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    • MPnews news Meet the youngest Conservative MP with the most to say on the Hill - Hill Times (subscription)
      The primary critic for human rights is David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Sask.). Mr. Anderson ... It's no surprise, then, that Mr. Genuis has secured a footing as deputy chair of the Canada-Tibetan Parliamentary Friendship Group. He met with ... read more
      Apr 27, 2016 1:12 pm> |
      • MPnews news The youngest Conservative MP with the most to say - Hill Times (subscription)
        The primary critic for human rights is David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Sask.). Mr. Anderson ... It's no surprise, then, that Mr. Genuis has secured a footing as deputy chair of the Canada-Tibetan Parliamentary Friendship Group. He met with ... read more
        Apr 26, 2016 10:01 pm> |
        • MPconblog LaVar Payne 64 post Petitions

          Mr. Speaker, the other petitions are with respect to the sage grouse. They are signed by residents in my riding and in Cypress Hills—Grasslands. The petitioners are asking that the House of Commons rescind this strategy and replace it with something that ensures strategies are created with formal input from landowners. The same applies for the third petition.

          • MPconblog LaVar Payne 77 post Petitions

            Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present three petitions from constituents in my riding as well as that of my colleague, the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands, with respect to SARA, the Species at Risk Act. The petitioners request that the House of Commons rescind the Species at Risk Act and replace it with something that encourages voluntary implementation.

            • MPconblog LaVar Payne 137 post Petitions

              Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present today from residents of my riding and from my colleague from Cypress Hills—Grasslands's riding.

              The first petition is about the emergency protection order for the greater sage grouse of Canada. The petitioners would like the House of Commons to rescind the emergency protection order and replace it with an order that encourages voluntary implementation, along with a number of other items on here.

              The second petition is also with regard to the sage grouse. The petitioners are asking the House to rescind the strategy and replace it to ensure that strategies are created with formal input from the landowners.

              • MPconblog Christian Paradis 1424 post Military Contribution Against ISIL

                Mr. Speaker, first of all, I will be splitting my time with the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

                I appreciate the opportunity to speak today about Canada's action in response to the crisis in Iraq, particularly our response to the growing humanitarian situation.

                Canada has been active in its support since the beginning of this crisis. During the last two months alone, ISIL's terrorist violence has displaced an estimated 850,000 people in Iraq. Over 1.7 million people have been forced to flee their homes since the year began. Iraq is witnessing the largest cases of internal displacement in the world.

                Under terrorist threat, people are in dire need of water, food, shelter, and medicine. That is why we authorized the deployment of Canada's emergency stockpile of humanitarian goods. These goods have already been distributed and are saving lives in northern Iraq.

                These stockpiles are designed to meet the most urgent needs. The emergency supplies include things like tents, blankets, kitchen sets and hygiene kits. These items are being deployed from Canada’s new warehouse in Dubai. These stockpiles are a key example of the strong relationship that exists between Canada and the United Arab Emirates. This relationship has become even stronger and more sustainable in recent months.

                This new, strategically located stockpile will allow Canada to intervene rapidly on the scene of events in Africa and Asia. By maintaining emergency relief stockpiles on both sides of the globe, we will reach people more rapidly and ultimately save more lives. It is a question of time, and the sooner we take action, the more lives that can be saved.

                This stockpile of emergency supplies will be managed by the Canadian Red Cross, as is Canada’s other facility in Mississauga, Ontario. The stockpile in Dubai is now fully operational, and the deployment to Iraq was the first from this new stockpile.

                These stockpiles were distributed on the ground by Save the Children, a trusted and active partner. Save the Children has made sure our supplies are distributed in the most effective and efficient manner and that they help the most people possible, because in time of crisis, access to the most basic necessities can be the difference between life and death.

                Canada remains very concerned with the escalating humanitarian and security situation in Iraq. We know that the violence has displaced well over a million people, and countless more remain under threat. Canada continues to condemn the terrorist actions of ISIL and the killing of civilians in northern Iraq in the strongest possible terms. Canada is particularly concerned about the ongoing, targeted persecution of religious minorities, which only adds fuel to sectarian tensions among Iraqis.

