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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
[Inaudible—Editor] We were in committee business. There was a motion to go public. We have gone public.
Do you want to address the motion again, Mr. Lewis, and then we'll go for a vote?
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View Chris Lewis Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chris Lewis Profile
2022-09-20 11:26
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Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thanks to all the committee members for some discussion. I think it's a very important study for this committee, on many different aspects.
Madam Chair, I gave notice of motion:
That, pursuant to the motion adopted by the committee on June 6 to undertake a study of the Potential Impacts of the ArriveCan Application on Certain Canadian Sectors, [that] the committee undertake five additional meetings under the study; that the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, the Minister of Tourism...and the Minister of Transport, each be invited to appear; and that, if possible, the meetings with the Ministers be televised; that additional witnesses be selected from lists provided by [all] parties; and that the Committee report back to the House of Commons.
Madam Chair, I would like to fix one thing that I said there, and that is to undertake three meetings, Madam Chair, not “five”.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay. Is there any discussion?
Go ahead, Mr. Virani.
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View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2022-09-20 11:28
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I think that's helpful. We did have a discussion with Mr. Lewis and other colleagues from other parties during the adjournment. We are in favour of those changes. We just would ask that, as per the normal course, the invitation to the ministers be subject to their availability.
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Masse is next.
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View Brian Masse Profile
NDP (ON)
View Brian Masse Profile
2022-09-20 11:28
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Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Lewis, for moving this motion. I support it entirely.
We did have one meeting on this. I want to go back to that testimony. We had testimony from CBSA officials that this was a temporary measure. I want to look at that testimony and see whether it was entirely factual. I appreciate following up on this, because ArriveCAN has caused significant problems for the auto industry, for tourism and even for family visitation.
As well, there are concerns over this being a reason to circumvent hiring customs officers. We've seen the loss of customs officers at a number of different facilities and locations, and they have been quite clear as to the stress they've had. In fact, I'm told that some of them were on mandatory overtime this summer because there has been a lack of process in actually hiring and retaining officers. I think that should be part of what we need to do here.
This is one issue on the border particularly, but it's an important issue that needs to be addressed, especially because ArriveCAN was described as something that was related to the pandemic as to its implementation. As we're going through this current stage right now, and from some of the information that we've received, that doesn't seem to be the case; it's now a policy that has existed beyond what it was supposedly intentionally created for. Hopefully, we can get some research done by the clerk or our team as to when the contracts went out for ArriveCAN. I'd be interested to know whether it was an in-house design or whether it was contracted out to a third party. I'd like to find out how the government went about creating the app to begin with, when that took place, who actually created it and what the contract was. It would be nice to have some of that information in front of us, because we're dealing with a particular situation here.
Thank you, Madam Chair. I appreciate the committee.
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much.
We have Mr. Baldinelli.
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View Tony Baldinelli Profile
CPC (ON)
View Tony Baldinelli Profile
2022-09-20 11:30
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Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to my colleagues. I think this is an excellent opportunity for us to pick up on the study that we paused just before the summer break.
If you look at the StatsCan data on leading tourism indicators, which was published recently, land border crossings were at 1.1 million. That's still 50% below 2019 levels. All three of our communities—Mr. Masse's, Mr. Lewis's and mine—are border communities. I have four international bridges in my community alone. Tourism employs 40,000 people in my riding. For three years, essentially, we've lost our tourism seasons because of COVID. The first two years it was essentially because of COVID. This third year, because of delays and having ArriveCAN in place, it has been self-inflicted. It's a disappointment to see that it's still in place, when over 60 countries in the world have dropped their border restrictions for travel. It's something that needs to be examined. My hope is that it will eventually be dropped so that we can facilitate tourism visitations back to Niagara, to get back to those 2019 numbers.
