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View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
—but can you give us an example of the kinds of things that have been rejected by Canada for export to China?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
No, I cannot give you an example, but I think you are quite right in talking about the items—I think there were 43—that were turned down for export to China.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
My time is up, sir.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you very much, Mr. Harris.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
We will now begin the second round of questions.
Mr. Paul-Hus, you have the floor for five minutes.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Minister.
I would first like to say that I welcomed your opening remarks. I liked what you said, even if it sometimes seemed not to correspond entirely to the response of the Prime Minister or the government. In any event, it is a good start, because what you said is what we are actually seeing at present when it comes to China.
Obviously, the Chinese people, and Asian people in general, are not who we are talking about, since our comments are always directed at the regime.
On that point, the Minister of National Defence, Mr. Sajjan, came to see us a few weeks ago, and there was a comprehension problem regarding the geopolitical situation. I would therefore like to come back to the questions about the security and defence of Canada in geographic terms.
At present, China considers itself to be a near-Arctic region. Officially, is China a territory that is considered to be part of the Arctic region as a whole?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
The quick answer is no, because China is not one of the eight countries that belong to the Arctic Council. However, like a lot of other countries, China wants to eventually be able to navigate in the polar region if conditions permit.
That is a reality we have to deal with, of course.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Your answer relates exactly to my next question.
The polar silk road was announced by Beijing in 2018. I imagine that our American colleagues must have a lot of concerns about that.
How is Canada positioning itself regarding that probable route?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
We are adopting the same approach with all countries that want to navigate in the Canadian Arctic. If they are to do so, they must respect our sovereignty and comply with the environmental requirements we will impose on all countries.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Quite a few years ago, in 2008, Mr. Harper wanted to really position the border, in geostrategic terms, for Canada.
Are we able to clearly establish the borders of Canada in the Arctic at present?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
That is a question that is currently being examined by an international tribunal. A number of countries are affected, including the United States, Denmark, Russia and Canada. In some cases, the territories that are claimed overlap.
The decision is going to have to be made by an international tribunal. It will not be made tomorrow; it will be made several years from now.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you.
You are familiar with the case of the Chinese researchers at a laboratory in Winnipeg who passed information to the Chinese regime. I would like to know where discussions stand with our American and foreign partners regarding the laboratory in Wuhan.
Does Canada still have relations with the laboratory in Wuhan, and if so, why?
Otherwise, where do discussions with the partners stand?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
I cannot give you those details, but, as I have already said several times, we are in favour of a thorough examination of the origin of this virus and we support the proposal by President Biden. If we can help in some way, we will do so. This is important for scientific reasons. We have to understand where this virus came from, because it has devastated the planet and caused over three million deaths. I do not need to say more about that; you understand it. However, for scientific reasons, it is important to get to the bottom of things.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
My question was actually whether, at present, the laboratory in Winnipeg is still in contact with the laboratory in Wuhan, or everything has stopped since the incidents we are familiar with.
Are the two laboratories still in contact?
If so, how do our American partners see that?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
That is a question I do not have an answer to, but I think that at this time there are no activities between the laboratory in Winnipeg and the one in China. However, Ms. Hajdu could confirm that.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Perfect.
We often talk about the two Michaels, but do you know how many Canadians are currently imprisoned in China?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
There are more than two. I mentioned Mr. Schellenberg and Mr. Celil today. There are others as well. I am going to turn to my...
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Excuse me, but I do not have a lot of time left, Minister. I can tell you that 118 Canadians are being held prisoner in China at present.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
I know there are others.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Your colleagueMs. Ng answered a written question, and there are 118 Canadians imprisoned in China.
We are familiar with the problems that the incarceration of the two Michaels is causing us, but, since we have 116 other Canadians imprisoned in China, how can we foresee an end to the negotiations concerning Huawei, for example?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
The decision relating to 5G technology—I assume that is in fact what you are talking about—is a matter we are currently considering. The most important thing for us is to have access to 5G technology, which is going to open all sorts of doors. However, we want to do this with the knowledge that we will be protecting our telecommunication systems.
That is what we are currently looking at. Whether it is one company or another, we have to be absolutely certain that we will not be exposing ourselves to...
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you very much. Forgive me for interrupting you.