                I remind the House that Canada has committed over $28 million in humanitarian assistance this year. We remain steadfast in our support of the people and Government of Iraq, as they confront this terrorist threat. The humanitarian needs of innocent civilians are particularly pressing in northern Iraq.

                That is why just in the last month, Canada has contributed $12 million in humanitarian aid to key partners, including the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Mercy Corps, Development and Peace, and Save the Children Canada. These funds are providing emergency shelter, food, and medical supplies, as well as repairing essential facilities, establishing child-friendly spaces, providing psychosocial support services, and providing access to education.

                Just yesterday my colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced on top of this $28 million, an additional $10 million for victims of sexual violence and for investigations into these crimes.

                It is clear that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant represents a significant threat. If ISIL consolidates territory in Iraq and Syria, it would have an autonomous area from which it could operate and from which it could transfer weapons and personnel across borders. ISIL would be able to impose oppressive control over populations in both Iraq and Syria. This would further degrade the humanitarian outlook in the region.

                The methods ISIL has used to seize control of territories across Iraq have been brutal. This is a morally reprehensible group whose actions have included wilfully killing innocent children, enslaving women, barbarically murdering American journalists, murdering a British humanitarian aid worker, and the use or threat of rape to advance ISIL's cause. That is why Canada has been steadfast in our position and so strong in our humanitarian reaction.

                The provision of humanitarian assistance is one of the clearest expressions of Canadian values. Canada cannot and will not stand idly by while people in the world suffer needlessly.

                Canada is deeply troubled by the rapid rise of this extremist group and by its cruel and barbaric tactics. Its progress leaves little room for doubt: we need to support allied efforts to bring the ISIL to its knees and drastically reduce its ability to act, particularly in light of the humanitarian impact that this crisis is having on the people of Iraq.

                Canada will continue to provide a significant amount of humanitarian, diplomatic and military aid to Iraq. We are in it for the long haul. In June 2014, I added Iraq to Canada's list of development partner countries. As the Prime Minister said:

                Left unchecked, ISIL [this bloodthirsty terrorist group] is a threat not only to peace and security in the region, but to global security as well.

                As a result of its commitment, Canada, along with its allies, will continue to support the people and the Government of Iraq in their fight against terrorism. Canada will continue to carefully monitor the situation and work closely with its allies. We will continue to determine how to best meet the needs of Iraqi civilians, particularly those of religious minorities who are in such profound need.

                Regardless of our political stripes, we can all no doubt agree that the threat posed by the terrorist regimes taking greater control of Iraq is of grave concern.

                The targeted military measures that we are taking are not in any way preventing us from also taking humanitarian measures. They are not mutually exclusive, quite the contrary.

                We are providing emergency shelters and medical assistance to thousands of Iraqi civilians and large-scale financial assistance to other governments in the region that are affected by the crisis in Syria.

                It is essential that there be security on the ground so humanitarian assistance can be provided. It is therefore imperative that we reduce the ISIL's capabilities in order to provide that assistance and reach those most in need.

                That is why military intervention for a defined period of time, as set out in the motion, is needed to accomplish this goal. Then, we will be able to work with our Iraqi partners on medium- and long-term development in order to strengthen the country's civil institutions and civil society. Moreover, we will give hope to young children and give them access to education by protecting them from the horrific acts of barbarism that we have witnessed recently, unfortunately.

                Canada is the seventh-largest donor of humanitarian aid in this crisis. It provides food, hygiene kits, cooking equipment, bedding, tents, medical supplies and other essentials, while making urgent repairs to water and sanitation facilities, just to name a few measures.

                We will continue working closely with our allies to determine the best way to meet the needs of Iraqi civilians, particularly persecuted religious minorities.

                For all of these reasons, we should clearly all support this motion.

                • MPlibblog Mark Eyking 198 post Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act

                  Mr. Speaker, this has been a long process. I mean, this should have been done a year ago, of course, when the first rail bill came forward. If the government had listened to the recommendations at that time, we would not be sitting here. Even when the bill before us came forward, if some of the amendments had been in the bill, we probably would have had unanimous consent here today, but we do not.

                  We even heard from the Conservative members for Cypress Hills—Grasslands and Prince Albert, who wanted more teeth in the rail act, but they are not there. We also heard that from our witnesses when they came with their suggestions.

