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Results: 106 - 120 of 10680
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Go ahead, Mr. Thériault. You have a few more seconds.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Thériault.
We're going to go to Mr. Davies for two and a half minutes, please.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
That is for Mr. Lucas, I guess.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
I'm sorry.
Ms. Jeffrey, go ahead.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Ms. Jeffrey, go ahead.
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
That wraps up our third round.
I'd like to thank the witnesses for joining us.
As always, you have provided excellent information. We appreciate your time and all the work you're doing on this crisis.
I would like also to acknowledge again the House of Commons conference service, which has taken on this challenge of providing, for the first time ever, a fully virtual committee meeting. It has never happened before. There are certainly challenges, but I think we've been able to work through them quite successfully. There are particular challenges involved with doing a meeting of this kind that are not found in normal business communications, such as having to interface with ParlVU for public access, as well as having three different channels for language and translation, so I appreciate their effort. I know they are working around the clock to get us a video conference solution, hopefully for next week. I would like to thank them for responding so quickly. They have had less than a week to work on this, so I really appreciate what they are doing.
Members of the committee, I would like to remind you to get your priority list of witnesses for the next meetings to the clerk, hopefully by 4 p.m. eastern time tomorrow. The analysts will collate them into a single document and I will have my staff arrange a conference call among the members of the subcommittee to discuss witnesses for the next meeting.
With that, I would like to thank everyone for participating. I hope we're all doing well during this crisis.
The meeting is adjourned.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Chair, thank you very much.
I just want to say, colleagues, thank you for welcoming me to the foreign affairs committee at a time when I think our nation is faced with a number of challenges.
I want to take this opportunity, Madam Chair, to thank the outstanding officials who are standing with me. Many of them have been working 24-7 for the last few months, I would say, and they have been doing their utmost to provide the best services to Canadians in difficult circumstances, whether in coronavirus assistance in Japan and China, to efforts in Iran, where we had to face a number of challenges, and then obviously in our relationship in trying to obtain the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and clemency for Mr. Schellenberg.
Madam Chair and honourable members, thank you for welcoming me to appear before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to speak about our government's foreign policy mandate and our current priorities.
I would like to begin by emphasizing that Canadian interests, values and principles are the heart of everything that we do on the international stage, from our commitment to multilateral institutions to our trade agreements and our defence and promotion of human rights. This approach is critical in an increasingly unpredictable world where the rules-based system is under strain.
This is evident in the rise of populism and protectionism and the growth of economic and technological inequalities around the world.
This is evident in the serious doubt being cast upon multilateral institutions and the rules-based international order.
This is also evident in the decline of human rights and the increasingly selective enforcement of international law.
Increasingly, human rights are under threat, from the plight of the Rohingya to the rise of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia to attacks on human rights defenders. Add to that an immense demographic transformation. By 2050, the world's population could increase by 2.2 billion people, and 2.2 billion people will also be facing the existential threat of our time, which is, obviously, climate change.
This observation may, of course, seem daunting, even insurmountable to some. However, there are also encouraging signs that give hope.
Inspiring people are advancing our societies and improving the lives of marginalized people the world over.
There is also a growing consensus on human rights, including women's rights, LGBTQ2 rights and democratic rights, around the globe.
Madam Chair, major international challenges require global solutions, and I think we're seeing it today with the coronavirus in particular. Hence, the importance of a rules-based international order that every country can count on to defend their interests while ensuring the collective interests of all.
However, that rules-based international order, as you well know, my dear colleagues, is under threat in many, many corners of the world. This is why we must support and modernize the multilateral system to ensure its sustainability, and this is where Canada can, and indeed must, play a leading role.
Canada has a voice in almost every major international forum: the G7, the G20, the Francophonie, the Commonwealth, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, the North American Aerospace Defence Command, or NORAD, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, to name but a few.
The very principles on which the confederation of our country is based—peace, order and good government—resonate in many parts of the world. Our reputation and credibility as a country rest on our ability to demonstrate to our partners and allies how our principles and values concretely guide our diplomacy around the world.
Let me now present to you the priorities that guide my mandate so far.
First is Iran and the tragedy of flight PS752. If anything, it illustrates the importance of diplomacy and multilateralism. Faced with this tragedy, we chose engagement, while remaining firm so that justice could be done for the families of the victims.