Mr. Dubourg, you now have the floor for five minutes.
View Emmanuel Dubourg Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am very pleased to see you this afternoon at the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations, Minister. I would also like to welcome the officials who are with you and thank them for their services.
Earlier, my colleague Ms. Yip asked you some questions. I would like to come back to two of them in particular.
First, Ms. Yip said that the China of 2016 was not the China of 2021, and that Canada's approach needed to evolve with an evolving China.
Can you tell us more about the approach that Canada has adopted in dealing with China?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you very much for the question. I had started to answer, but I did not have enough time.
Yes, China is evolving and has changed since 2016. We have to change the approach we take to China. We have to take what I call the four "Cs" approach.
We have to coexist with China and sometimes cooperate with it, for example when it comes to climate change, which affects us all worldwide. I will take this opportunity to give you an example. Recently, we renegotiated an agreement with China regarding commercial flights between our two countries. That is an area in which we have to cooperate.
There is also the competition aspect. Obviously, we want to sell our products on the international markets, as does China.
On the other hand, we sometimes have to criticize China. That is absolutely essential, and we do it. We have done it on the subject of the treatment of the Uighurs, on what is happening in Hong Kong, and on the arbitrary detention of the two Michaels.
We have also criticized China's aggressive position in the South China Sea and toward Taiwan. We do not hesitate to speak frankly to China when it is necessary.
I would like to mention another important point. Today, we work multilaterally instead of speaking directly with China. We do this on a regular basis. We often take unanimous positions within the Five Eyes, the G7 and other multilateral forums. This makes the positions we take more effective.
View Emmanuel Dubourg Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Minister.
I really like the analogy you use for the four Cs concerning China, whose name begins with a C. You are taking action on all fronts, and that's good.
The other question you were asked is about the two Michaels. They have been over there for 900 days. That's nearly three years.
Are you still in touch with the parents of the two Michaels? Do you continue to provide them with consular services? We are really worried, as this arbitrary detention has been extremely long.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you for asking this question, which is not asked often.
The answer is yes. I am in regular contact with their families. In Michael Spavor's case, I am in contact with his father, Stan, his brother, Paul, and his two sisters. I am in contact with all four of them. The same goes for Michael Kovrig.
I would say that this is probably my most difficult task. I report to them on the situation. We have consular access, and the families really want to know how things are going. They actually mostly want to know whether progress has been made in terms of our efforts to get them released.
Those conversations can be difficult because, as you know, the two Michaels have been in prison for more than 900 days. Maintaining this contact is absolutely essential. They are suffering a great deal. I would also say that many Canadians are suffering, as we have lost two citizens who are very dear to us.
View Emmanuel Dubourg Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you.
As I don't have much time left, I will ask you a question about your relationship with the United States. You used to be an astronaut, and so you have privileged contacts with them.
What kind of a relationship would you say you have with the U.S. Secretary of State Mr. Blinken and the Biden administration?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
I would say that relationship is excellent. Mr. Blinken and I hit it off. He speaks French very well, as he went to high school in Paris in his youth. So we often speak in French, and we have a very good relationship.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you very much, Mr. Dubourg.
Mr. Bergeron, go ahead for two and a half minutes.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Minister, I fully appreciate what you said about how difficult it is to talk to the two Michaels' families. As a former Quebec minister of public security, I had to talk to parents and spouses of police officers who died in service a few times. I must say that those are very difficult moments, but they are particularly rewarding.
As my colleague Mr. Paul‑Hus said a few minutes ago, we learned in The Globe and Mail that Global Affairs Canada reportedly issued an opinion that went against the Department of National Defence's decision to cancel joint exercises planned between China's People's Liberation Army and the Canadian Armed Forces on a base in Ontario. We heard the point of view of the minister and his officials when they appeared.
Why did you issue a contrary opinion when it was logical to cancel those exercises?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
We have always been clear: we do not train with the Chinese army.
The relationship between Canada and China intensified after the Honourable Rob Nicholson, Conservative Minister of National Defence, signed the cooperation plan initiative in 2013. That is how all this began.
