Yesterday in Parliament
May 6, 2019
House of Commons
Mr. Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, a year ago, the Liberals voted in favour of our motion to hold Iran accountable for its domestic and international crimes by immediately listing the IRGC as a terrorist entity. However, the Liberals have failed to act. The last time I raised this issue, the public safety minister claimed that a decision would be published in due course. That was seven months ago. Does the government still intend to list the IRGC, or has it changed its position on Iran yet again?
Mrs. Karen McCrimmon (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the Criminal Code listing regime is an important tool for countering terrorism and is part of the government’s commitment to keep Canadians safe.
The update to the listings is an important step to fight terrorism globally and to ensure that Canada remains a safe and peaceful country. The assessments for new terrorist entity listings are an ongoing process. New entities are listed once it has been determined that they meet the legal threshold.
We will continue to take appropriate action to counter terrorist threats to Canada, our citizens and our interests around the world.
May 7, 2019
Mr. David Sweet (Flamborough—Glanbrook, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has a long record of torturing, jailing and murdering Iran’s own citizens and exporting terror throughout the Middle East and across the world. The threat to Canada and our allies is crystal clear.
Last year, the Liberals voted in favour of our motion to hold the Iranian Khamenei regime accountable and list the IRGC as a terrorist entity. Is the government starting to cozy up to Iran again, or is it finally going to list the IRGC as a terrorist entity?
Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman, being a long-standing member of the House, knows that there is a very specific legal procedure that is undertaken with respect to listings under the Criminal Code. The system in Canada is strong and credible because of the integrity of that system. The government is pursuing all of the steps that are laid out in law to make the appropriate decision. In the meantime, the member will know that a number of the surrogates of this organization have already been listed.
Iran Accountability Week
Hon. Leo Housakos (Acting Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable colleagues, Iran Accountability Week is an opportunity to draw attention to the human rights abuses and lack of religious freedom in Iran, as well as its ties with and support of extremist terrorism movements throughout the Middle East and the world.
Sadly, Canada appears to have regressed when it comes to honestly confronting and opposing the Iranian regime.
While a few weeks ago, the United States of America took the steps of designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, a foreign terrorist organization. Canada has yet to follow through on the similar action despite Parliament’s unanimous decision to do so.
Honourable colleagues, it’s time for Canada to follow through if for no other reason that, as Senator Harder has previously said, we must not be seen to be out of step with our allies when it comes to Iran.
The IRGC has operated beyond the bounds of the law and the judiciary. Instead, it answers directly to Iran’s theocratic Supreme Leader. Iran’s revolutionary Islamist ideology has led it to support international terrorism and terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, Hamas and dozens of others. It is this ideology that is the foundation of its international policy.
According to the respected U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, the IRGC’s ties to terrorist groups in the region, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, help Iran to promote its international policy objectives. Hezbollah is arguably the most powerful terrorist entity in the world. Hezbollah, in fact, is so powerful that it constitutes a state-within-a-state in Lebanon. Hezbollah is not only committed to the destruction of the only democracy in the Middle East, the State of Israel, it is heavily engaged in the civil war in Syria and closely allied with the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
A wide range of open-source literature tells us that Iran has bankrolled Hezbollah, provided it with arms, including long-range missiles that are now capable of striking at most parts of Israel, and provided that terrorist group with advice and leadership. It has done this in complete violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Actions like these are why Canada under the previous government decided to completely sever relations with Iran. That extraordinary step is a demonstration of the threat this regime poses to international security and to the international community.
And what of the threat this regime poses against its own people? Tens of thousands of Iranians have been imprisoned, abused, tortured and murdered by the regime over nearly four decades. According to NGO Iran Human Rights, Iran is estimated to have executed 273 people in 2018. Iran has the highest rate of juvenile executions in the world, with six confirmed executions of minors in 2018, including the executions of two child brides charged with the murders of their husbands.
This violence has touched Canadians as well. We are all saddened, aware of the suspicious death of Kavous Seyed-Emami while in Iranian custody. The IRGC is one of the entities implicated in this man’s detention and custody. We cannot look away from that. We cannot turn our backs on those people and their loved ones.
Iran Accountability Week isn’t only about holding Iran accountable. It is about our own accountability. It is not enough to espouse platitudes about respecting human rights and defending religious freedoms if we are not willing to walk the talk.
