee consider this, along with the very interesting motion by Ms. Bendayan about the Wagner Group. Frankly, I didn't even know we were at the stage of proposing new ideas. There are obviously lots of other possibilities.
    We have an obligation as a standing committee of the House of Commons to prioritize legislation, period. I know we don't have legislation in front of us—
     On a point of order, that's the second time, theoretically, it has been—

[Translation]

    Mr. Oliphant, you have the floor.

[English]

    —suggested that we have a piece of legislation. We have to respect the members of the House of Commons who will need to vote on that piece of legislation. It is not in order to bring it up at this meeting. I let it go the last time.
    We'll deal with any piece of legislation when it comes to this committee at the will of the House of Commons and we will do our work on that, not what has been done at the other place. That is its own work. We will do our work as a committee if and when we get a piece of legislation that could pass or may not.

  (1315)  

    On the same point of order, very briefly, we're talking about the forward—

[Translation]

    Pardon me, Mr. Genuis, but Ms. Pereira wants to say something.
    Ms. Pereira, did you want to jump in?
    I just wanted to tell you that Mr. Chong wished to speak.
    Very good. Thank you.
    Go ahead, Mr. Genuis.

[English]

    Mr. Chair, I wanted to comment on the point of order that we're having a discussion about the forward agenda of the committee. It's fairly reasonable to talk about the fact that it seems likely, to me, based on the positions of the parties, that we are going to have two items of legislation before this committee.
    It could change. It might change.
    I don't dispute that it might change. Lots of things might change. The government could call an election. It's happened before. There are things that could happen that we don't expect to see happen.
    If Mr. Oliphant wishes to vote against my bill to criminalize forced organ harvesting and trafficking, that's his prerogative, I suppose.
    On a point of order, it is just as important for us to talk about things like organ harvesting in other countries as it is to talk about reproductive rights in the United States. There's no “get out of jail free” card for any country in this committee.

[Translation]

    Mr. Oliphant, that's a point of debate.
    Mr. Genuis, are you finished with your point of order, or did you want to come back to your—

[English]

    Can I respond to Mr. Oliphant's point? If there were piece of legislation dealing with the matters of this motion, I would be the first to say we should prioritize it. We can't ignore questions of the process obligations of the committee. If we're going to talk about the agenda of the committee going forward....
    Mr. Chair, that's enough on the point of order. I think I had the floor, in any event, didn't I?

[Translation]

    Please go ahead.

[English]

    If there's consensus, we can proceed in whatever manner we like by unanimous consent.
    My suggestion would be that we adjourn the debate, send this to the subcommittee to consider, among other ideas, and we get a report back from the subcommittee that says, recognizing—

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair, I have a point of order. We already voted on referring the motion to the subcommittee. We can't vote on the same motion twice.
    Ms. Bendayan, Mr. Genuis's motion was found to be in order.
    That said, once again, there does seem to be some confusion since he referred to a motion to adjourn again.
    Is the committee continuing to debate the motion, or has Mr. Genuis put forward a motion to adjourn?

[English]

    I'm sorry. Mr. Chair, we are debating the adjournment motion. Is that correct?

[Translation]

    What you put forward is not an adjournment motion strictly speaking. You seem to be confusing it with a motion to adjourn debate. Madam Clerk, could you provide some clarification, please?

[English]

    I'm sorry. Are you asking me or the clerk to clarify? My understanding is that we are debating an adjournment motion with a condition that I have put forward. Is that correct?

[Translation]

    Is that correct, Madam Clerk?
    Yes, that's correct, Mr. Chair.
    The debate carries on, then.
    Go ahead, Mr. Genuis.

[English]

    I think I've made my points with respect to the adjournment. I suggest we accept that adjournment. That will allow us to have the subcommittee do its work and then make a reasonable plan going forward.

[Translation]

    Before I move on to the next speaker, I'd like the clerk to clarify something.
    My understanding is that an adjournment motion can't be debated and has to be put to a vote right away.
    Was it an adjournment motion, yes or no?

  (1320)  

    When an adjournment motion is accompanied by a condition, it becomes debatable. The debate took place, and I don't see any hands up in the room. You can proceed to the vote if there are no further comments.
    I thought Mr. Chong was on the speaking list. If not, we can vote on Mr. Genuis's motion.
    Over to you, Madam Clerk.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Mr. Chong has let me know that he doesn't wish to speak right now. He'd like to speak after the committee votes on the motion. With your permission, I'll proceed with the vote.
    Please go ahead, Madam Clerk.

[English]

     Could I clarify?

[Translation]

    Do you have a point of order, Mr. Oliphant?

[English]

    I'm just trying to understand this because with regarding to adjourning the debate, there are really two motions, I think, as opposed to a conditional motion. There's a motion to adjourn debate and there's a motion to refer this to the agenda subcommittee. My problem with that is that I would like the committee to inform the subcommittee what its opinion is of this motion, as opposed to having this debate happen again at that agenda subcommittee. I would vote against this because we would then be referring something to a subcommittee that would simply go through this debate again. I think we should have the opportunity to express our opinion, as a committee, to inform the work of the agenda subcommittee.

[Translation]

    Mr. Oliphant, I'm going to stop you there. Once we've dealt with Mr. Genuis's motion, we will resume debate on Ms. Fry's motion.
    We will proceed with the vote now, Madam Clerk.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

[English]

    The vote is on the motion of Mr. Genuis that the debate be now adjourned until such time as the committee has completed its other work.
    (Motion negatived: nays 6; yeas 4)

[Translation]

    Mr. Chong, I believe you wanted to comment on Ms. Fry's motion. The floor is yours.

[English]

     Mr. Chair, I'm going to suggest a constructive way out of this impasse.
    The way I read the motion is that it's a clear reference to the leaked draft from the Supreme Court of the United States. I do not believe that this committee should be studying access to abortion in the United States. I don't think that's constructive for the committee to be doing. I don't think it is the top of mind concern in bilateral relations between Canada and the United States.
    But I do believe studying reproductive rights for women globally is within the remit of the committee and is something the committee could take a look at. In order to square that circle, what I'm going to suggest is that we strike part of the motion.
    I'll move an amendment that doesn't change the substance of the motion but does change its context. I move that we strike the following words, “given recent reports of international backsliding related to women's sexual and reproductive health and rights”.
    Mr. Chair, I move that amendment to the motion so that it's clear it's not in reference to recent events that have taken place in the United States. It still preserves the rest of the motion for the subcommittee to consider. I hope that my suggestion here and my intervention that we not study access to abortion rights in the United States will be taken to consideration when the subcommittee meets to talk about planning our future business.
    I think it's well within our rights to study access to reproductive rights globally, but I do not believe we should be studying access to abortion in the United States. I think the committee should focus on countries around the world, but not the current debate that's raging in the United States because of the recently leaked draft decision from the Supreme Court. I don't think it's conducive to Canada-U.S. relations. I don't think it's something that we should be seized with as a committee.
    I move that amendment in the hope that we can get it adopted and can then adopt this motion so that the subcommittee can put this into its consideration for future committee business. I hope that's constructive. That will allow us to move forward and deal with the motion at hand.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

  (1325)  

    Mr. Chair, could I ask for a recess of two minutes?
    I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
    We're at 1:25 p.m. We have debate going on in the House.
    How long will this go on for?
    If members want a recess to have conversations about this motion, how about we adjourn as we are scheduled to adjourn and then bring this motion back at the next meeting?

[Translation]

    Since we don't seem to have consent to suspend the meeting—

[English]

    I don't need a recess. Thank you. Fine.

[Translation]

    —we will now debate Mr. Chong's amendment.
    Ms. Fry had her hand up.
    Ms. Fry, do you wish to comment on Mr. Chong's amendment?

[English]

    No, thank you.

[Translation]

    Ms. McPherson, the floor is yours.

[English]

    Mr. Chair, I will not be supporting this amendment because you don't get to decide which women have access to reproductive health. We should able to look at what's happening in the U.S. They are part of foreign affairs. They are part of our purview as this committee, and excluding that is insulting.

[Translation]

    Does anyone else wish to comment on Mr. Chong's amendment?
    If not, we will proceed with the vote, Madam Clerk.
    We are voting on Mr. Chong's amendment.
    (Amendment negatived: nays 6; yeas 4 [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    We are now back on Ms. Fry's motion.
    Are there any comments?
    Go ahead, Mr. Genuis.

[English]

     Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    This is a bit frustrating, clearly, because members of our party have done our best to try to work and engage in good faith here. The government has—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Garnett Genuis: I'm getting heckled, Mr. Chair, which is something I admittedly have done at certain points in the past, as members are pointing out, so that's fair enough. I've been chastised when I've done it, though.
    Mr. Chair, the objective we're trying to pursue here is to have a good-faith approach to the work of this committee by being able to establish what the work we're going to undertake is, and to do so in a way that respects all parties and gives due process of time. Instead we have Liberals putting forward multiple motions on different topics, saying that we're going to try to program by motion the work of the committee.
    We're over time. I don't know what the timeline here is, Mr. Chair. I would appreciate it if we had an opportunity to have the subcommittee on agenda and procedure review this and have our vice-chair be a part of that discussion.
    In the absence of that, let me try again with an amendment that will maybe help us be less prescriptive in our engagement with the subcommittee. It is to remove the words “that the committee hold no fewer than (5) five meetings”.
    Removing those words would not be to prescribe a specific number of meetings. We might go on to hold five meetings. We might go on to not hold five meetings. We might go on to do something else entirely. It would to remove that prescriptive requirement around the number of meetings, so as to give the greatest possible flexibility to the subcommittee in its consideration of the matter. I would move that amendment.

  (1330)  

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Genuis.
    Is the amendment in order, Madam Clerk?
    Yes
    We will now debate Mr. Genuis's amendment.
    Do we have any comments on the amendment?

[English]

    Mr. Chair, I wasn't finished speaking. There may be others who wish to comment on it, but I have....

[Translation]

    Please continue, Mr. Genuis. No one has their hand up as of yet.

[English]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    On the agenda of the committee right now, we currently have three studies ongoing. We have a study with respect to the situation in Ukraine. We have not thus far made a decision around completing a report on that study. On that study, in the context of the work of this committee, we probably should do a detailed report on the situation in Ukraine.
    Mr. Chair, I have a point of order.

[Translation]

    Mr. Oliphant has a point of order.

[English]

    It's with respect to relevance. It is in the standing order that it needs to be relevant. There is no statement in this motion about when this study would take place. It is to simply affirm the fact that we will do a study.
    Mr. Genuis is arguing about work that we have to do or not do. That will go into a study, but it is not relevant to this particular motion. There's nothing in this about when the study will happen.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Oliphant.

[English]

    I have a point of order as well.

[Translation]

    When considering the standing order on relevance, I note that the chair's interpretation has traditionally been as wide as possible, so I will allow the debate to carry on.
    That said, I see that Ms. McPherson would like to comment on the point of order.
    The floor is yours, Ms. McPherson.

[English]

    I would just like to point out that I have heard the same things repeated three times from this member.
    I'd like to call a vote.

[Translation]

    Unfortunately, Ms. McPherson, the debate must continue.
    You can finish what you were saying, Mr. Genuis.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    With all due respect to the committee members, we have tried to work together. We have been reasonable and proposed accommodations so that the committee could find a path to move forward with its work.

[English]

     We had plans today to look over a draft statement with respect to the situation in Ukraine. Regarding the question of whether this is impacting our agenda in other respects, it's clear that it's already impacting our agenda. The fact that Liberals wanted to talk about abortion today, instead of being able to move forward with the study on Ukraine, is already informing the conversation that we were intending to have.
    For Mr. Oliphant to say, well okay, this could happen at any time and and that we have to set a minimum of five meetings to do it clearly can't help but impact the structure of this committee's agenda.
    The committee is currently is studying the situation in Ukraine and my understanding was that today, we were supposed to have a discussion about that statement on Ukraine. I think it's a missed opportunity. There are some members in other parties who have said very emphatically that we need to be talking about the fact that there's a land war in Europe right now and that it has huge consequences for our strategic situation and our interests, as well as for human life and well-being. Instead, Liberals wanted to bounce that off the agenda, apparently, and have a discussion about reopening the abortion debate.
    There was the Ukraine study. There's the COVAX study. We've given drafting instructions with respect to the report. We have a report coming back on the very important issue of vaccine equity, and that is something that I think the committee needs to look at and move forward on.
    Recognizing the importance of all the topics we're working on, it's important that we work toward completing the things we start as a committee, and that we don't simply throw out a bunch of ideas and leave them half incomplete while we're throwing out a whole bunch of other ideas. The obligation of a standing committee is to be intentional about working through the study it's done when it has heard from witnesses, and that it should take what it has heard from those witnesses and turn those things into reports.
    Frankly, I think there's a lot more we could be hearing on the issue of Ukraine, given that there are constant, ongoing developments. There's the situation in Taiwan—
    I'm sorry. Ms. Bendayan, did you have a point of order or something?

  (1335)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair, the member has asked whether I have a point of order.
    How is our study on Ukraine relevant to the altogether different motion we are in the process of debating?
    I want to point out that the member is actually jeopardizing the importance of our study on Ukraine, because he is choosing to speak for no real reason other than to prevent the committee from voting on the motion before it.
    Thank you, Ms. Bendayan.
    I told the committee my view on relevance a moment ago.
    Mr. Genuis, you have the floor to wrap up your comments.
    Mr. Chong and Ms. Fry are next on the speaking list.

[English]

     Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    With respect, it seems to be the position of the government, though, that if we only sort of resolutely rubber-stamp the motions they put forward, we'll be able to get back to other things. That seems to be an unreasonable request for members of the government to make of the committee.
    Generally, if members want their ideas adopted quickly, there's an opportunity for discussion in advance of the meeting and broader programming around the committee's agenda. There is limited time we have.
    I mentioned the issues of legislation. We have the COVAX study, we have the Ukraine study and the Taiwan study, which I think members have all said are important. Everything's important, but the fact that the Liberals are in multiple committees trying to displace all of the other items of business before this parliament—it seems—to push for a conversation about abortion is just very telling about their political approach to this. That's their choice, but it's our conviction that we could try to work together to try to identify some things that we can study in the framework that we normally do, which is through the subcommittee. That's why I proposed the framework that I have.
    I'll leave it there for now.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Genuis.
    I'm being told that we have to suspend the meeting for a half-hour for a staff change. We will suspend until further notice, as determined by the discussions currently happening among the whips. I have Mr. Chong and Ms. Fry on the speaking list. We will resume the meeting as soon as possible.
    The meeting is suspended.

  (1340)  


  (1545)  

[English]

     Colleagues, good afternoon. We are resuming our session.
     Just to reorient ourselves, before we suspended we were discussing the amendment by Mr. Genuis to delete a phrase in the motion, namely “that the committee hold no fewer than (5) five meetings”. Is that the understanding of members?
     I don't see any objections.
    With that, we have a speakers list right now that includes Mr. Chong and then Mr. Genuis. If colleagues are interested in being added to the speakers list, please raise your hand either virtually or in person, and we will give you the floor—
    Mr. Chair, I wanted to speak to the main motion after the amendment.
    After the amendment? Okay. You're going to go into standby mode for that. I'll going to mark that down. Thank you.
    Mr. Genuis and Ms. Lantsman as well: On the amendment or on the main motion?
    I want to speak to the main motion.
    On a point of order, Mr. Chair, I'm sorry to interrupt the proceedings. I've realized you asked a question just a moment ago and I just wanted to clarify.
    We did in fact vote on the proposed amendment, I believe, and we have voted that down. We are now back on the main motion.
    I'm advised that the committee had not voted on the amendment. If that's incorrect, let's please clarify that.
     I was not there for the last portion of the meeting. The advice I got is that the committee had in fact not yet voted on the amendment by Mr. Genuis.
    I don't think we had—
    Ms. Rachel Bendayan: Can the clerk clarify—
    This is an important question, so let's clarify.
    We will suspend for a moment just to make sure that we're getting in the right starting blocks before we start the discussion.

  (1545)  


  (1545)  

    Colleagues, thank you.
    Ms. Rachel Bendayan: Thank you so much for clarifying.
    The Chair: Again, Mr. Chong, we'll stand by for a resumption of discussion on the main motion.
     We have Mr. Genuis on the amendment and Ms. Lantsman on the amendment.
     Does anybody else wish to intervene at this point? If not, just keep raising your hands when you do wish to intervene, and I'll keep an eye on the virtual list as well.
    We'll go over to you, Mr. Genuis, please.

  (1550)  

    Thank you, Mr. Chair, and welcome back.
    I've been thinking a lot about just the nature of the committee and the work we have to do in the context of some of the things going on around the world. I would like to propose a very specific adjournment motion right now.
     That motion is: That the debate be adjourned on this motion until the committee has completed its work on Ukraine.
    If that's understood, I will proceed to speak on that adjournment motion.
    Thank you, Mr. Genuis.
    Just to clarify, that's a non-dilatory motion because it has a condition attached to it.
     That's correct.
    Please go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I know there have been different levels of passion by different members, and people asserting that there is no politics, allegedly, behind the sudden proposal that we prioritize, in the work of this committee, the question of abortion. However, I think the public will be well-advised to note what is going on around the precinct more broadly, and members of this committee probably know—they may not, but certainly the people behind the table probably know well—the fact that many motions are being moved on the subject of abortion at many different committees across the precinct.
    It seems to have been the conclusion of the strategic minds of our friends across the way that having as much discussion about abortion at as many parliamentary committees as possible is a good idea. To pretend that that is not framed with politics in mind is a bit rich.
    It's not for me to say what other committees should study. Of course, other committees also have competing considerations. Perhaps there is a case to say that there is a particular need at a committee. I can only speak to the issue in front of us, which is the question of the agenda of the foreign affairs committee.
    My goal with this specific adjournment motion is to put into focus the question of whether we want this committee to prioritize a discussion of the issue of abortion, or whether we want this committee to prioritize a discussion of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That is the choice. In a context where we have one foreign affairs committee, as well as many other committees in this place, there is the status of women committee, the justice committee, the public safety committee.... There is the international human rights subcommittee, and, in fact, one member already spoke about the fact that she had brought a motion to that other committee. In the past, when we have had issues specifically around human rights, the argument has been made by some members that that is what we have the subcommittee for, that is the goal of the subcommittee.
    I think about the breadth of issues that we are dealing with in the world. There is, of course, the question of Taiwan; there is, of course, the question of vaccine equity. However, there is, in particular, the invasion of Ukraine that, I think it is fair to say, has really seized the attention and concern of Canadians from all walks of life. I know I'm hearing it significantly within my constituency. My riding is home to a large Ukrainian diaspora. People have, up to now, been following the very serious, the very non-partisan, and the very engaging work that had been done by this committee up till then.
    On Ukraine, there have been some differences in terms of the recommended approach of the parties, that is, there have been times when we've been critical of the government, and there have been things back and forth, but, generally, our tone has been in the context of the foreign invasion to try to keep the discussion focused on the issues, and substantive. That is befitting the dignity and seriousness that we would expect from the Canadian foreign affairs committee
    I'll say, as we contemplate this choice about what we prioritize, and whether we prioritize the Russian invasion of Ukraine as being a central issue of importance, that we shouldn't sell ourselves short as a foreign affairs committee either. Sometimes there is the tendency for members of Parliament to fail to fully appreciate just how important our role is.

