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Guy Saint-Jacques
View Guy Saint-Jacques Profile
Guy Saint-Jacques
2020-03-09 10:09
Thank you for the invitation, Mr. Chair.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
I am a career diplomat, having spent 39 years with Global Affairs Canada, including 13 years in China: 2 years in Hong Kong and 11 years in Beijing. I was an ambassador for the last four years of that period, from 2012 to 2016.
Today, I would like to discuss three topics: the state of bilateral relations, China under Xi Jinping and, finally, the adjustments required, in my view, to Canada's engagement strategy with China.
Before we get started, let me give you some of my main messages. This committee provides an opportunity not only to take stock of the bilateral relationship, but also to adjust Canada's engagement strategy towards China.
It has become very difficult to remain ambivalent on China after having been victims of their brutal retaliatory measures following the arrest of Mrs. Meng Wanzhou and also knowing how they interfere in Hong Kong and the treatment given to Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
Colin Robertson pointed out the following in the Globe and Mail last July:
We need a realistic, not a romantic, China policy. It should start with the recognition that China is an authoritarian state, a strategic competitor and systemic rival. It will never follow Western democratic norms because that would destabilize the Communist Party—the root and base of the People’s Republic of China.
As a result, we have to review our engagement strategy with China and base our approach on the protection of our values and on reciprocity. It also means diversifying our trade to other countries in Asia. As well, we need to work with partners to reinforce the multilateral system. Domestically, we need to react strongly to any interference attempt by the Chinese Communist Party or the Chinese government. Similar to Australia, we need to adopt laws to prevent such interference. Finally, we need to continue to develop our competencies to better understand China, as it is not going away.
Let me turn to bilateral relations. As you know, all official dialogue is suspended. There are very few and limited official contacts. Fifteen months into the crisis, what has been the impact of the strategy pursued by the Canadian government so far? While Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have finally had access to a lawyer, there is some uncertainty as to where the legal process stands for them. Their trial could be announced any day. If so, it will take 18 to 24 months before they are sentenced. Once the process starts, it will become a lot more difficult to get them out. I lived through that with Kevin and Julia Garratt. Plus, we have no word from the Chinese supreme court on the appeal of Robert Schellenberg's death sentence. China has warned us that there will be no improvement in the relationship until Mrs. Meng Wanzhou is freed. Unless the judge decides in June that Meng’s rights were not respected when she was arrested, and she is then released, her extradition process will drag on for years.
On the trade front, our exports last year to China dropped 16%, or $4.5 billion, and will likely drop further this year because of the impact of COVID-19 and the trade deal between China and the U.S.A. Plus, we could be subject to further measures if the government decides that Huawei will not participate in 5G development in Canada. In summary, we have to brace ourselves for years of difficult relations.
Howard spoke about China under Xi Jinping. I will summarize my comments here, because I agree with all he said on Xi Jinping. This crisis shows the challenges of dealing with a superpower that ignores international rules when they are not to its liking and does not hesitate to severely punish countries that refuse to obey its diktats. While Canada is not the first country to be at the receiving end of China’s displeasure, it is the first time where a country has rallied support from allies. In fact, this also illustrates how China has become a lot more assertive, aggressive and, I would say, arrogant since Xi Jinping took control of the Communist Party in November 2012. Of course, the ongoing crisis related to COVID-19 is having a very severe impact on the Chinese economy. It comes after a difficult 2019 for Xi Jinping, with the situation in Hong Kong not resolved, electoral results not to his liking in Taiwan, the trade war with the U.S., which has slowed down the Chinese economy, and the African swine flu epidemic.
It also makes it almost impossible to meet two of his goals—namely, eliminating poverty this year and China becoming a comprehensively well-off society. For that, he needs growth of at least 5.6%, and I think it's likely to be around 4% to 5%. While there is a lot of popular discontent, I don't think the Xi leadership is under threat.
This leads me to my third point and the key question for Canada and other western countries: Is it possible to have normal relations with China? I would argue that despite the ongoing problems that could mar the relationship for years, we have to look at where we want to be 10 years from now. Despite the slowdown of its economy, and especially the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, China can continue to grow at 4% to 6% for many years. I base this on its urbanization rate, which is still low at about 59%, and its plan to move to an economy where growth will be based on consumption and services. Of course, debt has to be watched. It stands now at about 300% of GDP. All of this is to say that China will remain an important market for Canadian exporters.
