Foreign Affairs Minister Responds to Questions in Senate QP
Senator Carignan expresses concern
OTTAWA, February 18, 2016 – The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Claude Carignan, joined with colleagues from across the Red Chamber today to welcome Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Stéphane Dion, for Question Period in the Senate to answer on matters that involve his departmental jurisdiction.
“We thank Minister Dion for partaking with us today, it was a good opportunity for senators to learn about his perspective about important issues in his portfolio. Unfortunately the Trudeau Government’s foreign policy and its positions regarding various issues in the world are not any clearer,” said Senator Carignan. “It is still ambiguous on what principles Liberal decisions concerning Global Affairs are based, and whether the Trudeau Government can remain loyal to vital Canadian values while accommodating the requests of other countries such as Iran, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.”
Senator Carignan expressed concern that senators were left with more questions than answers.
Minister Dion wondered out loud in response to Senator Thanh Hai Ngo’s question whether the Office of Religious Freedom is “the right way to proceed”, a worrying sign that the Trudeau Government intends to axe the office.
Senator Linda Frum asked Minister Dion whether the Trudeau Government would commit to keeping Iran designated as a state sponsor of terror given the current regime’s continued support for terrorism. The Minister made this commitment to the Senate today, although restated that the Trudeau Government intends to build its relationship with Iran by re-establishing diplomatic ties in that country.
Being a Canadian of Ukrainian heritage, Senator Denise Batters asked for clarification on Canada’s policy regarding Russia’s illegal occupation of Ukraine. Minister Dion repeated the Trudeau Government’s willingness to re-engage with Russia, which blurs any firm position that Canada is willing to assert.
When asked by Senator Salma Ataullahjan “if our new ISIS mission is in concert with coalition partners, who in the coalition advised removing our fighter jets,” Minister Dion didn’t note any particular recommendation.
Minister Dion agreed with Senator Yonah Martin that the Trudeau Government should do everything in its power to safely retrieve a Canadian pastor and humanitarian who has been unjustly sentenced to life imprisonment in North Korea, but could not offer details on his government’s efforts.
Questioned about the Saudi arms deal, Minister Dion’s response was perplexing, saying that the Trudeau Government does not approve the sale, but “it’s a done deal” so it’s “letting it happen”.
The Senate will continue to invite Ministers of the Crown to Senate QP, evolving and modernizing to best promote the interests of Canadians.