It is time to designate the IRGC a terrorist organization under the Criminal Code of Canada. Not to do so is to lose all credibility at home and abroad.
Bill C-59—Progress of Legislation
Hon. Marc Gold: Welcome, minister. As you know, the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence is in the process of its study of Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters.
As the minister responsible for this bill, what are your concerns if the bill does not pass in a timely manner?
Hon. Ralph Goodale, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness: There are many, Senator Gold, and thank you very much for your enthusiastic sponsorship of the legislation here in the Senate.
The bill, as you know, does many things. It’s a big bill. I won’t run through all 11 parts of the legislation, but it creates, for the first time, comprehensive oversight. It creates the new office of the intelligence commissioner. It has strong prohibitions against behaviour that can contribute to torture. It provides modernization for both CSIS and the CSE and it improves the Criminal Code in a number of ways.
All of those elements are important, and taken together as a package, some of the leading independent experts have said that this legislation constitutes the most significant renovation of our national security architecture since the CSIS Act was introduced in 1984.
If you remember, in 1984 a mobile phone was as big as a bread box. The fax machine was breaking new technology. A lot has changed since 1984. One of the critical reasons why this legislation is so urgent is to create a legal and constitutional framework that is up to date with technology, up to date with world security issues that are prominent around the world today and gives our security and intelligence agencies the tools they need to deal effectively with those circumstances.
It’s all important. The one area that I would truly highlight, though, are the changes in various sections and parts of the legislation that create a modern, legal and constitutional framework and appropriate modern legal authorities for an agency like CSIS or the CSE to be able to function in the world as it is today.
It is no longer 1984. We’re long past that and we need a security framework that reflects the realities of the 21st century, and that’s why it’s urgent.
Orders of the Day
Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Bill to Amend—Third Reading—Debate Adjourned
Hon. Howard Wetston moved third reading of Bill C-85, An Act to amend the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act and to make related amendments to other Acts.
He said: Honourable senators, it is with great pleasure that I rise to speak in support of Bill C-85 at third reading debate.
The Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, or CIFTA, is a forward-looking trade agreement that will support the efforts of both countries to expand trade and deepen economic cooperation.
The original CIFTA was Canada’s first free trade agreement outside of the western hemisphere. Until now, CIFTA has been a goods-only trade agreement.
The modernized CIFTA updates four of the original chapters, including dispute settlement, to bring CIFTA up to the standard of our more recent free trade agreements. It also adds nine new chapters, including intellectual property and e-commerce. These measures further strengthen the Canada-Israel bilateral commercial relationship and improve access to the Israeli market for Canadian exporters by eliminating and reducing tariffs and advancing a variety of non-tariff barriers.
Honourable senators, let me elaborate on this point by turning to how this translates into real benefits for Canadian businesses.
Canadian exports of industrial products, fish, seafood and some agricultural products already benefit from duty-free access as a result of the original CIFTA, which came into force over 20 years ago. Since then, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Israel has more than tripled, totalling $1.9 billion in 2018. There is room to grow and deepen the commercial relationship. The modernized agreement will further expand this access and create new opportunities for Canadian companies.
Once in force, close to 100 per cent of all current Canadian agriculture, agri-food and seafood exports to Israel will benefit from some form of preferential tariff treatment, up from the current level of 90 per cent. This will clearly generate benefits for Canadian companies.
Once fully implemented, the modernized CIFTA will also create more favourable conditions for exporters through important commitments to address non-tariff barriers and establish mechanisms under which Canada and Israel can cooperate to address and seek to resolve unjustified non-tariff barriers that may arise.
The modernized CIFTA also includes trade facilitation measures designed to reduce red tape at the border. This includes the use of automation to expedite the release of goods, and an impartial and transparent system to address any complaints about customs determinations.
Furthermore, the modernized CIFTA contains provisions to facilitate cooperation between both parties to combat intellectual property — or IP — rights infringement and to cooperate on the enforcement of IP rights. It also includes commitments by Canada and Israel not to levy customs duties or other charges on digital products that are transmitted electronically.
Finally, let me highlight once again that this forward-looking framework includes new chapters on trade and gender, small and medium enterprises, labour and environment, as well as a new provision on corporate social responsibility. These are firsts for Israel in a free trade agreement. These inclusive provisions are designed to allow more businesses to take advantage of CIFTA’s opportunities.