It's critically important for our sector. I was pleased to host our shadow critic in August. She came down and she spoke to stakeholders. They told her the difficulties they're facing. My understanding was that the Ontario Liberal caucus met in Niagara for two days and had a tour of the Niagara Parks Commission. Well, I was their communications manager for 18 years. The Niagara Parks Commission is a provincial agency of the government. It doesn't rely on any operational funding from the Government of Ontario. It was established in 1885. Only Banff National Park is older than it. In 2019 it generated $127 million in revenue, as a self-funding agency. In the first year of COVID the Province of Ontario had to give it $13 million. That's how devastated Niagara was because of COVID and because programs such as ArriveCAN limited—essentially closed—the borders and stopped visitation from coming in.
The Minister of Tourism is starting a new national tourism strategy. We need to remove the hindrances and allow our tourism stakeholders to do what they do best, and that's welcome people from throughout the world. ArriveCAN does nothing to help us do that. I'm fully supportive of this.
Thank you.
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much.
Mr. Lewis.
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View Chris Lewis Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chris Lewis Profile
2022-09-20 11:33
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Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, all committee members.
It's not part of the motion, Madam Chair. I would just ask for consideration from the chair and from the committee that the study, if passed here at committee, would commence on September 22. I understand that ministers are very busy and they may not be here on September 27, but perhaps in those three days, we'll be able to figure out our schedules.
Thank you, Chair.
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Virani.
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View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2022-09-20 11:33
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That's why I was just proposing, Madam Chair, that after the list of ministers, where it has, “each be invited to appear”, we just inject the words, “subject to their availability”.
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
All right. That's to be included in the motion. Again, it will always be subject to availability and also to getting a witness list, which we will need to have very quickly in order to move on.
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View Chris Lewis Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chris Lewis Profile
2022-09-20 11:34
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I understand, Madam Chair.
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
All right, I'll ask for a recorded vote, Madam Clerk.
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Dancella Boyi
View Dancella Boyi Profile
Dancella Boyi
2022-09-20 11:34
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The vote is on the motion by Mr. Lewis.
Would you like me to reread it?
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
Yes. Let's make sure it's very clear so we all know what we're doing.
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Dancella Boyi
View Dancella Boyi Profile
Dancella Boyi
2022-09-20 11:35
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It is as follows:
That, pursuant to the motion adopted by the committee on June 6, 2022, to undertake a study of the Potential Impacts of the ArriveCan Application on Certain Canadian Sectors, the committee undertake three additional meetings under the study; that the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, the Minister of Tourism, and the Minister of Transport each be invited to appear as of September 27, 2022, and subject to their availability; that, if possible, the meetings with the ministers be televised; that additional witnesses be selected from lists provided by the parties; and that the committee report back to the House of Commons.
(Motion as amended agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)
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View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
We will now go back and continue with our in camera discussions.
[Proceedings continue in camera]
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View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2022-09-07 13:04
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Good afternoon everyone. Welcome to meeting number 25 of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Chair, I'd like to raise a point of order regarding the scheduling for this committee. I will say at the outset that I'm very disappointed by what we're seeing. This is an important issue, and I hope we can proceed in a collaborative way.
The committee held a meeting on July 15 and agreed to summer hearings. The committee wished to hear from ministers before July 22. That didn't happen. The committee met once on August 4. It has now been over a month since the committee last met.
In the context of this meeting, we received a notice for a three-hour meeting to hear from witnesses, according to a schedule. Members made plans, prepared questions and provided your office with rounds of questions to be asked, and you, by all indication, unilaterally changed that agenda and shortened the meeting with less than an hour to go prior to the beginning of the meeting. If you proceed with this plan, it will significantly limit our ability to engage with important experts in accordance with the notice that was provided to the committee.
We also requested that there be some time for committee business, so that we could discuss the committee's agenda. You have shortened the committee's agenda, but you have provided no additional opportunity for committee business to talk about the forthcoming agenda and to try to reach some kind of consensus. Of course, in cases on which consensus had been reached in the past, such as having summer hearings, that consensus wasn't honoured by your office.
It's very frustrating and disappointing to see a chair operating in the manner that you have with respect to the schedule, Mr. Chair. I am disappointed and frustrated. This is not what the committee saw in the past from Mr. Spengemann or Mr. Levitt, other chairs who were able to set aside their partisan affiliation and deal respectfully with all members regarding the agenda.