The last time the Canadian Armed Forces participated in bilateral military training exercises with China was in 2018. No bilateral military training with China has been carried out or planned since then, and no training is planned for the future.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
BQ (QC)
I would like you to comment on the contrary opinion Global Affairs Canada reportedly issued concerning the Department of National Defence's decision to cancel those exercises.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
I am not familiar with the details of that contrary opinion. Perhaps I could turn to my colleague, but you are telling me something new.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
BQ (QC)
Am I really telling you something new?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Yes you are, Mr. Bergeron.
Deputy Minister Morgan, can you shed some light on this issue?
Marta Morgan
View Marta Morgan Profile
Marta Morgan
2021-06-07 19:22
Yes, I can do that.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Unfortunately we don't have time, as the 10 and a half minutes are up.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
I understood 10 and a half minutes.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
BQ (QC)
We won't get an answer to that question.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
I may be to blame. I did not express myself well.
Now we will go to Mr. Harris for two minutes and 30 seconds, please.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
That was clear. I thought it was 10 minutes as well, Mr. Chair, but I'll have to settle for two and a half.
Mr. Garneau, the security issue comes to light every now and then. Before our committee, we've heard some security concerns about equipment being used or contracted by the Government of Canada. Nuctech, for example, has a standing offer for X-ray equipment in our embassies. In Beijing, our immigration department contracted a company being operated by the Beijing police to look after collecting data for immigration visas. You mentioned the 43 export permits being denied to China these last number of years. Is it fair to say that in the past we took less seriously these issues of security with respect to China? Is that something that the government is prepared to admit, or is everything going according to plan all the way down the line?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Well, in a general way, as I've said, our policies with respect to China are evolving. I can't speak in detail about specific things that happened prior to my arrival.
I will say, on the Nuctech situation, that we have said very clearly that we have not purchased any equipment from Nuctech and we will not use the Nuctech standing offer. However, we did learn from that. We did learn that we need to identify opportunities for improvement with respect to future procurement of security equipment. We've been public about that. We're taking action to implement improvements to the procurement process that were recommended in the review related to that.
With regard to the visa application centre, we're acutely aware of the risks of operating in any foreign environment. We have a rigorous procurement process, led by PSPC, for our contracts abroad. The role of the visa application centre in the immigration system is limited to logistical and administrative support. IRCC officials closely monitor the activities of the visa application centres to ensure that strict privacy standards, as detailed in the contract, are met. We have a lot of proof to show that we monitor this very carefully, so—
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
—we are not concerned about VFS Global in China.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Harris.
We have a few minutes left. I guess we have time for four minutes for Mr. Williamson and four for Mr. Oliphant.
Mr. Williamson, you have four minutes.
View John Williamson Profile
CPC (NB)
Thank you.
It's good to see you, Minister Garneau.
Mr. Garneau, the House of Commons was notified by the law clerk that the minority Liberal government has refused to comply with an order of the House asking that all uncensored records on the firing of the two scientists from Winnipeg's National Microbiology Laboratory be provided to the Speaker. Minister, I thought you were a democrat. This response from your government is surprising: You're going to ignore an order from Parliament to produce these documents. Why is that?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Williamson.
Yes, I'm a proud democrat, but you will also understand that we have a responsibility as a government to ensure we don't jeopardize certain information that touches on privacy and commercial privacy and may also have security implications. That is why Minister Hajdu offered to send all of the unredacted information to the NSICOP, which is the ideal committee to examine it in detail and includes members from your party.
View John Williamson Profile
CPC (NB)
Do you think, then, that parliamentarians are incapable of safeguarding those concerns you raised, that the measures put in place whereby House officials review them to ensure they're not released are inadequate, that the House is not up to the job?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Williamson, you'll recall—because you and I were there, under the Harper government—when we were seeking all sorts of information about things that had happened in Afghanistan. We made similar arguments. It's probably very natural to make those arguments, but in the end, because of security requirements, it was not possible to share unredacted information on those matters with the committee.
View John Williamson Profile
CPC (NB)
That's very true. In fact, Speaker Milliken urged parliamentarians to be cautious. The order that was passed in the House last week did just that. It didn't call for those documents to be released immediately. Rather, they were to be sent for review, first by the law clerk and then by others who would review them to ensure the issues they dealt with—criminal probes, privacy and national security—weren't compromised, so you're wrong on that. The motion addressed the concerns. This is an example of the government not complying with the democratic will of the House of Commons.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
In fact, you just described what normally happens before documents make it to a committee. They are examined by government officials—not by politicians—who make decisions about which information has to be redacted. That's the normal process.