In my view, there are a number of measures the government could take, both bilaterally and multilaterally. On the bilateral side, as a starting point we should define our fundamental values and interests. Therefore, there should be no tolerance for freelancing by Chinese investigators in Canada to repatriate economic fugitives and no tolerance for interference in Canadian politics, on Canadian campuses, and in the Canadian Chinese community. As I mentioned earlier, I encourage you to look at the four laws adopted by Australia to prevent interference in its internal affairs. There should be no tolerance for spying by the Chinese government or the People's Liberation Army to gain a commercial advantage. In fact, we should expel Chinese spies when they are discovered, or charge perpetrators of espionage.
As well, I think we should announce that we will no longer pursue a free trade agreement with China. We should launch a special review of an ongoing collaboration on artificial intelligence. This would be to try to ensure that Canadian technology is not used to put in place the social credit system in China. Also, we should look at the bilateral investment treaty to see if changes are required. We should conduct more rigorous and sustained inspections of Chinese products to ensure they satisfy our safety standards. We should announce that we will redeploy trade commissioners to other countries in Asia and take advantage of free trade agreements while looking at ways to better support companies in China. In my view, we should apply reciprocity in terms of Chinese government access in Ottawa to make it similar to what Ambassador Barton has in Beijing. What I have in mind is that no federal minister should accept an invitation to lunch or dinner at the Chinese embassy.
As Howard said, we have to continue to work with China on global issues, such as climate change—months ago, in fact, I was thinking about pandemics, and now we are in the middle of one—economic issues and nuclear proliferation. There are many areas in which Canada can offer a lot to China.
Huawei has been discussed a lot. I worked on this issue when I was ambassador. I think we should open the 5G process to all public companies and adopt a position similar to that of the United Kingdom. So far, the approach pursued by CSE, whereby all equipment is tested before being deployed in Canada, has worked. Again, the government, and business for that matter, will have to increase their capacity to understand China better and to ensure a well-informed and more sophisticated approach to China.
On the multilateral front, clearly Canada is not in a position to criticize China much by itself on its trade practices or human rights. We must recognize that our capacity to influence is very limited. As China is concerned about its international reputation, we should continue to seek support from allies, including in Asia from Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Singapore, to démarche the Chinese government to release our prisoners, but we should also think about developing a strategy to join efforts on issues of common concern in order to prevent China from punishing another country that does something that displeases it. We should also make joint démarches in Beijing on the situation in Xinjiang or human rights abuses and call on China to respect its own constitution and improve the way it administers justice. This is also important to reassure foreign investors.
We should also look at ways to better support democracy in Hong Kong and Taiwan. We should work also with allies on common approaches to Chinese opposition of foreign technology and investment in general, on ensuring that China delivers on the promises it made when it joined the WTO, and on pushing for the respect of international norms, so as to ensure that the multilateral system works and is not undermined, and that obligations apply to all.
In conclusion, as Kurt Campbell and Jake Sullivan pointed out in the September edition of Foreign Affairs:
The best defence of democracy is to stress the values that are essential to good governance, especially transparency and accountability, and to support civil society, independent media, and the free flow of information.
Thank you for your attention. I will be happy to answer your questions.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I want to thank both of you, not only for your testimony today but for your service to Canada.
I want to start with Ambassador Saint-Jacques. Sir, you mentioned the Garratt case, which is, of course, of great interest to this committee. The Garratts were released, and of course, we're hoping for a similar outcome in the present cases. I wonder if you could share a little bit, briefly, about what led to success in the context of the Garratt case.
Guy Saint-Jacques
View Guy Saint-Jacques Profile
Guy Saint-Jacques
2020-03-09 10:21
Well, it started in a similar fashion, inasmuch as we had received a request from the U.S. to extradite Mr. Su Bin, who was a Chinese person living in Vancouver and who was wanted for spying activities. A week later, unfortunately, Kevin and Julia Garratt were arrested. We went through a very similar process whereby we couldn't have access to them during the interrogation phase. We knew that they were detained in a location near Dandong. Finally, after a lot of pressure we were able to have consular access, but they didn't have access to their lawyers.
What changed was that, contrary to the Chinese government's expectations, Mr. Su Bin made a deal with American authorities, agreed to a plea bargain, and therefore waived his rights and was extradited rapidly to the U.S. In the meantime, the legal process for Mr. Garratt started. In the Chinese system, once you are formally charged, you are found guilty 99.9% of the time, so it was just a matter of time.
