Notices of Meeting include information about the subject matter to be examined by the committee and date, time and place of the meeting, as well as a list of any witnesses scheduled to appear. The Evidence is the edited and revised transcript of what is said before a committee. The Minutes of Proceedings are the official record of the business conducted by the committee at a sitting.
Good evening, colleagues. It's good to see you all. Welcome to meeting number 26 of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.
Today's meeting is being held in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House order adopted on Thursday, June 23. However, it's good to see that everyone is here in person.
As you're all well aware, the proceedings will be published on the House of Commons website. For your information, the camera will always show the person speaking rather than the entire committee, but of course that does not apply today.
Pursuant to the motion adopted on Wednesday, September 7, the committee is meeting today to discuss committee business and future plans in relation to its study of the export of Russian Gazprom turbines.
As always, interpretation is available by clicking on the globe icon at the bottom of your screen. Moreover, when speaking, please speak slowly and clearly. When you are not speaking, your mike should be muted.
I'd like to take this opportunity to remind all participants that screenshots or taking photos of your screen is not permitted.
As I understand, many of you wish to speak. We have a lot of work to do today, so without further ado, I will open the floor to the members.
I don't want to go on at length about this, but I do want to note that the motion we adopted two weeks ago asked that this committee meet within 14 days. We are outside of the 14-day period. That committee adjourned more than 14 days before this committee started. We would have had opportunities to meet previously. When the committee passes a motion asking you to convene a meeting in 14 days, we should meet within 14 days.
I'll leave it at that, but I do think that's an important point to put on the record in terms of following the direction of the committee.
Yes, you are absolutely correct. We should always endeavour to follow the time stipulations that are made in motions, but as you are well aware, there were some intervening factors that did complicate that. We truly did try to get together at the first available opportunity.
I'd like to move the motion I sent out on September 14. As I'm sure you all have, I've been very concerned about and closely following the escalating crisis at the Armenia–Azerbaijan border, including Azerbaijan's strikes and incursions along Armenia's internationally recognized borders, which have already resulted in at least several hundred deaths.
Canada is highly supportive of the cease-fire and diplomatic peacekeeping efforts thus far, but I feel it's our duty and responsibility to discuss this further in committee.
I would also like to note that this motion and the discussion around a possible study are extremely apt today. It is the 31st anniversary of the independence of Armenia from the Soviet Union, and only a few months after Canada announced the opening of its embassy in Yerevan. I believe that we as the foreign affairs committee must study the situation and the conflict now occurring between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Certainly it goes without saying that the implications direct and indirect involving Russia also complicate the situation. I would invite all members of this committee to vote in favour of the study.
I am happy to read it into the record if you would like, Mr. Chair.
That the committee undertake a study on the escalating hostilities between Azerbaijan and Armenia, including military strikes inside Armenia's internationally recognized borders, recognizing the threat this confrontation poses to local civilian populations as well as to regional stability and security; that the committee hold a minimum of two meetings on this study, including one meeting to hear from witnesses and one meeting to receive a briefing from officials concerning the situation.
Given the important ongoing study involving Ukraine, I am suggesting in the motion a short study but I am certainly open to colleagues' suggestions.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'm expecting my motion will pass with similar ease. I hope the goodwill will be reciprocated.
The motion I want to bring forward is seeking to define the parameters of our study. It was distributed in advance.
That, in relation to the study of the export of Russian Gazprom turbines, the committee (a) hold two additional meetings to invite witnesses from the existing lists; (b) at a separate hearing, bring representatives of Siemens and of Canadian Gas Association to testify for two hours; (c) at a separate hearing, invite the Minister of Foreign Affairs to appear for two hours to provide an update on the turbine issue and other Ukraine-related developments; (d) instruct staff to prepare a draft report which includes a recommendation to immediately revoke the permit; and, (e) conduct a study of the Canadian sanctions regime in general, with details to be defined later.
Maybe I'll just go through these points. I think we've undertaken part of the turbine study. Now we need to define how we're going to finish it and what kinds of products we're going to produce coming out of it. I'm not wedded to any of these particular details, but I think it makes sense to put a proposal on the table and start the conversation.
I think it's important that we hear the perspective on this of Siemens as well as the Canadian Gas Association. Many new facts have emerged since we last heard from the minister. I think there's new information on events, which we would like to hear from the minister on with respect to a decision, but there have also been a lot of new developments in the situation in Ukraine, most recently nuclear threats, the fake referendums, Ukraine's glorious counteroffensive, and the continuing energy-related blackmail by the Russian Federation.
I think there are many issues on which we would like to hear from the minister again to provide updates and further conversation with us.
Those are my suggestions for the next steps in terms of hearings. I think this is important work that should lead to a draft report. Let's give our analysts clear direction, if that is in fact the will of the committee, that the committee build towards it in part and include a recommendation for the revocation of the permit. Let's give clear direction on that point to the analysts. I think that reflects the view of the majority of the committee members.
My final point is that I think there were many questions about Canada's sanctions regime more broadly that came out of the study. Ms. McPherson has spoken about a proposal she's been working on in terms of a study on the sanctions regime in general, and that's something we support. This motion doesn't seek to define the details. We'd certainly welcome her motion in terms of doing that, but we're signalling the fact that we want to build on the work done on this study through that further sanctions study.
I'll just note on the further sanctions study issue that we are required at some point to do a statutory review of the Magnitsky sanctions. It's been almost five years. Doing that statutory review of the Magnitsky Act would be worth incorporating into our broader look at the effectiveness of our sanctions regime.
This is a proposal for how to continue and bring to completion the turbine study. I think it's a good proposal. Let's put it on the table and see what people want to do and make amendments and then give clear direction to our chair about going forward.
Mr. Chair, first I'd like to talk about Mr. Genuis's motion.
It's important to note that we had submitted Mr. Desjardins‑Siciliano, CEO of Siemens Mobility Canada, as a potential witness, and he declined. I've been wondering these past few days if we should call him again or just leave it be. I must say I'm on the fence about it. Personally, I feel that we've heard enough to hopefully reach a conclusion. Mr. Genuis's motion suggests that we come to the same conclusion. If we've reached a conclusion, I'm not sure we need to hear new witnesses. If the committee is going to recommend that the permit be suspended or revoked, why do we need to continue the study and hear new witnesses?