View John Williamson Profile
CPC (NB)
You see no difference, then, between Parliament and the Government of Canada reviewing them. To you, it's just one big entity and it does not matter that accountability safeguards are in place and that parliamentarians are in a position to review these documents.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Well, that's precisely why the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians was created. I think it is a rather elegant solution.
View John Williamson Profile
CPC (NB)
It serves the government's, not Parliament's, interest, because it is—
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
No, it's all of Parliament.
View John Williamson Profile
CPC (NB)
—in fact reporting to a committee that reports not to Parliament but to the Prime Minister. These members can be removed by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister can change the report. It is not arm's length; it is actually an instrument of the Prime Minister, not of Parliament.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
You know, it is different from the standing committees, but because of security implications, it is also important to find an acceptable way to do it. I think that the NSICOP is the right way to do it.
View John Williamson Profile
CPC (NB)
Then the Liberal members on this committee who voted for the process in the House were wrong to have voted that way.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you, Mr. Williamson. Thank you very much. We'll go on now to Mr. Oliphant for four minutes please.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you again, Minister, deputy and officials for being with us.
On that last topic, it might be important to remind the committee that it is established so that the government, whether majority or minority, always has a minority on that committee. Thus, the Liberal government will have only five out of 11 possible members on the committee. This is something we fought for when the Harper government refused any parliamentary oversight on any security issues.
That's just Rob needing to get in there with that lived experience.
Minister, you have said that the China of today is different from five years ago. It is. One thing that has been required of you is to work multilaterally and to work with like-minded and sometimes even unlike-minded countries to find a way to deal with China. When it came to Hong Kong, our government issued many statements with the EU, the U.S., the U.K. and others. Recently you were at the G7 meeting of finance and foreign ministers, and a statement on the Uighurs and the horrendous situation in Xinjiang came out. You are also working on arbitrary detention. I'm kind of giving you a bit of a smorgasbord. Those are just examples of the leadership roles and the collegial roles you are taking on with respect to arbitrary detention.
I would like your thoughts on this way of working.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you very much for the question and for the precision on the NSICOP composition as well.
We believe that if we are to transmit a message to China, that message, broadly speaking, is that we all operate on this planet according to international rules-based law and that it is not acceptable to practice coercive diplomacy between countries. Fortunately, our like-minded partners, such as members of the G7 and in particular our closest ally, the United States, feel the same way.
It is certainly not acceptable to arbitrarily detain innocent civilians from another country because you have a difference of opinion on a particular issue with that country. Sure, we can have differences of opinion with China, but you don't resolve those by imprisoning citizens from the other country. China is not the only country that is guilty of that, but it is an example.
We believe that if we act together multilaterally, we send a stronger message. That's essentially it. There was a very big section in the communiqué from the foreign ministers of the G7 when we met in London. You will probably see a similar important section when the leaders meet in Cornwall next week.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
Do you know how many countries have signed on to this declaration that Canada has led the way on?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Yes. We're at 63 now. It was 58 when I made the announcement in February.
Of course, every time I speak to another country, I bring up the importance of it, because it could happen to them. We're building that. We are in fact moving towards the next stage with respect to the arbitrary detention declaration.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
I've often thought that it's a two-way message. It's to countries that might perpetrate arbitrary detention. It's also a statement to our own citizens to say that we will absolutely have their back, as you have for the citizens arbitrarily detained.
The situation in Hong Kong obviously takes a whole-of-government approach as we're looking at it. This is an issue that I think every member of this committee, no matter what party they're from, is concerned about—
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you, Mr. Oliphant. I regret that we won't have time for the answer to the question you were about to ask. We'll have to conclude with that.
Minister, thank you very much for joining us this evening. I'm glad, first of all, that the power in your phone and your notebook computer held out until your electricity came back on. It's good to see that happen.
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Yes, the power came on and I'm even feeling some cooler air.
If I may say so, you run a very tight ship. You must be a Nova Scotian, Mr. Chair.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
That's a good comment. You can come back and see us again someday.
Thank you, Minister Garneau.
We will go on now to the second hour. We have the officials.
