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Results: 1 - 15 of 390
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. It is good to see all of you.
I'm pleased to see you all here.
Canada finds itself in a growing international security crisis. It is undeniable.
Just a few days ago I was in Kyiv, delivering a clear message from our government to Ukrainians that we are not going anywhere and we will be there for as long as it takes. Canada will continue to support Ukraine's fight for freedom through to the end of the war but also beyond. This is why Canada and Ukraine have launched an international coalition to bring Ukrainian children back home. We want to make sure that kids are never used as pawns in wartime.
Even after the war, Ukraine will be next door to a very dangerous neighbour, Russia. We know that in that context, Canada must be able to help Ukraine defend itself and show deterrence in light of danger. That is why I was there, and we have been working on advancing Canada's long-term bilateral security commitments to Ukraine to deter future Russian aggression.
Unfortunately, that's not the only conflict in the world that Canadians are concerned about. We're all deeply troubled by the devastating scenes coming out of the Middle East, whether it be the Hamas terrorist attack against Israel on October 7, which we continue to roundly condemn, or the death toll from the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which we are all extremely concerned about.
Our government continues to support urgent efforts to secure an agreement to free hostages. It will allow for more humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza and it will force Hamas to lay down its arms. We hope that this agreement will eventually lead to a sustainable ceasefire as well as a two-state solution.
Whether in Khan Yunis, in Kherson or even in Khartoum, the rules-based system that has kept Canadians safe for generations is cracking. We are all facing increasingly complex modern challenges—disinformation and the rise of AI and political polarization, including the rise of extremist and populist movements even here in Canada.
We cannot let bad actors exploit this uncertainty with impunity. In rising to meet these challenges, I have been clear that our government's foreign policy will be guided by two key principles.
The first one is that we absolutely need to defend Canada's sovereignty. Our national interests require it and our national security depends on it. We must stand firm and defend the rules-based system and the institutions that have kept us safe.
The second is pragmatic diplomacy. We need to engage in pragmatic diplomacy to work with countries of different perspectives to prevent an international conflict. I don't believe in the empty chair policy. We will never compromise our values and we will never compromise our national interests.
In what we do on the world stage to make sure that we succeed, we must be present globally with our eyes and ears on the ground. Our diplomats must be diverse, bilingual, healthy and well equipped.
Last fall, we released a detailed plan to transform Global Affairs Canada for the future of diplomacy. It is more important than ever that this plan be implemented, and thank you to Antoine and David for working actively on this.
This plan has four points.
First, there is a need to invest in our people, in “our world” as we say. That includes recruiting a diplomatic corps that is representative of Canada in all its diversity. Francophones must be able to speak their mother tongue and we need to speak more foreign languages and speak them better. We also need to provide greater support to our diplomats and their families abroad.
Second, we must increase our presence where it matters most. This means expanding our influence in key multilateral institutions, including, of course, the United Nations.
We must also grow our diplomatic footprint in key regions such as eastern Europe, Africa and the Indo-Pacific. This is something our government has already begun doing.
Third, we need to enhance our policy expertise to better anticipate and manage prolonged crises like climate change, as well as the issue of AI and the digital world.
Last but not least, we must have the tools and processes to be efficient and to be better protected from cyber-threats, which are currently top of mind for all of us.
I'm ready to answer your questions.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you for that.
Of course, because this is linked to law enforcement work and the work that is done through the Minister of Public Safety, I would refer you to the Minister of Public Safety on this issue.
That said, on the question of any link of foreign interference or foreign criminal action in Canada, you are aware that we're dealing with this issue through the foreign interference public inquiry.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
There is no question that Iran knows we believe Iran is a state sponsor of terror, that we have the strongest measures against Iran—pretty much in the world—and that we'll continue to make sure that this regime is held accountable in different ways.
I must say that when it comes to any form of these cases, my role as foreign minister is twofold.
