Madam Speaker, as one of the only Liberals who had the courage to stand and vote in support of a Conservative motion to declare that genocide was being perpetrated against the Yazidi people, I have decided to give my Liberal colleague from Etobicoke Centre's motion careful attention and scrutiny.
The motion before us today asks Parliament to address the women, peace and security agenda. For those wondering what that is, a while ago the United Nations passed resolutions to address women's challenges in conflict situations and women's potential to influence global peace and security.
However, in the motion in front of us, after we dig through the long text of the motion, I believe my Liberal colleague is trying to do two things. First, as set out in section (g) of the motion, he seeks to “work to develop a framework to implement the women, peace and security agenda domestically”. He seeks to do this in section (h) of the motion, by appointing a women, peace and security ambassador.
In evaluating my colleague's motion today, I undertook the following research. Does the Government of Canada have a plan to address the women, peace and security agenda? If yes, what is that plan? If yes, is there someone already in charge of implementing the plan? It turns out that for years, across different governments, we have tabled something called “Canada's National Action Plan” for the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security. Therefore, while we could debate its quality, we already have a plan. The government tabled its version of the document for the period of 2017 through 2022 last year.
The plan outlines a framework to implement the women, peace and security agenda domestically. Specifically, pages 8 through 17 of the plan outline what the government has already done, what my colleague is asking the government to do in section (g) of the motion. As such, section (g) is redundant, as the government's plan will stand without specific instructions from the House, which my colleague has failed to clarify in this section of his motion.
To emphasize this point, I would like to draw my colleague's attention to page 10 of the document, to the section entitled “Objectives for the Action Plan”, which outlines the government's stated objectives to “implement the women, peace and security agenda domestically.” Again, section (g) of the motion is redundant.
I would like to now discuss section (h) of the motion, which asks the government to appoint an ambassador to implement this action plan. If there is already a plan, logic would dictate that there would be someone in charge of implementing said plan. Lo and behold, I found out that there is.
Under the “Action Plan Partners” section, on page 11 of the document that I previously referenced, the government outlines the departments that would act as lead partners on this initiative. The next two pages go on to list the operating objectives of these departments with regard to implementing the women, peace and security agenda. On page 14, it specifically outlines which ministers are accountable for delivering on the implementation plan and how they would do so.
It gets even more specific on page 14. It states that the peace and stabilization operations program, or PSOPs division of Global Affairs Canada, via the Minister of Foreign Affairs, is “responsible for Canada’s implementation of the international WPS agenda and for ensuring that implementation across government is aligned with the government’s foreign policy priorities. Global Affairs Canada, through PSOPs, coordinates the whole-of-government Action Plan efforts.”
Page 15 goes even further. It outlines the structure of the governing advisory board, which states which bureaucrats who are already on staff are responsible for tabling and co-ordinating progress reports in this regard. Going even further, page 15 goes on to state that the director general of the peace and stabilization operation program will also be “Canada's National Focal Point globally for WPS implementation.” The director general of the peace and stabilization operations program, Ms. Larisa Galadza, has 63 staff within her department, and she reports to the associate deputy minister of international security, who in turn reports to the deputy minister of foreign affairs, who in turn reports to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Clearly, there are already a lot of people directly in charge of implementing the women, peace and security agenda.
A quick search of Ms. Galadza's division shows that she also has staff at the deputy director salary level who have women, peace and security in their operational title. She also has over two dozen policy specialists in her department and many senior program operational officers. I am sure they are wonderful and very highly talented staff.
Further, in 2016, the government released an announcement that allocated nearly half a billion dollars to Ms. Galadza's department. One of the objectives of the funding, issued in a news release, was “PSOPs will also coordinate the government's implementation of Canada's Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security and actively promote the role of women and youth in conflict resolution.”
The government is already spending millions of dollars on salaries and nearly half a billion dollars on programming. It has a robust organizational structure and operating plan that reports into our foreign affairs minister, a whole action plan to ostensibly deliver on what my colleague has outlined in section (h) of his motion. There is no mention of who the ambassador in section (h) of this motion would report to, how they would integrate into this already very complex and expensive operating structure, how much their expenses would be, what value they would add to achieving the framework objectives, what their travel costs would be, or how their existence would complicate the efforts of Ms. Galadza's department. I am sure she has great consternation trying to figure out how this person would ruin her life, potentially.
Further, I searched through departmental performance reports, committee testimony and civil society reports issued by the Women, Peace and Security Network, which is a group of non-governmental organizations in Canada that work together to deliver on the women, peace, and security goals. I did not find one recommendation that hiring an ambassador as outlined in section (h) of this motion would materially improve Canada's ability to implement the WPS goals, especially in the context of existing operating structures. From this we must conclude that hiring an ambassador would be a redundancy.
With so many Canadians in need, with their taxes going up and our deficits rising, we cannot afford to expand government without being able to explain to taxpayers why we are doing so. Given my colleague has presented nothing to suggest that hiring an ambassador would advance the WPS agenda more effectively than Ms. Galadza's department is already doing, I find it hard to make a case in this regard.
In fact, I suspect that, if the government is wed to spending even more taxpayer dollars on this issue, it would be more effective to allocate the same amount of money that would go toward hiring an ambassador, their staff and their travel costs to non-governmental organizations, for example, Nadia Murad's organization. Moreover, the tax dollars we would spend on hiring a redundant ambassador could also be used to do things to materially support women in need here in Canada. We cannot continue to support costly symbolic gestures, especially given that there are many Canadians who cannot make ends meet and want accountability from us in this place for how we spend their hard-earned money.
Again, I remember that my colleague stood with me when none of his Liberal colleagues did in declaring the Yazidi genocide here in this place. I would suggest, in the spirit of collegiality and in the spirit of being prudent with taxpayer dollars, that we study whether the existing structure to deliver on the WPS objectives is working before we add another layer of redundant bureaucracy to it, and study the objectives themselves before overlaying more operational costs to the achievement of said goals.
For example, I would like to see the following objectives added to Canada's WPS goals: ensure that Canadian citizens who join ISIS and commit sexual violence are prosecuted to the full extent of the law; support UN goodwill ambassador Nadia Murad's case at the International Criminal Court to prosecute perpetrators of sexual slavery; ensure that victims of sexualized violence are prioritized in Canada's refugee selection; recommend sanctions against countries that will not prosecute their soldiers who commit sexual violence during war; fight sex trafficking actively and report on the prevalence of international sex trafficking rings in Canada; report on Canada's progress in implementing the recommendations of the UN Secretary General relating to women, peace and security; and implement a mechanism for early-warning detection that war-related sexualized violence is likely to occur.
I appreciate my colleague's determination, but this is a motion with no substance and a lot of redundancy.
Therefore, I move, seconded by the member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, that the motion be amended as follows: in paragraph (g), deleting the words “and work to develop a framework to implement the Women, Peace and Security agenda domestically”; and in paragraph (h), deleting all the words after “throughout the world by” and replacing them with the following: “recommend that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs study the progress the government has made on achieving the objectives outlined in the document entitled 'Canada's National Action Plan 2017-2022' for the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution on women, peace and security, and the adequacy of the objectives and operating structure found within said document”.