Canada led the creation of the international coordination and response group for victims of flight PS752 to ensure that the international community could speak to Iran with one voice, and despite the pitfalls, despite the lack of diplomatic relations with Iran, we were able to quickly dispatch investigators to the field and repatriate the bodies of the victims in accordance with the wishes of the families.
Much work remains to be done, Madam Chair, for Iran to assume full responsibility, including a complete and transparent investigation, the downloading and analysis of the black boxes and swift compensation for the families. We are working hard to make progress on all these fronts. We will continue to hold the Iranian regime accountable, and as I've said many times, we will judge Iran not by its words but by its actions.
Let me now turn to China.
The year 2020 will mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between Canada and the People's Republic of China. Unfortunately, the relationship between our two countries is currently undergoing a turbulent period.
Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been arbitrarily detained for over a year now. Our top priority remains securing their release. We are also working to obtain clemency for Robert Schellenberg who, as you know, Madam Chair, has been sentenced to death in China.
International partners share our opinion. The action of a state within the framework of an international treaty must never generate reprisals against its citizens abroad.
However, our relationship with China remains complex and multidimensional. Finding the right balance is a delicate operation. There will always be issues where we will have differences and issues on which will have overlapping positions. So we must learn to live with this new complexity.
For example, it is possible to work with China on reforming the World Trade Organization, or WTO, while having divergent positions on human rights.
One thing is for sure. Our relations with China will always be guided by the interests of Canadians and by our commitment to the roles and principles enshrined in international law.
Another priority, Madam Chair, is our campaign for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. As I've said before, a seat on the Security Council is not an end in itself: It is a vehicle for promoting the principles and the values that shape our vision of international relations. We are witnessing a major questioning of the capacity of international institutions to respond to the crises of our time, particularly in Asia and Africa and Latin America. There's an urgent need to develop new approaches and create new consensus to face these challenges. Our campaign for a seat on the Security Council is therefore a great opportunity for Canada to demonstrate leadership: to assert our interests, principles and values; and to strengthen and adapt multilateralism to the realities of today.
Some will say that the fight for a seat on the United Nations, or UN, Security Council is not worth it or that it may be too late. However, it is never too late to fight for women's rights, human rights, the environment or democracy.
Some will even criticize the Security Council, saying it is obsolete or even ineffective. Nevertheless, it remains one of the most important forums in the world where major decisions on peace and security are taken. It is a forum where Canada can have both a relevant voice and an influence.
Finally. I'd like to say a word about our relationship with our neighbours to the south, the United States. We are inseparable allies, partners and friends because of our geography, our personal ties and, of course, our economic ties.
The new NAFTA opens another chapter in our relationship, one of prosperity, opportunity and stability. As evidenced by the sometimes difficult negotiations over the last two years, our government will never compromise on the interests of Canadians.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Prime Minister and my predecessor for their tireless work, which brought increased stability and predictability to our commercial relationship with the United States, our biggest and largest trading partner.
To conclude, some may say that in a minority government we have to act quickly to achieve our objectives, but as an African proverb I've quoted before says that if you want to go fast, you go alone, but if you want to go far, let's walk together.
Hence the importance of an inclusive approach, such as the one I am proposing to you today, where provinces, territories, businesses, non-governmental organizations, artists, civil society and members of Parliament from all parties, in cooperation with our international partners, work with us to build a greener, fairer, safer, more inclusive and more prosperous world.
Thank you.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
I appreciate it. I thank my colleague for the question.
I've been in touch with a number of colleagues over the spread of the coronavirus. I've been in touch with my colleague from South Korea to understand how the virus spread so quickly in their country and better understand what we can do and the lessons learned. I talked to my colleague from Italy just this morning. I also had a call with my Australian colleague this morning. I have tried also to talk to a number of colleagues over the last few days and weeks to make sure that we talk to each other, learn from each other, particularly when we had the Diamond Princess in Japan. I also spoke to my counterpart in Japan to make sure and I spoke to my Chinese counterpart when the virus erupted in Wuhan. The purpose of that was, first, to allow consular access when we needed to repatriate Canadians. The first wave was in Wuhan in Hubei province in China. The second wave was in Japan.