The first role is to make sure that if there are any diplomats undertaking any foreign interference, I will be sending them packing. Now, we don't have diplomatic relations with Iran, so there are no diplomats in Canada representing Iran in our bilateral relationship. That's the first.
The second is to make it transparent if we are made aware of any information beforehand, as we did in your case last summer, Michael, when it became clear that China had tried to put pressure on you and your family. We'll continue to do that, because obviously, you and I—and all of us—know that the question of foreign interference is extremely important, and we will never tolerate it.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
First and foremost, when it comes to our IT systems, we are investing to make sure that we're protecting them even more, as we know there have been many more cyber-incidents, not only within the Five Eyes but also within the G7. That's why, as you were saying, Michael, the future of diplomacy is important. I hope I can get your support. We need more support and more money to invest in this infrastructure.
Second, when it comes to the latest incident, we took proactive measures to address it. Of course, we made sure that people working within Global Affairs were alerted and well taken care of. At the same time, we were addressing our system and its infrastructure.
What I can say is that the investigation is ongoing, and I can't comment any further.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
To be frank, I never heard of any tensions between them, and there was never any representation made to me by CSIS or its directorate about the fact that there was apparently a conflict between them. I read that for the first time in The Globe and Mail.
That said, I don't agree that there should be any issues. Fundamentally, this program, which is headed by Global Affairs and abides by the Vienna convention, is extremely important across the world.
When it comes to the allegations that potentially one of the Michaels was linked to it, I profoundly disagree. I will always defend our two Michaels, who were arbitrarily detained by China. This will always be the position of our government. Of course I hope that is the position of all members of this committee and in the House.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mrs. Chatel.
It's an extremely important exercise, because we live in a new world, a world with more crises, more wars, more new issues such as those related to climate change or artificial intelligence. We must therefore have modern diplomacy that's tailored to the challenges of the 21st century. In that respect, Mr. Morrison, Mr. Chevrier and I have done some monumental work together.
First, we need to invest more in our people. Basically, we offer their expertise and services around the world. I know they have a strong presence in Ottawa and around the world, and I want to thank them for that. Diplomacy work is really a mission, and I know they represent us very well everywhere.
We also need to enhance our presence in the world. It's essential that there be more Canadians at the United Nations and in multilateral organizations, because the rules are currently being tested by autocratic countries. However, new rules are being drafted on emerging issues like artificial intelligence. So, if we aren't present and if we don't invest in these organizations, we won't be able to defend our interests or promote them. That's why our presence is important.
In addition, we must acquire more expertise on climate change and artificial intelligence. Finally, and this is related to my response to Mr. Chong, we need more information technology resources.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Yes. It's important to understand that the staff at our embassies aren't just diplomats, strictly speaking, meaning people who have diplomatic relations with foreign governments. A number of our diplomats work for the Department of Citizenship and Immigration and provide immigration services. Others work in international trade and offer services to entrepreneurs who want to increase their market share or sell more of their products or services. There are also a number of people who work for the Department of National Defence, for example, and who provide support to our allies just about everywhere. So it's very broad.
As Minister of Foreign Affairs, I'm responsible for the diplomatic network, of course, but I also work with my colleagues who have staff all over the world. That's why we have to make sure we work together.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mrs. Chatel, I want to tell you how impressed and touched I was by the work of our ambassadors. I'm thinking in particular of Larisa Galadza, who was Canada's ambassador to Ukraine at the time of the invasion, and Natalka Cmoc, the current ambassador. In fact, I was with her last week. They're working in very difficult situations, where there is a constant threat of missiles on Kyiv. Today, about 40 missiles have been launched by Russia on Ukraine, particularly on Kyiv.
I'm also thinking of Philip Lupul, Canada's ambassador in Khartoum, Sudan. He had to manage an extremely difficult situation, as the lives of diplomats and Canadians were in danger. He had to ensure that there was an evacuation from Kenya. David Da Silva, who is in Ramallah, and Lisa Stadelbauer, who is in Tel Aviv, also had to work on evacuations. Every day, their work poses a significant risk to their safety, because Hamas is bombing Israel, and there are bombings in Gaza. We must support and protect Canadians who are in danger.
