Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I think it's very noteworthy that we're meeting here today at the beginning of the 16 days of activism against violence against women.
I'd like to address my first question to Ambassador O'Neill.
I was glad to see that you, in your remarks, equated the decline and backsliding and threats to democracy with the increasing violence and threats against women. We're seeing right now that the polarization is no longer left and right. It is between authoritarianism or tyranny and democracy, and along with that the values of democracy, including gender equality, pluralism and diversity.
What I'd like to ask you is a little bit about that, about the fact that right now we're seeing a perfect storm between COVID-19, climate emergencies and increasing conflict, which is really causing the women of the world to be the ones suffering the most. At the same time, we're seeing an increase in gender conservatism. That's not just happening in authoritarian countries. We see it south of the border in the rollback of important hard-fought rights of women over their own bodies.
In this context, could you tell us a little bit about the need for global networks? How important is it that when women's voices are being silenced in one country, women in other countries are able to amplify and draw attention, and in so doing provide safety for those who are on the ground fighting?
The other question I have comes from our previous study in a previous Parliament in this committee on women human rights defenders. One of our recommendations at that time was that Canada create a human rights defenders immigration stream, because what we were hearing was that when things go bad, they go bad quickly.
Yesterday I was at a Dignity Network event, where I heard from a transgender woman living in a country where the legal structures are not helpful. She said that when it happens, she needs to get out in three hours. But they don't want to leave. It's not immigration. They're not refugees. These people want to return, want to keep fighting for their country. They just need temporary asylum, to be able to get out when it's hot, and then be able to go back when it's safer.
After that, the Government of Canada did create a human rights defenders stream of 250. I think we all agree we need more than that.
Would you give some advice about how we could tailor that so that it is more rapid and so that it is more reflective of the realities of human rights defenders on the ground?
Also, maybe elaborate a bit on how Canada could more readily foster global networks, even among parliamentarians, that would allow us to be able to amplify the voices and make sure that the women who are really fighting on the front lines are fully supported by the international community.