Perhaps we should consider that first—the German ambassador even brought it up when she appeared before this committee. Now that we know Mr. Putin was bluffing and he clearly doesn't need the turbines, I feel the permit should just be cancelled or revoked to get us out of the awkward situation we're in. If we all agree on that, I don't see the point of inviting new witnesses to look into it any further.
However, as Mr. Genuis said, given that Russia is calling up 500,000 reservists and putting its nuclear forces on alert, we need to get back to our wider study on the conflict in Ukraine as soon as possible. I should mention that that study got caught up in procedural wrangling, something I regret to this day. We must get back to work as soon as we can.
Once again, unless we can agree on a conclusion and the recommendation we'd like to make when the turbine study is done—in which case I don't feel there's any point pursuing that particular study—I believe it's best that we go back to our wider study on the conflict in Ukraine right away.
I know I may be jumping the gun a bit here, but Mr. Genuis put forward another motion that we could easily pass right now, the one condemning the “referendums” in Russian‑occupied parts of Ukraine. I feel we can move fairly quickly on this and reach consensus or some semblance of it among committee members.
In another round, I'll get a chance to bring up some motions we've already passed. I'm thinking specifically of one involving Haiti. Mr. Chair, I know the situation in Haiti has worsened considerably these past few days, and the action taken by this committee is likely somewhat out of step with recent events, so it would probably be a good idea for us to review it.
If I may, I'd also like to come back to a motion we have yet to act on, to at long last invite Canada's ambassador to the United Nations to appear. I concur with Mr. Genuis that this committee must be able to implement the motions it adopts. Immediately following his appointment, I had moved that we hear from him so we could endorse him, and we were never able to do it. So much has happened since then. Many committee members have requested that we hear from him. We haven't yet, and I feel it's just as relevant as ever, Mr. Chair.
Thank you very much, Mr. Bergeron. You touched on a number of issues.
First of all, the other motion by Mr. Genuis has yet to be moved, so we can't speak to that.
In addition to that, as you can imagine, insofar as witnesses for Siemens are concerned, it is a pretty large entity, so one could ask whether the invitations were sent to possibly the right entity within Canada. There were all sorts of complications insofar as that specific issue is concerned.
Your point that we do have an ongoing study on Ukraine is well taken. That is an ongoing study that members may consider returning to.
Of course, with respect to your motion on the issue of Haiti, it is something that you had tabled many months ago. I have heard at least one member say that in their opinion it was a timely issue to revisit and examine.
I'd like to build on what my colleague Mr. Bergeron said.
I know how important this is, but this committee has already held four meetings on the turbine study. That's quite a few meetings. Let's face it: Ukraine has moved on from the turbines. It's now undertaken a counter‑offensive. It needs weapons and support. Things have changed considerably since the summer. As Mr. Genuis said this morning, 300,000 Russian reservists are going to be deployed and there's now reference to nuclear weapons. This requires our attention. I therefore move that we go back to our Ukraine study. It's unfortunate that we still haven't produced a report after several months spent working on it. We need to put some flesh on the bones for that study.
I'd also like to tell my Conservative colleagues that I respect their position. They clearly don't support our government's decision. We don't need another four meetings to talk about it. They have quite clearly stated their position. They can put it in writing if they wish, but our committee needs to address the problems we're seeing around the world right now, not only in Ukraine, but also in Haiti and along the Armenia‑Azerbaijan border, as we've just heard. We have a great deal of work to do, and I feel this motion is being used to play politics.
Therefore, I'm asking my colleagues to consider going back to the wider study on Ukraine so that we can finish it, produce a report and continue our work.
Thank you very much, Ms. Bendayan. I would add to that only that it could very well be, should the members decide, that we could also use a briefing given some of the most recent developments that have been unfolding with respect to Russia.
I just wanted to echo Ms. Bendayan's comments. With regard to the Gazprom turbine issue, I think we still have some meetings left. I think we should table a report. We should flesh out some of the issues that Mr. Genuis brought up in the remaining part of that study. I think there's room to add those and refresh those. We should get that report out. Rather than multiple studies, I think it can be incorporated into that and get into it in a timely manner.
I think it's important at the outset to say that I very much disagree with the implication that the turbine issue is no longer being discussed in Ukraine or is no longer a key priority for the Ukrainian government. Of course, there's a great deal of concern about the partial mobilization announced. We should ask ourselves what's funding that mobilization. So much of the Russian economy and the Russian genocidal invasion is being economically sustained through Russian energy exports, so we have to follow the money here. Ukrainians understand that. That's why we have sanctions in place. That's why we recognize the importance of defunding the Russian war machine as a key part of supporting Ukraine.
This is very much a live issue. The Ukrainian ambassador here in Canada has repeatedly reiterated the Government of Ukraine's position. This is an issue on which President Zelenskyy has spoken directly and publicly repeatedly and has spoken to our Prime Minister about. It's not as if Ukraine's government or people have forgotten about this issue. I think Mr. Bergeron made some very reasonable points, and I don't want to imply that this motion is sort of “must be this way or nothing”. I would just encourage him to propose an amendment that reflects his suggested changes to this.
I get the impression that some members don't want to see us report on the turbine issue specifically. I think it is very important, regardless of how many more hearings we have, that the committee report on this issue. We investigated an important public policy question. Now it's our job, at whatever point we're finished with the hearings, to answer that question. For me and I think for all the members in the opposition, which constitute a majority of the committee, it's clear for us that the permit should be revoked. At the same time, I wanted to allow an opportunity for additional witnesses, but if somebody wants to propose an amendment to strike point (a), and if we want to go straight to that report, that's fine with me.
I think it's worth having the minister back, not just on the Gazprom issue, but on other issues to do with Ukraine, and I think we do want to hear from Siemens. We know that Siemens has lobbied the government. We don't know on what issue specifically, and I would be supportive of requiring Siemens to testify. I don't know that they have said they won't testify at all; just their president has declined.