We have Mr. Genuis for six minutes, please.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would like to use this time now to move the motion that I had provided notice of. That motion has been distributed to all committee members. The motion is the following:
That, in relation to the documents ordered by the Committee, on Monday, March 31, 2021, and Monday, May 10, 2021, to be produced by the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Committee publish on its website all the documents received from the Agency in their current redacted form, while underlining its insistence that the Public Health Agency fully comply with the orders for the production of unredacted documents.
Mr. Chair, this motion reflects the fact that, unfortunately, we have not received the unredacted documents. However, we have been given redacted documents. We've been asked by journalists to share those documents. There's a public interest in this information being made public. I think we have an obligation to do that.
We've received these documents. We've had plenty of time to review them. I think members will agree with me that there's nothing in these documents that can't be made public. The Public Health Agency of Canada—inappropriately, in my view, but it was still done—redacted information that they didn't want made public.
Given that these redactions shouldn't have taken place but did, we have no reason at this point not to make the redacted versions of the documents public. I think we have an obligation to do that.
I put forward this motion. I hope it can be dealt with quickly and that we can return to questions. I wanted to make sure that we got this done; hence, I moved the motion.
Thank you.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you, Mr. Genuis.
I have to open the floor and see if there's any debate. I'll look for hands.
Go ahead, Mr. Oliphant.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
I'm not opposed to the motion, but I also want to walk through it and think about it a bit with the committee and get the wisdom from members of the committee to understand what the value is of doing this in terms of a public good.
I have supported this kind of motion at other committees, but I wonder what the value is and why we should entertain this motion at this point when we still have a set of activities going on. We have a motion that has been passed by our committee with respect to the submission of documents to our committee. That motion then got somewhat doubled up and superseded by an opposition motion in the House, which was confusing for me as well, because it seemed that we didn't allow our committee work to continue while the House had another order at the request of the Conservatives. Now we're getting something that is again leapfrogging over a process that I don't think is finished yet.
I am looking for wisdom from members of the committee to find out how it is that we are adding to the public dialogue and discourse on this topic, what it is that we want to accomplish, and how it is perhaps going to be, if not necessarily in conflict with, but out of order with the number of steps that the House has asked to take place. I don't think we've resolved either the committee motions from May—when we made two motions that dovetailed, one into the other—or the House motion, and now we have this motion.
As I said, I'm not on principle opposed to this motion, but I also want to make sure that we're doing things in an order that is discernible in terms of our motivations.
I found it interesting when I read an interview with former member of Parliament Derek Lee, who has this as his fascination and his interest. He has written a book on the issues of parliamentary privilege. He talked very guardedly in that interview about wanting to make sure that all the things we do as a committee are for the work of the committee and the public good and are not simply motivated by partisan political activity.
I just want to dig into this a bit. I'm a little disappointed that it's happening when we have witnesses, who are taking time from their schedule to be with us this evening—and on my birthday, even, I would say.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Oh. Well, happy birthday.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
I like to respect witnesses and their time. These are public servants who are working for us and Canadians every day. However, I also think that we have some digging in to do on this particular motion, so I would like to hear from colleagues about it before we move on it too quickly.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Happy birthday, Mr. Oliphant, and thank you.
Mr. Harris is next.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
Thank you, Chair.
I'm happy to join in wishing Mr. Oliphant a happy birthday. I'm sure he would probably be celebrating it some other way than joining us this evening.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Harris, let me interrupt for a moment. I can't think of a better group of people to be spending this birthday with, virtually.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
Well, I'm glad to hear that.
I have some sympathy for what Mr. Oliphant is saying, in that we are in the process of undertaking a study on what happened through PHAC at the lab in Winnipeg and we need these documents and this information to be able to do our work. I wanted to congratulate the enthusiasm of Mr. Genuis and others on the committee in pursuing that information. We all joined in that pursuit and in the motion before the House.
I'm a little bit concerned that it would be difficult for the public to follow what we're doing if we're calling for these papers, as in the title of Derek Lee's book, and we're not getting them. Then I guess the pursuit is to follow through on that in the House of Commons.
I wasn't there—I was busy at another committee doing a report—but I gather the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel has actually written to them since the question was raised by you, Mr. Genuis, in the House this afternoon, saying that we did not get the unredacted papers, and there's now a motion of privilege before the House. All of this seems to be perhaps piling on one procedure after another.