  (1555)  

     We have the potential, as the Canadian foreign affairs committee, to drive discussion at this critical time in global affairs, when, I believe for the first time since the Second World War, we have one sovereign state invading another in Europe, and there are implications of that for global security and for our own security. This has been re-emphasized regularly by government ministers, and of course by members of this committee and members of all parties.
    The context of the study on Ukraine is one in which we said we'd begin looking at the issue of Ukraine, but in an open-ended way, without prescribing a certain number of meetings. We said we'd be open to scheduling additional meetings as new information comes online. I believe it was Ms. Bendayan who had initially proposed that. This was, I think, a very good idea. I shouldn't say it was prior to the invasion, because, of course, the invasion really started in 2014. It was prior to the escalation of the invasion that began in February of this year. We started holding hearings on this. We began hearing very compelling testimony from various officials who highlighted what we needed to do and the challenges in front of us. They spoke about Minister Joly's recent travel to Europe prior to the invasion, about issues around Operation Unifier—the commitment in January for the renewal of Operation Unifier—and significant investments that were being considered around humanitarian assistance.
    I recall that prior to the invasion, our focus really had been on making the case for tougher sanctions and that targeted sanctions would play a critically important deterrent role. Also, we were making the case for energy security even then. Of course, the discussion around energy security has increased more. Again, I think this committee should take that up as part of its consideration around the issue of Ukraine.
    The proposals around sanctions, lethal weapons support, ongoing training and other forms of assistance to Ukraine needed to be focused on this question of deterrence. The best way to defeat an invader is to deter them in the first place, obviously. It's to establish the conditions where the Putin regime would have made the calculation that it was better off not interfering. We need to take very serious stock of the fact that this was a failure of deterrence.
    If you look at the times, historically, when we've been drawn into major wars, generally it has often been tied into some kind of failure of deterrence, when aggressors perceive that they will not be resisted in their gradual efforts to occupy more and more territory. Why did we allow the conditions to be established such that there was this failure of deterrence in the context of the invasion of Ukraine?
    I think we have to look right back to 2015. Maybe we should have been studying the issue of Ukraine in this committee even then. I was not a permanent member of this committee as of 2015-16. I think there were some of the same members. I was subbing quite a bit at the time. We raised the issue around cutting off access to RADARSAT image sharing. Following the 2014 invasion, the government of Stephen Harper had put in place a system of image and information sharing coming out of RADARSAT. This provided important strategic resources to Ukraine, but it also provided an important expression of solidarity and of our commitment to doing all we could to support and enable Ukrainians.

  (1600)  

     I travelled to Ukraine in 2016. I saw the sense of hope that came out of the fact that they were getting weapons and acquiring resources. They felt that their army was much better prepared than it was two years before, and I know that that preparation, readiness and fighting continued and, of course, continues to this day. The RADARSAT technology played an important role, and it was never really explained why the new government, led by Prime Minister Trudeau, made the choice of no longer sharing that critical information.
    It was also around that time when there was a context of obvious internal debate within the government caucus over the issue of the Magnitsky sanctions. The Magnitsky sanctions really are a top ask. They were and continue to be a top area of focus for the Ukrainian community and for the Russian dissident community, who are pushing this message of the need to have Magnitsky sanctions to be able to target those who are involved in gross violations of human rights. This was an important measure that was proposed.
    At the time, then-foreign minister Stéphane Dion and the Liberal government gave every indication of not being keen on the Magnitsky sanctions regime, but in the end, the House of Commons unanimously adopted the Magnitsky act, which was an important step forward, but it was not used. There have been plenty of cases, I think right up to the end of February, when the further invasion took place, when Conservatives were asking about specific individuals who were involved in human rights abuses in Russia and who were involved in acts of aggression against Ukraine. Those individuals were not being sanctioned.
    I think it underlines the importance of the Ukraine study and the importance of the work of this committee that in the context of the Ukraine issue, we were able to put forward specific names of individuals. One way that we framed it was around Navalny's list. Alexei Navalny, the important Russian opposition figure, had put forward a list of individuals who he thought should be sanctioned. We raised some of those names at this committee. Eventually, some of those individuals were sanctioned. In fact, when he sanctioned them, the Prime Minister specifically cited the fact that they were on Navalny's list. He didn't specifically cite the work of the foreign affairs committee, but it underlines how important it is that we put these things onto the agenda and put out there the fact that we have opinions as legislators who work on this committee and that, oftentimes, when we put those issues forward, they shape the response of government and the response of ministers.
    Notwithstanding the fact that we were pleased to see some of that movement on some of the sanctioning of individuals who were brought up in this committee, that movement didn't happen until after February 23. I believe it was the 23rd. I might be off by a day or two, but it didn't happen until after February 23rd. The advice we received from Marcus Kolga, Bill Browder and others who appeared before this committee was about the importance of sanctions and, in particular, to help us understand the deterrent effect that could come about as a result of those sanctions.
    We were given this sense that.... This is where Navalny's list comes in as well. There were people around Vladimir Putin who are responsible for taking and investing the regime's money. In particular, Mr. Putin is focused on his own interests, his own financial interests, and his own preservation and enhancement of power. Striking hard in advance, not militarily of course, but with sanctioning, would have been totally justified on the basis of past acts of aggression and human rights abuses. Striking in advance would have, I think, played that important role in sending a deterrent message.

  (1605)  

     We can look back at some of these actions ahead of February of last year: the cutting off of the sharing of RADARSAT images; the failure to make better use of the Magnitsky act; and the failure to sanction individuals who were responsible for investing in the regime's personal wealth. Had we taken those steps, I think we could have played a stronger role in deterrence.
    We can be proud of the role Canada played in the immediate aftermath of the initial invasion of Crimea in 2014. As a key player and member of various international organizations, Canada was able to pull countries towards a stronger position. That was when Russia was expelled from the G8. That was really the first time Russia felt consequences of that significance. We'd seen human rights abuses in Chechnya, of course, and aggressive action in Georgia.
    We've seen other instances of this, but it was really Canadian leadership that played a big role in pushing for that strengthened, sharpened global response that followed the initial invasion of Ukraine in 2014. That was the point at which we have to understand the violation of Russia's commitments under the Budapest memorandum, a clear promise on committing to Ukraine's territorial integrity.
    I think part of the value of studying this and of going back to look at it, looking at the present and looking forward but also looking back at where we've been since Ukrainian independence, is to counter some of that misinformation that we often see out there in the context of this invasion. It is important to acknowledge right out of the gate that whatever some people may try to say—i.e., “whose territory, and what and when”—the Russian Federation had committed to defending the territorial integrity of Ukraine based on its boundaries prior to 2014, which are still its internationally recognized boundaries.
    I think Canada after 2015, certainly in the initial phase at least, was not as aggressive or as pointed. There are certain obvious instances, such as the ones I've mentioned, where we eased off the kind of pressure that had been there. I think that informed the failure of deterrence that got us to the point where we are now, where the trajectory post-2014 was a strong response from the rest of the world and then a gradual easing off.
    That happened differently in some countries as opposed to others, but there is a sense that even though the conflict was ongoing, and even though Russia continued to be occupying sovereign Ukrainian territory and continued during that period to be committing gross violations of human rights against the Ukrainian people, there was in some countries this kind of easing off of the pressure, this kind of forgetting that things were actually continuing to go on.
    In the few months leading up to this invasion itself, I think it was very clear to members of Parliament that this was coming. I believe that obviously the government was aware of the risks. They spoke directly about it when we had officials come before the committee. Officials told us the following:
The mobilization of Russian military forces in and around Ukraine continues, with no sign of de‑escalation. The situation remains unpredictable and President Putin's military intentions remain unclear.
We're working closely with our allies and partners to find a diplomatic solution to the military conflict, by developing multiple strong deterrents.
    This was the stated policy commitment from Global Affairs Canada. That was the testimony we heard at this committee prior to the invasion.
    Many of the questions were specifically building off that commitment around deterrence. How do we strengthen our deterrence? How do we strengthen our position in relation to the need for deterring that aggression?

  (1610)  

     That was where we were at that time. We heard from other witnesses, again calling for sanctions specifically targeting those around the regime.
    I should note as well that one issue we've dealt with at the committee is misinformation in the form of RT and some of the efforts of the Russian Federation to project disinformation here about what was happening before, what was happening in the context of the invasion and since.
    This is notable in that there are inconsistencies in the approach we've taken—
     I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
    Mr. Genuis, let me pause you for one moment. We have a point of order.
    Mr. Oliphant, please.
    I'm just wondering if there is a speakers list, which would be a point of order. If there is, it might alleviate the member's gymnastics of trying to extend this conversation to what some might consider to be a filibuster, going on to issues of RT when we are talking about another “r”, which is reproductive technologies and our capacity in that regard. If there is a speakers list, it might give him a little break and he won't have to keep going through that list.
    Mr. Oliphant, thank you. We'll treat that as a point of order. Just to refresh the committee as to who's currently on that list, it is Mr. Genuis who has the floor. Then it is you, and Madame Bendayan and Mr. Duncan at the moment. If anybody else wishes to be added—Ms. Lantsman I see—use the “raise hand” feature online or signal the clerk or me if you're in the room.
    With that, it's back to Mr. Genuis, please.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I think we need to be clear about the topic that's in front of us. We're debating the agenda of the committee.
    On a point of order, Mr. Chair, we are actually not debating the agenda of the committee. That is not what we're doing. We're actually debating a motion with respect to an amendment of another motion. We are not in any way debating the agenda of this committee. That is work that should be done in the future, once some of the intentions are known. It is simply not a debate about the agenda of the committee. That seems to be the fundamental misunderstanding.
    I'll treat that as a point. That straddles a point of order and point of debate because it's partially about what the committee will do, but it isn't about the plenary set of issues before the committee.
    Mr. Genuis, if you could, just stick to what is relevant as much as you can.
     Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I thank Mr. Oliphant for his suggestions, but I do maintain the view that this is a motion. It's an adjournment motion in the context of an amendment to a motion, but the purpose of moving the original motion was very much about setting the agenda of the committee. It did so with some level of specificity. It didn't prescribe which dates those meetings would take place on, but it said that the committee should proceed with a study on a particular issue. That issue substantially was about abortion, as well as some other things. The context is that the Liberals are wanting to make the focus of discussion at the foreign affairs committee of Canada abortion, when we have the invasion of Ukraine and threats to Taiwan. We have various other challenges around the world. The Liberals' desire to reopen the debate on abortion in the context of the Foreign Affairs committee specifically, and let's acknowledge, in a whole bunch of other committees as well, is a question fundamentally of the agenda of the committee.
    So what I'm doing is I'm putting forward an adjournment motion that says, let's focus our attention for the time being on the earth shattering events taking place in Ukraine, the implications for women and men there and around the world.
    I do think it's important to acknowledge that perhaps before the direction from PMO came in saying, “Drop everything, because we want to be talking about abortion at every committee we can”, Liberal members were very pointed in talking about just how urgently it was to attend to the issue in Ukraine.
    I might even quote remarks by Dr. Fry, who said on February 14, with the prescience of doing so prior to the further invasion, in I believe this committee:
We are seeing a global movement to get rid of democracy. We know that Taiwan and Ukraine are democratic. We see Russia doing what it's doing in Ukraine and we see China taking steps against Hong Kong and Taiwan. They're invading air space, moving very close to naval lines, etc. Is your sense that this is part of a joint action to get rid of democracy in the two major regions, Europe and the Asia-Pacific.
    And then she said again:
We are concerned about the big picture and that long-range plan to rid of world o democratic institutions and democratic nations?
    If members agree that this is part of a strategic effort to make the world less safe for democracy, and I am inclined to generally agree with Dr. Fry's perspective, then, my goodness, folks, we are the foreign affairs committee. This is very much what we should be seized with. We should be seized with the urgency of what's going on.
    The parliamentary secretary, Mr. Oliphant, said the following on April 5:
It has been more than a month since President Putin chose to unleash war on Ukraine. With every day that passes, the number of civilians, including children, killed and wounded continues to climb. We have witnessed Russian attacks on apartment buildings, public squares, theatres and maternity hospitals. In addition, recent reports and images of what Russian forces carried out in Bucha are horrifying and they are deeply shameful. Let me be clear. We believe that this amounts to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and we are committee to holding President Putin and those supporting him accountable for their actions.
    Mr. Oliphant said at the time that we were witnessing war crimes and crimes against humanity, and since then—I can't remember the exact date on which Ms. McPherson's motion came forward—the House has recognized that Russian forces are committing genocide in Ukraine.

  (1615)  

     I think Conservatives were saying some of these things a little bit earlier in the process, but if you just take what we've heard from Liberal members in recent days, they're saying there have been war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide as part of an effort to eradicate democracy and democratic institutions. That is the account being given by Liberal members in terms of where we are and where we might be going.
    There are other committees in this place, but I would say, as the House's one foreign affairs committee, we have a responsibility to say, “Let's take this issue on in a serious way. Let's be engaged with the continuing emergence of events and let's be engaged with continuing developments as things go forward.”
    I made the point, and I think many members have as well, that there is what is happening in Ukraine, and also what those events in Ukraine mean for the rest of the world and the kind of precedent-setting issues from this happening. Russia and China are very different states in many respects, but they are both governed by revisionist leaders who do not support the idea of an international rules-based order. They believe that nations should be able to exercise dominance and power, if they have that power to exercise, within their self-determined sphere of influence.
    The position of Canada and its allies has been to assert that the relations among nations should be governed by rules and a set of principles and mechanisms of arbitration so that when nations have disputes, they don't need to resort to violence as the only way of mediating those disputes. That is the core idea of a rules-based international order, and it's one that makes everybody everywhere better off.
    Hence, in invading Ukraine, the Putin regime is trying to upend that international rules-based order, and that order only exists if it is defended and protected and if there are consequences for those that violate it. Otherwise, nations will seize on this precedent and try to go further.
    We have a separate study in the committee on the issue of Taiwan, but I think we always sort of understood that there was a notional linkage or implications between these issues and what has happened, and happens, in Ukraine and Taiwan. These have implications for other nations that might be a victim of subsequent aggression. If we allow the disregard of the principles of law and order in international affairs and the substitution of the rule of force in their place, then the consequences will be extremely dire.
    Nonetheless, the invasion happened, and I think some people were very much surprised by the nature and scale of it—although I think there was still a significant expectation that there would be some kind of aggression by Russian forces against Ukraine.
    I think one core goal we have to identify, and I think this has come out very well in some of the testimony we've heard already, is Putin's desire too boost his popularity at home, given his concerns about his declining popularity prior to the invasion and his desire to try to energize his image. We saw similar efforts by this regime before, going back to early horrific violence that Vladimir Putin was responsible for in Chechnya. These acts of violence appear to have created a kind of short-time “rally around the flag” impression, and there was not, in some of these early instances, a significance response from the rest of the world.

  (1620)  

     I think it looks like the Putin regime in a certain sense has miscalculated the level of strength and severity of the response from Ukraine and the effectiveness of the response from the rest of the world. The situation has been the initial stated war aim of effectively demilitarizing the entire country. What a lot of people expected and what our witnesses talked about was the desire of the Putin regime to install a puppet government of some sort. That doesn't look like it has any chance of succeeding.
     I just remember in the first week of the war regularly checking the Kyiv hashtag to see if the capital was going to fall and what the situation was looking like. Ukrainians heroically resisted, and what was I think planned to be quick is obviously continuing. The Ukrainians deserve a huge amount of credit for their heroic resistance.
    The international community has stepped up in various ways, and the Conservative position in response to that initial invasion was to say that we are supportive of the steps the government has taken to date. We continue to be supportive of the steps that have been taken, and we've also continued to put ideas forward for additional steps. Also, we've continued to say that we need to, in the appropriate way and at the appropriate time, certainly take note of how not strong enough or not forceful enough action prior to the invasion likely put us in a position of greater vulnerability.
    Going forward, there's an issue that we need to look at in terms of how we support Ukraine, and I think we could find witnesses who support our efforts on all of these fronts. There was an urgent need for more weapons, for more lethal weapons that will effectively protect Ukrainians and try to support the ongoing heroic resistance. Again, “more weapons earlier, but better late than never”, and this continues to be a key ask. We had the pleasure of hearing from Ambassador Deshchytsia from Ukraine talk about the urgent need for more weapons. I think what we could do as a committee is that we could hear that testimony. We could hear specifically from those with expertise in weaponry and hardware and be able to then come back and make concrete recommendations to the government around the steps that we should take.
    I'm always in favour of parliamentary committees grabbing their role and being very substantive and specific in recommendations. I think that sometimes the temptation for committees is to take the easy way out and say that the government should study such-and-such an issue. A committee has just been through a detailed study of an issue and says, “Well, it looks like we should do such-and-such, but we're not going to actually recommend that the government do such-and-such a thing, and we're going to recommend that the government do a further study on that particular point.” My view is that it's usually a missed opportunity for the committee members to take their collective knowledge and expertise, build on that and go from a recommendation for further study to actually providing those specifics.
    When it comes to this vital need for lethal weaponry, we can go further in hearing more testimony and being specific. The issue I am hearing about over and over again in my riding with respect to how we can support Ukraine is the issue of energy security and recognizing the role that Canadian energy can play in displacing Russian gas and Russian energy products that are going into Europe. The Russian economy is heavily dependent on the export of natural resources. Europe is number one: Europe receives the majority of Russian gas and Russian oil products. Russia is also a significant exporter of coal, some of which goes to our democratic partners in the Indo-Pacific region, such as South Korea.

  (1625)  

     As nation with a very different economy in many ways from that of Russia, but also one that is a natural resource-producing country, Canada has an immense amount of potential to see the critical role we can play in the context of supporting Ukraine in its fight. It's to enable our democratic partners to impose tougher energy-related sanctions against the Putin regime. We can enable them to do that by exporting more of our oil and gas products to Europe and to the Asia-Pacific.
    We have these long debates about pipelines and process in this country. I think those are important conversations, but we have to proceed with a recognition of the urgency here. The factors that we weigh out when we're making these decisions.... Yes, we have to take into consideration the economic effects, the effects on jobs and opportunity and issues of engaging indigenous communities that are affected by natural resource projects, many of which are supportive of those projects as well as environmental impacts. However, this global security dimension has not been a sufficient part of the discussion up until now. It needs to be part of the discussion to a much greater extent going forward. Recognizing the crisis that we're in, how do we move quickly?
    The interesting thing is to see the government's response and how it's shifted over time. Initially, when we were raising these energy security issues, my colleague Mr. Chong had a motion before the House right after the invasion that flagged energy security as being a key piece of this. The government, sadly, didn't support that motion. Initially, the government was saying that the alternative was renewables.
     I guess my response to that would be to just say that the alternative is everything. When Europe is continuing to effectively allow the Russian economy to function because of its own need for energy products and when we can displace those energy products through our own exports, we have a crucial role to play. It has a significant impact. It's one that just requires a recognition of the urgency, such that we can't wait for the development of new technology. No one is against new renewable technologies, but the urgency of the situation requires us to take an all-of-the-above approach.
    It's good for the environment for Canada to produce and export more of its relatively cleanly produced energy products as an alternative to Russian exports. If we're able, in particular, for example, to provide alternatives to Russian coal in the Indo-Pacific region through the export of Canadian natural gas, that's a win-win-win. It's a win for the economy. It's a win for the environment. Most importantly, it's a win for the preservation of a democratic, free and rules-based world that I think all of us are so deeply concerned about passing on to our children and grandchildren. This is why the conversations we have around what our response should be, particularly in the case of Ukraine, are so important.
     I've certainly met with a number of ambassadors who have highlighted the energy security issue as well. It's an issue throughout Europe. It's different for different countries. For instance, Poland produces a lot of coal. Providing Canadian natural gas as an alternative and providing Canadian technology around carbon capture and storage—the technologies we're developing as well as energy export.... It doesn't have to be security versus environment. We can think about both at the same time, but we need to move quickly on this energy security dimension. I would like us to be able to hear witnesses speak about that to this committee as well.

