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Results: 1 - 15 of 858
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you.
All this is necessary because David Mulroney, the former Canadian ambassador to China, received a call, not from a regular employee of Global Affairs Canada, but from the assistant deputy minister for Asia-Pacific at the department. The assistant deputy minister asked him the following:
“In this time of high tension and in an election environment, we all need to be very, very careful.”
He said that he made the call at the behest of the Prime Minister's Office. At this time, the PMO and the Prime Minister deny making the request. Someone is lying in this case, and the consequences are quite serious for our parliamentary system.
Is Mr. Mulroney lying? I don't think so.
Did Mr. Thoppil lie when he said that the Prime Minister's Office asked him to contact Mr. Mulroney? In addition, someone else in the Prime Minister's Office reportedly contacted Guy Saint-Jacques, another former Canadian ambassador to China.
I don't think that Mr. Thoppil lied. He had no reason to do so.
As assistant deputy minister, he is experienced enough to distinguish between partisan meddling and a request from the Prime Minister's Office. At this point, I believe that, to get to the bottom of the matter and find out the truth, we must hear from the witnesses named in the motion. Ms. Alleslev provided the rationale for our request. However, I believe that we must determine to what extent, in terms of public comments, the Prime Minister's Office can ask its public service to work with private citizens who have expertise in the matter.
These people have the right to make public comments, and they do so by drawing on their expertise. Asking them to speak carefully and to understand that they and Canada are acting in the best interests of the country by speaking with one voice constitutes an excessive and deliberate violation. If the Prime Minister's Office did indeed contact these former ambassadors, I think that this raises serious issues in terms of how we deal with the relationship between the Prime Minister's Office and the public service and how the Prime Minister's Office deals with private citizens.
To this end, I urge my Liberal colleagues on the committee to call this meeting and the aforementioned witnesses so that we can understand the entire situation and find out who is and who isn't telling the truth in this case. Based on the current information, if I consider the simplest explanation, I'd say that Mr. Mulroney and Mr. Saint-Jacques felt pressured to align their views with the government's perspective.
When he reported that he made the phone call at the behest of the Prime Minister's Office, the assistant deputy minister in question had no reason to lie. If the request did indeed come from the Prime Minister's Office, we must know who made the request and why, and we must ensure that this type of action won't be taken again. Only transparency and a public review by the committee will make this possible.
I urge the Liberal members of the committee to accept and adopt this motion. We want to get to the bottom of the matter, not only for the sake of democracy and freedom of expression, but also to know the full story.
Thank you.
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you.
The role of a committee, when it isn't undertaking a study to further examine a given situation, is to ensure that the government remains accountable. In my eight and a half years as a member of Parliament, I've sat on various committees. I've noticed that some committees have forgotten this fundamental rule, particularly when it comes to the government, whether we're talking about the Conservatives in 2011 and 2015 or the Liberals now.
Based on the Liberals' comments that I've heard, since the Prime Minister's Office issued an official letter denying that the assistant deputy minister was instructed to contact the two former diplomats, we should simply accept the situation and not look any further, given that the Prime Minister's Office is obviously telling the truth. By sending us this letter, the Prime Minister's Office is saying that either these former diplomats—and we're not talking about just one, but two former diplomats who described the same situation—are lying or exaggerating the seriousness of the situation, or that the assistant deputy minister lied to the two former diplomats when he told them that he was calling on behalf or at the behest of the Prime Minister's Office.
In any case, the situation is serious. Either a senior government official, at the behest of the Prime Minister's Office, contacted former diplomats to tell them that they should perhaps tone down their comments and align their statements because it would be more prudent to do so from an electoral standpoint, or these people claimed that this occurred, which would also be an issue. I'm trying to understand why the government members aren't more willing, on behalf of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, to conduct a more in-depth study of this highly problematic situation. Are we simply going to say that a letter of intent from the Prime Minister's Office states that this wasn't really the goal, that there were misinterpretations and that we, as a committee, will refuse to conduct a more in-depth study of the situation? That doesn't make any sense.