If nothing else, I think, I would suggest that we keep the proposed conversations with Siemens, the Gas Association and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and that we proceed with the report. If Mr. Bergeron thinks we've heard from enough witnesses and wants to propose removing section (a), I don't have a problem with that. I think we can certainly do that in the pursuit of consensus.
Maybe there is a solution to this, because I know everybody on this committee does want to continue the work we are doing with regard to Ukraine. When we talk about studying Ukraine, that is a very big topic, perhaps too big to call this just a study on Ukraine.
Maybe what we could do is look at the motion Mr. Genuis has brought forward and say that perhaps we could have one more meeting that would include testimony from some of the witnesses he's recommending, and that perhaps a report could be issued, not a report that includes a recommendation to revoke the permit but rather a larger report that illustrates some of our findings from testimony throughout our study on Ukraine. As Ms. Bendayan has mentioned, we have not had a report, so perhaps it could be a larger report that also includes the findings from our testimony on the turbines and the waiver.
Then I think it would be very useful to include in our study on Ukraine some of those areas that we think are most pressing. In Mr. Genuis's motion, he does mention the sanctions regime. I've read into the record my motion from May for us to look more closely at the sanctions regime. I think that would be part of it, to be able to look at some of the things that are changing right now—the nuclear threats we're seeing out of Russia, the increase in troops, all of these things that are so important.
I think there is a way for us to go forward such that we meet the needs of all members of the committee to continue to focus and continue to study all aspects of what's happening in Ukraine. What I would suggest is that instead of a draft report that includes a recommendation to immediately revoke the permit, we would instruct staff to prepare a draft report that covers the findings of all testimony we've heard, including that with regard to the sanctions waiver, and not have it be quite so specific. Then it would include “conduct a study of the Canadian sanctions regime in general with details to be defined later”. I don't know the wording. I'm not very good at this. You all can manage it. Our analysts are much better
The other piece I want to highlight on that is that perhaps we should add here the desire of the committee to travel. We did talk about the idea of being able to go to Ukraine. The UCC has asked that this committee go to Ukraine. I also think that it would be vital that we include the minister and Global Affairs Canada to get an update because things have changed so much.
On a point of order, I wouldn't actually agree with this amendment, but in the interest of facilitating conversation, it sounds as though maybe an amendment is being proposed to strike the words “which includes a recommendation to immediately revoke the permit” and replace them with the words “regarding the situation in Ukraine” so (d) would now read—
I will soon. I'm just waiting to get the final copy of it. I don't want to give the wrong wording.
Perhaps while I am waiting for the final wording to come through, I can just say that if we are going forward, as I think we all know we need to, with regard to the Ukraine study, I was quite happy with the way we did it in the last session, when we knew we had a certain number of days allocated for it but there was some flexibility within the committee as to when we did those studies. I think we as a foreign affairs committee do not need to say our study is complete at a certain point. I think it's very important that this committee make sure that Ukraine is constantly on our radar and that we are constantly aware of what is happening there. That is one of the key roles of this committee. I think in the last committee, that was something we did well on towards the beginning and in the middle, but not so much at the end. It's something I would like to see us be able to continue going forward with.
But I digress. Let me read the motion with my amendment, please.
That, in relation to the study of the export of Russian Gazprom turbines, the committee (a) hold one additional meeting to invite witnesses from the existing lists; (b) at a separate hearing, bring representatives of Siemens and of Canadian Gas Association to testify for two hours; (c) at a separate hearing, invite the Minister of Foreign Affairs to appear for two hours to provide an update on the turbine issue and other Ukraine-related developments; (d) instruct staff to prepare a draft report on the committee's study on Ukraine, including the sanctions waiver; and, (e) conduct a study of the Canadian sanctions regime in general, with details to be defined later.
The change—just to make it very clear for all—would be to have one additional meeting. That meeting would have representatives from Siemens and the Canadian Gas Association, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs would appear for two hours before committee to provide an update on not just the turbine issue but also other Ukraine-related developments.
May I request a clarification from the mover of the amendment?
There would effectively be one meeting with witnesses on the turbine issue, a second meeting with just the minister on Ukraine generally, and I'm not sure I understand part (e). Is that a meeting or is that a future study?
The amendment as moved by Madame McPherson is clear. There would be three additional meetings, the first of which would be with witnesses from the existing list, the second of which would be to hear from Siemens and the Canadian Gas Association, and the third of which would be to hear from the Minister of Foreign Affairs. That is the amendment that Madame McPherson has just read.
I think what we could do is.... This is actually saying that we will have the three meetings, and I think that's fine. If there's an amendment and someone wants to make that be for the first hour and for the second hour, I think we can be smart and strategic about it and think about it, but what we have here is what we've come up with.
Mr. Chair, I must admit that I'm not sure where I stand anymore. It almost feels like we're ending up with one extra meeting than originally proposed, when the goal was to get back to the overall situation in Ukraine as quickly as possible. I would remind members that Russia has called up reserve troops and placed its nuclear forces on alert. While I agree that the turbine issue is important, I feel we're overlooking the key issues right now.
As I mentioned earlier, perhaps there's no need to add witnesses if, by some chance, we're able to agree to recommend that the government suspend or revoke the permit. If we can agree on that, there's really no use continuing and enhancing testimony on the turbine issue.
Mr. Chair, I will go back to what I was saying at the beginning. I asked an informal question to our friends on the government side, so maybe we'll get an answer from them by the end of the meeting. I don't want this to drive a wedge between us. However, I will say it's very clear to me that even if we were called to repair all five turbines over the next two years, Russia wouldn't start supplying Germany again. So, in a way, the joke is on us if we maintain this permit. It should just be revoked.
I reiterate that we were very careful not to blame the government, as we were well aware that this was an extremely difficult and uncomfortable decision for them. That being said, even the German ambassador said that we no longer really needed this permit now that Vladimir Putin has been caught bluffing and the world has seen that he's acting in bad faith, especially with this morning's announcement.
