OTTAWA – Official Opposition Foreign Affairs Critic Hélène Laverdière, a former Canadian diplomat, expressed disappointment with the direction taken by the Conservatives on foreign affairs. Laverdière pointed out that despite recent increased sanctions against Syria, Minister Baird couldn’t say how much revenue the SUNCOR project, which the Conservatives have exempted from sanctions, earns the Syrian government.
“How can the government say it has given this situation ‘careful consideration’, but can’t say how much money the SUNCOR partnership contributes to the Assad regime?” asked Laverdière. “We asked the Minister some tough questions on Canadian foreign policy at our last committee meeting, not just on sanctions against Syria, but also democracy promotion and Arms Trade Treaty negotiations. Unfortunately, Minister Baird has been very short on answers.”
Baird has also now confirmed that the Harper Government will break its promise to establish a democracy promotion agency, as they committed to in their 2008 Speech from the Throne.
“This initiative would have supported the peaceful transition to democracy and institution-building,” said Laverdière. “This could have been a key part of Canada’s reaction to the Arab Spring – yet the government killed it for no good reason.”
Laverdière also noted Canada’s change in position on the Arms Trade Treaty could seriously harm negotiations and questions why the Conservatives are so determined to weaken this important Treaty.
“Canadian values mean support for a strong Arms Trade Treaty, support for democracy promotion, and an ethical foreign policy that does not allow Canadian companies to partner with regimes that kill their own citizens. This government’s unbalanced approach to foreign policy is hurting Canada’s reputation,” concluded Laverdière.