I think that the government members must understand their role in this committee. This isn't the House of Commons, and we have the right to be called by our last names because, in theory, we don't represent any constituencies or political parties. We must finally realize that we're working for the citizens of this country. We have a duty, as the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, to study an ethically problematic situation that has been reported in the media and for which we don't currently have a satisfactory solution.
Given all these factors, the government members of this committee should take their responsibilities seriously and agree to hear from these people in order to get to the bottom of the matter. I'm not suggesting that these people have been intimidated. However, I would say that they've at least been subjected to undue pressure from the Prime Minister's Office. If this has indeed occurred, the Prime Minister's Office must understand that the situation is unacceptable. It's not enough to say that people on the other side didn't really understand the goal.
I want to say one last time that the government members must understand the situation and their role in the committee, which is to ensure that their government remains accountable. If they fail to do so, we won't have any power to ensure accountability on our side.
Thank you.
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Good afternoon. Thank you very much for these very powerful presentations.
I think the committee has already demonstrated that it is very concerned about the human rights situation in Russia and elsewhere.
I would like to tackle an aspect that has not yet been addressed. I don't know whether Mr. Kara-Murza or Ms. Arno is in the best position to answer. It's about the rights of LGBTQ people.
We know the situation in Chechnya, which experienced a wave of repression, arrests, abductions, murders and torture in 2017. In 2019, there was a new wave that seems to have attracted little attention despite everything, but which still exists.
First, is Russia simply turning a blind eye to those acts, events and tragedies in Chechnya, or is it not in a position to do something about it?
Second, what is the human rights situation of the LGBTQ community in the rest of Russia? Are you seeing the same type of repression?
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Do you want to add anything, Mr. Kara-Murza?
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you very much.
I now have a quick question for Mr. Cotler.
We know about the violated rights of the LGBTQ community. How would you rate Canada's response to this specific issue?
In particular, have you seen any movement in terms of receiving refugees? I imagine that the persecution they are facing must prompt many members of this community to move abroad to protect themselves.
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Welcome, Madam Minister.
On October 25, 2018, the Prime Minister announced that the government would review all export permits for arms to Saudi Arabia. It was announced seven months ago already, in the aftermath of Mr. Khashoggi's murder. Where are you with the review of export permits?
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
I don't necessarily want to talk about Mr. Khashoggi now.
I didn't get an answer to my question. I know there haven't been any new export permits. That's the first announcement. The second announcement, which was made at the same time as the first, stated that the existing arms export permits to Saudi Arabia would be reviewed. It's been seven months now since that was announced, but Parliament still has no idea where this review process stands.
I'll remind you that Germany, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands have suspended arms sales, despite the fact that they had existing contracts.
So, I ask again: where are we with the review of arms export permits to Saudi Arabia?
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
I fully understand the situation. You raised the issue of Yemen. However, it isn't just the murder of Mr. Khashoggi that's at play. There is also the fact that these people are using these weapons both against their own people and in the conflict in Yemen. I find that paradoxical. Saudi Arabia is using the weapons we send to it to block ports and embargo the humanitarian aid we want to bring to Yemen. I think that's problematic.
I find it difficult to understand how Canada can take more than seven months to review arms export permits when its partner, Germany, which has major sales contracts with Saudi Arabia, immediately suspended its exports and extended the suspension of arms sales. Human rights are at stake, whether it is Mr. Khashoggi or the conflict in Yemen. I remind you that there are more than 22 million displaced people in this country who have been victims of the conflict.
Meanwhile, a permit for arms exports to Saudi Arabia is still being reviewed. This review, I remind you, came after the Prime Minister mentioned that it would be too expensive to break the contract and that some of your comments were quoted on the radio saying that it was very important for Canada to be a trusted partner in the world—
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
—for a longer period than that guaranteed by election cycles. You were talking about the sale of weapons in Saudi Arabia.
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you.
The motion is as follows:
That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development undertake a study of the implications of the OECD monitoring of the SNC-Lavalin affair on the perception of Canada abroad, in order to determine whether this monitoring exercise could have an impact on Canada's reputation and whether, in the long term, Canada's diplomatic relations with its partners may be affected; and, that the Committee report its findings to the House.
