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View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Indeed, I think it was last week that I spent a week.... We started our trip in Latvia to go see our troops. As you know, the largest contingent of Canadians is in Latvia. They're doing superb work as part of the NATO mission there in Operation Reassurance.
I will say that what I heard from the President of Latvia, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs was that Canadians are welcome. We are at the front line. We are providing assistance and deterrence. They were so proud to serve, and I was so proud to see them serve our country in Latvia, making a real difference. I was asked before what the Canadian difference is. Just go to Latvia and ask anyone on the street. Canadians are known and renowned for what we're doing to ensure stability and security in the Baltics.
Then we went on to Ukraine, which, as you know, is one of the relationships that dates far back. We have more than one million Ukrainians in Canada; they make up one of our largest communities. However, we're not in the Ukraine because we have 1.3 million Ukrainians in Canada. We're there because they're fighting for the values and principles of democracy, stability, security.
They had Crimea, which was illegally annexed. They're fighting in eastern Ukraine. We have Operation Unifier there. I spent time with the commander and the troops there. We have about 200 troops on that mission, providing assistance and training to the Ukrainian men and women who are, many of them, on the eastern front. I met also some amazing women. I remember one who basically led in the Maidan revolution there.
I was pleased that we spent more than an hour with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine. Obviously, Iran is a big topic when we meet, and it's not only about peace and security and how we can help reform the system. I often say that you need the three pillars of investment: stability, predictability and the rule of law. We've been asked what we can do there.
The other thing that we spent quite some time talking about is the black boxes. You may have noticed yesterday that thanks to our common pressure—both at the International Civil Aviation Organization and otherwise—the Iranian regime has said now that it will deliver the black boxes to Ukraine, or alternatively to France, for them to be downloaded.
View Leona Alleslev Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much, Minister.
Now we'll move on to the two-and-a-half-minute rounds.
MP Bergeron is next.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you. I'll go quickly.
I just want to make it clear from the outset that I'm not going to ask a question about the situation in China, not because I don't think it is important, Mr. Minister, but because we will have another opportunity to discuss the specific situation in China at another committee meeting.
Under a previous Liberal government, it was decided to promote human rights, not through pressure or sanctions, but through the economy. Faced with the failure, if I may say so, of that approach, which is obvious when we look at regimes like China, the decision was made to put human rights back on the agenda and potentially even to consider sanctions.
One of your mandates is to use the Magnitski sanctions regime to better support victims of human rights violations, by establishing a framework to ensure that assets seized from anyone who commits serious human rights violations are transferred to the victims under appropriate judicial supervision. The supplementary estimates even allocated just over $3 million for a strong sanctions regime.
So, Mr. Minister, what has been done on this file since you took office?
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
As you rightly said, we have earmarked a significant amount in the budget to create a team who will ensure that the sanctions are implemented.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
BQ (QC)
Many say $3 million isn't enough, but I will let you continue.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Global Affairs Canada has expertise with respect to its sanctions regime and the Magnitski sanctions.
Let me say this: it is true that we are constantly fighting for human rights in China, but we have also fought for Quebec pork producers, among others, to ensure they have access to China.
Today, the relationship with China is complex. The complexity that exists in Canada is similar to that of many other Western countries with which I have discussions. On the one hand, we can trade.
View Leona Alleslev Profile
CPC (ON)
You have 30 seconds left.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
On the other, we need to be firm about human rights because they are part of Canadians' values and principles. That's what people want us to stand for, and I think we can do both.
View Leona Alleslev Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much.
Mr. Harris, you have the floor.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I want to address a question that many Canadians and people around the world are worried about: what we see as the relentless advances of settlements in the occupied territories in the Middle East. Canada, of course, supports a two-state solution.
I really have two questions.
It's not easy, and I think you'd say that we support international human rights even when it's not easy. This is a situation that has been going on for many years, and some fear that it's going to go on for many more and that there will finally be no way to get out of it. What do you have to say about that in terms of Canada's efforts and position, and what is Canada doing to advance the two-state solution that it has put forth for the last many years?
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As you know, my colleague Mr. Harris served in the House for a long time. Canada's position with respect to Israel has always been to further the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, which includes the creation of a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel.
I think we always need to renew these efforts and we always need to think about how we can have a viable two-state solution with two states living side by side in peace and security. We are an ally of Israel, but we are also a friend of the Palestinian people. When it comes to the settlement, as you know, our policy in Canada has been consistent for many years. We do not recognize the permanent Israeli-controlled territories that were occupied in 1967. We are always trying to find ways, and we are looking at promoting dialogue, because that situation can only be solved by involvement of the parties negotiating directly.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
Is there time for a follow-up question?
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
BQ (QC)
Absolutely. You have about a minute and a half left.
View Jack Harris Profile
NDP (NL)
Can you tell us what Canada is doing to help the Palestinians prepare for statehood? The Israeli state has been up and running for many years, since 1948, but the Palestinians are having difficulty developing capacity and capability. What is Canada doing to assist in that effort?
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
That's a very important question.
We have been involved with UNRWA for a number of years. We've been trying to help vulnerable Palestinians who need assistance. We have refugees and we have been there to provide assistance, and we will continue to do so. We have been monitoring UNRWA very closely, however, because there have been some allegations. We're monitoring the assistance that's being provided, and we will continue to do so. UNRWA, for those watching at home, is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which has been providing assistance to the Palestinian people.
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