More recently it was with U.S. authorities to make sure that we would provide consular services and to make sure that Canadians would receive all the care and attention they would need from foreign governments when they need to be quarantined in their countries.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
I'd like to thank you for that question, because this is top of mind.
The release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor is my absolute priority. We made a démarche with the Chinese authorities when we saw the coronavirus appearing in China. We have been making sure with Ambassador Barton that we are in regular contact with Chinese authorities to make sure that the health and safety of Canadians who are detained in China—not only those, but others—receive all the attention needed.
I receive regular reports with respect to some of the measures that have been taken by China, such as curbing visits. We've been trying to find other ways to stay in touch with them to make sure that—
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
I would say it's almost daily, not weekly, pressure that we put on Chinese authorities when it comes to the Canadian detainees. You will understand that the basis under which I work is a no-harm policy for the ones who are detained, whether it's with respect to their detention conditions or to their release.
There are certain things about their detention conditions that would not be in their best interests for me to describe in detail, but I can assure you that Ambassador Barton and ourselves have been in daily or almost daily contact with the Chinese authorities to follow up on what they are doing, and we are exercising all the rights we have under the Vienna convention to make sure we are in regular contact with the Canadians being detained. We look at their diet and the conditions of their detention.
I've been Minister of Foreign Affairs for four months now and I've had four conversations with my counterpart in China—
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
I know that the Chinese authorities, based on the latest report I received, have restricted access to a number of detention facilities in China. They told us this was to prevent the spread of viruses, and certainly we have heard that, but we are pushing for our rights under the Vienna convention to be in touch regularly with our detainees in China.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
I raise the issue of Michael Spavor, Michael Kovrig and clemency for Mr. Schellenberg regularly with my counterparts. I have been adamant in saying, as I said in my opening statement, that Canada's enforcement of an international treaty should never allow a foreign state to take measures of reprisal against foreigners, and I've stressed to my like-minded colleagues that we should all be concerned, because Michael's case shows why the world's democracies need to work together.
View Ruby Sahota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Hello, Minister. Welcome to committee today.
I too am interested to learn more about the response to the coronavirus. The world watched last month when the virus seemed to be spreading to Canadians who were travelling abroad and consular services all of a sudden were extended to provide help and support to people in other countries.
I want to learn a little bit more about the process. You had a large-scale evacuation from China and from Japan. I want to know exactly what steps you have to take to make those evacuations a reality. I know it took some time, especially when it came to China. Are you planning any future evacuations for Canadians through your consular services?
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Well, thank you for that question, Madam Chair.
I want to give my thanks to our consular officials. I think what my officials have done with respect to the repatriation of people from Wuhan and Hubei provinces, from Japan, and more recently from Oakland is probably one of the biggest missions that has been undertaken in a long time.
In the case of Wuhan, we were facing a number of challenges. There are always three steps in that. You need to assess the situation, decide what you are going to do and then implement it. The first moment that we saw that the number of Canadians was sufficient to justify evacuation and that we needed to evacuate them, we chartered a plane. Then we had to organize the ground logistics.
For my colleagues to understand, to get the plane into China, we needed first to stage the plane in a location closer to China, because we had about a six-hour window from the moment we were given authorization to fly in the airspace to be on the ground, and repatriation needed to be done during the night.
In the background to that, we needed to make sure that people were at home, were informed about the flight and could cross all the checkpoints that would lead them to the airport. In some cases they had to go to 20 checkpoints, so it was about providing licence plates, drivers' numbers and vehicle models to make sure that people could have access. I was very proud that we could do that in a safe and efficient way. If you listen to the reports, they say that Canada's boarding process was one of the most efficient.
When it came to the Diamond Princess, Canada was there first with the CDC. We sent public health officials with American colleagues to talk to the Japanese as we saw the numbers of coronavirus increasing on the ship we were trying to access what was going on. I was pleased that we could repatriate all these Canadians safely to Trenton, working in an interdepartmental....
In the case of those who stayed there, at one stage we had 50 Canadians in 27 hospitals in a radius of 300 kilometres. We were providing what I called personalized consular services. Different families wanted different things. Some wanted means of communication, some wanted to adapt their meals and some wanted to make sure they had mental support. Again, this was unprecedented in everything that we have done so far, I would say, because of the type of services we were required to provide to provide comfort to Canadians. Also, if people were in a quarantine environment, we provided the type of resources needed to do that.
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