                  My question for the member is this. How important would it have been to have something in the bill on the short lines and producer cars, to make a change in how the transportation of grain would affect and help the farmers?

                  • MPconblog deepakobhrai 1266 post Conflict Minerals Act

                    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise and speak to Bill C-486 put forward by my colleague from Ottawa Centre.

                    I have been working with the member opposite since 2006 in various capacities, on the foreign affairs committee and everywhere. He is extremely passionate about this issue and has been standing up and fighting for a way to stop this conflict. In principle we all agree with him. We agree that the mineral conflict is absolutely atrocious. It is so atrocious that it is unbelievable, and this is the right approach to take. Therefore, his passion for this issue is to be commended.

                    However, my colleague from Cypress Hills—Grasslands indicated why this particular bill is a problem.

                    Let me take one step back and tell the House why I agree with the member for Ottawa Centre as to the need to address this issue.

                    A few years ago, I went to the Great Lakes Region in the DRC. I was leading the friends of the Great Lakes Region who were working toward bringing development into the process.

                    I landed in Goma in the evening by way of a small aircraft. Goma is in the eastern province where all of the fighting is taking place. Due to the volcanic explosion, the runway was cut in half; it was not cleared and so it was very small. Early the next morning I met with the civil society. I was not far away from the airport, and every 10 minutes I could hear an airplane taking off. Having been an air traffic controller myself prior to coming here, I had to wonder where all these aircraft were going. Half the runway was not there; no commercial flights were coming into that airport. These aircraft were smuggling the minerals out of DRC, what we now know as conflict minerals. They were constantly going out of that country.

                    I have seen first-hand what a devastating impact this can make to a country's economy. It is up to the international community to settle this issue because of the armed conflicts we have talked about and the horrendous human rights abuses that have taken place in the DRC area a result of armed gangs that are making money out of this illegal business, in co-operation with others over there. Of course we saw that and so we brought in the Kimberley Process as one way of addressing this issue.

                    We must continue, because the business of conflict minerals still carries on. It has not stopped. Groups use these minerals for money for funding. In Afghanistan, the Taliban use drugs to buy arms, which are creating havoc there. In Colombia, the FARC regime does the same thing. Wherever there is armed conflict, funds are obtained illegally. In this case, the funds are obtained through illegal mining. Henceforth, it is everyone's responsibility.

                    As my colleague has said, the bill presents a problem for us. Canada has recognized that this was one of the key things that are part of the Kimberley Process. We went ahead and brought in reporting procedures. We worked with the international community and brought in the office of the ombudsman on a voluntary basis. We tell our own companies about their corporate social responsibility. In turn, Canada has a very good record.

                    How do we address this issue? We address this issue by working together with all the international communities to stop it, but we must also be very careful that our actions do not harm the areas we are trying to help. In this case the bill has the potential to harm the DRC, because its focus on the DRC will stop investment from coming there.

                    What is important is to try to help the DRC to build capacity, to build a mining industry that is beneficial to their own citizens, as Canada and other countries have said. It is very difficult at this stage, due to armed conflict and regional issues, but as we know, Canada is working with the regional countries, with Uganda and Rwanda as well as the United Nations and the ICC, to stop the war in that part of the region, and there have been many successes.

                    We are very happy to see that the African Union and the countries of the region have taken dramatic steps by providing soldiers and resources to stop this warring, as well as by working with the United Nations to bring those who are responsible for leading the conflict in those areas to justice before the international tribunal court and through other means.

                    This is one aspect that we are working on. Once we bring peace into that region, the Government of Canada's role over there is to help these countries build their capacity for their own citizens.

                    Of course, that does not mean that we will close our eyes and say we will wait until that happens. Of course, we have to do something, and our government has been very clear about what we have done. For example, we have brought in more voluntary approaches through several Canadian companies that are members of the World Gold Council.

                    We have already taken strong action in DRC by establishing five mineral trading centres in eastern DRC where they can sell the gems. The NGO that came in is working very hard for those miners who are working legitimately. There are small-scale miners in DRC who are legitimately mining over there. We want to help them go through this whole process. We do not want to create a reporting process where this year miners would be penalized.

                    We are taking these kinds of steps to help them out. We are working with OECD. We are stakeholders, and we will continue supporting this whole process.