As to the release of these documents in a redacted form while we're asking for the unredacted ones, I'm wondering whether there is a value in that right now. Will it stop us from pursuing our work, or is it just giving other people an opportunity to comment on them while we're trying to pursue the other documents?
I'd like a little clarification on that, because I think the narrative to the public may just be confusion about various parliamentary procedures going on, as opposed to the substance of what is being sought by the committee with respect to these documents and papers. I wonder if you could explain that a little better.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you, Mr. Harris.
Oh, I thought I had Mr. Lightbound, but now I have Mr. Genuis instead.
We have Mr. Genuis, please.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Very briefly, there are two separate issues. One issue is the continuing expectation that unredacted documents will be provided. That's one.
The other issue is that we already have some documents and we are operating in a democracy that is open by default. There's nothing secret in these documents. Let's make those public. While this process is going on over here with the unredacted documents, let's make the redacted documents public, because the public are interested. We've had journalists contact this committee. The public have a right to know. There's no reason to keep them secret.
Recognizing that there are two processes going on, let's just make public the documents we can make public. That's all this does.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Lightbound is next.
View Joël Lightbound Profile
Lib. (QC)
Just like Mr. Harris and Mr. Oliphant, I am relatively well disposed toward this motion, but the elements raised by Mr. Harris, among others, are worthy of consideration and should be discussed in more depth in committee.
Could we talk about this after the witnesses leave, when we discuss committee business? This is my humble and respectful suggestion, Mr. Chair.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you very much, Mr. Lightbound.
No committee members seem to want talk about it right now. I cannot decide when we could discuss such a topic. If no one wants to debate it, I will ask the clerk to go ahead with the vote.
Oh, we have Mr. Harris, please.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
I'm certainly prepared to support this motion. The explanation makes sense. The only part that didn't make sense was the assertion of openness by default coming from someone who was active in the Harper government. I don't think we saw very much of that during the years that I was here when Mr. Harper was prime minister. Be that as it may, perhaps this is a new era of conservatism that we haven't experienced before.
Your explanation is a simple one. If we have these documents and they are redacted to the satisfaction of PHAC and don't contain anything that they wouldn't give to someone asking for an ATIP request, such as has happened in other committees, then making them public is not going to do any harm.
Mr. Oliphant was concerned that we might be causing confusion with three or four different things going on at once.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you, Mr. Harris.
I'm not seeing anyone else wishing to debate—
Monsieur Dubourg, go ahead.
View Emmanuel Dubourg Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I would like to get a clarification. Could my colleague Joël Lightbound's proposal be taken into consideration?
Given the time, he is right to say that it would be good to be able to discuss or debate the topic, instead of going to a vote right away. It would be worthwhile to take his proposal into account. I am wondering whether my colleagues agree with me. That way, we could have more time to discuss it.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
As chair of the committee, I do not get to decide. The committee does. Members always have the opportunity to propose motions, but the committee members don't seem to want to debate the issue right now. Since that is the case, I must ask the clerk to proceed with the vote.
(Motion agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Now, to my understanding—Mr. Genuis may be aware of this—when a member uses their time to propose a motion and of course then speaks to their motion, they unfortunately give up the rest of their time.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Well, I see that you're smiling. I suspect that you might have been aware of this.
I'll go on to Ms. Zann for five minutes, please.
View Lenore Zann Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The minister stated earlier that our bilateral relationship with China is complex and multi-dimensional. In recent years, this relationship obviously has presented [Technical difficulty—Editor] and has continued to evolve. We also know that many of our international partners are facing similar challenges. It has been stated many times that Canada believes it's essential to work with our closest allies to have a united approach when it comes to China.
Could the officials please explain to this committee how we are actually collaborating with like-minded partners on this crucial issue?
Marta Morgan
View Marta Morgan Profile
Marta Morgan
2021-06-07 19:48
Our approach to China is evolving to meet the challenges of threats to our national security, to democratic values and to human rights. We have recognized that we need to challenge China on many of those issues.
I think a good example of that, when it comes to working with allies, is the work that we've done on arbitrary detention. As Minister Garneau mentioned, 63 countries have now signed on to our statement on arbitrary detention, which is practised by a number of states globally and goes against the rules that govern the international system.