Can you provide an explanation for your conduct, Mr. Chair? Why have you not allowed the committee to meet for over a month? Why did you suddenly shorten this meeting with less than an hour's notice to members? Why are you behaving in such a fashion? Do you think this is an appropriate or respectful way for a chair to operate?
If you would consider appeals from the committee to go back to the agenda that was originally proposed, which was a three-hour meeting, we could hear for three hours from witnesses. Perhaps we could also set aside some time for committee business in the near future, so that we can agree on an agenda and move forward.
Thank you.
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View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2022-09-07 13:09
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Mr. Genuis, thank you for your comments.
First of all, you have raised a number of different issues. I can assure you that in consultation with the clerk and other members, we have tried our utmost to ensure that these committee hearings proceed.
The reason it was delayed initially was that, as you will recall, members indicated that they wanted to hear from nine witnesses over the course of three hours. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of the clerk and other members, only three people made themselves available several weeks ago, so it was decided that it was best not to proceed at that time and to redouble our efforts to have the opportunity to hear from as many witnesses as possible. That was one reason.
Another reason is that Parliament had a network maintenance week—as you're fully aware, Mr. Genuis—which meant that no committee had access to virtual meetings. Despite that, as soon as it was over, we again endeavoured to invite as many witnesses as the committee members wanted to hear from, but again, as you know full well, unfortunately, quite a few of those witnesses indicated that they were not available.
Several hours ago, on advice of the clerk, who had spoken to various members, it was agreed, given that there were only four witnesses appearing before us today, that we have two panels. That is generally in the regular course of business, but if you'd like, after this meeting is over, I'd be more than happy to contact you and provide you with any information that may be of interest to you.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Chair, on the point of order.... Maybe Mr. Bergeron can go first.
I would like to clarify my point of order, because I don't think it's been addressed, but Mr. Bergeron is welcome to go ahead of me.
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View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
2022-09-07 13:09
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Thank you, Mr. Chair. I will try to be brief.
While I consider Mr. Genius's concerns to be entirely legitimate, it would be inappropriate to assume bad faith on anyone's part in this matter from the outset.
Let me explain. The last meeting was indeed cancelled because, given the very short notice, unfortunately only three witnesses had been confirmed. Since we wanted to have three hours of debate with nine witnesses, more notice should have been given. Despite the advance notice, clearly it wasn't possible for us to welcome more than four witnesses today. It seemed to me that it would be altogether inappropriate to spend three hours asking questions to four witnesses when we had planned to spend three hours on nine witnesses. The chair respected the wishes of committee members to hear from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress again, spending one hour on that alone, then to hear from a second group of three witnesses.
Now, that leaves us with the matter of the third hour. Would it have been appropriate to use the hour to discuss the committee's future business, as the committee members have said? That's a legitimate question. However, perhaps it would also be worthwhile to let the dust settle once we've heard from the witnesses, so that we can make more timely interventions as to how we will proceed.
Therefore, if we must have a meeting about the committee's future business, I'd like to see it happen as soon as possible. I'm not sure we have enough time to do it in the third hour today, since we will still need to digest the information the witnesses have provided. However, while Mr. Genuis's questions are entirely legitimate, I feel that, under the circumstances, the clerk and the chair acted in the best possible manner and with the best intentions. I therefore support the chair's decision to cut today's proceedings short in order to consolidate our panels and make the discussion even more illuminating. By the way, this was not a unilateral decision. Other members, including myself, were consulted.
That's what I wanted to add, Mr. Chair.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Chair, on the point of order, first of all it's been said a number of times that you conducted consultations with other members. I don't doubt that you conducted consultations with some other members, but I think it would be useful if you told the committee which members from which parties you consulted. I certainly know that no Conservative members were consulted about the last-minute change made to the schedule this morning, for example.
Mr. Sameer Zuberi (Pierrefonds—Dollard, Lib.): I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Garnett Genuis: I'm raising a point of order.