                    I want to say to my friends that yes, we have to do something about it. Yes, we must bring something there. Yes, attention needs to be paid. However, we must also be sure that when bills do come forward, they take the right approach. My good friend bringing this bill has brought out the American side here, but we are still not yet very sure, because the reporting process has not yet been done, whether that is the right approach. However, let us work together on these things.

                    Although we do not agree on the bill for the reasons mentioned by my colleague, I can assure him that in principle we stand with him in making sure that the mining is done for the benefit of the local people, and not for the armed conflict that brings horrendous damage.

                    • MPconblog David Anderson 916 post Crisis in the Philippines

                      Mr. Chair, it is good to be here this evening, and obviously the thoughts of the House tonight are on our friends in the Philippines. Those of us who are praying people have been praying for them over the last few days, and our prayers continue for those who have been affected by the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan.

                      It is truly staggering. I do not think we can really understand how many lives have been impacted by this disaster. We are hearing that an estimated 13 million people have been affected across the Philippines, with the passing of a single storm, with over 4 million people put out of their homes and more than 4,000 people who lost their lives. For us who are at a distance, it is a very difficult thing to even be able to comprehend those numbers.

                      Many other people have been impacted as well. There are people across Canada who have had to wait days to find out about their friends and families.

                      I want to quickly tell members about my area. It has only been 100 years since my area was settled, and that in itself is a remarkable story about how settlers came from around the world. They settled in western Canada. They lived together and built a society that has become a successful model and has become the heartland of the nation of Canada.

                      We have always relied on immigration in our province. Over the last decade, in particular, as the economy has really grown and bloomed, we have turned to other nations to send us their best, and we have relied on people coming in from other countries to expand our economy.

                      The Philippines has been one of those nations that has provided us with some of the best, great new Canadians. In my own small community of only 350 people, we now have 17 Filipino families. We have a manufacturing plant, and it has turned to these families and relied on them to come to our country. These are families who have chosen to live here, and they are invaluable in our community.

                      Throughout southwestern Saskatchewan, throughout the riding of Cypress Hills—Grasslands, we now have members from the Filipino community in virtually every community in the riding, and they bring a spirit that has been a great asset to our communities. They focus on family and friends and have a strong focus on their faith and hard work. They have become extremely valued members and contributors to so many of our communities.

                      While our government has been quick to respond—we have heard about that tonight and heard about the various ways we have responded—the real story of compassion is found in various communities across this country.

                      I would like to take a couple of minutes to talk about what has happened in southwestern Saskatchewan. We have an active local Filipino association that is under the leadership of a young man named Emilio Completo. They decided to hold a fundraiser for their folks back home. They had volunteers from communities such as the Latin American community, the local Swift Current community and communities around my riding. The response from my area of southwestern Saskatchewan was actually amazing. The local area donated $21,458, which is going to be matched by federal government contributions.

                      The local association has been very active over the past few years. It intends to target this money to solve some of those short-term problems that we talked about tonight and then to actually deal with some of the longer term problems as well. They want to try to take care of immediate needs in the areas that have been most devastated, and they look forward to having a good discussion in their community about how they then might move on to share in some of the things like rebuilding schools, perhaps, and other projects that will be important.

                      When I talked to Emilio last night about this successful fundraiser, he made the point that he really wanted to pass on his and his community's sincere thanks to the people of Swift Current and the people of all of southwestern Saskatchewan for the generosity they have shown to the Filipino people.

                      He also made the point that he thanked our government for the quick and generous response it has had. The minister mentioned that she was in Winnipeg last week meeting with leaders in the Filipino community, and the Prime Minister has met a number of times with leaders of the Filipino community, and that has led to good communication with them and then the type of response we have seen.

                      I understand my time is already wrapping up, but I too want to acknowledge the great generosity of the people of southwestern Saskatchewan and the incredible leadership of Emilio and the Filipino association in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, in bringing the community together to support people who are so far away but who need our help so much.

                      • MPconblog Lynne Yelich 747 post Crisis in the Philippines

                        Mr. Chair, I would like to begin by expressing my deepest sympathies to those affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

                        I rise today to talk about the Government of Canada's swift actions in support of Canadian citizens affected by this devastating typhoon. I do so in my role as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, responsible for consular. Canada's consular response to the typhoon is but one element of the whole-of-government response to this humanitarian disaster. I will focus today on consular aspects.

