House of Commons
Statements by Members
Mr. Speaker, Tarek Loubani was recently in the news when he was shot by the Israeli military in Gaza. Our government has called for an independent investigation into what happened and into reports of the use of excessive force that led to the death and injury of thousands, including children and paramedics.
I am not exaggerating when I say I received over 20,000 emails from Canadians who are upset by what happened.
I want to thank our consular officials for assisting him during his ordeal. I am pleased to say that Dr. Loubani is recovering well and is here with us in Ottawa today.
Dr. Loubani is an emergency physician and an associate professor at Western University. Tarek is also an innovator. He designed low-cost, 3D-printed medical devices that can save lives in areas where medical supplies are scarce.
Dr. Loubani should be recognized for dedicating his life to helping others. His is an important voice in today’s world. I am grateful for his humanitarian service and his commitment to peace.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Senator Harder, regarding the government’s support last week for the motion on Iran, welcome as it is, it is not just a reversal of the government’s earlier policy but completely contrary to it. The old policy stipulated that dialogue with Iran, not withdrawal and isolation, is the best way to advance Canada’s interests, but now the government seems to have concluded that dialogue and engagement are useless when it comes to Iran, as some of us who voted for Bill S-219 predicted and as you admitted in your non-answers to my questions last week. What you said last week, in explaining the reversal, is that the lack of progress has certainly led the government to the new position it has taken and that that position will be the position of the government until and unless there is movement.
Then you went on to explain:
. . . engagement has to be preceded by a more accommodating concern to the interests that have been stated.
That doesn’t obviate the objective at the right time and in the right conditions of moving forward with an engagement. . . .
Senator Harder, we abandoned the policy of engagement because it didn’t work, but, as you put it, as soon as the new position we have taken gets us movement — in other words, does work — we will abandon that position and go back to the policy of engagement that didn’t work. Do I have this correct?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): For a so-called non-answer, the honourable questioner is certainly focused on the answer. Let me repeat that, unlike the conclusion the honourable senator has made with respect to the vote in the other chamber, it is the view of the Government of Canada that it is time to make absolutely clear to the Government of Iran that there will be no progress on an engagement strategy unless and until the consular matters that have been raised repeatedly at the highest levels of our government with the Government of Iran have been resolved. That is the point that I was delighted that all parliamentarians made last week, and I think it would benefit from us all to share that point of view and do all we can to achieve the release of those being detained unlawfully, in the view of the Government of Canada, in Iran.
Senator Tkachuk: So, in other words, as soon as the consular issues have been resolved, then what happens? What will our policy be towards Iran? The same as it is now, or will it go back to the old policy?
Senator Harder: Well, senator, I could say that’s a hypothetical situation. It’s certainly hopefully hypothetical in that it assumes that the efforts to resolve the consular issue take place. But let me simply say that there’s an obstacle to renewed engagement, and that obstacle needs to be removed before there can be any contemplation of engagement.
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