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View Sameer Zuberi Profile
Lib. (QC)
This is not a point of order; this is a debate. I have a precious two hours, which is now an hour and 45 minutes, in which to hear our witnesses. As a Liberal member, I would love to engage with the witnesses. We're all convened here to actually have testimony, to have questions and answers.
You're eating into the time for those witnesses to testify and for us to have a meaningful meeting right now. I hope this is not an attempt to filibuster the meeting on this very important issue, which we all want to get to.
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View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2022-09-07 13:14
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Thank you, Mr. Zuberi.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
May I raise my point of order, Mr. Chair? Thank you.
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View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2022-09-07 13:14
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As was indicated, Mr. Genuis, it's not a point of order. You have asked questions, and I have responded to those questions. Mr. Bergeron has kindly waited and clarified the issues that you raised as well. If you would like, after this meeting is over and after we have heard from all of the witnesses, I would be more than happy to make myself available, and I assure you that I did undertake consultations with members from all parties.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Chair, I have a point of order to raise. I hope you'll respect my right as a committee member to raise these points. I will be brief. Since we have a three-hour time slot available, I think we can certainly accommodate the concerns of Mr. Zuberi.
My comments, briefly, are these. Mr. Chair, you said you consulted with other members. Which members did you consult with before making a last-minute change to the schedule? You said there was a one-week network outage, but we have had six weeks since the July 15 meeting, and compared to your predecessor, you seem to be uniquely unable to schedule witnesses or to find times when they are available. I don't want to presume bad faith, but that is concerning. Previous chairs didn't, on sensitive subjects, suddenly find themselves unable to schedule times that worked for the witnesses.
Again, I want to ask: Would you set aside time at the end of this meeting for committee business, given that we have a three-hour time slot?
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View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2022-09-07 13:16
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Mr. Genuis, allow me to simply say this: You say that you're not presuming bad faith, but you actually are presuming bad faith.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
I think you've shown a lot of bad faith, Mr. Chair. I honestly do, respectfully.
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View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2022-09-07 13:16
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You're entitled to your opinion, but—
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Your first act as chair was to rule out of order a motion that your predecessor had ruled in order and that we were already debating.
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View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2022-09-07 13:16
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Mr. Genuis, you're engaging in debate. I would ask that you extend some courtesy to the witnesses who are making themselves available today. We can discuss this later, and I can assure you that everything has been in order. The clerk has—
Mr. Garnett Genuis: No, it hasn't.
The Chair: Mr. Genuis, this is debate at this point.
Mr. Garnett Genuis: I'm happy to proceed, Mr. Chair. This is not helpful to you, but I look forward to hearing from the witnesses.
Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you.
If we may now resume the meeting, I'd like to welcome all the members to meeting number 25 of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.
Pursuant to the motion adopted on July 15, 2022, the committee is meeting on its study of the export of Russian Gazprom turbines.
As always, interpretation is available by clicking on the globe icon at the bottom of your screen.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind all participants that taking screenshots or photos of your screen is not permitted.
I would ask that before speaking you wait until I recognize you by name. When speaking, please speak slowly and clearly. When you are not speaking, your mike should be on mute. I remind everyone that all comments by members and witnesses should be addressed through the chair.
Before I welcome our witnesses, I'd also like to welcome a new clerk who has been assigned to our committee. We are very fortunate to have with us today a new clerk who has indicated that she will be here as soon as Parliament resumes. She has made quite a few efforts to make today's committee hearing possible.
Thank you for that.
I'd like to welcome our first panel for the day.
We will be hearing from two witnesses who are from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. We are truly privileged to have with us today Mr. Ihor Michalchyshyn, executive director and chief executive officer of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. Also, we have Mr. Orest Zakydalsky, senior policy adviser with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
I would like to remind the witnesses that you each have five minutes for your opening remarks, after which the members will have the opportunity for the remainder of the hour to ask you questions.
Welcome.
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Ihor Michalchyshyn
View Ihor Michalchyshyn Profile
Ihor Michalchyshyn
2022-09-07 13:19
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I will be providing opening remarks and then we'll be happy to move to questions. On behalf of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, it's a pleasure to be here and to have had the invitation to appear before you today. Alexandra Chyczij, our president, spoke with you several weeks ago. We're here to continue to share the views of the Congress.