This started back in August 2014. It was under the previous government. Despite all attempts by Minister Baird and by the Prime Minister—Mr. Harper also raised the issue of the Garratts with the Chinese leadership—and despite pleas by the then Governor General Mr. Johnston, there was no success. Finally, when Prime Minister Trudeau made his first visit to China at the end of August, we used this to negotiate a way out.
In fact, the Chinese government was angry every time a Canadian leader would raise high-profile consular cases in bilateral meetings, so they insisted on creating a new dialogue. We had a whole slew of dialogues. This one would be on national security, and they said it would be the one in which we could discuss high-profile consular cases. We said we would agree to the creation of this committee, provided it would be named the national security and rule of law dialogue.
They also wanted to discuss an extradition treaty. We kept telling them we were not going to negotiate an extradition treaty that would never be able to meet our standards, but I saw this as a good opportunity to discuss how law works in Canada. The first meeting of that committee took place in September 2016, two weeks after the visit of Mr. Trudeau. That's where we were able to negotiate.
The Chinese completed the trial. They sentenced Mr. Garratt and then agreed to expel him.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
Just to follow up on that, in Jonathan Manthorpe's famous book Claws of the Panda, he wrote this about this case, which is similar to what you said:
The price of Garratt’s release appears to have been an extradition treaty. Ottawa soon issued a communiqué: “The two sides determined that the short-term objectives for Canada-China co-operation on security and rule of law are to start discussions on an Extradition Treaty and a Transfer of Offenders Treaty as well as other related matters.”
You used the term “negotiate” the release. In August, Bill Morneau was in China, and it was at that time when he announced Canada's desire to enter the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. We have the implication in Mr. Manthorpe's book that there was a sort of quid pro quo around the beginning of those extradition discussions and the release of the Garratts. Is this what you mean by negotiation? Was there some kind of quid pro quo here?
Guy Saint-Jacques
View Guy Saint-Jacques Profile
Guy Saint-Jacques
2020-03-09 10:25
Well, with all due respect to Mr. Manthorpe, he is wrong on this, because I was closely involved in all of these discussions. Again, we were very clear with the Chinese. We agreed to discuss an extradition treaty, and again, it was in a way to try to make them improve the way they administer their own justice. We were telling them that the way the proof was put together would not stand the light of day in Canadian courts.
Therefore, this was totally separate from other issues. This was, of course, a very important issue for the Canadian government to get the release of Kevin Garratt. At that time, Mrs. Garratt herself had been released on bail, which I had to sign for. In my view, the decision on whether to join the Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank was totally separate. It—
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Can I just ask a quick question? It wasn't perceived as a quid pro quo in your mind. Is there a possibility that this was interpreted on the Chinese side as involving some kind of quid pro quo around some of these policy decisions that were taken at the same time, or in the same visits, that the Garratt issue was discussed?
Guy Saint-Jacques
View Guy Saint-Jacques Profile
Guy Saint-Jacques
2020-03-09 10:26
There was no quid pro quo, in my view. I think it was very clear. We had many discussions with the Chinese, and we always outlined the view of Canadians that they saw the arrest of Kevin and Julia Garratt as outrageous and that this had to be resolved before the relationship could move forward.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much, Chair, and thanks to both of you for being here today.
As recently as yesterday, I was asked what keeps me awake at night in my job as parliamentary secretary, and it is, without a doubt, consular issues. It is, without a doubt, Canadians around the world in various states of turmoil or detention, etc. The issues that keep me probably the most awake are the issues of arbitrary detentions like those of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, as well as the arbitrary resentencing of Mr. Schellenberg.
Maybe I'll start with you, Mr. Saint-Jacques, because I know that you have a personal interest in this and a care that you've expressed. You're both saying in various ways that engagement needs to be realistic, and not romantic, but that it is necessary. We cannot not engage with China.
I've been working on this for many months now, and I have not found a silver bullet in terms of how to engage, at what level to engage, how to demand and how to express how Canada should be operating in this world right now, given our extradition agreement with the United States, given our court proceedings that are continuing and given our absolute concern for the well-being of Canadians arbitrarily held in detention.
I want to push a bit on that for your advice with respect to what in the diplomatic tool kit we may not have been doing and what we can do more of. We have unprecedented numbers of allies we are working with, and other countries haven't done this, but it's not working yet. I've been told by some ambassadors from other countries that we have to settle in and recognize that it will be a while, but I'm anxious and I'm impatient.
I'm wondering if you could help us with that.