                        The Department of Foreign Affairs began quickly and effectively reaching out to Canadians before the storm even hit the Philippines. Assisting Canadians in the region before and after this disaster has been a priority of our consular officials at the Embassy of Canada in Manila and in Ottawa.

                        The typhoon made landfall in the Philippines on November 8, 2013. On Wednesday, November 6, the embassy in Manila sent its first message to registered Canadians warning of the storm. Our department's travel advice was updated on the same day and posted online at travel.gc.ca, and two more messages were sent on November 8.

                        The first advised that the embassy would be temporarily closed due to the storm. The second advised that the typhoon had made landfall and reminded Canadians to monitor local news and weather sites. It also urged Canadians to call family in Canada to let them know they were okay, and on the same day the embassy's Facebook page and Twitter feeds were used to update Canadians.

                        The day the storm struck, and every day since, the consular staff at the embassy has been reaching out to Canadians to confirm their location and their well-being, and to ask if they need consular assistance. On a daily basis, they continue to try to reach Canadians whose whereabouts have yet to be confirmed, by every means available.

                        Mr. Chair, I think I forgot to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands.

                        I will continue to talk about what our department is doing. Our officials are calling and sending emails and texts and using social media. The same communication mechanisms have been used to provide information on transportation options and other advice.

                        The destruction of communications infrastructure has complicated these efforts. Communications are improving. The embassy's consular outreach efforts are now more successful.

                        We have bolstered our capacity at our emergency watch and operation centre here in Ottawa. The emergency watch and operation centre continues to take calls and emails from Canadians involved in the situation in the Philippines. This watch is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

                        We have also mobilized our standing rapid deployment team. This is to increase staff on the ground in the Philippines, and they are helping to reach out to affected Canadians and provide assistance.

                        The embassy has deployed a consular immigration team to Tacloban, where we maintain a daily presence. We maintain a daily presence to identify Canadian citizens and to assist Canadian citizens in departing the area.

                        The team, supported by local Philippine National Police, is now actively reaching out into the vicinity of Tacloban City, checking last known locations for Canadian citizens in the area. A consular team was also placed alongside the DART in Roxas City to assist Canadians in that area. Of our missing Canadians in the area, all were accounted for and visited. That team has now moved on to locate and help Canadians in need in other areas.

                        The embassy has reached out to allies to ensure effective information sharing and coordinate our efforts. Canadian consular officials are providing similar services to all our allies. I am proud of our government's response to this crisis.

                        I would like to assure members that the emergency and consular assistance will continue to be provided to those Canadian citizens in need in the Philippines. I want to congratulate those who have worked so hard on the ground to help Canadians who are in need.

                        • MPnews news Chaplin celebrates grand opening of new water treatment plant - Southwest Booster
                          Chaplin Mayor Kyle Salikin tours Cypress Hills—Grasslands MP David Anderson, and Thunder Creek MLA Lyle Stewart through Chaplin's new $1.3 million water treatment plant during an official opening ceremony on Aug. 1. ... Both the provincial and federal ... read more
                          Aug 08, 2013 3:38 pm> |
                          • MPnews news Chaplin celebrates grand opening of new water treatment plant - Southwest Booster
                            Chaplin Mayor Kyle Salikin tours Cypress Hills—Grasslands MP David Anderson, and Thunder Creek MLA Lyle Stewart through Chaplin's new $1.3 million water treatment plant during an official opening ceremony on Aug. 1. ... Both the provincial and federal ... read more
                            Aug 08, 2013 8:43 am> |
                            • MPnews news Chaplin celebrates grand opening of new water treatment plant - Southwest Booster
                              Chaplin Mayor Kyle Salikin tours Cypress Hills—Grasslands MP David Anderson, and Thunder Creek MLA Lyle Stewart through Chaplin's new $1.3 million water treatment plant during an official opening ceremony on Aug. 1. ... Both the provincial and federal ... read more
                              Aug 08, 2013 8:43 am> |
                              • MPconblog andrewscheer 56 post Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1

                                The hon. member for Kings—Hants will have just under five minutes left when we resume. We are going to move on to statements by members.