I hope that members of the committee had a good summer. We've been in touch with many of you and appreciate the work you've been doing over the summer.
Since it's September 7, I want to wish you a happy Ukrainian Canadian Heritage Day. Ukrainian Canadians have been here in Canada for 130 years. It's a day that's recognized in several provinces, and we're working to recognize it nationally. I wanted to note that for the record.
On today's topic, on June 15, the UCC wrote to foreign minister Joly, expressing our concern that the Canadian government was considering waiving the sanctions. On July 6, we wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau. We said about this turbine matter that it would be “a test of the resolve of the Government of Canada to maintain sanctions and to continue to isolate Russia.” Our feeling was that any waiver of Canadian sanctions would be viewed as “a capitulation to Russian blackmail [demands] and energy terrorism,” serving to “embolden the Russian terrorist state, with far-reaching and negative consequences not only for Ukraine or the European Union, but for Canadian security as well.”
Unfortunately, the Canadian government neither heard nor heeded our concerns, which were shared by the Ukrainian government, and the waiver was granted.
We see that the Russian government has predictably been very emboldened in demanding further concessions. Despite Canada’s and Germany’s capitulation to the Russian demands, Russia has, in fact, shut off the Nord Stream 1 pipeline entirely. No gas is currently flowing. There's a continuing escalation of stories about the reasons the Russian gas supply isn't working this particular week, or that particular week.
Kremlin spokesperson Peskov said on September 5 that Russian gas supplies will not resume until western sanctions are lifted, using the false pretext that sanctions are preventing the servicing of Russian pipelines. This, of course, is not factual, but that is not the point. The Kremlin lies brazenly and as a matter of regular policy. What matters, as we've said many times, is that the turbine issue here has never been about the turbines. It was about the sanctions.
Now, Canada and Germany continue to have a choice: whether to continue to play this game with Russian blackmail demands or simply to cancel the sanctions exemption and show Russia that we will not be intimidated in the face of its threats.
We understand that the Russian regime responds to strength. The UCC believes it's past time for Canada and their allies to show this strength in the face of increasing Russian aggression and pressure.
We call on the committee to do the following. First, urge the Government of Canada to revoke the permits issued on July 9, 2022, by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which allow for the repair and transport of six Siemens Nord Stream 1 turbines over a period of two years to the Russian state gas monopoly, Gazprom.
Second, support the designation of the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Third, support the expulsion from Canada of the ambassador of the Russian Federation and the Russian diplomatic mission.
Fourth, support the suspension of the issuing of travel visas by Canada to all citizens of the Russian Federation.
Finally, and most importantly, we believe the tide of Russia’s genocidal war against Ukraine is being turned on the battlefield by the Ukrainian people's heroic defence of their country. We know that the Government of Canada can continue to play a leadership role in ensuring that the Ukrainian people have the equipment, weapons and means with which to finish the fight and ensure the victory of freedom over tyranny.
There was $500 million allocated in budget 2022 for military and security support to Ukraine. Those funds have been spent and exhausted, so we urge this committee to support us in reviewing the ways that Canada can substantially increase its military assistance to Ukraine going forward.
We look forward to your questions and to discussing Canada’s support for Ukraine. I would also note that the committee may wish to consider in the future a working visit to Ukraine, as we've seen legislatures from many countries visit Kyiv and Ukraine to talk to their Ukrainian counterparts and get a sense of the matters on the ground.
With that, I will close my remarks. We're open to questions.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
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View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2022-09-07 13:24
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Thank you, Mr. Michalchyshyn.
We will now hear from Mr. Zakydalsky for five minutes. Please go ahead, sir.
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Orest Zakydalsky
View Orest Zakydalsky Profile
Orest Zakydalsky
2022-09-07 13:24
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I don't have opening remarks. We're more than ready and we welcome any questions from the members of the committee.
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View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2022-09-07 13:24
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Thank you very much for that.
Now we will start off our rounds of questioning. The first round will consist of six minutes of questions.