We work very closely with international allies through the G7, for example. You saw an extensive statement coming out of the G7 foreign ministers meeting at the beginning of May condemning the human rights violations against the Uighurs. We work at the United Nations with allies at the United Nations Human Rights Committee, for example, to decry the human rights abuses being committed against the Uighurs and to seek unfettered access for the UN special rapporteur on human rights. There are many examples, whether it's with our G7 partners or with our Five Eyes partners. Sometimes we will work bilaterally, for example, with the United Kingdom on an issue.
I think one of the main messages I would pass is just the importance of building those alliances and working with allies. We are so much stronger when we work together. That's a critical part of our strategy and our approach going forward.
View Lenore Zann Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you so much for that really detailed answer.
I'd like to continue along this line of questioning.
As you know, it's been about a year now since the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China passed the national security law for Hong Kong. Since the passage of this law, many legislators and peaceful protesters have been arrested.
Can you please reiterate Canada's commitment to the promotion and protection of freedom of expression around the world?
Marta Morgan
View Marta Morgan Profile
Marta Morgan
2021-06-07 19:51
Yes.
The protection of freedom of expression, the promotion of democracy and the protection of human rights are critical values that guide Canada's foreign policy around the world. They are a key pillar of our foreign policy, and we work very closely with our allies on these issues.
Hong Kong is another good example. In March, Canada and our G7 partners issued a statement expressing grave concerns over the decision by the National People's Congress to overhaul Hong Kong's electoral system.
We worked together in early January, joining Australia, the United Kingdom and the U.S. in a joint statement around reiterating our serious concerns over mass arrests. This is not only vis-à-vis Hong Kong or only vis-à-vis China, but these are positions and views that Canada expresses in multiple fora when we see the need to stand up with our partners and promote human rights, democracy and freedom of speech.
View Lenore Zann Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you so much.
Have you seen a recent increase in the number of Hong Kong citizens who have applied to come and live in Canada through the new Hong Kong immigration program?
Marta Morgan
View Marta Morgan Profile
Marta Morgan
2021-06-07 19:52
I think that question would probably be best posed to my colleagues at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, who follow the numbers very closely.
I would just say that the program is designed to provide a pathway for young Hong Kongers to come to Canada. We have such a vibrant people-to-people relationship. I think it's one element of our approach going forward.
View Lenore Zann Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you.
As the situation in Hong Kong continues to deteriorate, many Canadians are concerned for the safety of their friends and family. Given the long reach of the national security law, could and should Canadians, including those of Hong Kong descent, feel unsafe?
Marta Morgan
View Marta Morgan Profile
Marta Morgan
2021-06-07 19:53
We remain deeply concerned over the rapid deterioration of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong. We believe that a stable and prosperous Hong Kong, where the rule of law and fundamental rights and freedoms are guaranteed, is in everyone's interests. That includes dual Canadian-Chinese citizens in Hong Kong.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you very much.
Mr. Bergeron, go ahead for six minutes.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I thank the witnesses for still being with us at such a late hour this evening.
Deputy Minister, you are probably expecting me to get back to my question, which you could not answer because I ran out of time.
According to The Globe and Mail, the opinion was published by Global Affairs Canada against the decision of the Canadian Armed Forces to cancel the joint exercise planned between the troops of China's People's Liberation Army and the Canadian Armed Forces on a military base in Ontario.
What is the justification for that contrary opinion from Global Affairs Canada when, logically, everything was pointing toward that exercise being cancelled?
Marta Morgan
View Marta Morgan Profile
Marta Morgan
2021-06-07 19:55
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As Minister Garneau said, we have not had bilateral military training commitments with China since 2018. It is normal for departments to have discussions on these kinds of issues, but no bilateral military training has taken place with China since then.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
BQ (QC)
I completely agree with you. However, the fact is that, according to The Globe and Mail—unless the newspaper was misinformed or lied—it seems that Global Affairs Canada published an opinion against cancelling that exercise.
From the Global Affairs Canada's viewpoint, according to what requirement should that exercise have been held?
Marta Morgan
View Marta Morgan Profile
Marta Morgan
2021-06-07 19:56
As the minister said, we have not had any military training exercises.
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