  (1630)  

     Another issue with respect to Ukraine that I think we need to think about and hopefully propose recommendations around is this proposal for a no-fly zone. In this connection, it was great that President Zelenskyy was able to come and speak to Parliament. His primary ask was for us to close the sky. I believe it was Ms. May from the Green Party who said “I do not support that”. Conservatives presented an alternative proposal that was a modified version of a no-fly zone. Basically, other parties, despite declaring solidarity and a commitment to stand with the people of Ukraine, didn't engage on the question of that specific proposal. It left a bit of a dissident impression, where there was an ask that was made of the government and there still hasn't been—at least in that moment, in the context of that debate—a clear response.
    What Conservative leader Candice Bergen proposed was that we work to establish enforced humanitarian corridors. A reasonable step that we could take that would entail a much reduced risk of further escalation would be to say we are going to enforce and defend humanitarian corridors as an avenue for civilians to be safe and move to safety.
    We have seen the horrific toll that this war has taken on Ukrainian civilians. Is there a role that NATO could play? Is there a role for Canada in putting ideas forward and leading within NATO to say that we should have that established no-fly-zone-type defence of limited areas of humanitarian corridors?
    In the context of some of the negotiations that have been happening, Russian authorities have talked about this, but there hasn't really been a follow-through. This is a major challenge that I think this committee needs to hear recommendations on and make recommendations back to Parliament. This is the role...this is the potential of the foreign affairs committee to engage with the immense seriousness of what is in front of us with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is the potential to say, rather than play the PMO-directed political strategy of trying to make every single parliamentary committee, it seems, talk about abortion, let's actually talk about the fact that we have this war happening and let's zero in on the specific recommendations we could make in response to that war. Let's zero in on the specific recommendations we can make on lethal weapons, energy security, establishing a no-fly zone and/or having the enforcement of these sorts of humanitarian corridors.
    These are the kinds of recommendations that we could bring forward if, as a committee, we say we want to work together, we want to do this seriously and we want to set an agenda in a collaborative way, but we want to focus on this critical issue confronting the world, rather than focus on some effort to stir up a domestic controversy.
    I think we also need, as a committee, to really dig into the shifts in the Putin regime's rhetoric round its strategic positioning. In a sense, we should be careful to not put too much into what we hear from the Kremlin. We know that there is an effort to push misinformation and disinformation to try to throw us off track of what their intentions are. Nonetheless, it's important for us to be aware of and take note of the things that are being said and to then study what the implications of those things might be.

  (1635)  

     The initial stated reason for the invasion—and I'm reluctant to even repeat it, because it's so absurd—was the so-called denazification of Ukraine. These were totally ridiculous allegations that were made by the Putin regime. And then there was demilitarization. I think what's important to understand about the initial stated aspiration of the regime was that it was related to the entire country. It was expressed in terms of what was happening in all of Ukraine; it was not the articulation of specific regional objectives.
    It started with, as everybody knows, an invasion from all sides, but an effort to strike across the Belarusian border and hit Kyiv. That failed, and we've seen a shift in some of the rhetoric towards more discussion of a more regional agenda. What does that mean? I don't think it means that in any sense we should weaken our resolve or our recognition that the threat is to the entire country, but we should also take note of how there is this apparent shifting in position. It responds, I think, to the intensity that Ukrainians have shown in defending their own sovereignty, the solidarity and strength that they've brought to the table and also the ability of the rest of the international community to step forward to speak about what's going on and to apply pressure in various ways.
    I also think we need to be prepared for this to continue because the conflict isn't going to melt away. We need a longer term strategy, and I think that strategy needs to facilitate the maintenance and further escalation of economic sanctions, as well as sanctions targeting individuals who are involved in these acts of aggression. I think we need to recognize that and really escalate the pressure that's on. I'm taking note of that.
    Mr. Chair, in making the case for the importance of the work that we need to do on Ukraine, I wanted to highlight a number of instances of the horrific atrocities we've seen in Ukraine. Members talked earlier in this debate about gender equality, the importance of combatting violence against women, and what we are seeing in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is the horrific victimization of women, the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.
    It's unfathomable the horror of what we're seeing going on. As members have all agreed, there are war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide being committed, and I want to highlight a number of these stories that I think should bring into sharp focus the work we need to do and only we can do as the foreign affairs committee in responding to this. There was a recent story from the BBC of woman talking about how Russian soldiers raped her and killed her husband. She details the story. She's 50 years old, her name is Anna, she lives in a rural neighbourhood outside of Kyiv, and when the Russian soldiers came through, she was raped at gunpoint and her husband was killed. This is just one story of the violence. There's a picture here that basically they have a wooden cross in the yard where they buried her husband, after the Russians have pulled out of the area.
    That's one story among many of the unrelenting violence that we've seen.

  (1640)  

    Another story I was able to find, entitled “U.N. told 'credible' claims of sexual violence against children as Russia's war drives a third of Ukrainians from their homes”, reads as follows:
Britain's ambassador to the United Nations said Thursday that there were “credible” claims Russian forces have committed sexual violence against children in Ukraine, as U.N. agencies said Vladimir Putin's invasion had driven more than 6 million people to flee the country. The U.N. refugee agency reported the grim statistic, which, combined with the roughly 8 million Ukrainians who have been displaced within their country, means a third of Ukraine's people have been forced from their homes.
The war's effect on Ukraine's youth has been particularly devastating, and Britain's U.N. ambassador said that appeared to extend to sexual violence committed against children by the invading forces.
British Ambassador Barbara Woodward, citing the U.N. humanitarian agency, said at least 238 children were believed to be among the thousands of civilians killed since Russia launched its war, with 347 more injured.
“There are credible allegations of sexual violence against children by Russian forces,” Woodward added. “As others have said, mass displacement has left children exposed to human trafficking and sexual exploitation.”
Last month, Ukrainian lawmaker Kira Rudyk told CBS News that sexual violence was being used systematically “in all the areas that were occupied by the Russians.”
“Rape is used as a tool of war in Ukraine to break our spirits, to humiliate us and to show us that we can be helpless to protect our women and children and their bodies,” Kira Rudyk, a member of Ukraine's Parliament, told CBS News. “It is happening systematically in the occupied territories.”
    It's just horrifying to hear about these things happening. It's important for us to recognize the role we have as a committee in trying to combat this. I think the way we do it is by specifically focusing on how we can support Ukraine to win the ongoing war.
    Recognizing this use of sexual violence as a tool by occupying forces in all of parts of Ukraine that are, according to this testimony, occupied by Russia should underline for us just how much of a role we need to play in preventing the further advance of that Russian aggression and in preventing the further occupation of Ukraine, and how we need to prioritize our engagement with this issue ahead of the political agendas that we may be being told should be pushed. This is the work we need to do: How can Ukraine win and ensure that more Ukrainian women and children don't have to live with the lifetime trauma that comes with these kinds of horrible events?
    I'll continue reading from this article:

At the Security Council on Thursday, U.N. children's agency...Deputy Executive Director Omar said “children and parents tell us of their 'living hell,' where they were forced to go hungry, drink from muddy puddles, and shelter from constant shelling and bombardments, dodging bombs, bullets and landmines as they fled.” He called the war “a child protection and child rights crisis.”
“Children in Ukraine have been displaced, hurt, orphaned, or killed,” U.S. Deputy U.N. Ambassador Richard Mills told diplomats. “Of the nearly 14 million people forced to flee their homes since the conflict escalated, approximately half are innocent children; children who deserve a chance to live, grow, and thrive, but instead, are struggling every day to survive in horrific circumstances.”
Briefing diplomats at the Security Council, U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Joyce Msuya said “civilians — particularly women and children — are paying the heaviest price” in the war.

  (1645)  

Msuya said the situation was deeply worrying in the Luhansk region, in eastern Ukraine's industrial heartland of Donbas, where Russia is currently focusing its assault. She said there were an estimated 40,000 people cut off from electricity, water and gas supplies there alone.
The U.N. Human Rights Council met in a special session in Geneva on Thursday, meanwhile, where High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said “1,000 civilian bodies had been found in the Kyiv region alone...some had been killed in hostilities, but others appeared to have been summarily executed.”
“These killings of civilians often appeared to be intentional, carried out by snipers and soldiers. Civilians were killed when crossing the road or leaving their shelters to seek food and water. Others were killed as they fled in their vehicles,” Bachelet said.
CBS News partner network BBC News documented one such alleged killing on Thursday. The network obtained video from multiple security cameras around a business outside of Kyiv that appear to show several Russian soldiers shooting an unarmed civilian security guard in the back, and then looting the business.
One of the soldiers is seen breaking a security camera with the butt of his rifle, apparently upon realizing that he and his colleagues' actions were being recorded.
    That's really hard information to share and to think about, but the kinds of atrocities that we are seeing in Ukraine are horrifying and unfathomable. They require the committee to urgently grab hold of this issue and, as part of its broader agenda, look at the issues of the atrocities that are going on.
    I want to share from this story in The New York Times, called “'Clear patterns' of Russian rights abuses found in Ukraine, a report says”. It states:
Investigators from almost a dozen countries combed bombed-out towns and freshly dug graves in Ukraine on Wednesday for evidence of war crimes, and a wide-ranging investigation by an international security organization detailed what it said were “clear patterns” of human rights violations by Russian forces.
Some of the atrocities may constitute war crimes, said investigators from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who examined myriad reports of rapes, abductions and attacks on civilian targets, as well as the use of banned munitions.
On Wednesday, civilians were still bearing much of the brunt of the seven-week-old invasion as Russian forces, massing for an assault in the east, bombarded Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, striking an apartment building.
In an hourlong phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s leader, President Biden said the United States, already a major provider of defensive armaments to Ukraine, would send an additional $800 million in military and other security aid. The package will include “new capabilities tailored to the wider assault we expect Russia to launch in eastern Ukraine”...
    I'll just skip down a bit in the article to where it say this:
An International Criminal Court investigation into possible war crimes has been underway since last month, and a number of countries have been looking at ways for the United Nations to help create a special court that could prosecute Russia for what is known as the crime of aggression. Other possibilities include trying Russians in the courts of other nations under the principle of universal jurisdiction, the legal concept that some crimes are so egregious they can be prosecuted anywhere.
    I note as well, and the members may be interested to know this, that the Subcommittee on International Human Rights is doing a study specifically on the issue of violations of international law and mechanisms by which there could be prosecution for those violations. I know some members of this committee are members of that committee. I think that's an important study as well.
    Ironically, the same thing is happening at SDIR that is happening here, it seems, which is—I'm not sure what deliberations have happened in public or not, but I'm jumping off of what was said publicly here by Ms. McPherson—that in the midst of its study on human rights violations and atrocities being committed in Ukraine, there's an attempt to shift the agenda to a discussion about abortion. We have similar things happening here as in SDIR where—

  (1650)  

    I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
    I'll pause you for one moment, Mr. Genuis.
    Go ahead Ms. McPherson.
     That is actually not accurate, so I would just like to correct—
     For the purposes, I'll take—
    The motion that was brought forward in the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights was to look at reproductive rights around the world and, in fact, Mr. Genuis's colleague asked for a study on the preborn rather than one on looking at the rights of women around the world.
    I'll allow that clarification. Thank you very much.
    Mr. Genuis, it's back to you.
    I'll let my colleague speak for himself on his proposals around that.
     My understanding was that the Subcommittee on International Human Rights was doing a study specifically on the situation in Ukraine and on international human rights as they relate to that, but I can at least, it's fair to say, speak with the most authority on what's happening here at the foreign affairs committee, which is that we are in the process of doing a study on the issue of Ukraine, and there are many issues that need to be I think further discussed and further considered.
     We are in the midst of that study that's happening here, and we could be pursuing that study. There are many issues that I've mentioned around lethal weapons, energy security, humanitarian corridors and no-fly zones and the issues around the shifting Russian strategic position. A different issue for the foreign affairs committee as well is the engagement that we do around questions of refugees. This is another issue that I think has not been sufficiently discussed in this committee. It has been taken up to some extent at the immigration committee; I suspect there will be an abortion motion there, too, without delay, but....
    The issue of refugees coming out of Ukraine and how Canada engages and collaborates with other countries in the region in supporting them is I think a very important one. On this point, all of the opposition parties actually have been united in saying that there should be visa-free travel for those who are coming out of Ukraine, recognizing that visa-free travel is part of the framework that exists in other countries in the vicinity.
     The Government of Canada says they couldn't do it and have kind of vacillated in terms of their explanations. On some days, they say, well, it would be a potential security issue, but then at other times, they say, well, it would take too long to put in place or it's too complicated or onerous to make that kind of change in our immigration rules.
     Well, it seems that these things take far longer than they should. Other countries are able to lift their visa requirements. Think of how much is being done by Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania and all of the countries in the region that are accepting refugees without requiring a visa. Given the vastness of Canada and the way that I think Canadians feel about this conflict and their desire to play an important role in helping to support those who are suffering as a result of this conflict, I think there would be just an immense desire for Canadians to be able to play more of that role, yet we see the government, through their immigration policies, saying no to visa-free travel.
     Another issue that I think we need to take up in our engagement with this conflict is what we are doing to help those who are impacted by it. Of course, there's the refugee side of it, and there's also the humanitarian support, and we have called for that humanitarian support. As we've said, on a number of issues we've been supportive of the steps the government has taken to date, but we've also called on the government to make improvements in certain respects.
    There was one issue I raised in the House that I think would merit further attention here at this committee, and that is the question of how the government approaches matching programs. Right out of the gate, the government announced that they were going to do a matching program and that matching program would apply only to the Red Cross. Canadians were so generous that the allotment the federal government was prepared to match filled up right away—

  (1655)  

    I have a point of order.
    I apologize, Mr. Genuis. We have a point of order.
     Let's go to Ms. McPherson.
    Mr. Chair, I'm a relatively new parliamentarian, so perhaps this isn't a point of order, but I did just want to check if there is any need for gender parity as we discuss women's rights, or will we be listening to a man speak about the rights of women for the next several hours? I'm wondering as well if we would be interested in hearing from some of the female members of this committee on the reproductive rights of women.
     Ms. McPherson, I don't believe that's a point of order.
    Can I speak to the point of order? I don't think I've ever disclosed my gender to this committee.
    Mr. Genuis, thank you for that, but irrespective of that, I don't believe it is a point of order. It may be part of the emerging dynamic this afternoon and members are certainly welcome to challenge that in subsequent interventions.
    It's back to you, Mr. Genuis.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I think that was an interesting intervention by my colleague. With all due respect, when an issue is brought to a committee that I happen to be a member of—
    Mr. Chair, I have a point of order. I hear a bell ringing. Do we have a vote happening?
    Let's see what we have. Is it a 30-minute—

  (1700)  

    And you will need unanimous consent to consider it? I don't believe you will find unanimous consent at this time.
    It's a 30-minute bell and, as you say, Mr. Oliphant, we need unanimous consent. We have a practice of going 15 minutes in, but we need UC from the point of the bell. Is there unanimous consent to continue for an additional 15 minutes?
    Mr. Chair, just on a point of order. Is there a will for the committee to adjourn or to suspend?
    There's no point of order on that.
    Just a second: there are two interventions at the same time.
    There's no unanimous consent. Let's hold that thought, Mr. Genuis.
    Your question—
    The meeting is adjourned at that point.
     Is the meeting adjourned then? I'm just looking for clarity.
    There's no unanimous consent that it would be suspended until—
    We are over the allotted time, so is there a will to adjourn, or...
    My understanding is that we have until 5:50. It's going to be a half-hour bell, plus a 10-minute vote, plus 10 minutes of confirmation, so we will be more or less at 5:50, which would be our full two-hour allotment. There's no UC, so what is the default conclusion if—
    Mr. Chair, I have a point of order. If the committee is agreeable, I would suggest that we adjourn, which would allow us to continue our regular meeting on Thursday—on Taiwan—which I believe is what we have scheduled. Is that not correct?
    That is correct.
    I say this because if we suspend, the meeting with respect to Taiwan will be cancelled, I assume—
    It will be superseded in the short term.
    In lieu of that meeting, we will have a meeting on this motion that we are currently presently debating. My suggestion is that we adjourn so that we can actually get back to the Taiwan issue.
    We have to make sure that we are procedurally on solid ground because we did not get UC to continue, which really technically means that we are suspended after the time of Mr. Oliphant's having—
    Yes, that's true, unless you seek agreement from the committee to adjourn, in which case we could do the Taiwan meeting on Thursday.
    There does not seem to be unanimous agreement, so we are suspended until we are advised by email.
    Thank you colleagues.

  (1700)  


  (1755)  

     Mr. Genuis, it's back to you.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    On another note, I understand that there is some competition for House resources this evening and there's a risk to the Afghanistan committee, so I would propose, and I'd like to move, Mr. Chair, that we adjourn this meeting so as to allow resources to be available for the Afghanistan committee.
    I would note that if we don't do that, then there is a question of whether the Afghan interpreters who have come to be heard will be heard. I don't know all the machinations behind the scenes, but my understanding is that if we don't adjourn, this has the potential of overriding the Afghanistan committee and missing the opportunity to hear from those Afghan interpreters.
    Thank you, Mr. Genuis. Let me seek some procedural advice because we have a motion on the floor that was brought by you that we adjourn the debate while the Ukraine study is going on. This is now an additional motion to adjourn, but to adjourn immediately.
    It's to adjourn the meeting, and this motion is—
    A dilatory motion.
    So you're moving that. It's in order.
    We have a dilatory motion to adjourn that's in order. There's no debate allowed.
    (Motion negatived: nays 7; yeas 3)
    The Chair: Let me check briefly. Is it six o'clock sharp, or are we going to be advised when to suspend?
    It's back to you for four minutes, Mr. Genuis.
    I'll cede the floor for now, Mr. Chair.
    Mr. Oliphant.
    Thank you.
    I want to clarify a few things about this. My sense during the early part of the previous member's remarks was that there had been a strategy meeting at high levels of the Conservative party to find every way not to have this come to a vote. I'm disappointed in that because I think it's very clear that we should bring this to a vote quickly, because if we don't, it will stop other pieces of work from happening.
    I want to be really clear that despite what Mr. Genuis said, there is no priority attached to this motion. It is a motion to study. He has already revealed in a public meeting other motions that have been brought by Liberals, which I believe are confidential, so I won't reveal them. There are other motions that have been suggested for discussion, which I would also like to make sure that we have time at some point to discuss, because there are several important issues going on in the world right now. This is one of them. This is a critical issue, and we want this discussed by committee.
    However, we also respect the process of a committee to set its own agenda, so once we get these motions passed, we'll be able to look at them all. As Mr. Bergeron said earlier, we want a good and fair process to look at everything we have on the table that's been moved. Therefore, we can pick what we want to do most urgently as we continue.
    This motion is putting a stake in the ground and signalling that women's rights, including women's reproductive rights, are important to this committee.

  (1800)  

    Mr. Oliphant, I apologize. I'll stop you there at the end of that sentence and suspend for half an hour. I'm told that we have to do that for resource reasons. We will then give you back the floor in that same speaking order that we had.
    I sense there is an appetite for a vote.
    Is there an emerging consensus that the committee is....
     We had moved to adjourn with precisely that objective in mind.
    If debate has collapsed, we can have the vote so we can adjourn.
    I'm not sure that debate has collapsed.
    I thought we were still on the conditional non-dilatory motion.
    We are.
    I didn't think we were on it.
    If everybody stops talking, we can have the vote.
    But we would like a vote on the main motion, not on one of the adjournment motions, because we're in no way prepared to adjourn this meeting. We have an important issue and if that's—
    My sense is that debate has not extinguished, and we're being advised that we need to suspend to get resources in line for 6:30 to 8:30.
    With that, we'll suspend for 30 minutes and then resume in the same speaking order.

  (1800)  


  (1945)  

     Colleagues, let's try to continue.
    Before giving the floor back to Mr. Oliphant, for the benefit of all members here tonight, I want to give a bit of a recap of where we are.
    We have before us a motion that the debate be adjourned until the completion of the work on Ukraine. The debate that's being referenced is on the original motion by Dr. Fry, which was amended by Mr. Genuis to delete in English, “that the committee hold no fewer than (5) five meetings”.
    We are still on the adjournment motion—it's conditional and therefore debatable—that the matter be adjourned until the completion of the committee's work on Ukraine.
    The speaking order we have on this motion at the moment is Mr. Oliphant, Madame Bendayan, Mr. Duncan, Mr. Chong and Mr. Genuis.
    With that, I will pass the floor back to Mr. Oliphant for resumption of debate.
    I would continue simply to say that I would be against this motion to delay voting on this as a potential study to be scheduled. I think it's a topic that deserves studying.
    We have shown in this committee how we are able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We have interspersed a variety of studies, starting one and continuing with other studies. I think it's suspicious to say that we should delay a vote on this until after another study is finished, when we don't even have a firm date on that study. I think we're mixing apples and oranges in this. That's my fourth metaphor; I apologize.
    What I like about the motion by Dr. Fry is that it puts a stake in the ground for this committee to say that this is an important issue to study. And it's not the only issue we'll study. There will be other motions. We have a number of notices of motion on the books right now. Once we get a number of motions, then we'll have a meeting. We'll look at what the priorities of the committee are—to do what, when.
     However, because this does not have a time limit—it does not have a deadline set on when the study would begin or would end—I think it's appropriate for us to dispose of it quickly. So I would not be supportive of a motion to delay a vote on it. It's an unusual motion to adjourn until after an unknown date. I'm not even sure I would have agreed to that kind of a motion. Also, adding a substantive part to that motion, with respect to the number of committee meetings, I don't think is appropriate at this time within that context. So I will be voting against this motion.
    There were many comments in the lengthy speech that Mr. Genuis made that I could comment on, but I'll refrain, hoping we can quickly dispose of the motion to adjourn conditionally, so we can get to the main motion quickly and get it done, and put it into our ideas for a potential work plan and leave it until the future.
    Thank you.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Oliphant.
    Madame Bendayan, please.

