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View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure being here tonight, and I look forward to hearing the rest of the speech from the member for Niagara Falls at a later point.
We are here tonight talking about the very important and pressing issue of coronavirus, and in particular about how we ensure effective international coordination. During question period, Conservatives have been talking about coronavirus, highlighting the need for a stronger government response and asking the important questions about how our response compares to the responses of various allies.
I am following up on a particular issue that we raised a number of times last week, which was about how we ensure effective international coordination. Our view on this side of the House is that when we are responding to a global health crisis like this, we need to have all hands on deck. We need to have all countries, peoples and governments working together and talking together, but we have a problem in that context, because Taiwan's membership in the World Health Organization is opposed by the People's Republic of China, and the desire of the mainland Chinese government to prevent the participation of Taiwan in those conversations makes international coordination very difficult.
Despite tensions between governments, there is a great deal of people-to-people back-and-forth that happens between Taiwan and the mainland, and there is a need for coordination because of the risk of transmission of this virus.
In general, there is a great deal of expertise in Taiwan. There is a lot of opportunity for the international community to benefit from knowledge that is developed there and to ensure effective coordination and co-operation. It really should be a no-brainer for Canada, a free democracy, to speak out and highlight the importance of this coordination and to side with Taiwan in its desire to be included in these conversations.
On Monday of last week, I raised the question. I asked a question of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and he did not even mention Taiwan in the response. My question asked if he would support Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization and these conversations around these issues. There was no mention of Taiwan in the response.
On Tuesday, the following day, the Leader of the Opposition asked the Prime Minister two questions specifically about whether Canada would take a strong, clear and principled position, but also a position on behalf of Canadians' concern for their own health and safety to support the participation of Taiwan in these vital conversations and support the membership of Taiwan in the World Health Organization. Twice the Prime Minister was asked. He did not respond to the question and he did not mention Taiwan in the response. He simply accused Conservatives of playing politics when in fact we are highlighting a fundamental health and safety issue.
Finally, my friend from St. Albert—Edmonton was able to succeed where we had not. On Wednesday he finally received an answer from the Prime Minister to a very explicit question when the Prime Minister said that the government will support Taiwan's participation.
We are glad that after three days of successive questions when the first two days did not get a response, we finally were able to get the government to take this position. However, the reluctance of the government to support the participation of Taiwan does not give us a lot of confidence that the Liberals are actually raising these issues.
Therefore, I want to ask the parliamentary secretary this: Has the Government of Canada, not just here in the House but in conversations with our partners on the world stage, actually been raising and highlighting the importance of this coordinated response?
Let us not play politics. Canadians' health and safety and the health and safety of people around the world are at stake, and Taiwan needs to be at the table in those conversations. Is Canada vocally participating in pushing for the full participation of Taiwan in those conversations?
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