If our Liberal colleagues are open to it, let's recommend that the government revoke the permit, and then they can do as they see fit with the recommendation. Personally, I see no point in unduly prolonging the turbine study. We should quickly move on to much more pressing issues. For example, Ms. Bendayan alluded to the fact that Ukraine has been and is currently engaged in a counteroffensive that's getting results and it's waiting for us to step up. Countries like Germany and the United States are buying weapons to ship to Ukraine, and meanwhile we're taking far too long to answer the call from Ukrainian authorities. A very compelling CBC News article entitled “Ukraine presses Canada to send more weapons as its forces push east” notes that Canada has been slow to respond to the Ukrainians' requests. It seems to me that that's a priority. I also see the question of sanctions as a priority.
If we agree to ask the government to suspend the turbine permits, then by gosh, can we stop wasting our precious time discussing that issue and focus on the truly critical and strategic issues? As we speak, Ukraine is fighting a merciless battle to regain its territory and it needs our support. Let's not waste our time splitting hairs when barbarians are at the gate.
I want to make a point here on Mr. Bergeron's point. Definitely, I know that he's talking about the ongoing process of studies that we're doing on Ukraine. We know that this is going to be going forward for a long time and that it's very important for us to keep taking on studies on this topic.
What the intention of Mr. Genuis's motion is, I think, is to be able to finish what we've invested our time and studies on in the turbines issue, and that meeting will be very crucial for us to be able to wrap up this whole study in a proper way and to at least present a meaningful report out of it. That's why this is very important. We are investing the time. The time that we have in hand is still there, and we can put more upcoming meetings on a Ukrainian issue that has continued to develop in different ways.
We know that we have a duty on this topic to be able to continue to monitor, being an ally and supportive of the Ukrainian government and people, but I believe—and I hope we can all agree—that this motion will definitely serve the purpose of making the report a meaningful one, since we've already invested time in it. I hope everyone can understand that and that we can just all agree on it and move forward.
Mr. Bergeron, you're absolutely right in terms of focusing on recent developments, As you know, the nuclear threat, sanctions and so many other things are going on in Ukraine that are more pressing at this time. I agree with you that we need to focus on Ukraine and not just beat around the bush to try to score political points with each other. Ms. McPherson said “one meeting”, from what my understanding was, but that one meeting went to three meetings, so now I'm a bit confused again.
Going back to what Mr. Bergeron said, Haiti is pressing, as are things that are going on in Pakistan, in Tigray and in Armenia. There are so many pressing issues around the world that we need to get to. Yes, we can focus on scoring political points, but we should also be focused on the human lives that matter right now in Ukraine. I don't agree with the three meetings on the turbine issue. As Mr. Bergeron said, I believe that we need to stay focused on the broader Ukraine context and focus on the nuclear threat and sanctions.
I think it's really important to underline again that the turbine issue is a question of sanctions. It's a question of whether we have a “Swiss cheese” sanctions regime where exceptions are made based on local calculations of economic interests, or whether we have a consistent sanctions regime. This is not an incidental issue. This is not angels dancing on the head of a pin.
This is really, really important. The level and nature of our sanctions determine the capacity of the Russian army to wage war, and that's why we need a credible and consistent sanctions regime. That's why we need to study the sanctions regime. There are, of course, other aspects to this. This is a core issue for Ukraine. It is a core issue in the Canada-Ukraine relationship that we have consistent sanctions, and a key question in that dynamic is the turbine issue.
I think we have a few different things being said. I agree with Mr. Bergeron that, in some way or another, this needs to be brought to a conclusion, with a concrete recommendation. I get the impression that some members of the government would rather gloss over the recommendation piece of this and just move straight on to discussing other issues related to Ukraine. I think we owe it to Parliament and to the people who sent us here to answer the core question that we sought to answer in our hearings, which is whether or not the permit should be revoked.
In terms of how many more meetings, again, it's whatever other members want in terms of the number additional meetings, but I think hearing from Siemens is important. I think we want to hear from the minister again, clearly, but that's about the situation in Ukraine more broadly. I hope that we are able to draft a report that, according to Ms. McPherson's amendment, would cover the broader situation, not just the turbine issue.
Again, if members think they want to further adjust some of these numbers, they can propose an amendment or a subamendment. The goal of this motion is to bring this study to a reasonable conclusion, to answer the question that we sought to answer, and then, by all means, to be able to move on to other issues in the context of the Ukraine situation. But again, sanctions, and the turbines as part of that sanctions debate, are at the very core of the question of how Russia is funding its war machine and how we can interrupt that funding.
In light of the comments, I'd like to make a suggestion, and then we can debate it before asking the analysts to draft the subamendment.
Mr. Genuis, if you'd like another meeting, we could have one to hear the two witnesses. One meeting should be more than enough to hear two witnesses. As you just said, the Minister of Foreign Affairs could appear. Since we're talking about broader testimony, we could agree that she appear for our study on Ukraine. Once again, as Ms. McPherson suggested, our report would have to be about the bigger picture, including the turbine issue.
To respond to my colleague Mr. Bergeron, I feel it's entirely appropriate for this committee to address the permit issue in the report. Therefore, if it pleases the committee, we could include our recommendation in the broader Ukraine report.
Yes. I believe we need to clarify that it's one more meeting on the turbine issue to hear testimony from the two witnesses mentioned in the motion and that thereafter we go back to the Ukraine study. As requested, we would hear from our minister and prepare a report more broadly on what we have heard since the beginning of our study, which dates now to January.
I think striking (a) and, I think, (e).... I'm not sure anybody has any clarity on what (e) actually is. Is that a new study? If it's a new study, it should be in a separate motion. Given that we're having only one meeting, I don't think we're looking at the general sanctions regime. I also note in passing that the Senate is doing an exhaustive legislative review of sanctions in Canada.
I think we could instruct the analysts as to our recommendations in due course. Usually recommendations are not included in a motion, but I understand where you're coming from. Maybe we could more formally let you know about something like that, to be crystal clear.
I support what Madame Bendayan has suggested as well as the subamendment and the amendment, so I think we should just adopt it all. It would mean that we would have two more meetings related to the gas turbines, the first of which would be to hear from Siemens and the Canadian Gas Association, and the second of which would be to hear from the Minister of Foreign Affairs on general issues.