Honourable senators, this modernized agreement puts Canada and Israel on a positive and innovative track towards generating more business for both countries. This is why I urge all senators to support the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement and passage of Bill C-85 as quickly as possible. Thank you.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator McPhedran, did you wish to ask a question?
Senator McPhedran: Yes. Would Senator Wetston take a question?
Senator Wetston: Yes.
Senator McPhedran: Senator Wetston, in the free trade agreement with Mexico and the United States, there is considerable reference to human rights and gender equality. There’s nothing similar to that in this trade agreement. I wonder if you could help us understand why that’s missing.
Senator Wetston: That’s a good question. I’m not sure whether I can answer it. The one thing I will tell you is that Canada has taken extensive positions on various issues in the Middle East and has decided to adopt a trade agreement that is similar to other trade agreements, reflecting the nature of the relationship in this particular area.
What I mean by that is that, understandably, Canada’s positions are well known when it comes to Israel, and Canada’s position is recently well known when it comes to the territories. I recognize that the issue of human rights you are referring to would probably reflect more with respect to the territories than with respect to Israel.
The best I can say about this — a very good question, obviously — is that I believe the rationale for not including human rights and gender equality was primarily, I expect, because this trade agreement would not easily facilitate the kind of agreement that was expected under these circumstances — recognizing that it has been updated extensively, but this particular area of human rights was not discussed or agreed to. I’m sorry I can’t help you more with that.
Hon. Raymonde Saint-Germain: Honourable senators, I rise today to talk about Bill C-85, a bill to modernize the Canada-Israel free trade agreement. I’d like to share an observation with you. Let me begin by saying that I support this bill.
I support Bill C-85.
Since CIFTA came into effect in 1997 — CIFTA, as you know, is the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement — trade between Canada and Israel has more than tripled, totalling $1.9 billion in 2018. With the modernization of this agreement, it is expected to grow further.
The modernized agreement will include new, progressive, contemporary standards in such areas as dispute settlement, trade and gender, the environment, intellectual property and corporate responsibility.
Beyond strictly economic considerations, this bill enhances the robust relationship that Canada has with the Israeli state — a deep, lasting relationship that is reflected in strong economic, social, cultural and political ties.
That being said, I want to share with you today an observation about the issue of the territories occupied since 1967 — that is, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, Gaza and East Jerusalem — and the identification of goods coming from those areas.
My goal is not to involve myself in a highly complex conflict. I simply want to point out an inconsistency. I want to say, in answer to Senator McPhedran’s question, that Canada is no stranger to negotiating human rights provisions in its free trade agreements.
The agreement applies to the territory where Israel’s customs laws are applied. This means that the Israeli territory, as defined in the agreement, includes the territories occupied since 1967, since Israeli custom laws currently apply there, which is paradoxical.
Indeed, according to Global Affairs Canada, Canada does not recognize Israel’s permanent control over those territories.
In its testimony to the committee, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 indicated that Global Affairs Canada’s position was based on an erroneous interpretation of the customs union entered into in 1994 by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, as set out in the Paris Protocol.
In view of this, I believe it would have been judicious to make a clear distinction between goods from Israeli territory and goods from the territories occupied since 1967. This would have honoured the requests made to all states by the UN Security Council in its resolution 2234 of December 2016. The European Union decided to require that all goods from the Israeli settlements and territories occupied since 1967 be identified as such for the purposes of trade between the EU and Israel.
The similar measure would have enabled Canada to correct that inconsistency. Trading with the Israeli settlements in the territories occupied by Israel supports the development and illegal expansion of those territories to the detriment of the Palestinian economy. Being able to identify goods from those territories is important, because the information can then be passed on to consumers so they can make informed decisions.
I wanted to make this observation today to ensure that it is formally recorded in Hansard and to express my regret that the agreement does not reflect Canada’s position regarding the occupied territories.
That being said, since the negotiations are over and the agreement will produce benefits for the citizens of both Canada and Israel, I will vote for the bill. However, I urge the government to ensure, in all current and future negotiations of international agreements, that trade policy is carried out in keeping with its principles and duties with respect to fundamental rights.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
(On motion of Senator Housakos, for Senator Frum, debate adjourned.)
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