[Translation]

    Thank you. I'll keep it short.
    As Mr. Bergeron pointed out earlier today, Ms. Fry brought forward the issue and proposed a study back in December—long before the events the Conservative members are claiming prompted the motion. That is not at all the case.
    Ms. Fry put forward her motion months ago. I think we're ready to vote on it.

[English]

    I would also like to very briefly respond to the lengthy intervention by my colleague on the Conservative side, simply by saying that it was, indeed, my motion on Ukraine that was presented in January of this year. It is absolutely an important study. I would hazard to say it's one of the most important studies the government is undertaking at the moment. Obviously, that's my personal opinion.
     I also agree with my colleague Mr. Oliphant's comments. There have been many other members of this committee, including my Conservative friends, who have argued quite the opposite, that we should be hearing witnesses on matters relating to Tibet, on maters relating to Taiwan and many other issues that we all agree to. Now, strangely, on this particular issue, they seem to suggest that we are not able to study Ukraine and any other subject at the same time, which is, of course, untrue. We are doing it at the moment, and we can do it again.
     Once again, as many have said, the motion before us does not include dates, and these will be up to the subcommittee to decide.
    For those reasons, I will also be voting against my colleague's amendment.

  (1950)  

[Translation]

    Thank you for your comments, Ms. Bendayan.

[English]

     Next I have Mr. Duncan, please.
    Go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Can you hear me okay?
    Mr. Duncan, I am advised that the microphone is not selected. As such, could you just double-check the connection?
    You'd think I'd have this down pat two years in. I apologize.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the clerk for that advice.
    That's good now. Thank you very much.
    I am, as you are all aware, subbing in today in participating in a committee, and it has been informative. We started off several hours ago with what I thought was an informative briefing, and we had committee business—a couple of motions—to deal with. We're still on that. It was unfortunate that I was not able to participate in camera, as we were to deal with I believe the statement on the important issue of Ukraine. Public Accounts is my main committee, but I of course have been watching with interest the work that all our committees do.
    I want to give credit to my colleague Mr. Genuis from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan for his comments on this. I will agree with his premise on the need to prioritize and his amendment on it, which I believe is reasonable. I believe it is fair and accurate and resembles when I try to do a pulse of our community. I think of my riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry in eastern Ontario. As we get back to normalcy, we have events back in our community, and we're getting a pulse for what we're hearing from our constituents on issues they believe that we as parliamentarians should be tackling and focusing on. I agree with him wholeheartedly in his amendment that this committee needs to continue its important work on the topic of Ukraine, and I believe that is something that is front of mind for many Canadians.
    As was alluded to, I believe this motion is meant to be divisive. As Mr. Genuis and other colleagues of mine have noted, this is not the only committee that is seeking to reopen the abortion debate here in Canada. There are several committees that are attempting similar motions like this. Canadians do not want to see the debate reopened.
     It would be incumbent, I believe, on this committee that is dealing with foreign affairs and international development, that we look at and survey our country on what is front of mind. When it comes to what this committee's work should be, I think it's finishing the work on Ukraine, hearing from witnesses, working on the draft statement, which I believe was being dealt with in camera today, and also, again, coming up with a final report of ways where, frankly, on many issues, when you look at the Conservative Party's perspective, the Liberal Party's perspective, the NDP's and that of the Bloc Québécois, there's been actually a strong consensus on the need to focus on this important issue, not just to the benefit of the Ukrainian people, but I believe in the bigger geopolitical situation that our country faces.
    Mr. Chair, one of the things that I commented on, and the importance of this, is that I believe the illegal invasion of Ukraine and the horrific war crimes that are happening under Putin's regime and actions are one of the things that has made this front of mind for more Canadians. This been able to stay, rightfully, in the front of our public debate and discourse in this country, which is why I believe this committee needs to focus on it.
     I can perhaps compare, as I know that unfortunately, sadly, the Afghanistan committee that was supposed to be hearing tonight from the interpreters was cancelled as a result of this. It is unfortunate, but it speaks to where I believe that in this situation what we're seeing in Ukraine, with the evolution of technology, the evolution of social media and our smart phones, is that we have Canadians in real time, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok or other forms of social media, who have now seen first-hand in near live time the atrocities that have been happening, the unjustifiable horrific actions by the Russian regime.
     I'm amazed. Just as an example, as I was saying, we're getting out into our communities more, and I was in Morrisburg at the South Dundas trade show. It was a great way to take the pulse of the community. I was there for two days and got unfiltered feedback—good, bad or indifferent—from constituents on issues or topics that are important to them. It gives you a chance to understand what's resonating. In terms of the number of people I spoke to over the course of a day and a half at that event, it was incredible in terms of the number of people who were more knowledgeable about the geography of Ukraine, perhaps, but again, about the geopolitical aspects there, the humanitarian aid that Canada needs to provide and to continue to provide lethal weapons as well. I'll get into that a little bit, as well as why this issue continues to be and should be front of mind.
    It's the first illegal invasion.... It's a war. It's an illegal invasion. It has gotten so much attention because people have seen it in live time. They've seen the videos. They've seen the bravery and the determination of the Ukrainian people in fighting back against these horrific acts.

  (1955)  

     As was mentioned, and again, I know that with numerous colleagues from all parties there's been consensus on the urgency and importance of this. War crimes are being committed, and there are numerous unacceptable actions by Mr. Putin. When we look at the issue of Ukraine and the topics we need to cover, they're very multifaceted and are why this committee should be prioritizing that work, ensuring that this is dealt with. We're hearing from witnesses. We're making recommendations. Again, I say it from a constructive perspective, in the sense that I believe parliamentarians are pretty well united in terms of a lot of the topics and the approaches they need to take.
    When we talk about humanitarian assistance and our foreign aid and being able to provide that, and the access to providing and equipping the Ukrainian military with lethal weapons, I think it is absolutely essential in making recommendations in this timely manner for how we can do that better as an international community and how we can best do it as Canadians.
    As well, one of the things that I think is especially important, too, Mr. Chair, is the compassionate grounds. Canadians, as always, have stepped up to offer help. Again, I'm amazed. When we talk locally, I have to admit that very often foreign affairs topics and international jurisdiction may not always be the front of mind to all Canadians, but with what has been happening in Ukraine and, again, the manner in which we're able to communicate it, and just the atrocities of it, the unbelievability and the evil that we've seen in these actions, more Canadians are versed in this.
     I've been amazed over the course of the last while as I see a growing interest from Canadians when we talk about this topic of how they can help support refugees and humanitarian efforts, particularly for women and children who are attempting to relocate to Canada. There are a few things when we deal with that in terms of what the committee can do to better resettle them. Again, we have a few Ukrainian families that have arrived in my community in rural eastern Ontario. One of the things we've heard on that is about the disorganization and the frustration around paperwork processes and access to flights, and the confusion and some of the chaos, frankly, around that. We saw that last year during the Afghanistan crisis with the evacuation of numerous Afghanistan citizens, those who helped us in our time of need in Afghanistan. We saw absolute chaos and disorganization.
    Mr. Chair, again, I think the one reason why this needs to be front of mind and continues to need to be a conversation for our committee is that there is more work to be done there, and certainly recommendations. There are witnesses we need to hear from in the NGO community and, from a governmental perspective, departmental officials, as well as international organizations and those that are on the ground in terms of how our response as Canadians can be improved.
    I certainly think that one of the things we could agree on is that the more timely we make that, the more we hear those voices at the committee, the more we get to that testimony and make recommendations I think to positively pressure the government, the bureaucracy, NGOs, and I think, frankly, even beyond in the international community, there's the opportunity to be constructive and to be united as a Canadian Parliament regardless of which political party. There's been a lot of support for this. I think the committee needs to be focusing on that and addressing that.
    One of the things as well, Mr. Chair, is another angle. We talk about the economic aspects, and that's one of the things that I believe the committee needs to continue to tackle, and why I support and will continue to support the amendment, the principle of it and the importance of it, because that's what I'm hearing. I know that many of my colleague are hearing about the need for this—and I think that frankly around the country we are hearing about it in terms of the energy policy and the energy dependence that far too many countries in Europe have in an alliance with Russia.
    We've had motions and we are trying to get on record and pressure the government to be more aggressive on this. I will say, as constructive as my comments have been on unity, Mr. Chair, on many of the aspects I mentioned before, that when it comes to the role that Canadian energy can play in I think destabilizing the war machine in Russia, there unfortunately has not been much agreement on that topic.

  (2000)  

     I think it's important to have the time at committee to really study and look at that aspect of the relationship and how our Canadian energy, whether it be on our east coast or in the west, can be used in the short term to destabilize—and rightly so—Putin's economy, his regime and his oligarchs. In the longer run, we can look at how to support our Canadian economy, which helps to support causes not just in Ukraine, but in the international community. We could also take a look at some of the economic aspects. This could help, in the long run, what we do and how we do it, while sending a message to other regimes that have undertaken horrific actions similar to those Russia has taken. The world is watching and Canada is watching. Canada can step up, and this is a way that we can do more.
    We need to have attention on how our actions and our resolve could actually improve the situation and resolve the situation better, particularly in Ukraine, in terms of destabilizing the Russian economy and government revenues. We need to have more of those debates and more of those understandings, and I think it would be a benefit to our committee and a benefit for Canadians to understand our role, not just with a verbal commitment, but with tangible actions economically that can benefit Canadians and, frankly, can benefit the environment.
    We have an energy sector in this country that is second to no other around the world. I will put up the workers, I will put up the companies and I will put up the trajectories and plans of our Canadian energy sector, any day of the week and any month of the year, against those of any other country in the world. There's a commitment to human rights and a commitment to the environment, and I think you would see both of those issues better addressed if we saw more support domestically for our sector. As opposed to phasing it out, with all the negatives that you see, let's embrace the technological advances while helping not only ourselves domestically and environmentally, but those around the world. I believe, from a human rights perspective, we should stop sending dollars to countries that do not deserve revenue, growth and support through those means and that are turning around and doing devastating actions. We're seeing this unfold day after day, week after week and now, unfortunately, month after month with what is happening in the situation in Ukraine.
    One other thing that I think is important—and why this amendment is important—is to ensure that the focus and attention continues to be on this, not only for ourselves as the committee and as Parliament through the committee's work, but for the message it sends to the international community, and particularly the business community.
    This is timely today. As I was participating in the meeting earlier—I will acknowledge that I was paying attention, as I always do—I was getting caught up on news. It's timely because we are talking about the economic impacts of how numerous businesses, international corporations and businesses of all types are receding from and closing their relationships with Russia. Many have done so on a pause basis, a short-term basis, to see exactly what's going to happen, but I've been impressed by the number of businesses.
    There is far more that needs to happen in the coming weeks, months and, frankly, years to make sure we don't go back. There need to be serious long-term consequences. This is a topical issue, and with the actions we have seen from Vladimir Putin and his thugs over the course of the last couple of months particularly, we need to make sure the message we're sending, not only in this instance but for future acts of inappropriate and unacceptable aggression, does not go unanswered.
    There's a reason I say that. There was an article just published this afternoon, probably around midday, by BBC News with the headline “McDonald's to leave Russia for good after 30 years”. The article, which was published by Becky Morton, said, “McDonald's has said it will permanently leave Russia after more than 30 years and has started to sell its restaurants.” As these temporary measures were taken by several in the business community internationally, it is going to have a significant continued ripple effect and a continued consequence, which I think is positive. It comes “after it temporarily closed 850 outlets in March”. As stated:
The fast food giant said it made the decision because of “the humanitarian crisis” and “unpredictable operating environment” caused by the Ukraine war.

  (2005)  

     Now, it's noted that McDonald's has had operations in Russia since 1990, and that was meant to symbolize “a thaw in Cold War tensions”. As stated:
A year later, the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia opened...its economy to companies from the West. More than three decades later...it is one of a growing number of corporations—
    I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
    Mr. Duncan, let me pause you for a moment here. We have a point of order.
    Please go ahead, Madam Bendayan.
    As much as I'm enjoying this lengthy filibuster, I would like to make a point of order based on relevance. I understand that the amendment on the floor is with respect to Ukraine, and as much as I congratulate the member for having read the news today about McDonald's, I think we are veering way off topic.
     The motion and the amendment that we are discussing are about pushing off a women's reproductive rights study, and not McDonald's, so I have on a point of order on relevance, sir.
    I'll take the point under advisement.
     Mr. Duncan, it's on the margins of relevance. I think it is still tangentially relevant because it is about the dynamics in Russia, but if you can keep your arguments as focused as you could on the motion itself, that would be appreciated.
    Thank you very much.
    Perfect, and again, to relevance on this, I'm happy to provide a refresher to the member on how this is connecting to relevance. I'm happy to do so in the sense, as I've mentioned, of the importance of the amendment introduced by my colleague, which I believe is a valid one, because I'm trying to demonstrate the wide variety of topics on the subject of Ukraine that I believe this committee needs to continue its work on.
    Mr. Chair, I've mentioned before the humanitarian aid that the Canadian government has provided and needing to provide lethal weapons and needing to improve our refugee and immigration process for those who are fleeing Ukraine and are looking for safe haven in Canada. I'm talking about the Canadian energy sector and its importance on this topic and, as I was alluding to, the article here—and I'll get to it again—is showing some relevance of the economic factors here and the importance of where I'm going.
     Again, as we've been in committee meeting here for several hours, I don't mean to talk about food or McDonald's as such, but the seriousness of it, in getting to this, is that a corporation today—just as an example in their case—is making news on a significant commitment to remove itself from its operations in Russia. We're seeing numerous corporations, numerous businesses, do that. They're looking for continued leadership or direction from countries like Canada. Just with the example today, the corporation said that they were going to “write off” charges of up to $1.4 billion that they are going to absorb themselves and write off—

  (2010)  

    Mr. Chair, on a point of order again, I'm going to interrupt because this is no longer relevant to the amendment, and the fact that this member is now preventing our committee from voting on this motion is getting a bit ridiculous—
    On a point of order, I think you've already ruled on that, Mr. Chair, but I'm happy for you to do so again.
    I think what you are trying to do, Mr. Duncan, is to establish why your initial comments that were challenged were being relevant. I would encourage you to finish that point and then return to the thrust of the motion, if you could. I will sustain your comments as they are given to us.
     As I was saying, the economic context here is that there are numerous corporations around the world that have tentatively, and at different levels, suspended their economic relationships with Russia. That needs to continue over the course of the next couple of months. They're looking for continued leadership in the long term. The point I'm trying to raise, which is relevant to the amendment, is ensuring that this committee continues to put a focus on an issue and a topic that is important to many Canadians, that is, the illegal, horrific, unfair invasion of by Vladimir Putin and his regime.
    It's important to go back to the economic aspect of this. There are billions of dollars left up in the air that I believe need to permanently leave, as we saw in the news article today. The article does reference numerous other corporations that are waiting to see not only what the short-term aspect has been, but what the medium-term and long-term aspect has been.
    I think from the committee's perspective, when we go back and look at the larger aspect and mandate here, the geopolitics of the region have implications for the two countries right now, and we're all aware of the ripple effect of not confronting this issue with the emphasis that we've seen. We've seen a solid response from the international community, but the committee's work needs to continue on this aspect because it's not just Ukraine that is in Russia's sights. You can look at Poland, you can look at the Baltic states and you can look at the news.
    The relevant news, which I believe the committee would be interested in as an evolving topic, was the announcement this weekend from Finland and Sweden of their request to urgently join NATO and become partners there. We're seeing a snowball effect moving here, and there have been conversations, doubt and perhaps a lack of political will from different factors for several years about those two specific countries joining NATO. I've been following that with interest and making sure that is timely and that the information is there. As we talk about the importance of the amendment to have the committee focus on concluding its work on the topic of Ukraine, I think what happened this past weekend has provided relevance to the committee and relevance to the importance of focusing on and hearing from witnesses on the subject of Ukraine.
    There are other countries around the world, unfortunately, with perhaps similar negative intentions. They are watching to see how the international community responds or, in many cases, does not respond to the challenges and horrible actions we're seeing by Russia. I think of China. We've talked—and I believe will again later this week—about its relationship with Taiwan and the connections there.
    Maybe not every Canadian is watching the House of Commons committee on foreign affairs, but I know there are a lot of like-minded countries around the world that are not seeking to reopen the abortion debate and are not looking to create division. We see that. I say this because there have been numerous attempts by members to implement and institute several different aspects of that here by trying to raise these types of motions at a wide variety of committees and cause a change in the direction of all this.
    I believe it's incumbent on this committee.... I appreciate that, yes, I'm not a regular member, but having been here for several hours today listening to discussions from members of all parties, I wanted to make sure that I was on record for the amendment and its emphasis and focus. I am bringing the views of my constituents and I believe of millions of Canada. If they had the opportunity to understand what this committee should be tackling and discussing, it would be concluding the meetings, testimony, recommendations and next steps on how Canada can improve its response to the very real challenges facing the brave and wonderful people of Ukraine.
    With that, I believe my colleague Mr. Chong is next, but I appreciate taking a few minutes while here at committee today, which has turned into tonight, to get on the record. I believe it's very important that the amendment be considered, as this issue has relevance and should be the focus of the committee as the work of the committee continues in the last five or six sitting weeks we have here in Ottawa.