My sense is that the committee supports it. Mr. Chair, I ask that we have the vote on the subamendment and the amendment and then adopt the main motion as amended.
That, in relation to the study of the export of Russian Gazprom turbines, the committee invite representatives of Siemens and of Canadian Gas Association to testify for two hours; invite the Minister of Foreign Affairs to appear for two hours to provide an update on the turbine issue and other Ukraine-related developments; and instruct staff to prepare a draft report on the committee’s study on Ukraine, including the sanctions waiver.
I'd like to move a motion. It has been submitted. I believe all committee members have it in both languages. It's concerning Pakistan and the flooding situation. As I'm sure everyone in this room is aware, one-third of the country is currently under water and 33 million people are impacted. That's an enormous amount when we think about the size of Canada and the number of people who are here.
Thankfully, our government has already done a lot when it comes to supporting the people of Pakistan. We know that Minister Sajjan was there for five days, along with a small delegation of MPs. We know that $25 million in humanitarian assistance was given immediately, along with $3 million in matching funds and $20 million to fight polio, which is a water-borne disease.
It is completely appropriate that we at this committee study this issue. Therefore, I'd like to put forth the motion, read it into the record and have a vote on it. The motion is:
That the committee hold at least one meeting on the extreme flooding in Pakistan and what support is needed by the Pakistani people during this time of need; and that witnesses include officials from Global Affairs Canada, civil society organizations providing aid on the ground, and other relevant experts.
I was there in July on a personal trip and went up north. Before the floods were really in full force, I saw the impacts of the monsoon rains, with roadways covered and bridges felled. This was before what we know now in terms of the immense flooding. I'm putting this out there and hoping that we can get broad support on it.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I think this is an important topic to discuss.
I want to note in the description of the general issues certainly one of the concerns that we have raised. We support providing emergency humanitarian assistance to the people of Pakistan, but we are concerned about the mechanism for the matching funding program. Repeatedly, we see with this government that matching programs have been put in place that only match contributions to a limited number of organizations. That has the effect of excluding many smaller local organizations that may have a significant presence on the ground and making it harder for them to fundraise.
We've supported providing emergency humanitarian assistance. We've also called on the government to address these problems and inequities in matching programs. We've been consistent in raising this in the context of Ukraine, in the context of Lebanon and in other situations. I think it's an important issue to study, and we'll certainly want to raise some of those questions and hear from stakeholders about the matching program.
I want to propose an amendment that stems from my belief that if we're going to do something, we should do it well, and we should have enough energy to do it. Therefore, I'm proposing the following amendment. Where it says “one”, strike “one” and replace it with “three” and add an “s” at the end of “meeting”. It would say, “That the committee hold at least three meetings”, and then, further on down, “that witnesses include Minister Sajjan, officials from Global Affairs”, etc., and adding at the end “and that the committee report to the House on its findings”.
The full revised motion would read, “That the committee hold at least three meetings on the extreme flooding in Pakistan and what support is needed by the Pakistani people during this time of need; that witnesses include Minister Sajjan, officials from Global Affairs Canada, civil society organizations providing aid on the ground, and other relevant experts; and that the committee report to the House on its findings.”
I'm very reluctant to speak out, but I believe I have no choice but to do so.
I made a comment a few minutes ago asking that we focus on the key issues. Mr. Zuberi is proposing that we have one meeting and Mr. Genuis's proposal would bring the number of additional meetings to three.
I don't have a problem with that, but we have to be aware that this committee has an extremely limited number of meetings. We can keep on adding meetings at our leisure like that, but we must bear in mind that certain topics, whether it's the situation in Armenia, Haiti or Ukraine, are going to be left out.
I'm very sensitive to the tragedy that the Pakistani people are facing, and I certainly don't want to sound like I'm saying that it should be minimized and given as little importance as possible. However, I do want people to be aware that we can only have a limited number of meetings, and therefore, when you add meetings with each motion, like they tried to do just now on the turbine issue, at the end of the day, issues of importance are going to have to be overlooked.
I know Mr. Zuberi is delighted to see a colleague suggest that we add two meetings, but Mr. Zuberi originally proposed only one, so I would move that we stick to one meeting.
I appreciate what I know are very sincere intentions on the part of Mr. Bergeron. I just think that if you read the motion, it seeks meetings with officials, civil society organizations and relevant experts. That doesn't sound like it's possible in one meeting. You could maybe squeeze in officials, one civil society organization and one relevant expert. It seems to me that if we're going to do a study, we should do a study.
I think the committee would also have some facility to schedule extra meetings. If we have extra meetings and we have people who have a particular interest in this issue subbing in for that, we can find accommodations. However, one meeting isn't a study. This is a serious humanitarian crisis. If we're going to study it, we should study it.
I would also like to note, as I said at the top, that Canada has invested thus far nearly $50 million in this. That is a significant amount. It's worth studying the impacts of our funding.
We know that the situation is not over. We know that there are still other parts to this piece. I would suggest, as Mr. Genuis said, that if we have a number of different sectors we want to hear from, we should give the study its due. This is for two reasons. The first is the different sectors we want to hear from. The second is the amount of money that we are contributing as a government. A third, I would say, is the magnitude of this issue and the consciousness within Canadian society on this issue, which is vast and large.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I want to add my voice to this.
In Brampton, we have a large Pakistani community that has reached out. It wants to know what more the government is doing. We've done a lot, as my colleague Mr. Zuberi said, but I think it's well intentioned to hear from witnesses and experts who are providing assistance on the ground.
I'm not sure if we can meet in the middle with what Mr. Bergeron, Mr. Zuberi and Garnett proposed. Maybe instead of three, we can have two meetings, so that we can hear from the necessary witnesses. I want to put that out there.
That was exactly what I was going to suggest. Why don't we find a happy compromise and go with two?
I'm noting down—very roughly, of course—that we only have about 20 meetings before the fall session is over. Realistically, the math is something we need to look at.
Particularly, I think it's important to recognize that we have not finished some of the work from the last session. We have still not finished our vaccine equity study. We have still not finished some of the studies that were brought forward at that point.