Since I became Minister of Foreign Affairs, there have been three wars and three evacuations. I saw how Global Affairs Canada staff worked in extremely difficult situations, under enormous pressure, but in a very professional manner.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Ms. Larouche.
We can both agree that the French language must always be protected. Global Affairs Canada is certainly one of my concerns, as former minister of Official Languages, a proud francophone and a proud Quebecker. I had the opportunity to discuss this several times with Mr. Morrisson and Mr. Chevrier.
The Official Languages Act applies to all departments, including Global Affairs Canada. The act was strengthened following the white paper I published when I was minister and the bill I introduced that my colleague Ginette Petitpas Taylor was able to bring to fruition. I'd like to thank her very much for that.
However, for too long, the Official Languages Act did not sufficiently address international relations. That's why we wanted to reform the act to rectify this and include recognition of the importance of the international Francophonie.
I agree with you that the fact that we're members of the international francophonie gives us access to dozens of countries with which we can have very constructive diplomatic relations, particularly in Africa and the Middle East, a bit in Asia as well, and certainly within the European Union.
So to answer your question, yes, it's an asset. Is it a strength we need to build on further? Absolutely. Does it make the people at Global Affairs Canada and me, as minister, extremely proud? Absolutely.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Yes. It's because your question was very long, Ms. Larouche. There were four sub‑questions.
You also asked me if there would be exemptions for deputy ministers, but that's absolutely not the case. Deputy ministers must be bilingual and meet the obligations of the Official Languages Act. You and I, like all francophones, know that bilingualism in Ottawa and in the public service must never be taken for granted. We know that we must defend our rights, make our voices heard and ensure that it remains a priority. It's a priority for me and for my department.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
We can be proud to have very good ambassadors from our diplomatic network, whether in Washington, Beijing or Brasilia.
We can also be proud to have a very good diplomatic network in general. These are people who have a lot of experience and who are highly respected, whether at the Quai d'Orsay or at the Élysée in Paris, or at 10 Downing Street in Great Britain.
We also have a new ambassador to Denmark, a country with close ties to Greenland. We know that the relationship with the Inuit is a very important issue in Greenland, and Ms. Bennett has a lot of experience in dealing with indigenous communities, including the Inuit community. That's why I think this is a very good appointment.
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you.
First, Heather, I know you've been to the region, and I was in the region as well. What is happening in Gaza is absolutely catastrophic. It's the worst place on earth to live right now, and I think Canadians know that. It is a heartbreaking situation, and meanwhile we absolutely believe that when it comes to the ICJ—to answer your question—we respect that the courts and parties need to make sure that they abide by the decision. I—
View Mélanie Joly Profile
Lib. (QC)
I'm sorry, Heather, but I'll continue.
I raised this issue with my counterpart because we all agree more humanitarian aid needs to go into Gaza. We all agree the violence must stop. We all agree we need to get to a hostage deal, which will eventually lead to a sustainable ceasefire, which will eventually lead, we hope, to a two-state solution. This has been Canada's position. I hope that's the case around this table and in the House of Commons among all parties.
Now, with respect to the question of UNRWA, I agree we need to provide humanitarian aid. We all do. There's an important investigation happening right now at the UN. My former colleague, Catherine Colonna, the former minister of foreign affairs in France, has been appointed. This is an important investigation, because the allegations are serious. That said, we absolutely, meanwhile, need to continue to provide humanitarian aid through different organizations. The Minister of International Development is in charge of that.
When it comes to arms, because you asked me that question, we all know about our arms trade system. We have one of the most robust in the world. I can tell you and those who are watching how it works. Canadian companies come to see the government to have export permits granted, so it is not the Canadian government sending weapons: It's actually the companies that come to see us.
What I can tell you is that there have been no weapons sent under my watch in recent years, and none since October 7. However, I—
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