                                The hon. member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands.

                                • MPlibblog Marc Garneau 155 post Business of Supply

                                  Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague from Wellington—Halton Hills the same question I asked his previous colleague from Cypress Hills—Grasslands with respect to the approach the government likes to talk about, the regulatory approach.

                                  The government never mentions anywhere in there that there might be a price to pay and that the price may be paid by the consumer. It talks about regulatory approach with respect to car emissions and coal-fired generating stations.

                                  Hopefully, we will get an answer to a very simple question. There are costs associated with taking those regulatory steps. Would he acknowledge that some of this cost will be passed on to the consumer?

                                  • MPconblog BevShipleyMP 621 post Religious Freedom

                                    Mr. Speaker, first of all, it has been an honour to have presented this bill and to have heard the diversified speeches throughout this House. I also want to thank my colleague from Cypress Hills—Grasslands, who has not only supported the motion on the floor but has been a great support as we moved forward with it.

                                    As we have all acknowledged throughout the debate, Canada is one of the greatest countries because we have the freedoms and prosperity that, for many of the countries we are going to talk about, this motion would support. The motion is based on those values that contribute to a society, values that in Canada we just take for granted. It is a society that is built upon the fact that one can have a belief in one's religion without persecution. It is a society where one can have one's religion, and we have spoken about the variety, or decide to change it without being persecuted. This motion is about human dignity, which is something that should be afforded to anyone in any country.

                                    The motion does not politicize, but it helps us understand the responsibility we would have as Canadians to help citizens in other countries through persuasion. We do not have legislative authority in other countries, but we can join other free democracies, like the United States, Germany and European countries. We can help influence and show what is so good in Canada, and we would like to see that for those citizens who get persecuted in other countries.

                                    I would also like to acknowledge the appointment of Dr. Andrew Bennett to the Office of Religious Freedom. He has been charged with an incredible responsibility, and it will not come without its challenges.

                                    When we reach out across the globe, 70% of the population within countries actually have high restrictions on their religion or their ability to change it. There are governments that say what religion is to be followed, and if one opposes it, one becomes persecuted. It is not like Canada, where there may be some discrepancies or words that are said. We are talking about countries where people are beaten and tortured, women are raped and people are killed because of the religious belief they have or want to change.

                                    In Canada, freedom of conscience and religion has been enshrined in many of our covenants, and those have been mentioned today. We want to promote these values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law in other countries to help protect and allow people in those countries who have a belief to have the same abilities and freedoms we have in our democracies.

                                    I will wrap up by thanking those who have taken the opportunity to speak. I want to thank those who have stood up and said that they would support Motion No. 382. I would like to thank Dr. Bennett for his charge of carrying this forward. I would also like to thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs and others who have taken on this initiative, as well as the Prime Minister, who announced that this was going to happen in the last election. I am thankful and I look forward to the support of all parties in this great place in Canada.

                                    • MPconblog BevShipleyMP 2222 post Religious freedom

                                      moved:

                                      That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) continue to recognize as part of Canadian foreign policy that (i) everyone has the right to freedom of religion and conscience, including the freedom to change religion or belief, and the freedom to manifest religion or belief in teaching, worship, practice and observance, (ii) all acts of violence against religious groups should be condemned, (iii) Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights be supported, (iv) the special value of official statements made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs denouncing violations of religious freedom around the world be promoted, (v) Canada's commitment to the creation of an Office of Religious Freedom should be used to help protect religious minorities and promote the pluralism that is essential to the development of free and democratic societies; and (b) support (i) the opposition to laws that use "defamation of religion" and "blasphemy" both within states and internationally to persecute members of religious minorities, (ii) reporting by Canadian missions abroad in responding to incidents of religious violence, (iii) coordinated efforts to protect and promote religious freedom, (iv) the maintaining of a regular dialogue with relevant governments to ensure that the issue of religious persecution is a priority, (v) the encouragement of Canadian embassies to seek contact with religious communities and human rights organizations on gathering information related to human rights abuses, (vi) the training and support of foreign affairs officials for the advocacy of global religious freedom.

                                      Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me today to rise and begin the first hour of debate on my private member's motion, Motion No. M-382, which speaks to Canada's role to protect and promote the freedom of religion and conscience.