  (2015)  

     Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Mr. Duncan, thank you very much.
    We have on the speakers list at the moment Mr. Chong, Mr. Genuis and then Mr. Davidson.
     Mr. Chong, please go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I'll be voting for Mr. Genuis's motion because I think the main motion introduced by Dr. Fry concerns me. I think we need to have some off-line discussions about what the nature of that five-meeting study would be before we agree to it.
    The way I read the original motion introduced by Dr. Fry is that it says that if it is adopted we are going to study, amongst other things, access to abortion in the United States of America, which I do not think that we as a committee should do.
     Clearly, I'm not alone in my interpretation of the motion introduced by Dr. Fry, because I've listened to the debate on that motion very carefully throughout today, and clearly, others on the committee have interpreted the motion in the same way, which is that if the motion is adopted, it would include a study on access to abortion in the United States. I do not think that is a matter that this committee should be seized with.
     It's why earlier in our debate today I moved an amendment to strike the reference in the motion to the recently leaked draft ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States, an amendment that did not pass.
    As I've said, I don't support this committee studying access to abortion services in the United States. I think there are many matters of more urgent concern in the bilateral relationship between Canada and the United States.
     I want to be clear: I fully support women's reproductive and health rights here in Canada and I support the current common law and legislative frameworks that have long been in place. I know with a great deal of certainty that Canadians do not want the debate on abortion here reopened. We don't want to import into this country the kind of fractiousness that we have seen south of the border on issues like abortion, which is another reason why I don't think we should be studying the issue of access to abortion in the United States in this committee.
    Look, I support this committee studying access to abortion services and access to women's health and reproductive services in the global south. I think that's well within our remit to study. I think it's well within our remit to study the list of health issues that Dr. Fry has put into her motion. I think it's worth studying a full range of health services, including family planning and modern contraception; comprehensive sexuality education; safe and legal abortion and post-abortion care; laws restricting or prohibiting women's rights to abortion, the medical and socio-economic importance of maintaining the right of access to safe abortion; and prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections. I think that's all within the committee's remit, provided that it focuses on countries that Canada has traditionally provided aid to in respect of those services.
    That does not include the United States of America, our largest trading partner and ally, and I don't think the study should include that, which is why I moved the amendment earlier to strike the words “given recent reports of international backsliding related to women's sexual and reproductive health and rights”. Clearly, that was a reference to the recently leaked draft of the Supreme Court of the United States, and I don't think we should be importing that kind of divisive politics into Canada. For those reasons, I don't support this committee studying that issue as it relates to the United States.
     There are so many other issues of concern to Canada-U.S. relations that are more important than access in the United States to abortion services. Line 5 is one example. It supplies half of Ontario and Quebec's gasoline, diesel, propane and jet fuel—half—and it is now being—

  (2020)  

    On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, now we seem to be discussing Line 5, and what we are supposed to be discussing is a motion on the reproductive rights of women and the amendment that has been put forward by our Conservative colleague.
     Thank you very much, Madam Bendayan.
    Mr. Chong I think is—
    On that point of order, Mr. Chair, respectfully, we're hearing a lot of points of order from that member when people are making comments that are relevant to the motion. I do notice that there's a lot of discussion happening on the Liberal side concurrently while people are talking, so I do want to respect the fact that maybe it does create some issues in terms of people being able to hear what speakers are saying. Mr. Chong's comments and Mr. Duncan's comments were highly relevant to the question of whether the adjournment should proceed. I hope that members will listen to your rulings rather than continually repeatedly bringing up the same issue.
    Mr. Chair, in response to that colleague's intervention, I was speaking to absolutely nobody. I was listening to the intervention of Mr. Chong.
     This is my third point of order on relevance after hours of filibuster on a very important motion. The two points of order on relevance in relation to McDonald's were valid and the point of order in relation to Line 5, in my opinion, is valid.
     Of course, Mr. Chair, you're free to rule as you see fit, but neither of my points of order earlier nor this one right now are in any way out of line.
    Thank you very much, both of you, for the comments.
    I think the members are free to raise points of order and to question relevance in the context of a discussion, any discussion. I think Mr. Chong had a point that was tangentially relevant. He was maybe trying to establish how it is relevant; that motion before members, as you all know, is that debate be adjourned until completion of Ukraine. I think he was trying to make a point with respect to the original motion that dealt with the U.S. If he can show how that's relevant directly to the motion before the committee, I will allow it.
    Just in terms of the dynamics generally, I think it's healthy for members to raise a point of order now and then just to make sure the direction of the committee and the discussion really stay focused on the motion that's before the committee. I don't want to necessarily have that discussion be too truncated by points of order that are just there to change the flow, but it's completely within members' discretion to raise a point of order as they see fit, as it is for members who are speaking to defend how their points are relevant.
    My own ruling in any particular case could go either way and could be challenged. I see my role more as guiding the general discussion onto the subject of the motion.
    I have Mr. Oliphant.
    On that point of order—and I may have forgotten now—it seems to me that we dealt with an attempt to change the motion. There was an amendment to cut out the whereas clause per se. Did we not vote on that already? There was a motion—an amendment—made to strike the first clause with the argument made that it was inferring the United States, and Mr. Chong wanted it out. He is now trying to raise an issue that has been dealt with by this committee. Therefore, I would ask the chair to absolutely rule it out of order as something that the committee has dealt with not in the recent past but in the last several hours.
    That's the point. It's not relevance. It's actually against the rules of the committee to try to relitigate an issue that has been dealt with in the very recent past. You might want to check with the clerk, but I think I'm right on that.
    On the same point of order—
    I appreciate that point of order, Mr. Oliphant. It is a different point of order. It is more focused.
     I wasn't part of the discussion when that vote took place, but we can certainly verify whether or not that point was effectively extinguished by the committee having pronounced itself on that very issue.
    I'll take a comment on that same point of order from Mr. Genuis.
    Mr. Chair, just as a matter of procedure, I'm not aware of any rule by which the fact that the committee has previously voted on an amendment to the main motion somehow renders arguments in relation to the main motion that are derived from that same point as no longer acceptable. I'm not familiar with any precedent—and again, I'm happy to hear from the clerk on this—that would say because the committee voted against an amendment from Mr. Chong previously that dealt with one section of the main motion somehow he's not able to discuss that section of the main motion.
    What we're discussing right now is a motion to adjourn debate around the motion, so the question of whether or not to adjourn the debate means that questions of the adjournment motion itself, as well as the original motion, which the motion seeks to adjourn debate on, are all relevant.
    The implication that you can't reflect on a matter that has previously been voted on by the committee...that's just not a rule. It just isn't.
     Thanks.

  (2025)  

     Mr. Genuis, thank you very much.
    I think one of the points would be to argue that this goes to repetitiveness, in the sense that if we're within the same line of discussion, the same arguments should not be made. You raise a good point, because that was procedurally done under a different motion at a different time at the committee.
    I'm going to do two things. I'm going to check, first of all, if the committee did in fact vote to settle that point, and then what the implications of that decision would be with respect to the motion that's currently under discussion.
    Please stand by for a moment....
    Thank you very much, Madam Clerk.
    I hope I'm able to provide some clarification. The committee did vote on this point that was brought by Mr. Chong earlier, and voted against the amendment. That took care of the issue. What that would do is foreclose the opportunity for a member subsequently to resurrect that same amendment or same argument in the form of a new motion to try to do again what the committee has already pronounced itself on.
    The repetitiveness point is one that members generally should keep an eye on in the conversation, but it generally extends only to the line of discussion that is under the motion before the committee. If Mr. Genuis, Mr. Chong, Mr. Oliphant or anybody else were to make arguments under that same motion repeatedly, that could be challenged by members on a point of order, because repetition in that case would be against the rules.
    I hope that's helpful—
    Mr. Chair, I have a follow-up point of order.
    I respect your position, so I don't want to come across as questioning it, but I'm more seeking clarification. What I understood you to say, and this is consistent with my understanding of procedure, was that the fact that the amendment was defeated means that the same amendment cannot be moved again.
    Mr. Chong is, of course, free to point out the fact that his amendment not passing is a primary reason for him continuing to have concerns about the motion, and therefore not wanting to support it in general. Of course, it's fine to make that argument; it's just that he cannot move an amendment identical to his previous amendment. Is that correct?
    That is correct.
    Again, members are free to raise points of order that challenge the speaker. We're free to review and assess them. I would just encourage all members to stay focused on the motion under discussion.
    Yes. Thank you. That's consistent with my understanding of the rules. I appreciate that.
    With all of that said, it's back to you, Mr. Chong. Go ahead, please.
    Mr. Chair, just to clarify, were my remarks, or were they not, in order?
    Yes, Mr. Chong, they were in order. I would just encourage you, as you're in the threshold of tangential relevance, to just stay focused as much as you can on—
    Thank you. I just wanted to clarify that. Thank you.
    As I was saying, I don't support this committee studying access to abortion in the United States, which is why I support Mr. Genuis's motion to adjourn debate on this motion so that we can, hopefully on the sidelines outside of this committee, sort this out.
    As I was saying, there are many more issues more important in the Canada-U.S. relationship than abortion. I mentioned Line 5, which supplies half of the energy to Ontario and Quebec for some 24 million consumers in these two provinces. It's at risk of being shut down at any point in time because of what's going on in the U.S. federal court. We have the issue of dairy imports. That continues to be an ongoing issue for many, many dairy farmers in both Ontario in Quebec. We have “buy American” issues. We have the entire modernization of NORAD, which could cost upwards of $10 billion U.S.
    So I don't support this committee looking at access to abortion in the United States. I don't think that's within this committee's remit. I support us taking a look at women's reproductive and health rights, including access to reproductive services in the global south, because that is within the remit of this committee. Canada funds a lot of foreign aid, much of it in the global south. I think it's well within our committee's responsibility to take a look at that, which is why I tried to move that earlier amendment that was not passed.
    To finish, Mr. Chair, the reason we should adjourn debate on the motion introduced by Dr. Fry is that I don't believe this committee should be studying access to abortion in the United States. For that reason, I support the motion in front of us. For that reason, I do not support the motion introduced by Dr. Fry.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

  (2030)  

     Thank you, Mr. Chong.
    Mr. Genuis, go ahead, please.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I appreciate the opportunity to join the debate again and to make some follow-up remarks with respect to some of the things colleagues have said. I will start by reflecting on that.
    The main thrust of my remarks was to say, look, this committee has a finite amount of time. The House of Commons has a finite amount of resources. We deal with scarcity in all areas of life, and one of them is the work of parliamentary committees. That means we have to make choices about priorities. We can't just say we're going to do all of it and there's no such thing as scarcity.
    I'll share with members that I sometimes have questions about the way in which the scarcity of House resources seems to be selectively used in certain situations. I think members of Parliament should have access in the form of committees to be able to sit when and for however long they want to be able to deal with issues, and to be able to add extra meetings and so forth. But that is just not the reality of how this place is operated. We do have to make choices in the face of these scarce resources between different topics that are up for consideration. That's not even about constraints that exist on our schedule. That's about constraints that we are told are just a function of the structure and the way in which the House of Commons is operating right now.
    Over the course of this debate, we have therefore made the argument that the priority of the Canadian foreign affairs committee should be the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and that we should not replace the possibility of further discussion of the invasion of Ukraine with discussion that reflects the desire of some interest in the PMO to reopen the abortion debate in every parliamentary committee, or at least in most.
    We are already seeing the impact of that scarcity. Even today our position was that we should adjourn debate and that we should have discussion in the subcommittee about how this and other priorities of the committee should be scheduled to proceed. The government consistently refused to support that. The consequence was the whips of other parties deciding that the Afghanistan committee that was supposed to meet tonight and hear from interpreters would be cancelled.
    That is a mighty shame, given that interpreters who served Canada were going to be here to have their voices heard. We repeatedly tried—
    I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
    One second, Mr. Genuis.
    Madam Bendayan, please go ahead.
    I too find it extremely unfortunate that the Afghanistan committee was cancelled this evening—
    Mr. Garnett Genuis: That's not a point of order.
    Ms. Rachel Bendayan: —but it was due to the filibuster engaged in by that colleague. I would argue that the lack of relevance to the motion and the amendment that we are now debating—
    Mr. Garnett Genuis: If you would like to argue it, get on the speakers list.
    Ms. Rachel Bendayan: —is flagrant at this point, Mr. Chair.
    Mr. Garnett Genuis: This isn't a matter of order. You're welcome to argue it.
    I think we're getting into a question of debate. I'm sure Mr. Genuis will establish the relevance, so we'll let him go, with the message generally being to stick as closely as he can to the thrust of the motion.
    Thank you.
    I do think it's revealing when a member says they have a point of order and they use the words “I would argue” in the context of a point of order. That should maybe indicate that it's not a point of order.

  (2035)  

    I apologize. The point of order was on relevance. Please stick to the motion. That's the point of order.
    Let's keep order, colleagues. Instead of talking over top of each other, let's keep order, please.
     Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    We have sought to adjourn this meeting and to proceed to allow the Afghanistan committee to do its work. In fact, this is why we said, prior to six o'clock, that we would be prepared to let the debate collapse on this entirely, and it was Liberal members.... The record will show that at six o'clock it was Liberal members that talked this through past that time and therefore ensured that the Afghanistan committee would not proceed
    Regardless, the important point is to respond to the arguments made directly by Ms. Bendayan and by Mr. Oliphant, who said, essentially, hey, this committee can do lots of things at once, that we can “walk and chew gum at the same time”.
    Let's just reflect on that metaphor a little bit, because the reason people say that you can walk and chew gum at the same time is that you can. Those are activities that don't involve the same organs. Chewing gum involves your teeth and walking involves your legs, right?
     But a committee cannot simultaneously study two different issues in the same meeting. It cannot. Of course, it can study one issue at one meeting, one issue at another meeting and go back to the other meeting, but it very clearly can't do those things simultaneously. We have to weigh out....
    Some colleagues are speaking to me. I invite them to get on the list or raise points of order, or we can suspend and have a side conversation about this, but otherwise, I'll just continue. Thank you.
     Thank you, Mr. Oliphant.
    If members of the government believe that there isn't such a thing as scarcity of resources, well, I'm sorry, that's just missing out on the reality of how this place has worked. The fact is that, today, if this motion hadn't been moved, or if there had been agreement to take a step back from it and have discussion on the side about it, we could have in fact been having the conversation that we should have had on the statement with respect to Ukraine. We might well have adopted that statement, we might have released that statement and we might have tabled a statement in the House.
     I would have been in favour of us giving analysts some direction on developing a report on Ukraine, because we're in the middle of a study on Ukraine, and what I'm saying is, let's get back to the vital work that we need to do on Ukraine.
    For members across the way to say, well, we can do all these things simultaneously and we can be on this half of the room doing Ukraine and on this half of the room doing something else.... Well, no: That's just not how it works. We need to set priorities. We need to say what we are going to prioritize as a committee. If we're going to prioritize the issue of Ukraine, then we need to set aside a time to hear from witnesses; to renew our information, as there are new developments on the ground; to discuss the many other emerging issues that we have not discussed; and then to move from there to the question of releasing statements and of writing reports—interim report, final report. We can make that decision as a committee about how we move forward.
    On the other issue, there were some other statements that were made by government members in response to our conversation on this that I think are—I don't know if I can say “misleading”—inaccurate: I'm sure well intentioned, but inaccurate. This motion was characterized as an idea for a future “work plan”. This isn't an idea for a further work plan. This is a highly prescriptive motion that says we are going to study a particular thing. That is the nature of the way the world works. Parliamentary committees study one thing at a particular meeting at a particular time. This says that in the midst of Ukraine and everything else that is going on, we should study, they are saying, abortion, and we're saying, and saying in the context of this adjournment motion in particular—
    Mr. Genuis, there is a point of order.
     Once again, colleagues, we have bells. It's a 30-minute bell that would take us on this clock until about 9:10 to even get to the vote. We have resources until 9:30 with an absolute hard stop, so that would leave us at best 10 minutes after we come back from this vote.
    If colleagues agree.... It's clear that there is going to be more discussion on this. If colleagues agree, I would suggest that we suspend for the evening until our next session, whenever it is, and maybe as early as tomorrow—it may be on Thursday—and that we resume with the speakers list that we have now, which is Mr. Genuis, Mr. Davidson, Mr. Duncan and Ms. McPherson. Is that agreeable?

  (2040)  

     Mr. Chair, I would suggest that we adjourn as opposed to suspending.
    No, I don't think we have consent for an adjournment.
     I'm happy to suspend for the night, as well.
    We will suspend until our next session.
    Colleagues, the meeting is suspended until the next session.
    [The meeting was suspended at 8:41 p.m., Monday, May 16]
    [The meeting resumed at 3:37 p.m., Thursday, May 19]

  (8735)  

[Translation]

    Good afternoon, honourable members.
    I am back as committee chair in these unusual—to say the least—circumstances. Please be kind and indulgent.
    Welcome back to meeting number 21 of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.
    Today we will be continuing the discussion that began on Monday.
     As always, interpretation is available through the globe icon at the bottom of your screen, and members participating in person should keep in mind the Board of Internal Economy's guidelines for mask use and health protocols.
    I would like to take this opportunity to remind all meeting participants that screenshots or taking photos of your screen is not permitted.
    Before speaking, please wait until I recognize you by name. When speaking, please speak slowly and clearly. When you are not speaking, your mike should be on mute. A reminder that all comments by members should be addressed through the chair.
     We were debating Ms. Fry's motion, and we had an amendment from Mr. Genuis.
    We are still debating Mr. Genuis's motion, which I will recap for you.
    Mr. Chair—
    I assume you have a point of order, Ms. Bendayan.
    No. I wanted to say something before we hear from Mr. Genuis, if I may.
    In the spirit of co‑operation, you may go ahead.

[English]

     I'm sorry. The member wants the floor but not on a point of order. Is that what I understood?

[Translation]

    You understand correctly, Mr. Genuis.

[English]

    Then, no. That's not consistent with the rules. If the member wants, she can raise a point of order to suggest some aspect of process, but if the member has the floor without a point of order, the member has—

[Translation]

    I will ask you again, Ms. Bendayan. Do you have a point of order?
    I just wanted to acknowledge the work of our former chair, Sven Spengemann, who obviously isn't here today. The role of chair certainly suits you, Mr. Chair, but as members of the committee, we can recognize the hard work of our former chair.
    I think every member of the committee would agree that Mr. Spengemann is to be thanked and commended for his hard work, both as the member for his riding and, especially, as chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.
    Thank you, Ms. Bendayan.
    The floor is yours, Mr. Genuis.

  (8740)  

[English]

    Okay.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair. Congratulations on your role as chair today.

[English]

     If I may, I want to briefly add my own thoughts to what Ms. Bendayan said.
    After Monday's meeting and on seeing the resignation of the chair, I thought, “Oh, wow”, but he was clear that it had nothing to do with what took place at this committee. I know he's very committed to the work we've done and to continuing work that he cares deeply about. It's been a pleasure to work with him. We won't have a chance formally to see him at the committee before he leaves if he's not able to be here today, but who knows? Maybe we'll call him as a witness one day and get him to report on whatever his new role is. I want to join my voice to those thanking Mr. Spengemann for his work here.
    We're having a discussion about an adjournment motion that we put forward. The context of that was very simply that this committee has multiple studies going on that respond to emergent, urgent, time-sensitive issues going on in the world right now. We're concurrently working on a study on vaccine equity and COVAX, a study on Taiwan and, of course, a study with respect to the invasion of Ukraine by the Putin regime. In the midst of that ongoing work, a motion was put forward by a Liberal member that said we should prescribe a certain number of meetings to a new study on the issue of abortion abroad, with a clear implication that this study would include a discussion of what's happening in the United States as well as other countries.
    This is in a context that I think members know. There seems to be a strategy among Liberal members and some NDP members, across a broad range of committees, to try to reopen the abortion debate and have a discussion about abortion. This is not just at one committee, but at many committees. There have been motions with respect to it at three or four committees, and I think it's likely that there's a political strategy here whereby the government wants to reopen the abortion debate in as many committees as possible because it has decided that it's in its political interest to do so.
    As part of that context, as we know, I read a quotation from the former minister of justice and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould. She was explicit about saying that there was a tactic on the part of the government to try to look for opportunities to reopen the abortion debate because it believes this is in its political interest. My humble encouragement to this committee is—

[Translation]

    Sorry, Mr. Genuis, but I believe Ms. McPherson has a point of order.

[English]

    I would like to point out that the member has assumed or made the accusation, veiled as it may be, that the NDP has been working to bring this forward as a political thing. I brought a similar motion forward at the international human rights subcommittee because it is vitally important for women and because I'm a mother, I have a daughter and I am a daughter. It has nothing to do with any political machinations, so I'd like the member to withdraw—

[Translation]

    I hate to have to interrupt you, Ms. McPherson, but I don't think that's a point of order. It's actually a point of debate, and since you're the next person on the speaking list, you'll get the chance to have your say. Thank you.
    Please continue, Mr. Genuis.

[English]

     Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Thank you for your ruling. If it's not out of order, I want to take the opportunity to wish the member a happy anniversary. I saw that on social media.
    The member is up next, of course, and she is welcome to—and I suspect she will— disagree with a number of the points I've made, but I've presented my perspective on the issue respectfully, as I see it, and welcome the opportunity to hear the views of other members as well.
    As I was saying, other committees can do what other committees wish, of course, but in the particular global context we're dealing with in terms of foreign affairs, we have said that we'd have a discussion at a future date about the future agenda of this committee. At the very least, let's make sure we complete the work required on all of the studies that are in front of us. That was our first proposal.
    We proposed a number of motions to refer this to the subcommittee on agenda and procedure. The normal process is that the subcommittee on agenda and procedure receives various recommendations from members, and then there's a discussion in the spirit of co-operation about how to manage the committee's agenda in a way that makes sense, given the different ideas that come forward from members. We initially proposed to refer this issue to the subcommittee on agenda and procedure. Our friends in the other parties, through their votes, expressed that they didn't want to do that, so we asked if we could adjourn debate until we had completed all of the existing studies and return to this question of the agenda once we had completed our existing studies. Again, that was opposed.
    We're back to a very precise and a very reasonable appeal through the motion that I moved, which is to simply adjourn debate on this question until we've completed our work on Ukraine.
    Given what's going on in Ukraine.... Frankly, just given my observations about the public comments, the social media comments and comments in the House of many members on this committee, it seemed that, up until this motion was moved, there was a clear consensus that Ukraine was and is the urgent foreign policy priority in front of us. I understand that members on the committee may agree, yet there may be a PMO-driven strategy that says it wants the foreign affairs committee to be talking about something it decides is in its political interest to talk about rather than what's urgently before the committee.
    As it happens, I'm a former PMO staffer myself, so maybe at another time I can make some confessions with respect to that—

  (8745)  

    Chair, on a point of order, I'm not sure what the Prime Minister's Office or any supposed strategy has to do with the amendment that is being proposed, so my point of order would be on lack of relevance. I do not understand where the member is going, and as many of us have said many times, we're happy to complete the study on Ukraine, the study that I brought forward as a matter of priority.
    We simply want to vote on this motion.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Ms. Bendayan.
    I have previously pointed out that the chair has always given a wide interpretation to the relevance criterion. I don't want to put words in the member's mouth, but I think he was referring to his personal experience. If you don't mind, I'm going to ask Mr. Genuis to continue with his remarks while sticking as closely as possible to the substance of his motion.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the great work.