Guy Saint-Jacques
View Guy Saint-Jacques Profile
Guy Saint-Jacques
2020-03-09 10:53
I would say that consular issues kept me up at night as well. When I was the ambassador, we had two Canadians who were executed on drug charges despite all the pleas that Prime Minister Harper wrote to Xi Jinping the day before one was going to be executed, to no avail, and Governor General Johnston had raised this. Of course, having worked with Michael Kovrig and having recruited him to come to Beijing, I think about him every day.
Again, I would base all of this on our values and, again, we should not compromise. We need to explain and we should explain why those values are important to Canadians, and we need to be consistent in the way we address this. This means that, assuming that we will have a more official contact with the Chinese and at some point relations will resume, we have to explain why we won't tolerate behaviour that we see as bullying or as that of a spoiled child, because in many ways I believe China is now acting like a spoiled child.
Again, we need to explain that, look, Canada has been very helpful to China. As Howard said, we have helped to modernize their legal structure. When I arrived in China for the first time, in Beijing in 1984, they had about 200 lawyers that we helped to train, and the level of justice has been moving in the right direction.
View Emmanuel Dubourg Profile
Lib. (QC)
I thank you for suggesting these potential solutions.
Very quickly, like my colleague Mr. Oliphant, I would like to return to the cases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
You have both been ambassadors to China, and Mr. Saint-Jacques explained how long this process could take. If you were currently ambassador to China, what other action would you take to ensure that these two gentlemen are released more quickly?
Guy Saint-Jacques
View Guy Saint-Jacques Profile
Guy Saint-Jacques
2020-03-09 11:05
This is an extremely difficult situation. The previous government faced the same difficulty in the cases of Kevin and Julia Garratt and Huseyin Celil, who is still being held in Urumqi, Xinjiang. These issues are very difficult and require a consistent and coherent approach and repeating the same messages.
In this case, as soon as China began to apply punitive measures against Canadian trade, there should have been an immediate response. In the case of canola, we should have gone to the World Trade Organization, WTO, right away to protest. China is a member of the WTO, so you have to use that kind of forum.
I think we need to show China everything we won't do to help it. There is a lot of collaboration between our countries, especially in the area of health care—China envies the Canadian system—and in the area of stock market and financial controls. We can help in a number of areas. So we have to tell them that until things improve, we will not help them.
Ivan Zinger
View Ivan Zinger Profile
Ivan Zinger
2020-02-25 8:47
Thank you, Mr. Chair,
Thank you, members of the committee.
Good morning.
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my latest annual report.
I want to focus my opening remarks on aspects of the organizational culture of the Correctional Service of Canada that are holding it back from embracing change and implementing reforms that the government issued to the Commissioner of Corrections in September 2018.
Coincidentally, on the same day that my report was tabled, the Office of the Auditor General released a report entitled “Respect in the Workplace”. This audit looked at whether the Canada Border Services Agency and Correctional Service of Canada promoted and maintained workplaces free of harassment, discrimination and violence. In the case of the Correctional Service, the Auditor General found that the service knew that these problems were present in its workplace but had not developed a comprehensive strategy to address them.
It is significant that the findings of two independent oversight bodies converge on this point of a problematic organizational or staff culture within the Correctional Service. The minister's 2018 mandate letter to the Commissioner of Corrections directs her to make it an overriding priority to ensure that the Correctional Service
is a workplace free from bullying, harassment and sexual violence.
The three case studies included in my annual report suggest that certain ingrained habits, attitudes and behaviours have become barriers to reform. Though I have no mandate to fix the negative elements of staff culture or labour relations, when misconduct or non-compliance with the law creates problems or adverse effects for inmates, I have an obligation to report and act upon them.
In the first case study, entitled “Dysfunction at Edmonton Institution”, I found that both staff and management at this facility tolerated an established history of assaultive behaviour perpetrated by a group of inmates against a subpopulation of protected status inmates. Evidence showed that the recurring verbal and physical assaults on protective status inmates—which included throwing food, bodily fluids, garbage and other degrading and humiliating acts—were planned and orchestrated events that increased and escalated over a three-month period.
My findings suggest that the cruel and callous nature of these incidents must be placed in the context of an organizational culture that an independent human resource consultant concluded three years ago ran on fear, suspicion, mistrust, intimidation, harassment, vulgar language and other abuses of power and authority, and this was among staff members. What can only be described as a culture of impunity impacted how staff treated and responded to inmates. An abusive workplace culture perpetuated staff misconduct and contributed to the dehumanizing acts of violence among inmates.