When we look at things brought forward by Ms. Bendayan, Mr. Genuis, Mr. Bergeron and Mr. Zuberi, it's relevant to consider the time. Two meetings would be appropriate.
Mr. Chair, Ms. McPherson just raised an important point.
Before our work was unexpectedly interrupted by procedural matters—let's put it that way—we had begun our study on Ukraine and the study on vaccine equity. As I was saying a few moments ago, we had a briefing on the situation in Haiti, which has deteriorated significantly, as I pointed out, and which would minimally require us to hear again from Global Affairs Canada on the status of the situation.
Mr. Chair, I am always concerned when Canadian missions abroad are among the first to close when political crises or natural disasters occur. I understand the desire to ensure the safety of staff, but all Canadian nationals are being left unprotected and must often turn to other foreign missions. We could discuss the fact that President Zelenski was able to visit the British embassy to sign the book of condolences when her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II died, while the Canadian embassy in Kyiv remains closed.
The decision to close the embassy in Port-au-Prince worries me. I understand there are certainly safety issues that explain the decision, but my understanding is that not all foreign missions have been cancelled. It's almost a natural reflex at Global Affairs Canada to rush to close missions when a political crisis or natural disaster occurs.
I remember the early days of the pandemic, when all the missions in Spain were closed, leaving hundreds of Canadian nationals stranded, having to call the Department of Foreign Affairs hotline, which was flooded with calls. We had excellent discussions with the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Champagne, who reopened the Canadian missions in Spain.
I am concerned about the fact that the embassy in Port-au-Prince has been closed, and I think we need to hear from the department's representatives, so that they can explain to us, among other things, why this decision was made and what the situation is on the ground. It is very difficult for us to understand the situation from the bits of information we can get from the media, but one thing is certain: a social crisis has hit that country again, which has been hard-hit for many years.
Mr. Zuberi and Mr. Sidhu were highlighting the importance of the Pakistani community in Canada. I cannot stress enough the importance of the Haitian community in Quebec and in Canada and the fact that they expect us to give our brothers and sisters in Haiti all the support they deserve, especially since we have not been particularly helpful. This was evident during the pandemic, when I had an opportunity to raise this issue a few times when countries like Haiti needed support for vaccination rollout on their territory.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since we heard from Global Affairs Canada. We need to hear from their representatives again on this issue, Mr. Chair, and I reiterate that we still need to hear from the Canadian ambassador to the United Nations.
I had the opportunity to look at the log of notices that we've previously received. It appears to me that the wording you would like to have adopted for your motion is not very similar to the previous motion you tabled. Would you like to propose some wording for this motion that you're moving today?
That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the committee undertake a study on the situation in Haiti; that the committee invite the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of International Development and officials to follow up on this issue and that, to this end, the committee hold a minimum of two meetings; and that the committee report its findings and recommendations to the House.
Mr. Chair, I'm not even sure I need to propose another motion since, unless I'm mistaken, I don't think we have had two meetings on Haiti, for one thing, and I don't think we have produced any report at all following that study. I feel that this motion is still as relevant today, so there is no need for a new motion, and we can put this motion forward.
The same goes for the motion on the Canadian ambassador to the United Nations. It has been duly adopted, and we are just waiting for it to be implemented, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chair, if I may, I would like to comment on Mr. Bergeron's comment.
It is very important to come back to the situation in Haiti. Mr. Bergeron knows that I care about this. Even though this motion was already on the table, it seems to me that we have already had at least one meeting to discuss the situation in Haiti. That said, the meeting was months ago, and the situation has deteriorated a great deal since then. So I would suggest that we keep to two meetings in the motion, that we consider that the briefing that we had was in another setting, and that we keep the possibility of having two meetings on the current situation in Haiti. We could even invite the Canadian ambassador to Haiti, if possible.
This brings me to talk a little bit about our ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae. We heard from him in February, but that was in the context of our study on Ukraine, so we are more than willing to have him back to the committee to discuss broader issues.
It's a point well taken. For the benefit of the members, the first meeting we had on Haiti occurred on February 7. As it has been pointed out, the situation has been very fluid.
With respect to the second issue that was raised by Mr. Bergeron, yes, your motion to bring our ambassador to the UN was adopted as well. That was for two hours. Is that correct? It was for one session of two hours.
I apologize if I confused anyone by saying I couldn't find that particular motion. Yes, it is very much part of record.
Mr. Chair, I was going to suggest on this particular point that one way committees have proceeded sometimes is with the chair coming forward with a prospective calendar for, say, the fall. We have Ukraine, Armenia, Pakistan, Haiti and the UN ambassador. Why doesn't the analyst, with you—
—take that back and prepare a prospective calendar? If there's anything controversial in it, we might have to discuss it more, but hopefully, we can have a draft that's reflective of the consensus of where the committee wants to go on these issues. We can go from there.
Mr. Chair, along the same lines as Mr. Morantz, we also have to complete the studies we began in the last session. I believe Ms. McPherson referred to the vaccine equity study. We would like to make sure we issue reports for the matters we've covered in the committee.
I think it would be fair to say that the testimony we heard on that particular study is somewhat dated. It's been approximately—if memory serves—six months since we last heard from any witness. As you know, there were some developments subsequent to the study we undertook.
I understand that a draft report is ready, but is it really the wish of the members that we release the report and we review it? How do you intend to proceed with that, given it is dated information?
Mr. Chair, I think it's vital we have that report completed. If it's necessary to do a meeting where we follow up on some of that, that's fine. However, I think one of the things we are working with here is the potential for future pandemics and instructing the government on how to respond in the event of future pandemics.
To say the work is dated and is no longer useful is not very helpful. I think it's very important that we have that report brought forward.
I agree. It's an important issue. The context has changed considerably.
It's not about saying it's not important, but I wonder if asking the analysts to send us a revised draft report that reflects some of the new context would be a good way to proceed. Members could consider that. I think that some of the tenses will have to be a bit different, as well, to reflect that this was the reality, but it may not be the reality. It may be something to think about for a future reality and so forth.