[English]

    Respectfully, to the member who raised the objection, what I think I'm very clearly talking about is what is before us, the choice that is embodied in the motion that I put forward, and that choice is the question of whether we should consider this motion to have the foreign affairs committee of Canada study abortion along with various other parliamentary committees, or whether we should complete the work that needs to be done on the issue of Ukraine.
    There have been various interruptions, and I want to just make a few comments on an issue that I know is very important with respect to Ukraine and speaks to the urgency of the study we have to do on Ukraine, which is the issue of food security.
    Mr. Oliphant has a point of order.
     We may need clarification from the clerk on this, but does the motion as presented and then amended have a date on it that requires the study to happen before the Ukraine study? I'm now unclear.
    Mr. Genuis is very clear in his argument that there is a date that supersedes the Ukraine study, but is that in the motion? I'm having a—
    Mr. Garnett Genuis: On—
    Hon. Robert Oliphant: I have the floor right now for a point of order, Mr. Genuis. You're very aware of that.
    Mr. Garnett Genuis: That's not a point of order.
    Hon. Robert Oliphant: I'm misunderstanding the motion, I think, so I may need clarification from the clerk as to whether indeed it has a date that requires a suspension of our current study to take us to the next study.

  (8750)  

    This seems like a point of debate, Mr. Chair.

[Translation]

    Madam Clerk, can you shed light on Mr. Oliphant's question about the motion?

[English]

    Mr. Chair, on a point of order, if I may, the member has a factual question.
    There's a point of order on the floor and the chair hasn't ruled on it, Mr. Genuis.
    I'd like to speak to the same point of order, Mr. Chair.

[Translation]

    If you don't mind, Mr. Genuis, I'm going to ask the clerk for some clarification, and then, you can have the floor to speak to the same point of order.

[English]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair. The motion as it's currently formulated does not have any dates listed in it.
    That helps me understand a little better. Thank you.

[Translation]

    Mr. Genuis, you wanted to comment on the same point of order.

[English]

    Mr. Chair, as I think you'll find, the idea that this was raised as a matter of order and not as a matter of debate is a bit farcical. The member wished to make a point in response to a point I was making. I'm happy for him to make it at the appropriate time by getting on the speakers list, and I'll respond to his point momentarily, but to suggest that seeking clarification about the text of the motion we're debating is somehow a question of order as opposed to a question of debate is, frankly, beneath the member.

[Translation]

    Go ahead, Ms. Fry.

[English]

    On point of order, Mr. Chair, is Mr. Genuis challenging the chair on accepting Mr. Oliphant's point of order, which was a question of clarification for the clerk?
    No, I'm not.
    It sounds as if you are, Mr. Genuis, and I raise that as a point of order because if you're challenging the chair, we have to call a vote on your challenge of the chair.

[Translation]

    Mr. Genuis just made clear that he wasn't, so I'm going to ask him to continue now.

[English]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair. I think I've make my point with respect to the matters of order, and I'll get back to the issue of food security, briefly.
    I know many members have raised, in the context of how urgent the discussion of Ukraine is and the need for this committee to get to its work on Ukraine, that what is happening in Ukraine has global implications with respect to food security and access to food. I want to note a few things from an article on this.
    Actually, I should start, with respect to food security, by just reading out a tweet from my colleague in the NDP. It's something I agree with. She said, “We need to talk about catastrophic food shortages around the world right now! Food security is an urgent issue! This is a threat to human life and a serious security risk everywhere. We can deal with this crisis appropriately and timely now or we will 1000x in the future.” I think that's prescient in that it relates very much to the work we need to do on Ukraine.
    I'll quote from a news article:
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has sent food commodity prices soaring in March to the highest levels ever recorded, bringing to the forefront the global implications of its military offensive on the former breadbasket of the Soviet Union.
As Moscow refocuses its military efforts on Ukraine's east, readying massive forces for part two of its offensive, analysts have warned a Russian takeover of Ukraine's ports and most fertile stretch of land will have repercussions on Ukraine’s food exports to be felt the world over.
    I think that's an important part of the context.
    Mr. Chair, at this point I'll yield the floor and happily listen to the comments of other members. Thank you very much.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Genuis.
    I must apologize, Ms. McPherson, for not taking into account your anniversary when I made my decision earlier. I do, however, want to wish you a happy anniversary, and I have no doubt the committee members join me in wishing you a wonderful end of the day.
    Now, over to you, Ms. McPherson.

[English]

     Why, thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I will say that it would perhaps not be my preference to spend my anniversary with all of you, as much as I enjoy you all very much. Hopefully, I will get an opportunity to see my husband of 21 years very soon.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
    Ms. Heather McPherson: I'm not going to take up very much time. I'm not interested in filibustering this committee, but I want to say a few things that are very important that I want on the record.
    This motion that came forward from Dr. Fry is not time-bound. We can study this in the fall. We don't have to do it right now. We have the opportunity to look at this. This committee has very clearly used this way of bringing forward studies. In fact, it was my study in December on Ukraine that I brought forward to this committee that started the study on Ukraine. Ms. Bendayan brought forward a study on Ukraine to make sure we were looking at this.
    Nobody in this room thinks a study on Ukraine is not vital, which is why we have been undertaking it. If you look around this room at the number of people who are celebrating Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian history and honouring Ukrainians today, it is very apparent, so nobody is saying that.
    In fact, what we could do is vote, in probably less than one minute, on this motion that is before us to look at this issue going forward, to look at reproductive health for women around the world, something that is vitally important. The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan seems to think it's a ploy. The member for Halton Hills seems to think that trade is more important and that it is not important, but I have to say that, realistically, on the attacks on women's reproductive rights in the United States, the Supreme Court leak is one aspect of it. There are multiple states where women's rights are being undermined; there are multiple places around the world, including Ukraine. There are problems with reproductive access in this country, for people in this country. People sitting at this table have constituents who have no access to reproductive health. It is a vitally important issue.
     It is offensive to me as a mother of a 17-year-old daughter. I want to make sure I do everything I can to fight for her to always have access to the full range of reproductive services. How could I come to this place and fight for the reproductive rights of my daughter without fighting for the reproductive rights of every 17-year-old girl in this world? How could I do that? My daughter has a right to get an abortion if she needs one. Everyone's daughter decides how they choose to use their body and how they choose to act, because you know what? Do you know what we call an animal that doesn't have control over their reproduction? Livestock. We call them livestock.
    The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan did one other thing the other day that deeply disturbed me. I would urge him to ask himself whether or not it would be worthy for him to apologize. He mocked gender identity. He chose a political opportunity to mock people who do not identify in cisnormative ways according to his description.

  (8755)  

[Translation]

    You have a point of order, Mr. Genuis.

[English]

    On a point of order, Mr. Chair, the member is attacking my character and saying things that are simply not true. I'm happy to comment further on the context of what I think she's referring to, but the allegation she's making is totally baseless. Respectfully, it's just wrong.
    I don't know if the committee will allow me to comment on that or if they'll see it as a point of debate—

[Translation]

    With all due respect, Mr. Genuis, that's more a point of debate, and you've asked to be on the speaking list.

[English]

    It's not a point of order.

[Translation]

    You'll get the chance to share your views on the member's arguments.
    Carry on, Ms. McPherson.

[English]

    Mr. Chair, I respect your ruling, but I would ask if you could clarify: Are there no limits to what a member can say about another member and to a member's insulting another member—falsely?

[Translation]

    There are limits, and you know them. If you feel your privileges as a member have been breached, you know what has to happen next. At this point, I consider it to be simply a point of debate, a point of disagreement between two members of Parliament.
    I encourage you to express your opinion when you have the floor again.
    We are listening, Ms. McPherson.

[English]

     Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    To summarize and to finish, I just want to say one thing: We could pass this immediately. This is an important motion for us to bring forward. This is an important thing for this committee to look at, and I am prepared to listen to hours upon hours of Conservative men telling me what I should think about reproductive health in this world so that it comes to a vote.
     I would point out that it is in fact Mr. Chong's motion about Taiwan that we can't get to today because of the Conservative filibuster. I would point out that it is Mr. Genuis's private member's legislation that we will not be talking about today because of Mr. Genuis's filibustering this committee.
     We could get to our work on Ukraine. We could get to our work on vaccine equity. We could get to our work on Taiwan. We could do so many things that need to happen in this committee, and we're not doing that because the Conservatives refuse to vote.
     If they actually believe that this is not a study we should undertake, vote that way. Let's get it done.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

  (8800)  

[Translation]

    Thank you, Ms. McPherson.
    Go ahead, Mrs. Stubbs.

[English]

     Thank you, Mr. Chair.
     Not being a permanent member, I just want to say that it's my pleasure to be able to join all of you here in this committee. It's nice to see all of you.
    It is, I guess, exactly for the reason that it is Vyshyvanka Day that we should be having this debate and showing Ukrainian Canadians in every corner of this country that it's not just an empty gesture of people wearing cultural clothes and it's not that all the permanent members of this committee are prepared to do is to do that instead of taking seriously their influence, the impact and their responsibility to address this crucial and urgent issue of the attack on Ukraine.
    It has been almost three months since Putin first attacked. Of course, for years before that, he was building up troops and Conservatives were calling for government action. It was earlier in the new year that Conservatives called for exactly what the president of Ukraine asked for, which was the provision of lethal weapons so that Ukrainians could defend themselves.
    I believe—I think it's true—that the solidarity and sincerity among all members of Parliament in the Canadian House of Commons across all parties are legitimate. I want to believe everybody who says they want to protect Ukrainians against the unjust and illegal attack by Putin, not just because of the role that Canada can play in securing peace and freedom for our allies—Canada being the country that was the first to recognize the independence of Ukraine and to carry that legacy and our own national heritage—but also, obviously, in support and in defence of the very real impact of the attack on Ukraine to Canadians themselves, to Ukrainian Canadians in every corner of this country.
    I happen to represent a riding that is in the top five of where Ukrainian Canadians live. I grew up in the county of Lamont, just south of a tiny village in what is known as the cradle of Ukrainian settlement in Canada, the home of the first 125 Ukrainian families to settle in our country. I'm not Ukrainian, but I married into a Ukrainian family, and you will all know that you become one by osmosis because of the tight-knit relationships, the self-reliance and carrying on the traditions of providing for each other and caring for each other among Ukrainian Canadians.
    This is a debate that is obviously crucial and urgent, and it's an emergency in terms of foreign affairs policy overall, but it's also deeply important, personal and urgent for Canadians, so it seems to me that it's exactly why the members of this committee should prioritize finishing the work you initiated in regard to the attack on Ukraine. Frankly, I think that if you don't pursue this work as the urgent priority that it is, then in terms of our gestures, our words and the solidarity that we pledge, it's really very empty, isn't it?
    I would implore all of the members across all of the parties in this committee to continue to do the vital and urgent work on Putin's attack on Ukraine. I urge you to take seriously all of the very impactful roles that you can each have to make concrete and constructive solutions and recommendations for how Canada can assist Ukrainians fleeing Ukraine under attack and, also, of course, in the service of the Ukrainian Canadians whom so many of us represent. It is very obvious to me that this should be the top priority for the foreign affairs committee right now.

  (8805)  

     I want to recognize the efforts and the work undertaken by the Canadian government so far. We've supported the imposition of sanctions and a number of other measures, but there is no denying that there are still major challenges in terms of Canada's response to aid the people of Ukraine and particularly to aid the people and families who want to come to Canada for peace, freedom and security. A couple of those areas really require your dedicated work and co-operation and the redoubling of your efforts, your hearts and your minds to this issue that is so necessary, because there continue to be major projects despite the efforts the government has made so far.
    I would just point out the issues around the promised expedited visa program. Of course, Conservatives called for visa-free travel, but the reality is that this so-called expedited visa program is taking months. It is extremely bureaucratic. In many cases, it is just absolutely impossible for Ukrainians to access the program and to meet the requirements. It requires your work to make the recommendations to improve that program.
    There are a number of other promises related to the three-year work or study program for Ukrainians, as well as extended visa stays and open work permits for Ukrainians who are already in Canada and can't go home. For example, there are still no details related to the April 9 announcement about this financial support for hotel accommodations and income support. That announcement was made in April, and there are no details on that program or real funding for Ukrainian refugees who have been here for months. That's an urgent issue that your committee ought to study and make recommendations on to improve.
    Again, we take this at face value. I think all the members of the party believe this to be true, but the government and Liberal members of Parliament have said they want to ensure that there's urgent processing of travel documents. The reality is, that hasn't materialized. There are no realistic and concrete improvements that work for the people of Ukraine fleeing the terror and the attacks from Putin. That's a major problem that I think deserves your attention and your recommendation.
    Mr. Chair, I have a point of order.
    Not to put too fine a point on it, the truth is that the Samaritan's Purse has successfully airlifted more Ukrainians.

[Translation]

    I'd like to hear what Mr. Sarai has to say, Mrs. Stubbs.
    Go ahead, Mr. Sarai.

[English]

    I'm trying to understand the relevance of this. We're not talking about the motion at hand. We're talking about a study we have already done and perhaps another one that could be done. I fail to understand how talking about what's happening in Russia or Ukraine has any relevance to the motion request by Dr. Fry or any amendment to it. We can talk about anything at any time, but it has to have some relevance to what we're dealing with.

[Translation]

    Thank you for your comments, Mr. Sarai, but as you know, tradition holds that the chair interpret the rule of relevance quite broadly.
    Mrs. Stubbs, I would be especially grateful if you would focus your remarks on the substance of the motion as much as possible.
    Thank you, Mrs. Stubbs. You may carry on with your comments.

  (8810)  

[English]

    I think all of this context is extremely relevant and important to the question about finishing the work on the escalating situation in Ukraine.
    As I mentioned, the reality is that the Samaritan's Purse has successfully airlifted Ukrainians under attack into Canada more in the last three months than the Government of Canada has done. That, given no end in sight to the attacks that have already been going on for the last three months, again merits your urgent attention to and prioritization of this issue.
    I just want to close by telling you a little about the experience of a teenager in Vegreville. Members in this committee would note, of course, that the Liberals closed the highest-performing and most effective citizenship and immigration processing centre in that very community of Vegreville, which is also a community of long-time Ukrainian families and settlement. I guess it is ironic in the worst possible way, and tragic, really, that there continue to be these visa processing holdups, lags and backlogs in the system.
    Mr. Chair, on a point of order, I know you've ruled a few times on relevance. This one is now way off anything to do with the adjournment motion, the amendment, the motion, or the foreign affairs committee as it stands. I can't see any relevance whatsoever.
    I would hope that you would rule on that.
    I'd be happy to speak to the same point of order.

[Translation]

    Go ahead, Mr. Genuis.

[English]

    Mr. Chair, these points really are not consistent with long-standing practice. Members know that. If a member is talking about something else for a period of 30 to 60 seconds, to interrupt that member before they've had any opportunity.... If somebody is speaking for five minutes and none of it has any relation to the motion....
    The convention in the House of Commons is that we've had cases of people telling lengthy background stories—and that's not what the member is doing here—going on for five, six or seven minutes without reference to the bill, and then concluding by creating a connection to the bill. That's a long-established practice. Members across the way know that. I see what they're trying to do.
    Chair, I think you've repeatedly ruled that their points are off. I hope they will just stop the interruptions in light of your repeated rulings.
    Mr. Chair, further to that, I would argue that relevance is relevance. It is a concept that is not hard to understand.
    I would say that an IRCC processing plant in Vegreville or anywhere has absolutely nothing to do with the future agenda of this committee, which is not being set but is being proposed as something for us to do in the fall.
    Thank you.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Oliphant.
    I have no doubt that Mrs. Stubbs will explain to us the connection between her comments and the motion, especially since she was getting ready to let someone else have the floor, if I'm not mistaken.
    Please wrap up your comments, Mrs. Stubbs.

[English]

     Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I find it somewhat surprising that the Liberal members don't seem to think that talking about the real experiences—which I was just about to get to—of refugees from war-torn Ukraine are relevant to this motion and also to the committee. I'm quite certain that it's exactly the kind of experience that we should be talking about, given the motion's comments about the escalating situation at the Russia-Ukraine border, which has, of course, created 13 million refugees. Over six million of those are fleeing from Ukraine.
    Let me tell you about the experiences of one of the Ukrainians who are now in Vegreville, in Lakeland. He's a guy named Makita. He is 19 years old. He came to Canada to play hockey. He billets in Vegreville, in Lakeland. It's no surprise that the community has taken him under their wing.
    When war broke out and Putin attacked, he frantically tried to keep in touch with his family—his mother, Natalia, and his sister, Anna, who is 16. He wanted to try to get them here to Canada. He knew his father couldn't come, and his mother considered trying to send his sister to Canada to safety, because she's only 16. It was hard, of course, to send a minor alone.
    Makita has worked at a tire shop. The community has fundraised intensely to get them money to come. They auctioned off his hockey jersey to show support. He wanted to go get them, but the community begged him not to, because he wouldn't be able to get back out.
    His family barely speaks English, and their only option was the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel, so Makita went to a friend for help on their laptop to apply. Of course, as I know all of your offices are probably hearing right across the country, it was really confusing and took weeks, even after approval for his family. Then they had to make their way to provide biometrics, which aren't available in Ukraine. His mother and sister finally arrived on April 19, but with no financial support except for the goodwill, kindness and charity of the people of Vegreville. Of course, they'd like to plan their lives and find jobs, since there is no funding available to them from the government, but you can imagine it's not easy, as it wouldn't be for any new Canadian or refugee here with a language barrier. Right now they are just in total limbo.
    The problem comes down to immigration issues, challenges and delays that Canada so far doesn't seem equipped to deal with, which are exactly the barriers and challenges your committee should be looking at when you continue this priority study, which I hope you'll decide to do so that you can make concrete recommendations to make a real difference in the lives of all these innocent people.
    I think that Makita's story is important to understanding the real human aspect of what we're talking about, which often can be theoretical, conceptual or mainly systemic.
    Makita's family had to go on the website, which, being Canadian, was in only English and French. His mother and sister could not understand, and they did not have regular computer services. They tried to get on through their phones. Long hold times caused them to give up, which was when Makita went to a friend's house to try to apply. For just his mother and sister, it took almost four hours, as they asked questions about where his mother worked and his sister went to school, with addresses and dates. He stayed on hold on a very poor phone line, losing her multiple times. After applying, Makita still had to check the government account to try to tell her when he got a message. Then his mother was told to get biometrics and had to get to a place to do that in Poland and wait for an appointment. They have no car, and nothing was provided for them. They had to go, not only for biometrics, but again to submit the passport. It took two separate visits for these refugees to get their application done in a foreign country.
    Now they are in Canada. Makita's mother, who barely speaks English, does not have a job. The federal government announced that there would be—as they had mentioned before—some short-term income support to ensure their basic needs are met, but of course there are no details.

  (8815)  

     Those who entered under the emergency travel authorization don't know if that will include them or if it will be only for those who are brought over on charter flights by the Canadian government. Of course, the first round of chartered flights from the Canadian government won't show up in Ukraine until next week.
    People are calling in—I'm sure it's the same in your offices—saying that their applications are sitting...because they had an application in prior, to visit, and now agents are not completing them for ridiculous reasons, such as not knowing if you should give a one-time entry or a multi-entry to refugees coming from a war zone under attack.
    In another case, my constituent, Darren, called for his father-in-law, who had originally applied to come and see his daughter's new baby. The agent said they hadn't been approved because they were not sure what type of entry visa to give, single or multi. The system is broken overall, I think, but particularly in this case. I think it is up to the members of Parliament here, who obviously could have an impact, to put pressure on the minister to provide adequate direction to make these changes that are important in people's real lives.
    I would just say that if departmental officials in our own Canadian government don't know the answers, I don't know how in heck vulnerable Ukrainians fleeing for their lives are supposed to figure all of this out. That's why it's so important that in your committee you continue your work and redouble your efforts and commitment to study the situation in Ukraine, and that you really fulfill your role as MPs on this important committee, beyond gestures and displays and words, to make concrete recommendations to make a difference for the people of Ukraine. It's important that you make a difference for Ukrainian Canadians everywhere and help find ways for Canada to help Ukraine, which is under attack, and bring Ukrainians to safety. Of course, that's something that all of us from all parties keep saying repeatedly that we want to do.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair. I appreciate being able to be here.