Mr. Genuis, the floor is yours.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It is great to see the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, UCC, back after so long. I have a couple of questions about other matters related to Ukraine before we get to turbines.
To your knowledge, is there a fully operational Canadian embassy in Kyiv right now?
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Ihor Michalchyshyn
View Ihor Michalchyshyn Profile
Ihor Michalchyshyn
2022-09-07 13:25
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I can answer what we know publicly.
We know that the Prime Minister, Minister Joly and Minister Freeland were in Kyiv on May 8 for a ceremony to open the embassy. We know that Ambassador Galadza is in Kyiv and working. The media coverage that we've seen notes that services at the embassy are still suspended due to the security situation, and that people have been directed to other locations across Ukraine or Europe for visa assistance. That's what we're aware of.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you very much. That's important information.
Canada has been behind our allies in imposing consequences on Russian diplomats. Are you satisfied with the approach that the Government of Canada has taken on this, and why has the government, in your view, not been more aggressive on this front?
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Ihor Michalchyshyn
View Ihor Michalchyshyn Profile
Ihor Michalchyshyn
2022-09-07 13:26
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I'll let my colleague respond to that one.
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Orest Zakydalsky
View Orest Zakydalsky Profile
Orest Zakydalsky
2022-09-07 13:26
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I'm not sure why the government hasn't responded to those calls. We've seen several countries in Europe expel numerous Russian diplomats. We've not seen Canada expel any Russian diplomats since February.
Added to that, there was a fairly disturbing incident about a month ago, which was reported publicly. In Ottawa, at the embassy, people got out of what appeared to be a Russian diplomatic car and vandalized a blue and yellow painted bike that was placed outside the embassy, on public property. The bike was spray-painted and destroyed by what appeared to be people who emerged from a car that was later seen on the property of the Russian embassy.
There has not been any response to this that I have knowledge of. It is our position that the Russian embassy is a security threat to Canadians and that our government should be forceful in responding to that threat.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
Is it fair to say you're disappointed with the lack of response from the government so far?
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Orest Zakydalsky
View Orest Zakydalsky Profile
Orest Zakydalsky
2022-09-07 13:28
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That's fair to say, yes.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
With respect to the turbine issue, we've seen three different explanations from government officials on this. First they said it was about German energy security. That turned out not to be true. Then they said it was about calling Putin's bluff. That, of course, doesn't make any sense in light of new events, as the government continues to plan to export turbines in spite of the fact that gas has been cut off anyway.
We saw a third explanation from the Minister of Foreign Affairs in court filings in response to the Ukrainian World Congress. In that explanation, the government was essentially showing that this decision was about trying to protect jobs in Montreal, speaking about jobs at a Siemens facility that is in fact relatively close to Minister Joly's own riding. This raises questions about whether the government was trying to take into consideration constituency politics in granting a sanctions waiver.
What was your reaction to the information in those filings, that the minister was taking into consideration jobs close to home in the decision to grant this waiver?
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Ihor Michalchyshyn
View Ihor Michalchyshyn Profile
Ihor Michalchyshyn
2022-09-07 13:29
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The UCC isn't part of the court filings process, so this is new information for me.
As you mentioned, we've certainly seen a number of attempts to explain this, which we think is a poor decision. We keep offering our views on the opportunity to correct the situation. During the German chancellor's visit, we thought there was an ideal opportunity for both countries, with Ukrainian support, to make amends and bring some clarity to the situation.
The documents you've reported on have not been reported publicly. I've never heard any situation of Siemens responding that it would be going out of business if it didn't have this particular contract. It is a large multinational company with many processes under way, I'm sure. I'll let the documents speak for themselves, obviously, in court, in terms of how the government is responding.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay. Thank you very much for that.
Related to questions of Siemens' relationship to the government and these considerations, we did a search of the lobby registry and found that on April 13 of this year, representatives from Siemens met with David Morrison, the deputy minister for international trade in Global Affairs Canada, and John Hannaford, another deputy minister.
Do you have any indication as to what Siemens was discussing when it was lobbying the government back in April, and how lobbying by Siemens might have played a role in this decision that is very much contrary to Ukraine's interest but might be in Siemens' own commercial interest?