I would add that this summer, after the WTO ministerial decision, I wrote a paper on the particular elements in case the committee wanted to see it. It might reflect their opinions on the report. That could be distributed at any moment. There's at least that component to bring everybody up to speed and know what the reactions were.
As I recall, the report was drafted, circulated and not at any point discussed at committee. It would make sense to invite our analysts to prepare and distribute a revised report that reflects the context and their research. If there's information you have that you can distribute in advance, that's great, but I think it would be most useful to embed it into the report, and then the committee can give that revised report consideration at the appropriate time.
I appreciate everyone working together today to make sure that we can do the best we can within this committee. I do know that we have only limited time.
Before I start, though, I wanted to say that I think all of us, as foreign affairs representatives for our parties, would be very happy to know that there was a pledge of $1.21 billion today for the Global Fund. I know that all of us in this room have worked very hard to convince the government, and congratulations to the government for doing that, because that's very good news for saving lives around the world.
I wanted to bring forward the motion on the sanctions. I know that this is something we discussed. Mr. Genuis has referred to it. I know that we have a lot of work to be done.
This is something that I have brought forward. I don't need to read it into the record. I've read it into the record twice already. I would like to bring forward the motion on the sanctions study. Going forward, that would implicate the calendar for us to receive next Monday.
I would like to have a discussion and a vote on that, please.
Mr. Chair, Mr. Bergeron has asked me to read it for us.
That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the committee conduct a follow-up study to the 2017 committee study on Canada's sanctions regime titled “A Coherent and Effective Approach to Canada's Sanctions Regimes: Sergei Magnitsky and Beyond”; that the committee review the government's implementation of the recommendations in the 2017 report; that the committee review the need for new recommendations, if any, resulting from Canada's response to the situation in Ukraine and other situations since 2017; that the committee hold no fewer than four meetings; that the committee report its findings to the House; and that pursuant to Standing Order 109, the government table a comprehensive response to the report.
For my part, I tend to support Ms. McPherson's motion, but given that the Senate is doing a legislative review of the sanctions regimes, I wonder if we may vote on this motion, certainly, but also benefit from the work that might be done before us. Given the situation in Ukraine— again, the need for arms today, now, on the ground—I'm just hoping that in your infinite wisdom, Mr. Chair, and in your scheduling, we might consider those options in terms of the calendar.
Again, Mr. Chair, I would say that I would prefer fewer meetings.
If it's the will of the committee, I understand that as well, but I think the fact of having no fewer than four meetings means that this will end up getting punted late into the session. The option of having fewer meetings would allow us to do it sooner. I am not moving an amendment. I'm just putting that forward for the presenter.
I would just suggest that perhaps the four meetings do not need to be one after the other. Is it possible that this is something where we could be a little flexible with our approach and perhaps do one or two of the meetings quite quickly in regard to Ukraine, and then do more of them at a later date?
You will not be surprised to hear me say that I am loath to turn over the responsibilities of our committee and the House of Commons to the other unelected chamber of this Parliament.
That said, I think Ms. Bendayan made a point we should take into consideration nonetheless, and that is the fact that work is already being done on the issue of sanctions and the fact that, in the motion we just adopted a few minutes ago, we included a few words about sanctions. The last thing I want to do is to duplicate our work, given the fact that we have already made a commitment in the previous motion to look at the issue of sanctions. We are adding four meetings on the sanctions. I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but we don't have any more meetings available between now and Christmas. Therefore, the more we add, the less time we will have to discuss all the other issues that we find extremely worrisome, with Ukraine being at the top of the list.
I would not want us to lose sight of key aspects of considerations that I will refrain from labelling. The main thing is to talk about how we can concretely help Ukrainians deal with the situation they face. Of course, sanctions are part of the arsenal, no pun intended, that we can deploy to help Ukrainians. Ms. McPherson, I and others have concerns about the effectiveness of our sanctions regime, which we have let ourselves weaken through the turbine license. Again, I don't want us to lose sight of what is important by getting bogged down for a long time in what may seem like a side issue, especially since I feel that we would almost be doubling our work in this case, since we have already instructed our analysts to write something about sanctions.
So if we want to be minimally consistent, we will not instruct our analysts to start drafting something for us on sanctions, while proposing to have four meetings on the most specific issue of sanctions. Let's be minimally consistent. Are we asking our analysts to write something on sanctions, or do we want to hear from witnesses over four meetings on sanctions, and then instruct our analysts to work on the issue? I would like us to be somewhat consistent.
Speaking of consistency, I also want us to be consistent about the fact that we have a limited number of meetings between now and Christmas, and there are many topics we are all interested in, but we will not manage to address them. We are in the process of doing a post mortem on all these motions that we adopted and all these topics that we wanted to address, which we were not able to address because we ran out of time last spring. I feel like we are going in exactly the same direction: we will be very enthusiastic about a lot of things, but we won't get the job done because we are just not going to have enough time. We saw what happened to us last spring.
Let's not repeat that mistake and then tell ourselves next spring that we didn't get everything done that we planned to do this fall. Let's be consistent, please.
Again, Mr. Bergeron, all those points are well taken. I think Ms. McPherson recognized that this would be punted for some time, and she has accepted that the hearings would not be done consecutively. However, you have touched on quite a bit of a challenge. I must say I feel a lot of sympathy for the clerk and the analysts, who have to try to the best of their abilities to throw all of this into a schedule. Of course, we do not want to repeat the experience we previously had.
That having been said, Mr. Bergeron, you mentioned tools at our disposal. Are you introducing an amendment, or was that not what you were contemplating?
I am in a somewhat similar situation to when we talked about what is happening in Pakistan. I would have expected someone, like Ms. McPherson did earlier, to get me out of a jam by offering a compromise, whether it be two or three meetings.
There's one thing I want to clarify. In the motion that we did approve, Mr. Genuis's motion, we did remove the (e) that referred to the sanctions study. That was removed in that initial one. I think it is reasonable, considering the importance of sanctions to what is happening in Ukraine. We know that if the sanction regimes are not robust, they are allowing Russia to continue the violence against Ukraine, so I do think sanctions are very important.
My recommendation is that we do one or perhaps two meetings before Christmas on sanctions, and that we complete the study with looking at sanctions of other areas after the holiday break.
