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Results: 1 - 15 of 722
View Dan McTeague Profile
Lib. (ON)
I know; there's disaggregation here. I'm concerned about that.
I've read through what appears to be the proposed national household survey. Today being the 100th anniversary celebration of International Women's Day, I'm surprised to see.... Perhaps, Mr. Smith, you could explain to me why unpaid work of women was taken out of that form.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
I'm going to call the meeting to order.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), this committee is doing a study on language changes at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Today we have summoned certain witnesses to appear before this committee. These witnesses are David Angell, director general, international organizations, human rights and democracy bureau; Elissa Golberg, director general, stabilization and reconstruction task force secretariat; and Jamieson Weetman, deputy director, west and central Africa relations.
By video conference, as you know, we have the High Commission of Canada to India. We would like to thank the Deputy High Commissioner, Jim Nickel, for being here.
We know that it's some unearthly hour for you back in India, Deputy Commissioner, so we appreciate the time you've taken.
It is my understanding that none of the witnesses have an opening statement.
Am I right, or has this been changed?
View Michelle Simson Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'd like to thank the witnesses for appearing today.
As you may or may not be aware, DFAIT originally turned down this committee's request to have you appear, which is why the committee was required to use its power of summons.
As the chair pointed out, this committee began a study last fall on ministerial interference in the language being used at DFAIT. The changes requested by the minister's office included the dropping of the word “humanitarian” from the phrase “international humanitarian law”, and the removal or changing of references to gender-base violence, child soldiers, human rights. Those are just a few of the examples.
This issue was first brought to light in an article in Embassy magazine that was based on information they received in an e-mail that was drafted by Mr. Weetman, which the rest of you received.
With that, my first question is for you, Mr. Weetman. You in fact did craft the e-mail of May 7?
View Michelle Simson Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay.
In that e-mail, you outlined your concerns--which, by the way, I think most committee members here share--that the Minister of Foreign Affairs office...there was a tendency of late, at the time that was done, in 2009, to remove or change language in letters, speeches, and interventions on multilateral meetings.
In the e-mail you stated that “Some of the changes suggested by [the minister's office] are more than simply stylistic changes.” You implied, and I quote, that “some changes are not consistent with accepted [Canadian] policy”.
Could you give the committee details on the types of changes that were taking place; how that would reflect...where they're not just stylistic changes; and, possibly, whether this practice is still occurring?
View Michelle Simson Profile
Lib. (ON)
I understand that; however, it seems to me there was some degree of alarm or concern, because you further state in this e-mail that so far you've largely been “managing” these issues. Managing indicates to me that it could potentially be problematic or that there was some concern on some level. And obviously, the individuals who were included on this e-mail exchange.... You know, when you have the director general of Foreign Affairs, the Canadian ambassador to Norway...you have some senior people who are all seeing the same thing, or you have enough of a concern that you wanted to find out if they were seeing the same thing. Is that correct?
It was fairly senior; this wasn't just a little e-mail to friends.
View Michelle Simson Profile
Lib. (ON)
But it obviously accelerated, because you felt that there needed to be a coordinated departmental approach to this issue. So it was becoming an issue, based on who I've seen copied in that e-mail. Then there was a call for a meeting, which brings me to my next question.
It's our understanding that there was a meeting on Thursday, November 21, at DFAIT to discuss these issues. In your e-mail you said, “The purpose of this meeting is to ensure we are clear on the issues we are facing and that we have a coordinated departmental view.”
Unfortunately, Mr. Weetman, that indicates to me--and I know it's the written word--that there was definitely concern on your part and on the part of several others in that e-mail exchange that this language change was, quote, an issue. Am I correct?
View Michelle Simson Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anita Neville Profile
Lib. (MB)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Let me begin by thanking you very much for coming here. It's not very often that a committee summons members of the bureaucracy or the civil service to come to a meeting, and I appreciate that this is a challenge for you.
I am also finding it very difficult to reconcile some of what we're hearing this morning with the memo of May 7. I'm wondering if you could tell the committee who briefed you prior to your appearance here today, or provided advice, either written or oral advice.
View Anita Neville Profile
Lib. (MB)
And virtually...that advice came simply on process?
View Anita Neville Profile
Lib. (MB)
Could you provide us with the names of those individuals, please, either now or in writing? I would appreciate it very much.
View Anita Neville Profile
Lib. (MB)
Thank you.
My colleague was speaking about the submission from the Feminist Alliance for International Action and, as I say, I'm having a hard time reconciling some of what you're saying here today. They provided a very comprehensive brief and did extensive analysis. I've looked at the graph--I'd be happy to provide it to you if you haven't seen it already--on the use of the phrase “gender equality”, the use of the word “gender”, excluding the use of the word “gender” and the phrase “gender equality”, and the total uses of the word “gender”, including it as part of the phrase “gender equality”. Canada, in each of those categories, referenced gender, gender equality, or whatever, once, and in one instance, twice.
They did extensive research here, and when you take a look at what the other countries have done, you'll see that there is significant use of the words “gender equality” or “gender” in whatever form. I'm looking at an example to give you. In Belgium, it was a total of 95 times; in the Netherlands, a total of 123 times, and in Sweden, 51 times.
How is it compatible, these different uses of language between Canada and other countries? Because quite clearly, based on their analysis, we're out of step with what other countries are doing.
View Anita Neville Profile
Lib. (MB)
She was. I'm sorry. I should have told you that.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Anita Neville Profile
Lib. (MB)
If I might comment, the action plan is a very fine document, and I commend you, Ms. Golberg, on the work that has been done, but as we all know, language matters. I appreciate your comments, but in the context of this memo and in the context of what we are hearing from community groups--and I appreciate that you are doing the best you can do with what you have to do it with--I do submit that language matters, and it's unfortunate that we cannot use the language that's used more universally in other countries.
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