Madam Speaker, I move that the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, presented to the House on Monday, April 12, be concurred in.
Today, we are asking the House of Commons to agree to the following report from the foreign affairs committee:
That the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development strongly condemn the unacceptable sanctions imposed by the People's Republic of China against one of the Committee's Vice Chairs, the Member of Parliament for Wellington—Halton Hills, and the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights which represent an affront to Canada's democracy and parliamentary system; as parliamentarians, we will continue to actively denounce human rights violations and breaches of international law in keeping with our respect for basic human rights; and that this motion be reported to the House.
This motion had unanimous support at committee, and I am hopeful that this concurrence motion will have the unanimous support of the House. I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Wellington—Halton Hills, a member who is, himself, substantively the subject of the motion.
I know that this member is a humble person who is much more interested in talking about principles and substantive issues than in talking about himself. However, I do think it is important to start this speech by acknowledging the principled leadership shown by this member that has led to him being sanctioned by a foreign state.
The member for Wellington—Halton Hills has been a member of this House for over 15 years. In that time, he has been totally fearless in taking positions that reflect deeply held convictions, regardless of the consequences. He has always done so graciously and without malice. From time to time, he took principled positions that were different from those taken by his government. I, myself, around the same time he was undertaking these efforts, was serving as one of those kids in short pants in Stephen Harper's PMO. I think it is fair to say that even when we were on different sides of an issue, all staff always maintained deep admiration for the intensity, thoughtfulness and seriousness of this member.
In particular, the passage of the Reform Act was a watershed moment for our parliamentary democracy in the effort to reverse the tide of ever-increasing centralization of control in the Prime Minister's Office. Although it does not seem to be being followed in the caucuses of all parties, the Reform Act is having a profound impact as party caucuses can now opt to take on the power to elect their own leader, elect their own caucus chair and control their membership. This is a credit to the member for Wellington—Halton Hills.
One common thread in this member's career is clearly a consistent and relentless fight for democratic values. Whatever challenges and entrenched interests this member has taken on in the past, his leadership today within our caucus, within this Parliament and globally in the fight against the Chinese Communist Party is a fight of such defining importance that it outshines all of the battles of the past.
The world is at a critical point in the battle between authoritarianism and democracy, because there are those, on the one hand, who see the individual as a mere extension of the materialistic political order, and those who believe that society exists to serve individuals who have inherent and immutable value and dignity.
In this struggle, the Chinese Communist Party has identified the member for Wellington—Halton Hills as a globally significant enemy of authoritarian values and a globally significant defender of democratic values. I can think of no greater recognition of an individual's commitment to democratic values than having been directly singled out by the Chinese Communist Party. Congratulations.
We appreciate the government support for this motion, but it must also be acknowledged that it was a member of the official opposition, not a member or minister within the government, who was recognized in this way for global leadership in defence of democratic values. I look forward to the day when that kind of leadership being exercised from the opposition benches can be exercised from the government side, when this same member has all of the tools and opportunities of government to continue his important work. Then it will truly be possible to say that Canada is back on the world stage.
Just as Conservatives under Brian Mulroney, like Canada in the global fight against apartheid, Conservatives today are ready to lead the world in the fight for justice, human rights and democratic values.
The most important lesson from the fact that sanctions have been imposed on the member for Wellington—Halton Hills is that the work he is doing is having a profound impact. When it comes to our work on human rights in this place, there can sometimes be a certain cynicism, “Does it really matter? Does anyone really see or notice what we do or say in this place?”
These sanctions prove the cynics wrong. They prove that it does matter. They prove that when we choose to take a stand, the Chinese Communist Party feels the pain and feels the need to retaliate. The stands that we take in this place have an impact on what happens in China, on the global tenor of the discussion.
The immediate trigger of these sanctions was a motion put forward by the member for Wellington—Halton Hills to recognize that Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in China are subject to an ongoing genocide. Conservatives put forward this motion. All members who voted, voted for it, although the Prime Minister, his cabinet and many other Liberals, sadly, abstained. Just as the leadership of some members, the votes of all members, the abstentions of the cabinet were noticed here in Canada. They were noticed and seen around around the world. It is tragic that the government failed to join the House of Commons in taking this critical step.
The fact is that, as we speak, the world is seeing the largest mass detention of a minority community since the Holocaust; a genocide that involves putting people in concentration camps, that involves forced sterilization, forced abortion, forced insertion of IUDs; systematic sexual violence; and organ harvesting. These are horrors that we were supposed to never see again, and yet the world has failed to deliver on the promise of never again when the world's most populous nation and second-largest economy is seeing a genocide deploying the most sophisticated technology to destroy an entire people group.
In the face of these events, Parliament had a moral obligation to act. I am so glad that Parliament did act. Canada was the first country to have a parliamentary resolution adopted, recognizing the Uighur genocide. The parliaments of the Netherlands, Great Britain and Lithuania have followed. More actions are taken, more resolutions are expected in other states, but the leadership of the Canadian Parliament touched off a global response, which is continuing to gather momentum. Two U.S. administrations have also recognized this genocide and many other countries are stepping up with various new measures to counter and deter these horrific abuses.
New legislation is being passed around the world. New policies are being proposed to confront these abuses, game-changers in terms of standing up for fundamental human rights and countering the actions of the CCP. New bills are being proposed to prevent the importation of products made from slave labour, such as the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in the United States. There are new sanctions, new sanctions regimes; new efforts to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking, and new international mechanisms and agreements for calling out the Chinese state for its abuses.
What we have seen again is that the democratic world can be a sleeping giant, sometimes slower to mobilize but fierce when wakened. It is no exaggeration to say that the passing of the genocide recognition motion by this House has played a critical role in awakening the conscience of a democratic world and in inspiring a stronger global response.
It has not been one member alone. Parliament, as an institution, has found its voice speaking over and ahead of the government. This has been a powerful victory for those seeking justice for human rights, yes, but also a victory for Parliament. When it comes to responding to the Chinese Communist Party, while Canada's government has failed to lead, Canada's Parliament has stepped up to lead instead and, indeed, Canada's Parliament has led the world.
In the final moments of my speech, I would like to call on the government to do more. Voting for this motion, recognizing and standing in solidarity with those who have been sanctioned, yes, but more importantly, we must stand in solidarity with the victims, the people who we have sought to represent in this ongoing advocacy.
We need genocide recognition by the Government of Canada.
We need stronger legislation and policy around supply chains to prevent the importation of products made by Uighur slave labour and other slave labour.
We need to pass legislation to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking.
We need to impose sanctions targeting those involved in gross violations of human rights in East Turkestan, as well as in Hong Kong and other parts of the People's Republic of China.
The government has continually been reluctant to use Magnitsky sanctions and that is a tool that Parliament has given to the government, but the government must choose to use it.
We need to support the immigration of vulnerable Uighur refugees and we need to do more to combat foreign state-backed interference and support victims of foreign state-backed interference.
For democratic values to endure, we need leaders who are willing to stand up to face down the critics and do what is right, no matter what the cost. The member for Wellington—Halton Hills is one such person. We need to see leadership finally from the government benches in this critical fight for democratic values.
Canadians have found their voice. Parliament has found its voice. It is time for the government to find its voice.