  (8820)  

[Translation]

    On the speaking list, I have Ms. Dancho, Mr. Brock, Ms. Gladu, Mr. Genuis again, Ms. Bendayan and Ms. Fry, in that order.
    Over to you, Ms. Dancho.

[English]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I want to recognize, first off, as we debate this motion to adjourn, the motion on women's health. I want to say and recognize how very sensitive this issue is. Women particularly, as I'm seeing on this committee for sure, and that includes me, have very strong feelings about this. It's very deeply personal. My objective today is to ensure that those feelings are respected.
    That being said, Mr. Chair, I feel very obligated to address something that the member for Edmonton Strathcona said. I took great offence to her generalizing Conservative men in the way she did. I have served with the Conservative federal caucus for two and a half years. I know my male colleagues to be good men, compassionate men, and hard-working, principled and patriotic men. I'm also married to a Conservative man. Many of my dearest friends are Conservative men.
    For anyone to generalize in the way she did about Conservative men, I take great, deep and personal offence to that.
    I have Mr. Oliphant on a point of order.
    My concern is that the issue of being male was not the issue. The issue was Mr. Genuis's saying, “Can I speak to the point of order? I don't think I've ever disclosed my gender to this committee.”
    That's not a point of order.
    It had nothing to do with being “male”. It had to do with the fact that he was making fun of people whose gender identity is not determined.
    I was not making fun, Mr. Chair. If he can address this on a point of order, then I should have been able to as well.
    That is the issue that Ms. McPherson was raising.
    I'm happy to quote from the debate—
    I'm happy to address it, but he should address this by raising his hand, not by interrupting someone else.
    Ms. Heather McPherson: If I may address that, Mr. Chair—

[Translation]

    I realize this debate has roused everyone's passions, but so far, it's a matter of interpretation.

[English]

     Order.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

[Translation]

    Ms. Fry, please put your mike on mute.

[English]

     Order indeed: We have four people speaking at once. They are speaking over each other. That's my point of order.

[Translation]

[English]

    I'm making a point of order, Chair. I have a right to do so.

[Translation]

    Please go ahead.
    What is your point of order, Ms. Fry?

[English]

    My point of order is this. I am listening to this debate and I heard four people speaking over each other. I was asking for there to be order and precedence [Technical difficulty—Editor] people's names are up for speaking.
    If a member raises their hand, as the chair well knows, on a point of order, that takes precedence. Mr. Oliphant was speaking to a point of order. He was interrupted not only by Mr. Genuis but by two other people. I would really like to see some order occurring in this forum.
    Thank you.

[Translation]

    Thank you for your support, Ms. Fry.
    Mr. Oliphant and Mr. Genuis, those are very relevant points of debate. I can add you to the speaking list, if you wish, Mr. Oliphant.
    Now, please continue, Ms. Dancho.

[English]

     Thank you, Mr. Chair.
     I apologize to Mr. Oliphant for not calling him by his riding name—I'm not familiar with it—but I do not appreciate, Mr. Chair, being told how to feel when I feel deeply personally offended by a comment from the member from Edmonton—Strathcona.
     Mr. Chair, again, I don't feel that there is any place for any man or woman on this committee to tell me how I've interpreted something said by another member when from my perspective she has deeply insulted Conservative men generally. I just want to put on the record how very proud I am of the Conservative men in my caucus and, frankly, how very proud I am of Mr. Genuis. There is no one in Parliament who has stood up for religious minorities across the world with the relentlessness and dedication of Mr. Genuis, and I'm very proud to call him my colleague.
    On the motion to adjourn, Mr. Chair, I very much agree that Ukraine needs to be the focus—very much. I represent a riding in which at least one in four constituents, if not more, is of Ukrainian descent, and some are very first-generation Ukrainian. I also have in my riding the most folks of Polish descent out of any riding in Canada.
     Also, the nephew of a very dear friend of mine was killed within the first couple of weeks of the war on Ukraine. He was 26. As well, a number of family members with relations in my riding have been killed in the war on Ukraine. I represent them when I am in Parliament.
     I cannot see anything more important for the foreign affairs committee to be studying or to be focused on than the war on Ukraine right now, how Canada can play a greater role in supporting Ukraine, and further, how we can ensure that we can be reaching out to our allies so that they also provide more resources and more support to Ukraine.
    I have to say that I receive a considerable number of comments from my Ukrainian constituents with concerns that the Liberal government is not providing enough defence supplies to Ukraine and that they were very late to the game. I think something that this committee—and the defence committee as well—should clearly be reviewing why it took so long to send military defence. That is consistently a piece of information and feedback that I have received from my Ukrainian constituents. Perhaps the committee would wish to discuss that in its study, or in a future study, so that this mistake is not made in the future and perhaps lives could be saved.
    Something I found very personally alarming when the war on Ukraine broke out was from a young member of parliament there. She's my age and she is an opposition MP as well. Her name is Kira Rudik. She shared something on Twitter to the effect that “a few days ago I was a legislator and now I'm fighting for the freedom of my country”. She was photographed with a firearm, a very large firearm. I will never in my life, as long as I live, get that image from her tweet out of my head. It was the most relatable moment that I had felt concerning a war in a country that we call an ally, that we call a friend. To see a woman just like me, who is at her job just like we are right now, and to think that in just a few days you're taking up arms to defend your homeland, I think is possibly one of the most shocking, disturbing and scary things I could think of.
    I very much support her and the efforts of women there to stand their ground and to defend their homeland and their sovereignty against an aggressor. Obviously President Zelenskyy and many male leaders in Ukraine are involved in this as well, but I would say that their women are really shining as well.
     If we look to the Prime Minister of Finland, Sanna Marin, who was 34 years old when she was first elected as the Prime Minister of Finland and is now 37 or 38—very young—and one of the youngest world leaders in the world right now, she is very boldly and very bravely following many decades of neutrality with NATO by putting her country forward to join NATO. They share an extremely long border with Russia.
    As a woman politician, to see a young woman who's similar in age to me with that sort of gumption and that bravery to stand up to one of the most intimidating authoritarian figures in modern times is also incredibly inspiring. I very much applaud the Prime Minister of Finland, as well as the Prime Minister of Sweden, for standing up to bullies, so to speak, and pursuing NATO membership.
    I very much support the Canadian government in supporting those initiatives from the prime ministers of Finland and Sweden. Also, on our leader, I think she's been very eloquent in putting on the record in the House of Commons, in the chamber, how important it is that Canadians and members of Parliament understand the severity of what's going on.

  (8825)  

     She said something that I thought.... I remember that when she said it, it gave me goosebumps. She was talking to President Zelenskyy when he came virtually to the chamber. She said to him in her speech, “The kind of leadership that you are showing, sir, is very rare, and it serves as an inspiration to all of us who are elected. You are the leader of Ukraine for such a time as this, and we remain indebted to you.”
     I just mentioned Prime Minister Marin and the Swedish prime minister, whose name escapes me at the moment. In looking at many of these leaders, including MP Rudyk, the opposition MP in Ukraine, I continue to think of Canada. Should Canada—God help us—ever face something like this, would I be brave enough to do what the Ukrainians are doing? Would you be brave enough, Mr. Chair? Would our Prime Minister or the leader of the Conservative Party be? I hope so. I think we all hope we would be, but as our leader said, it is extremely rare to see this. I think President Zelenskyy's leadership and bravery will stand the test of time, as he is one of the bravest leaders in the western world in the 21st century.
    On the issue of Ukraine and the importance of this committee's ensuring that it focuses on Ukraine, everyone has seen the images. It's so strange to think that one day my constituents are visiting their families in Ukraine—their families are coming here to visit us and they are breaking bread—and then we see what's on Instagram. There are so many videos, and I actually had to stop watching them because of how alarming they were. You see families huddled in bomb shelters, ruined children's hospitals and maternity wards, dead bodies in the streets, women who were raped and people who were shot in the back of the head—absolutely barbaric war practices that I don't think any of us ever anticipated we would be seeing. To think the individuals in Ukraine are related to the constituents I represent.... When I was asked to join the foreign affairs committee today to talk about the importance of this committee's focusing on Ukraine, I willingly took up the opportunity, given how close to home this is for the people I represent.
    Again, I think we're seeing the global order shift. That's why foreign affairs, more than almost any other committee, should be extensively studying Ukraine. I would hope to see it study Canada's position in the international order and how it has changed relative to the Russian aggression and that posture, as well as what we're seeing with Finland and Sweden. I think that would likely warrant a committee study, as would how Canada is looking at its Arctic.
    At the national security and public safety committee, I put forward a motion of study, which we're addressing right now, to review Canada's ability to defend itself against Russian aggression should the worst happen. Of course, it's highly unlikely, but I think that regardless, our duty as legislators is to ensure that—

  (8830)  

[Translation]

    Once again, Mr. Chair, my point of order has to do with relevance.
    We are listening to Ms. Dancho describe her very worthwhile work on another committee. I understand that Canada has to be ready for any eventuality, and I certainly agree with her, but that has nothing at all to do with the motion before us. The motion before the committee has to do with the reproductive rights of 51% of the population—women. The member's comments are not germane to the Conservatives' amendment either. The comments are off topic and irrelevant.
    My sense is that Ms. Dancho is trying to stick to the topic of Ukraine, which is one of the central elements of Mr. Genuis's adjournment motion.
    Yes, I was with her on that, but then she started talking about the Arctic.
    Your argument has more to do with viewpoints, and you will certainly have the chance to share yours, since you are on the speaking list.
    Ms. Dancho, it would be greatly appreciated if you would concentrate on the substance of your fellow member's motion as much as possible.

[English]

    Mr. Chair, correct me I'm wrong, but I believe we are debating whether we should be adjourning because we should be focusing on Ukraine. I think it would be very odd not to be talking about the Canadian foreign affairs context and our ability to defend ourselves, given the war on Ukraine. I can't really think of anything more relevant, given that with the Russian aggression, all countries in the world, I would think, have had to review their own national security abilities.
    The eye-roll I just saw from the members opposite is a bit disrespectful, and I would ask that if you don't agree—
     I have a point of order.
    What is disrespectful is coming to this committee as a substitute and insisting that what we are doing is talking about the agenda of the committee. We are not talking about the agenda of the committee. We are talking about a motion to be considered for the agenda of the committee. That is what is disrespectful.

[Translation]

    With all due respect, Mr. Oliphant, that isn't a point of order.
    Go ahead, Ms. Dancho.

  (8835)  

[English]

    Again, on the national security and public safety committee, the reason we began the study to review the security posture concerning Russian aggression is that Canada shares a very long Arctic border with the Arctic Ocean and Russia, and they have numerous military bases, 19. They have over 40 icebreakers, most of them nuclear powered.
    To think that any member of Parliament doesn't believe that what is happening in Ukraine does not impact the security posture of Canada.... The member is perhaps not fully aware of the magnitude of the situation going on in Ukraine, how it impacts Canadians and the conversations parliamentarians should be having to ensure that we are not only supporting our Ukrainian allies, but also doing everything we can at home.
    We can even talk about cybersecurity. Ukraine has experienced significant cybersecurity attacks and threats from Russia. Canada, which overall does quite well with cybersecurity compared to others, is lending support to Ukraine. That may be an issue that this committee would like to review as well, considering that the cybersecurity field is growing in importance in terms of its threat to critical infrastructure, hospitals and Canada's contacts to CRA and to Global Affairs. We're seeing considerable security threats to cybersecurity. I'm very glad and proud that Canada was able to provide expertise to Ukraine in this regard.
    I would also say that the study at SECU, the national security and public safety committee, is relevant to this discussion to underline the importance of staying on the study of Ukraine because of the infrastructure we're looking at in the Canadian context if we want to talk about the threat that Russia poses to the rest of the Western world. We're also looking at our surveillance technology in Canada. We can talk about NORAD, which is four decades old and has not been updated in quite some time.
    Again, when we're talking about the invasion of Ukraine, we also have to be reviewing, as parliamentarians, our ability to defend ourselves should the worst happen, however unlikely that may be.
    We've had numerous leading academic and national security experts underline this position so clearly that it would be foolish for parliamentarians not to take this seriously in the Canadian context of what's happening in Ukraine. Not only do we need to focus, Mr. Chair, on supporting our Ukrainian allies, but also we need to focus on ensuring that Canada is prepared for a cyber-attack, for an attack on our critical infrastructure.
    In fact, when I was briefed by the cybersecurity officials of Public Safety, they said that the worst, like the Pearl Harbor event.... I asked what would be the worst thing that could happen, and they said it was an attack on our critical pipeline infrastructure. These are the types of conversations we need to be having at both the foreign affairs and the national security and public safety committees. I've been very pleased but alarmed to hear the testimony from leading national security advisers. Again, I think that everyone recognizes that it is very important that we have these discussions.
    I think what we're seeing as well, when we talk about Ukraine, is that a lot of our allies are leading the way in providing arms and support. The Americans, of course, have provided billions and billions of dollars. I heard one statistic that the amount—I want to say it's 21 billion dollars' worth—of arms they've committed and various defence technologies and tools is more than the entire Ukrainian federal budget, so it's considerable.
    Perhaps it's something this committee would also like to look at, or perhaps the defence committee. What kinds of arms are being provided, why is Canada providing what it is, and are we providing everything that we can? Unfortunately, I don't have the expertise to go into all the technology that Canada has in its arsenal and which ones should be provided that have not yet been.
    I think that, overall, this committee should be focusing on Ukraine. I very much appreciate the efforts of my fellow Conservative committee members for making this point very clear, and I look forward to their testimony and what they have to say.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Ms. Dancho.
    We now go to Mr. Brock.

[English]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    It is indeed a pleasure to be here on a Thursday afternoon at the foreign affairs committee.
    I'd like to start off by making an observation. Again, I am not familiar with Mr. Oliphant's riding, but I was a bit concerned about his commentary that we're nothing but substitutes, seat fillers. Quite frankly, given the international importance of the Russian aggression against this country, this is a humanitarian issue. This is a parliamentarian issue and we, as proud Conservatives, believe that this is serious business that this committee is undertaking.

  (8840)  

    When I was asked by Mr. Genuis to assist, I took it as a badge of honour. I took it as an opportunity on a grander scale to express my concerns as a proud parliamentarian in the 44th Parliament, a new parliamentarian, I might add. My riding is Brantford—Brant. It is the home of a significant Ukrainian population. I grew up with many Ukrainians in grade school and high school and have many Ukrainian friends to this day. I felt the impact on the local stage as to how this war has impacted.
    When asked for the opportunity to come here and talk about my feelings, I didn't view it as simply a seat warmer or as a substitute. It gives me an opportunity beyond the restrictions of a 30-second QP question or an S.O. 31 to truly express my views. I wanted to put that on record, because I was offended by that.
    I also want to thank my colleague, Ms. Dancho, who stood up for her Conservative male colleagues in relation to the statement of the member for Edmonton Strathcona, because I viewed it in much the same light that Ms. Dancho did. It was offensive. It was uncalled for. I see a few members who know my background, but for many members who may not know my background, I left a 30-year law career to pursue politics, and in the last 18 years of those 30 years, Mr. Chair, I was a Crown attorney who took great pride as a specialist in dealing with the most serious, extreme, violent matters in my community, particularly in the realm of spousal abuse, sexual assault and children exploitation offences. I took great pride in being a strong advocate and a champion for women's issues.
    I'm a proud, married individual. I too am going to be celebrating an important milestone this October—20 years with my spouse—and I'm raising two teenage daughters who turned 13 not too long ago. I don't call myself a feminist, but I certainly respect women's views, and I'm a champion of women's rights.
    I say that because it's important to distinguish the importance of this study that you've already embarked on. I don't know how many meetings you've had prior to this intervention, but I know that it had been started some several weeks ago.
    My point, Mr. Chair, is to Ms. Fry's motion: The most pressing issue that this world is facing right now is happening in Ukraine. It's not just impacting Ukrainians. It's not just impacting the citizens who are actually there fighting the resistance. It's not just impacting the residents who have been displaced and have fled the country looking for safe passage and refuge. It's quite frankly affecting all of Europe, and it's affecting the entire world.
     Quite frankly, there isn't a day that goes by in the House—and even if I refer to some of my observations of politics down south there isn't a day that goes by—that you don't either read about it or hear about it or watch it on television, and where the leaders, leaders of this country and leaders of the United States, are all blaming inflation and the rise in everything—gas prices, housing issues...it's all Putin's fault.
    To say that we should be looking at standing down, adjourning or deferring—whatever nomenclature you want to use—this important study to then embark on another study.... I'm not saying that it's not important. I'm talking about timing, Mr. Chair. The only reason this is being brought up.... I'll deal with the elephant in the room. The only reason this is being brought up is because of what's happening south of the border: the leak from the Supreme Court and the backlash and the fear and the worry.

  (8845)  

     It's not happening here in Canada. We have settled law. It's been settled law in this country for several decades. There's no urgency, Mr. Chair. There is no rush to suspend this most critical, important study, quite frankly, of my lifetime and the lifetime of my wife and my children, because we are on the brink of a third world war. We are on the brink; we're within a hair's breadth of Putin's invading a NATO country. We all know what article 5 says, so this is extremely important and ought not, in my view as a guest of this committee, to be derailed by another study.
    I'd like to spend some time now talking about my personal connections to the Ukrainian people. I talked about my ties in my hometown. I was a very proud MP, Mr. Chair, when a constituent of mine reached out to me for the first time, introduced himself and came up with an idea, an idea that I believe I was the first member of Parliament to advance and speak about very proudly in the House on an S.O. 31.
    He asked what I thought about the idea of having a twinning agreement between my hometown and a town in Ukraine. I said that I'd not thought about it, but what a wonderful gesture, what a wonderful idea. We talked about it. Literally within two weeks, with the able and most important assistance of my legislative assistant, Vladimir, who's also known as Walter and about whom I'll talk in a little more detail, we were able to consult with the mayor in Kamianets-Podilskyi in the Ukraine, and we were able, with the mayor of my hometown of Brantford, to sign a twinning agreement.
    The town of Kamianets-Podilskyi, Mr. Chair, is located in southwest Ukraine near the borders with Moldova and Romania. Like Brantford, Kamianets-Podilskyi has a population of 100,000 people and centres on manufacturing and tourism, which are two key sectors of my riding of Brantford—Brant.
    Now we are taking active steps with social agencies and Ukrainian churches, again with the assistance of both mayors and my legislative assistant, Walter, to welcome thousands of Ukrainian refugees into my community. We are looking at various homes and billeting. We are looking at cultural centres. We are looking at places that ordinarily would be open only for spring, summer and fall camping. We're looking at opportunities to make the lives of Ukrainians fleeing the persecution that much better.
    I'd like to provide a bit of a historical account, because I don't know if it's ever been shared with this committee, but I was able in the time that I was asked to consider my participation today to do a little research. I've always been fond of history. I majored in political science and history in university. I found an article called “The 20th-Century History Behind Russia's Invasion of Ukraine”, which I'd love to share with the committee at this time.
Before Russian forces fired rockets at the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv; seized Chernobyl, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident; and attacked Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, Russian President Vladimir Putin shared some choice words.