Both staff and management were aware of the repeated nature of the physical assaults and verbal abuse, yet took no disciplinary or remedial measures against the aggressors or steps to protect the victims of these assaults and abuses. Though these incidents were initially reported and brought forward to senior management at Edmonton Institution by my office, it took over three months and the disclosure of indisputable video evidence to the commissioner before even the basic remedial measures were put in place.
Two other case studies help further illustrate the resistant qualities of the organizational culture of the Correctional Service. In the first instance, four years of use of force reviews reveal a recurring pattern of deficient accountability, non-compliance with law and policy, and poor performance in managing use of force incidents at Atlantic Institution in New Brunswick.
I found little evidence that implementation of a new engagement and intervention model introduced in the aftermath of the preventable death of Matthew Hines has made much of a difference in the manner, rate, severity or level of force used at Atlantic Institution. Significantly, the reliance on pepper spray to manage prison tension and conflict behind bars has not diminished at this facility, nor indeed across the rest of the service.
Finally, my office has been reporting on food issues in federal corrections for over five years. We have made several recommendations, none of which have been actioned, and things have not changed for the better.
A recent internal audit conducted by the service confirmed several deficiencies previously reported by my office, including an inadequate per diem of less than six dollars per day per inmate to spend on food, inconsistent and substandard meal quality and portion sizes, failure to meet Canada's food guide requirements, inordinate amount of food spoilage and wastage, and failure to consistently follow special diet requirements.
One of the most significant concerns revealed by this audit is that the Correctional Service rolled out its food service modernization project in the absence of an updated policy framework. To this day, the Correctional Service has not provided any evidence that this project yielded expected cost savings or efficiencies.
More significantly, the audit failed to drill down on the relationship between food and the order, safety and security of institutions. The audit did not examine lessons from the December 2016 deadly riot at Saskatchewan Penitentiary, which linked food shortages, inadequate portions and poor meal quality at this facility to the rising levels of inmate tension and protests—factors that eventually led to the riot.
The rise of food as a commodity in the inmate economy is not probed, nor is the fact that the inmate canteen now supplements or even replaces daily meals. These issues are top of mind concerns at most institutions, yet this audit failed to acknowledge and bring them forward to management for correction.
Finally, let me conclude by acknowledging the encouraging statements issued by both the commissioner and the Minister of Public Safety in response to my report. Both reiterated their commitment to ensuring CSC employees have a respectful and healthy workplace. These statements are important, but must also be seen in the context of the statutory obligation of the service to “take all reasonable steps to ensure that penitentiaries, the penitentiary environment, the living and working conditions of inmates, and the working conditions of staff members are safe, healthful and free of practices that undermine … personal dignity”.
I believe parliamentarians and Canadians have a right to know how the service intends to comply with the law and fix elements of a workplace culture that perpetuates, condones or otherwise gives licence to violence, abuse of power and mistreatment behind bars.
Thank you, and I would be happy to take your questions.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
Thank you, Dr. Zinger, for joining us. I have to say, as a recently returned member, that I'm not current with all the goings-on in Correctional Service Canada, but I've looked at your report and I admire the dedication, objectivity and compassion that you bring to this job.
Having read your report, noting the statutory obligation of CSC to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the penitentiary environment, the living and working conditions of inmates and working conditions of staff members are safe, healthful and free of practices that undermine personal dignity, it's a shock to me, returning to this situation. I should say that it must be a shock to Canadians to know how far we are from the standard that your report indicates. It's worrisome to me and it would be more worrisome if Canadians weren't equally concerned about making changes to this.
Let me ask you a couple of questions. You referred to the population of inmates with mental health problems. It's a major issue across the country. We know that many inmates find themselves in prison as a result of their mental health problems, in large measure in some cases. Do you have a number that could tell us what per cent of the prison population is affected by this, to the extent that, as you suggest, they ought to be treated differently as a result of their mental health condition? Is there a number that you could put on it in terms of a percentage?
Ivan Zinger
View Ivan Zinger Profile
Ivan Zinger
2020-02-25 9:17
I can tell you that it's always difficult to talk about prevalence because, depending on what you're trying to target, you can come up with different numbers. If you talk about the prevalence of inmates upon admission who have any mental disorder, including substance abuse disorder, you're looking at 75% to 80%. If you are looking at a much more narrow definition, people who have what was previously known as axis I disorders—people who basically are disconnected with reality and may be suffering from schizophrenia, major depression or things of that nature—you're looking at 7% to 8%.
I think the best prevalence data that I use is this: Upon admission, how many people need psychological or psychiatric services? That number is about 29%, which is way off the charts compared with the general Canadian population.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
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