So really, we would be looking at only those two meetings now, and then we would postpone two meetings to a later date. That would be a compromise that would allow....
There's something I wanted to get clarification on with respect to the sanctions study. Under the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, subsection 16(1) says that “within five years after the day on which this section comes into force, a comprehensive review of the provisions and operation” of the act “must be undertaken by the committees of the Senate and of the House”. It's good to know that the Senate is undertaking that, and that the report has to come back within a year. The section actually says “within five years” of the coming into force of the section—by October 19, 2022.
I guess what I want us to be clear about is whether this motion is intended to bring us into compliance with this requirement of section 16 under the act. Is that the purpose of this? I don't want to do this and then find that we have to do it again.
That's another thing that's interesting about it. Subsection 16(1) also states:
and operation of this Act and of the Special Economic Measures Act must be undertaken by the committees of the Senate and of the House of Commons that are designated or established by each House for that purpose.
It was not, because when I had moved this, it was in May, so that was not my intention. I'm not opposed to it. Certainly, if we did the two in the next sitting, then it would be possible that we could use that to meet our obligation.
Subsection 16(1) of the Sergei Magnitsky law says it's within five years of the coming into force of the section. It says by October 19, 2022. I suppose we could check back to see when it actually received royal assent.
To be fair, I'm not sure if this is accurate. We should check to see when this section received royal assent, because it would be five years from that point in time. I'm not sure if this date is accurate.
I support Mr. Bergeron's proposal. I assume you would expect that. I don't know if the amendment is formally proposed, and I am willing to hear suggestions from my colleagues, but I propose that we have two meetings.
I find it rather peculiar that we decided to do the study in question during this parliamentary session, when we have not had an opportunity to discuss the ongoing armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. I would certainly like us to do so before the end of the parliamentary session, as well, and I imagine that my colleagues also want the committee to address the studies they have proposed in their motions during this session.
We will still leave it up to you to set the dates, and we can discuss that next week, but I propose that we go from four meetings to two, just as we limited the number of meetings of the other studies today.
I'm not saying that it needs to be prioritized, as much as it would have.... I want to deprioritize all four meetings. All four meetings don't have to happen right away. I think we want to have some of these meetings right away, but that's my perspective. The clerk will make the calendar.
I think it's a very big issue to try to fit into two meetings. Not all of it is urgent. Not all of it is emerging. I understand the need to put other, more emergent issues ahead of that, but it's important work that we are obligated to do.
I'm certainly willing to acknowledge that this is important work that we should do. I'm just concerned, given that we have already agreed to include in our Ukrainian report aspects of sanctions.... What is it that is to be done urgently in this particular session surrounding this study?
I'm sorry. We're having a conversation without the chair.
I think what we're talking about in Mr. Genuis's report is, in fact, the waiver on the turbines. There is a whole swath of other sanctions that are being imposed with regard to Russia and the conflict in Ukraine that will not be part of the waiver. It's a completely separate set of our sanctions.
I have a bit of a proprietary interest in Magnitsky sanctions. I don't want an inadvertent lapse. I'd like to get some clarification.
Mr. Morantz raised a specific date. On that specific date, does the ability to impose Magnitsky sanctions lapse, or is the committee under some specific legal obligation to proceed?
A sunset clause means a sunset clause. I'm not clear as to the implications of not proceeding on the specified date, whether it is the date mentioned in the legislation or the date of coming into force by royal decree. I think that's a point to be clarified.
Thank you for making that point. It's not a sunset clause. There is a requirement, though, that five years from the act coming into force, some committees of Parliament and the House—unknown at this point—conduct a review. The section—you can look at it yourself—goes into some detail as to what should happen.
I don't know if it would be appropriate to ask the analysts to do this, but perhaps they could have a look at the legislation and come back and let us know what the House actually needs to do with respect to this review. It's an important review, and I don't think any committee of the House or the House itself has taken it up yet. I think we're either at the five-year mark or very close to it.
I'm not sure if we have to have a motion to ask the analysts to do that, or if they would just do that.
We can just undertake to provide an update to every member as to, first of all, what those requirements are and what the dates are, and also to inquire as to whether any decision has been made with respect to which committee this would be referred to, but yes, we'll undertake to do that by Monday.
I would have to defer to the clerk on the procedural aspect of that question. We can certainly summarize and report back to the committee on the activities of any other part of Parliament. As to whether or not the actual testimony could be used, I would have to hear from the clerk.
To that end, could you also get back to us at the next meeting or whenever as to the dates of that Senate review so that we could see if it's even possible to incorporate some of those elements into our report?
Yes, my amendment is still on the floor. We were just discussing with analysts, so I thought I would ask. You requested that the analysts get back to us with certain information, so I'm just adding to their list of things to do.
Mr. Chair, I'm next on the list, and I have a motion which I think we will get very quick agreement on. It's about the referendum issue. I move “That the committee condemns any attempts to hold “referendums” in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine”—
Yes, but the committee can't adjourn, except by consent. If, after I move the motion, someone wants to move an adjournment motion, they're welcome to move one and the committee can vote on it. However, I suspect we would be advised—
Mr. Chair, it's the rules of the House that you can't adjourn a meeting without the consent of the majority of the committee. That's well established in the rules. If you want to consult with the clerk on that, be my guest.
In the meantime, I move:
That, the committee condemns any attempts to hold “referendums” in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine; any such referendums have no legitimacy, the committee maintains its belief that Ukrainian national boundaries recognized at the time of the Budapest Memorandum remain Ukraine's national boundaries today, and the committee report this motion to the House.
I think we all agree on this matter. I would like to move that motion. Hopefully, we can get this done, because it is very time sensitive in light of developments around the world.
I thought it was proposed by Mr. Genuis that you, Mr. Chair, and the analysts, come up with a timeline for us. I think we need to give you some latitude. We won't be able to, in four and a half minutes, agree on a timeline for each of these motions, all of which we think are priorities.
I have one final point, Mr. Chair, since we're on committee business. I want to make sure that we do our job as a committee and that we review the estimates when they are passed to us from the House before we adjourn for Christmas.