  (8850)  

In an essay published on the Kremlin's website in Russian, Ukrainian and English last July, Putin credited Soviet leaders with inventing a Ukrainian republic within the Soviet Union in 1922, forging a fictitious state unworthy of sovereignty out of historically Russian territory. After Ukraine declared its independence in 1991, the president argued, Ukrainian leaders “began to mythologize and rewrite history, edit out everything that united [Russia and Ukraine], and refer to the period when Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as an occupation.”
The “historical reality” of modern-day Ukraine is more complex than Putin's version of events, encompassing “a thousand-year history of changing religions, borders and peoples,” according to the New York Times. “[M]any conquests by warring factions and Ukraine's diverse geography...created a complex fabric of multiethnic states.”
Over the centuries, the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires, Poland, and Lithuania have all wielded jurisdiction over Ukraine, which first asserted its modern independence in 1917, with the formation of the Ukrainian People's Republic. Russia soon wrested back control of Ukraine, making it part of the newly established Soviet Union and retaining power in the region until World War II, when Germany invaded. The debate over how to remember this wartime history, as well as its implications for Ukrainian nationalism and independence, is key to understanding the current conflict.
In Putin's telling, the modern Ukrainian independence movement began not in 1917 but during World War II. Under the German occupation of Ukraine, between 1941 and 1944, some Ukrainian independence fighters aligned themselves with the Nazis, whom they viewed as saviors from Soviet oppression. Putin has drawn on this period in history to portray any Ukrainian push for sovereignty as a Nazi endeavor, says Markian Dobczansky, a historian at Harvard University's Ukrainian Research Institute. “It's really just a stunningly cynical attempt to fight an information war and influence people's opinions,” he adds.
Dobczansky is among a group of scholars who have publicly challenged Putin's version of the Nazi occupation of Ukraine and the years of Soviet rule it's sandwiched between. Almost all of these experts begin their accounts with the fall of the Russian Empire, when tens of thousands of Ukrainians fought against the Bolshevik Red Army to establish the Ukrainian People's Republic. Ukrainians continued to fight for independence until 1922, when they were defeated by the Soviets and became the Ukrainian Soviet Republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.).

[Translation]

    I'd like some clarification, please, Mr. Chair.
    Go ahead, Ms. Bendayan.

[English]

    Thank you.
    As much as I'm enjoying this history lesson, it is now almost five o'clock. I wonder if I could ask the clerk for a clarification. I'm actually quite concerned that there may be witnesses on the Taiwan study who are somehow waiting for us to get to their testimony. It was my understanding that we were supposed to be studying the issue of Taiwan today.
    Madam Clerk, do we have our witnesses on the Taiwan study waiting to hear from our committee?

[Translation]

    Over to you, Madam Clerk.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

[English]

    No, there are no witnesses waiting today.
    Were they cancelled for this filibuster?
    They were rescheduled.
    Thank you.
    On that point of order, I wonder if there might be unanimous consent to adjourn debate on this matter so we can proceed to those witnesses.
    Is there unanimous consent to do that?
    Some hon. members: No.
    An hon. member: The witnesses aren't here.

  (8855)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Brock, please continue.
    I see you are reading from a document to back up your argument, and it's fascinating, but do you plan to tell us how the information you're reading to us relates to your view on the matter in hand?
    Please carry on, Mr. Brock.

[English]

     Thank you for the intervention, Mr. Chair.
    I thought the title of the article was self-explanatory. It's “The 20th-Century History Behind Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine”. I thought it prudent, because I am a history buff, to share the historical conflict that Russia has had with Ukraine. In fact, I did further research on the history of Ukraine—I don't think you want me to talk about before-Christ days, but I was prepared to do that—as there is such a wonderful, fascinating history behind the country of Ukraine.
    To the point of what we're talking about, it's important to talk and learn about the previous historical conflict in relation to the current conflict. This particular article starts off by talking about the historical end of things and then moves to the modern day. There is a connection and there is relevancy.
    May I continue?

[Translation]

    Yes, but I would ask that you stick to the content of Mr. Genuis's motion to adjourn debate on Ms. Fry's motion until the committee has finished its work on Ukraine.
    Although I appreciate that the history behind the current conflict in Ukraine is important to understand the reasons for getting back to that work, please keep in mind that we need to hear your position on why the debate should be adjourned to get back to the Ukraine study.
    Please continue, Mr. Brock.

[English]

    The reasons were stated at the outset of my intervention that I am here to share my personal thoughts on the matter, as a parliamentarian, where I felt that I was impeded in my ability to do so in the House, because of time constraints. I wanted to highlight the passion that I have on this issue and the critical urgency that this current study not be adjourned to allow another study, which, quite frankly—
    An hon. member: It doesn't call for adjournment.

[Translation]

    Mr. Brock, carry on.

[English]

     Thank you.
    With your permission, I'll skip ahead various paragraphs, because I think there is relevancy in this document.
    A couple of pages talk about Russia's involvement in Ukraine in World War II. I will not comment on that. I will move on to current, 21st-century issues, as follows:
Putin has referenced Ukrainian nationalists in service of his own political agenda of portraying modern Ukrainians as Nazis.
I've referenced that. The article continues:
Prior to Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea, many Ukrainians viewed Bandera and other freedom fighters in a less favorable light, says [Ms.] Shevel. After, however, she noticed a shift, with these individuals, some of whom fought alongside the Nazis, being called heroes. The Soviets, once held up as liberators from the Nazis, were now the bad guys again.
Bandera may no longer be [the] official hero of Ukraine, but his memory and that of other 20th-century independence fighters endure. In 2015, Ukraine passed a series of decommunization laws calling for the removal of communist monuments and the renaming of public spaces in honor of Ukrainian nationalists and nationalist organizations, including those known to have participated in the Holocaust. The legislation has received pushback from scholars who see it as whitewashing, or ignoring the dark sides of these movements and their activities.
Shevel agrees that a complete reversal in framing is “probably not the best outcome.” Although the previous Soviet narrative was very one-sided, she cautions against replacing it with an equally one-sided narrative that labels Ukrainian nationalists unconditional good guys. Either way, Shevel says, the issue is one that should be debated internally, not by a foreign invader: “It’s problematic, but it’s a domestic debate.”
Dobczansky, for his part, believes Ukraine is entitled to its own version of history and that Ukrainians should be allowed to choose how to present their own experiences. He praises local researchers’ efforts to study the Holocaust and open their archives and notes that Ukraine’s current president, [Mr.] Zelenskyy, is Jewish.
“Ukraine has begun the process of confronting the darkest pages of its past,” he says.
In today’s charged atmosphere, saying anything critical about Ukrainian nationalism or calling attention to Ukrainian nationalists’ involvement with the Nazis can be seen as supporting Russia’s depiction of Ukraine as a Nazi nation, Belsky notes.
This Russian narrative is nothing new.... [I]t’s part of a long-term Russian information war—
I would call it a misinformation war.
—on Ukraine. Putin’s ahistorical justification of the invasion doesn’t surprise [scholars]. What does surprise [scholars] is the outpouring of support [they've] seen for Ukraine, with even [the very popular American skit comedy] “Saturday Night Live” paying tribute to the beleaguered nation.
[Scholars theorize] that the outraged response to the invasion is tied to society’s relatively recent reexamination of colonialism. Because Ukraine was successfully integrated into the Soviet Union after World War II, Dobczansky doesn’t see the period leading up to Ukrainian independence in 1991 as an occupation so much as a relationship between a colony and a colonizer. By waging war on Ukraine, Putin is, in essence, trying to hold on to a colony.
“[Russian leaders] basically don’t recognize any Ukrainian historical agency except the agency that they imagined for them,” says Dobczansky.
Ukraine—and the world—seem to be imagining something different.
    I think the takeaway there is the false narrative that Putin is sharing with the world as his illegal justification for invading this country. It may appease and it may pacify his nationalists in Russia because of its state-controlled media, but the rest of the world does not buy into this misinformation rhetoric.

  (8900)  

     The issue regarding colonization is troubling, because we all know that Putin is a relic of the U.S.S.R. We all know about his pursuit of power at all costs. His international war crime legacy and history are not lost on me. This begs the question: What country is next? Is he going to be satisfied with just Ukraine? Is he looking at some of the other Baltic nations?
    Right now, we have what could be described as a ground operation in Ukraine. We have ground and air strikes. We have missile strikes. However, what about the cyberwar? There is a cyberwar currently happening with respect to this conflict, and I want to share my thoughts and concerns on that issue at this time, with this quote:
It has widely been assumed that the Western world saw the last of its hot conventional wars with the end of the Second World War, as the world grew increasingly integrated economically, making this type of conflict inefficient. The liberal international order assumed rationality would prevail and countries would choose the economic benefits of these relationships over conflict. Economics became a new tool to replace traditional military means of force if peaceful relations deteriorated; sanctions, preferential trade and exclusion from financial institutions all became methods of punishment and retaliation. With the rise of the internet, the world became further interconnected, but also more vulnerable to attack through cyber-space, as critical infrastructure, finance and access to information all have come to depend on online systems. Warfare came to be regarded differently, with cyber-warfare expected to be the future of conflict. Yet, Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, launching a full-on conventional war. Western countries rushed to apply economic pressure, applying sanctions—
    I will, after this article, start talking about the history of the Magnitsky sanctions, the origin of those sanctions and the man himself, because it's important to put everything in context.
—excluding Russia from the SWIFT system, payment systems and banks, cutting access to the country, banning travel and a host of other harsh conditions.
Meanwhile, the internet has been flooded with real-time information on the invasion. However, disinformation and censoring are rampant, with civilians, combatants, world leaders, governments and journalists competing to post the latest updates. Cyber-attacks are playing a role in the conflict, though have not been the sole or even most important aspect of the hostilities; furthermore, they are coming not just from state-sponsored organizations, but non-state hacker groups and even volunteer hackers on both sides. Private sector organizations were drawn into the conflict as some chose to suspend services to Russia or support cyber-resiliency in Ukraine. In recent years, Russia has employed many devastating cyber-attacks against Ukraine, including on the country’s electricity grid in 2015, with the virus NotPetya on the Ukrainian financial system which spread globally, and other Eastern European countries. Considering Russia’s extensive history of hacking and policy of information warfare, this raises the question: Why are we not seeing a cyber-war, and will we?

  (8905)  

     To fully answer that question, it's important to get context on the record as to what really is a cyberwar:
Cyber-war is a fairly contested term, and not all believe that cyber-war actually exists. For the most part, nation states look to international law and the rules on use of force and self-defence regarding the legality of cyber-operations. The Tallinn Manual and Tallinn Manual 2.0 both analyze extensively—

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair, I have a point of order.
    About 20 or so minutes ago, you mentioned the importance of relevance and the need to connect the passages the member is reading to the amendment before the committee and the motion dealing with women's sexual and reproductive rights.
    I wonder whether there is such a connection and whether the member's comments are relevant.
    Thank you for that reminder, Ms. Bendayan.
    I would remind Mr. Brock that it is entirely acceptable to refer to supporting documents in committee debate, but obviously, the member has to state his opinion on the content of Mr. Genuis's motion. Mr. Brock, please finish what you're reading and explain how it relates to the motion.

[English]

     I will conclude my reading and I will put my own personal thoughts on that and why it has relevancy. For the benefit of Ms. Bendayan, there is relevancy to this, Mr. Chair, so I will continue:
...The popular vision of cyber-war is one in which critical infrastructure, telecommunications, the internet and all connected systems are completely shut down, effectively crippling society. We have seen this to varying degrees in the aforementioned case of Russia's attacks on countries in its neighbourhood, as well as on infrastructure in other countries such as the Colonial pipeline attack in the United States, but nothing to such a complete extent.
However, despite the increasing predictions of this sort of cyber-war—of which there is no broadly accepted definition—it has not made an appearance thus far. There could be many reasons for this, one of which of course is that we simply don't know it's happening; after all, it is often strategically useful in a cyber-attack to remain undetected for as long as possible. It could also be that this simply would not meet the strategic goals of the invasion. In this case, Russia has long considered Ukraine as key to its plans for many strategic reasons, including territory and warm water ports. Ironically, Western sanctions in the wake of the 2014 annexation made Ukraine even more important to Russia's geoeconomic ambitions as part of a land route for energy exports. Based on its goals, this type of complete cyber-war seems unlikely to be useful. This is not to say that cyber has not been used in this conflict; however, these activities have been used in different ways, as a supporting activity of the war aiming to accomplish the two main goals that cyber-activities usually attempt to achieve: propaganda and disruption. ...Cyber-attacks cannot gain territory, but they can disrupt the other side's operations, target infrastructure and civilians and affect public opinion during the process of gaining physical territory. ...These operations are simply better suited to spreading disinformation and confusion and attempting to cause distrust and chaos, bolstering the conventional forces.
    Many on this committee may be asking, “When is Mr. Brock going to get to the point?” I will eventually, but there's more to add, Mr. Chair. The next question I want to put to the committee and provide some explanation for is this question: What cyber-activities have we seen so far in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict? As stated in the same article:
Propaganda and disinformation have been widely employed in this conflict, and the reach of these activities has been global. Social media has played a role in conflicts before, though this truly global scale is unprecedented, especially among youth. Young Russian TikTok influencers posted videos with a justification of the invasion—all apparently following the same script. Young Ukrainians also took to TikTok, as well as other platforms such as Instagram, to post their own videos of updates. While many sincerely try to ensure their information is as accurate as possible, this is not always easy—especially with just as many people deliberately spreading disinformation. Some examples include attempts to cause fear and panic; Russians found local Telegram chats and posted false warnings about upcoming bombings to scare citizens away. People created Discord servers for updating and commenting and livestreamed battles online in addition to news footage. Social media was not only used to spread information—whether it was true or not—but to boost morale and push narratives, and much of the information circulating on social media is in favour of Ukraine. Videos and photos of President...Zelensky went viral, from his impassioned speeches—

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including his impassioned speech to our Parliament
—about defending the country to the end to posing with his dogs. There were photos of Ukrainian couples getting married on the front lines and citizens crowding the streets wanting to get weapons and join the fight. In Russia as well, videos of Russians protesting the war and getting detained started to circulate, and Ukrainians posted videos of Russian soldiers surrendering or being captured.
Disruption and espionage have been used by both sides, with Russia hacking government ministries and defacing Ukrainian websites even before the invasion. The most substantial cyber-attack so far, which has not officially been attributed to Russia at this time, is the hack [at] Viasat, a satellite communications provider, which impacted other European countries as well as Ukraine. The American company is still working to bring users back online and recently stated that they are still actively defending the service from malicious activities. Russia has also actively blocked Western social media—
including Canada
—and created what is being called a “fake news” law to control the narrative at home. It’s also threatened steep fines for Wikipedia if it does not remove certain information about the war that it considers inaccurate. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s volunteer hackers and other hacking groups, including the group called Anonymous, have also made progress in disrupting Russian government websites and services. So far, however, there have been no largely debilitating cyber-attacks on infrastructure, with the extensive damage done coming from conventional attacks and weapons.
    That begs the question, Mr. Chair: If we haven't seen it so far, will we?
    Let me continue:
For the foreseeable future, cyber-activities will likely remain in the realm of propaganda and disruptions of communications and services. In this conflict, complete cyber-war does not appear to be strategically useful, though cyber-activities including disinformation will continue. Disinformation will remain a powerful tool, especially as digital propaganda techniques using artificial intelligence become increasingly sophisticated. The environment for cyber-operations and disinformation is increasingly complicated, which has been demonstrated in this conflict; the involvement of new actors, ranging from youth on social media to private companies both large and small, to any civilians engaging with online content, makes for an environment impossible to control and potentially creating a variety of new targets in conflict other than states.
Experts also warn that civilian infrastructure will increasingly be a target of cyber-operations. Sensitive infrastructure, including nuclear weapons, is a serious concern that is especially difficult to discuss considering its highly classified nature. While our interconnected systems are convenient, there is always a risk of compromise.
The risk of cyber-attacks in retaliation for sanctions remains high....
    We as a country have sanctioned Russia, as have many other countries in this world. Our chair is probably on the list of several politicians in the 44th Parliament who have been banned. The threat to Canada is real.

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The risk of cyber-attacks in retaliation for sanctions remains high, but being the first country to launch a complete cyber-offensive would probably be costly in many ways, and some experts believe it could even lead to the cyber equivalent of mutually assured destruction. It seems unlikely in the current circumstances that cyber-war will come to the West, but it is vital to have cyber-defences on high alert to prepare for any possibility.
    I hope that this committee spends some time hearing from experts and witnesses on this very real risk to this country.
Canada's intelligence agencies are preparing for an increase in cyber-threats and warning Canadians to be vigilant in their online activities.
     If our security experts are giving us that warning, Mr. Chair, it's incumbent upon this committee to heed those warnings.
    The last part of this article that I will read various portions of, Mr. Chair, is titled “How to be Strong, Secure and Engaged in Cyberspace”.
In 2017, the Department of National Defence (DND) released its Strong, Secure and Engaged defence policy, which envisions Canada's armed forces as agile—

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    I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.

[Translation]

    Go ahead, Mr. Sarai.

[English]

    Mr. Brock is a very esteemed colleague of mine and steers in my other committee, too.
    Mr. Genuis last time said that the definition of a filibuster is when you start reading articles and you read articles over and over. That's the definition of a filibuster.
    Mr. Brock said the same thing in our other committee, and I have a lot of regard for him. His judicial mind is very astute. I'm just wondering how this is not a filibuster when we're reading articles from national security or cyber-security things and how it's relevant to this.
    I would like him to enlighten me, or perhaps the chair can enlighten me whether that contradicts the definition of a filibuster or if it stays relevant.

[Translation]

    Mr. Sarai, Mr. Genuis is allowed to have his own take on what constitutes a filibuster.
    I have already said that it's not unusual to cite passages from documents during parliamentary debate, but it is unusual to read one document after another. Some may perceive that as a stalling tactic.
    A few times, I have asked Mr. Brock to explain how the passages he is reading are germane to his personal position on Mr. Genuis's motion. I will ask him again to please tell us where he stands on the motion in question.
    Back to you, Mr. Brock.

[English]

     I have been doing that, with all due respect, Mr. Chair. I have absolutely been doing that. I read out, probably about five or 10 minutes ago, the warnings of Canada's security intelligence. We need to be aware of the risks of a cyber-attack founded by Putin and his misinformation agenda.
    My suggestion is that it's important to put that into context as an item for further consideration at this committee. I provided my personal opinion. Maybe you didn't hear me correctly, Mr. Chair. I invited this committee to perhaps look at calling in some experts from Canada's security intelligence and other experts in this particular area. Canada needs to secure not only its borders, but its international cyber domain, so it's important for these warnings to be shared with this committee.
    I'm almost done. I'm sure the committee will be very happy to hear that. I have two paragraphs to read. I think it's important for the whole article to be on the record as an invitation for further witnesses whom this committee can hear from.
    The warning is on how to be strong. How does Canada remain strong against cyber-attacks?
    The article says, “Canada must reaffirm its commitments to security alliances including NATO and NORAD. To maintain a peaceful international system, staying secure means upholding its relationships and contributing its fair share.” I could probably go on for another hour about whether or not Canada is living up to the obligation to contribute its fair share, but I'm sure I would receive several points of order on that, so maybe I'll defer it to another day.
    The article goes on:
NATO recognizes cyber-space as a domain it must be able to defend as effectively as land, air or space, and is committed to cyber-space being peaceful and secure; Canada also believes that a peaceful and secure cyber-sphere is necessary to its security, economy and democratic values, and that collaborating with allies is necessary to achieve this. In order to realize its vision of security and resilience, innovation and leadership and collaboration in the National Cyber Security Strategy, contributing to NATO's efforts, especially the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, is imperative. If Canada seeks to support NORAD modernization, particularly in detecting and deterring threats in all domains, including cyber, and promoting research, development and innovation, it will require significant investment and commitment.
    The last paragraph is on how Canada can remain secure:
[S]trong emphasis on digital literacy in schools and workplaces, and free independent journalism can help foster trust, establish reliable channels of information and spread awareness. Canada should use its advanced position in cyber-security and artificial intelligence to reinforce defensive strategies and detection abilities for sophisticated disinformation techniques. Finally, our digital infrastructure and communications are dependent on technology such as satellites in space, which is a dangerously contested and crowded environment with virtually no norms and outdated international law. Canada has historically been an important contributor to space technologies and was the third country in the world with its own satellite in space. Space has been identified as a strategic asset that is essential for security and sovereignty; Canada needs to work with its allies to establish better governance in space, building off the extensive work done to write a Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space....
    On that note, I've completed my intervention, Mr. Chair. Thank you for the opportunity.