                                      In my riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, my constituents are appalled when they too often hear and see the persecution of people, the beating, the raping and the killing of individuals. Why? It is only because of their religion, their belief or their desire to change it.

                                      This is in fact an issue of human dignity.

                                      Allow me to read into the record, again, my Motion No. M-382:

                                      That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) continue to recognize as part of Canadian foreign policy that (i) everyone has the right to freedom of religion and conscience, including the freedom to change religion or belief, and the freedom to manifest religion or belief in teaching, worship, practice and observance, (ii) all acts of violence against religious groups should be condemned, (iii) Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights be supported, (iv) the special value of official statements made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs denouncing violations of religious freedom around the world be promoted, (v) Canada's commitment to the creation of an Office of Religious Freedom should be used to help protect religious minorities and promote the pluralism that is essential to the development of free and democratic societies; and (b) support (i) the opposition to laws that use "defamation of religion" and "blasphemy" both within states and internationally to persecute members of religious minorities, (ii) reporting by Canadian missions abroad in responding to incidents of religious violence, (iii) coordinated efforts to protect and promote religious freedom, (iv) the maintaining of a regular dialogue with relevant governments to ensure that the issue of religious persecution is a priority, (v) the encouragement of Canadian embassies to seek contact with religious communities and human rights organizations on gathering information related to human rights abuses, (vi) the training and support of foreign affairs officials for the advocacy of global religious freedom.

                                      I want to take this opportunity now to thank my friend and colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board and the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Saskatchewan, for seconding the motion.

                                      Indeed, we are here today, in part, because of his commitment to this important and timely issue. I am pleased to have worked closely with him in bringing the motion forward.

                                      As I begin, please allow me to address the first part of my motion, dealing with the importance of promoting religious freedom in our foreign policy and our government's intention to continue to speak out against discrimination and all acts of violence against religious groups.

                                      Unfortunately, this human right is facing increasing restrictions worldwide. Our government is a strong and committed supporter of the individual rights of freedom of religion or belief, and we will continue to promote the protection of religious minorities around the world and support pluralism as a key objective of our foreign policy.

                                      Clearly, the need is urgent and, as the Prime Minister recently stated, as citizens of a free country we have a solemn duty to speak out on behalf of those who are under constant threat just because of their religious beliefs.

                                      The Prime Minister also correctly stated that democracy will not, and cannot, find fertile ground in any society where notions of the freedom of personal conscience and faith are not permitted.

                                      In Canada we have promoted and enacted human rights for a very long time. The right to religion in Canada is foundational, just as democracy is a fundamental right in Canada.

                                      Recently, I had the honour of joining the Prime Minister as he announced the official opening of our government's Office of Religious Freedom. This office will be an important vehicle through which Canada will advance fundamental Canadian values including freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law worldwide.

                                      It will focus on protecting and advocating on behalf of religious minorities under threat, opposing religious hatred and intolerance and promoting Canadian values of pluralism and tolerance abroad. This includes when governments use laws of blasphemy, apostasy and defamation of religion to restrict religious freedom and expression.

                                      Through this dedicated office, under the leadership of Dr. Andrew Bennett, Canada's first ambassador of religious freedom, we will coordinate diplomatic efforts to respond to areas of religious discrimination and persecution and maintain frank dialogue with other governments to ensure that religious freedom is a priority.

                                      Last week, I met with Ambassador Bennett. I congratulate him on his appointment and wish him every success in a position that will surely come with its challenges.

                                      When considering this issue and this motion, it is useful to reflect on the original meaning of the word “religion”. In Latin, the word “religion” means “respect for what is sacred”. This is key to our approach, respect for religious beliefs, for the ability to worship in a safe and secure environment and for expression of one's faith, free from persecution.

                                      We believe strongly that everyone should have this right. As my motion, M-382, makes clear, our government will continue to speak out against and condemn all acts of violence against religious groups.

                                      Freedom of religion also means the freedom to change religion or belief, and the freedom to follow one's religion or belief in teaching, worship, practice and observance, free from discrimination and fear of violence and free from persecution.

                                      We know there are strong linkages between religious freedom, pluralism, peace and security, which are pillars of strong democratic and prosperous development. As the Prime Minister has said:

                                      Pluralism is the principle that binds our diverse peoples together.