I'll justify the motion.
In the wake of the SNC-Lavalin affair, the OECD Working Group on Bribery has stated that it plans to actively monitor Canada's implementation of the OECD anti-bribery provisions in this case. The case is ongoing, given that the OECD will continue to monitor the situation whether SNC-Lavalin faces legal action or whether a remediation agreement is reached between the two parties.
In my opinion, this is a troubling situation that should be monitored by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, simply because the situation is a first for the OECD Working Group on Bribery. The chair, Drago Kos, has already been interviewed a number of times by the Canadian media on the issue. While the outcome of the monitoring is unknown, the fact remains that it will affect the perception of Canada abroad.
The committee should hold at least one meeting on the subject to learn about the OECD's view of the issue, particularly the view of the OECD Working Group on Bribery, and to prepare the government for the potential implications of this type of public monitoring by an organization of which Canada is a founding member.
I wouldn't characterize the Canadian government's response as inappropriate, but it was quite weak. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs simply said that Canada was one of the founding countries of the OECD Working Group on Bribery, but he didn't necessarily speak about the ramifications of the monitoring.
As a committee, we must forge ahead and complete this work by the end of the session and before the upcoming election. The OECD group will continue its work after the upcoming election campaign. We must prepare the next Parliament for this situation, which isn't necessarily good for Canada.
We should vote in favour of the motion so that the committee can undertake a study of the implications of this monitoring by the OECD Working Group on Bribery.
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you.
I want to respond to the last comment.
The goal isn't to influence the monitoring carried out by the anti-bribery working group. Since this situation is a first for the OECD, we must understand the ramifications of the investigation. The objective isn't to tell the OECD and the working group what to think. Instead, we want to know why the organization has decided to carry out the monitoring, which is quite an exceptional procedure, and the potential ramifications or implications of the outcome of the monitoring.
We believe that we need to better understand a process that we don't know about. The government and Parliament must also understand the process and prepare for the outcome of the monitoring. That's the real reason for the introduction of the motion.
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you very much, Ms. Alinejad and Ms. Ebadi, for your very compelling statements and testimony.
I'll start with Ms. Ebadi.
You said that Canada happens to be a country that facilitates the laundering of money from Iran and Iranians.
I tend to agree with you since, as recently as February 2019, the RCMP dismantled a money laundering network in Canada and made arrests. This case involved 17 people, so 17 arrests, and resulted in the seizure of $33 million.
This is indeed an issue. The Standing Committee on Finance studied the issue of money laundering. It recognized that Canada had very weak provisions in place to effectively review the flow of illicit money from Iran or other countries. The committee also recognized that the main agencies such as FINTRAC, the Canada Revenue Agency or the RCMP work in isolation.
You seem to know the subject. In your opinion, how serious is the problem with the flow of illicit money from Iran into Canada for laundering purposes?
In addition, the government seems to want to strengthen its anti-money laundering provisions by creating an agency that would consolidate some aspects of the three groups mentioned earlier. What would you recommend with regard to the creation of this new anti-money laundering agency in Canada and the work that it should accomplish?
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you.
You're currently in London. We know what's happening with the American sanctions and the United States' withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran. These sanctions have severely affected the people of Iran. Great Britain, Germany and France decided to establish a type of mechanism called Instex. The goal of the mechanism is to facilitate trade with Iran in the form of a barter system. The United States says that this mechanism will facilitate money laundering and that it doesn't provide enough protection to prevent illicit money from leaving Iran and entering these three countries.
What's your opinion on this? Is this situation being discussed, for example in Great Britain?
If Great Britain agrees with the United States, what remedies is it proposing?
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you.
I'll start with Mr. Kowsar.
I wanted to ask that question because I found it contradictory that a regime that wants to remain in power could be unaware of such an immediate danger. You're a geologist and you know about watersheds. I don't know anything about them. The issue is whether the situation can be reversed, through engineering or some other means. We know that part of the situation was caused by the establishment of multiple dams.
If there were ever a tendency to reverse these constructions or to eliminate some of them, could the situation be reversed so as to provide relief to the populations that need water, and could the agriculture be less intensive, for example?
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