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View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2022-09-07 13:31
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You have 30 seconds, please.
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Ihor Michalchyshyn
View Ihor Michalchyshyn Profile
Ihor Michalchyshyn
2022-09-07 13:31
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Obviously I haven't seen those documents. Siemens has not met with us. Siemens has a lot of interests in Russia and other places, and I'm sure it's trying to understand the government's approach on those interests.
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View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Perhaps I'll make a comment for the benefit of this committee, that it would be useful to hear from Siemens at some point, if the chair is able to find time to schedule them.
Thank you.
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View Ali Ehsassi Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ali Ehsassi Profile
2022-09-07 13:31
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Thank you for that.
Next we'll go to Mr. Zuberi. Mr. Zuberi, you have six minutes.
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View Sameer Zuberi Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the witnesses from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress for being here and for all of your advocacy.
As we all know, we in Canada are steadfast with the Ukrainian people.
In your opening remarks, you mentioned a number of points. One was that you are advocating that Russia be added to a list of state sponsors of terrorism. In 2017, Mr. Zakydalsky, you also testified to the same point, saying that the Russian Federation should be added as a state sponsor of terrorism. In the end, President Biden recently decided not to designate Russia in this way.
What do you make of Biden's decision not to do that?
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Orest Zakydalsky
View Orest Zakydalsky Profile
Orest Zakydalsky
2022-09-07 13:32
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That is a decision that we hope the President will review and take another look at.
In the U.S. Congress there is wide support for this designation. A Senate resolution passed unanimously. We all know our friends down south; the U.S. Senate doesn't pass anything unanimously, but this passed unanimously. This was a resolution introduced by Senator Graham and Senator Blumenthal, calling on the administration to in fact designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.
We also know that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ms. Pelosi, is a strong supporter of this position. She is, of course, from the President's party. We hope that both the Senate and the House will encourage the President to revisit that decision. We certainly look to you to encourage American legislators in your interactions with the U.S. administration, and to encourage us together to list Russia. In the U.S. it's called a “state sponsor”; here it's called a “state supporter” of terrorism, but the designation means the same thing.
Certainly this designation is long overdue. The shooting down of flight MH17 was in July of 2014, and certainly a country that shoots down civilian airliners is engaging in terrorism.
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View Sameer Zuberi Profile
Lib. (QC)
I want to switch gears for a moment and talk about the German ambassador's testimony recently, in August, around the disinformation war that is being waged by Russia. I think we can all agree that this is what Russia does.
With respect to the turbines, we know that Russia has put forth that it's because of sanctions that gas and oil cannot be delivered to Germany. We proved in the end that this is not the case. Russia said that the turbine was needed so that energy could flow to Germany, yet it was not the case that this turbine in question was absolutely essential for that. Russia is now actually refusing to utilize this turbine.
Do you think that the disinformation war would have been amped up by Russia if Germany did not have this turbine in hand?
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Orest Zakydalsky
View Orest Zakydalsky Profile
Orest Zakydalsky
2022-09-07 13:35
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I don't know what Russia would have done if we hadn't waived the sanctions. I presume that had we not waived the sanctions on Russia, Russia still would not be delivering gas to Germany, so we're at the same place we were, except that we've waived sanctions on Russia. We've gained nothing, but lost sanctions that we had on Russia.
I think that's the problem. By undertaking this capitulation, we have done nothing except placate Russia. Obviously, as we can see, the return is further Russian obstinance and further Russian pressure, which is what we said would happen when the government took this decision and why we tried to convince the government not to take it.
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View Sameer Zuberi Profile
Lib. (QC)
Would you agree that we've taken arguments away from Russia in terms of the disinformation war?
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Orest Zakydalsky
View Orest Zakydalsky Profile
Orest Zakydalsky
2022-09-07 13:37
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They can make up whatever they want. If the point is to take away arguments from the Russian disinformation war, then I don't want to know where that ends, because they're just going to make more stuff up.
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View Sameer Zuberi Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you.
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