                                      It is essential to our civil society and economic strength....

                                      Most of the word's nations are, like Canada, composed of diverse ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious populations....

                                      Pluralism allows individuals to retain their cultural, linguistic and religious heritage within a framework of shared citizenship.

                                      Canadians, like those in my riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, want us to take a strong and principled stand against religious persecution, particularly relevant to these recent years, a time when restrictions on religious freedom are on the rise worldwide.

                                      A Pew forum study has found that one-third of the countries in the world have high or very high restrictions on freedom of religion. As some of the restrictive countries are very populous, this means that nearly 70% of the world's population live in countries with high restrictions. The world needs leadership, and we are willing to stand with our partners to promote fundamental human rights.

                                      Simply put, societies that protect religious freedom are most likely to protect other fundamental freedoms. They are typically more stable and more prosperous. When we have religious freedom, other freedoms follow. That is why religious freedom is prominently found in documents such as the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

                                      Canada will continue to be a strong and committed supporter of the individual's right of freedom of religion and conscience. Pursued in conjunction with other civil and political rights, the right of the individual to freedom of religion is enshrined in articles 2 and 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as articles 18, 24 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In addition, our own Canadian Constitution enshrines “freedom of conscience and religion” as a fundamental freedom.

                                      Canada has an important role to play globally, a role from which we will not shy away. Canada is a country of tolerance, acceptance, peace and security, and we are also a pluralistic society. Our diversity gives us a unique perspective on the world. Canada has long been building the conditions in which people live with the dignity others wish for—built around our fundamental values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. For example, these fundamental values were ripped away from someone of whom we all know. Shahbaz Bhatti, an upright appointed minister for minorities in Pakistan, was gunned down and assassinated last year, because of his beliefs and because he was working and advocating for the dignity of all.

                                      Canada, by its very nature and our history, is well positioned to promote freedom of religion and belief. At the time of Confederation, the neutrality of the Canadian state toward citizens' choice of faith and belief was affirmed in the British North America Act in 1867. In the early period of the 20th century, tolerance for religious minorities was entrenched by way of several court decisions, for example, protecting the rights of Jews and Jehovah's Witnesses.

                                      Later in the second half of the century, respect for social diversity was reasserted in an emergent culture of human rights, as reflected in the Canadian Bill of Rights adopted by the Diefenbaker government in 1960 and then again in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982. On the day Prime Minister John Diefenbaker introduced the Canadian Bill of Rights in Parliament, he spoke these words:

                                      I am a Canadian, a free Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.

                                      Today, that great challenge, that great responsibility, is shared by me, my colleagues and, indeed I believe, all who sit in this chamber. It is important that we take this seriously.

                                      To conclude, I am pleased to present this motion for debate, and I hope it will receive support from all parties and all members. I believe it would be entirely compatible with our values and our beliefs as Canadians and that it would clearly demonstrate Canada's duty to promote religious freedom on behalf of the high number of individuals and groups around the world facing discrimination, persecution and oppression.

                                      • MPnews news Canada: Harper Gov. helps Canadian grain industry - All about feed
                                        David Anderson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board and Member of Parliament (Cypress Hills—Grasslands), on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, announced an investment to help grain ...and more » read more
                                        Nov 21, 2012 11:51 pm> |
                                        • MPconblog Jason Kenney 173 post Business of Supply

                                          Mr. Speaker, a few moments ago the member for Winnipeg North characterized as heartless and cruel the efforts to finally move toward a fast immigration system which will allow us to admit qualified applicants for immigration within a matter of months rather than years, ensuring they have better employment prospects and get higher incomes, better linking newcomers to our labour market.

                                          Would the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands not agree with me that if anything was cruel, it was the former Liberal government's incompetent mismanagement of our immigration system, which left to this government in 2006 a backlog of nearly one million people waiting for up to eight years to immigrate to Canada? Would he not agree with me that was an example of terrible neglect of the immigration system on the part of the previous Liberal government?

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Cypress Hills—Grasslands

The electoral district of Cypress Hills--Grasslands (Saskatchewan) has a population of 60,551 with 44,478 registered voters and 148 polling divisions.


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