Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Darfur – International Genocide Day

Hon. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.):

"Mr. Speaker, two months ago in this House, we commemorated International Genocide Day and International Human Rights Day. At that time, I spoke of the fact that the first genocide in the 21st century was continuing to find expression in Darfur and that the number one humanitarian catastrophe of our time today was in Darfur.

I asked the government if it would commit itself to combat these mass atrocities and the genocide by attrition in Darfur. I asked if it would commit itself to peace and security in Sudan as the first human rights foreign policy priority of the government and this country. I asked if it would engage in concrete involvement to stop the killing…

…So this is my question to the government at this point: what will it do to help ensure that the international United Nations African Union peacekeeping force can be effectively and expeditiously deployed as quickly as possible? Will it not only help to ensure that the Sudanese government is no longer engaged in blocking the deployment of this force but also help to work with the international community to mobilize the necessary troop contributions that are still wanting and the necessary equipment that is still missing? As I mentioned, helicopters have not even been pledged for this mission.

Will the government help to assist in the promotion of the peace processes, both with regard to Darfur and with regard to southern Sudan? Both the Darfur peace agreement and the comprehensive peace agreement are in danger of unravelling…"

Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC):

"…Canada is heavily engaged in Sudan. Since 2004, Canada has given $414 million for UN peacekeeping forces as well as the humanitarian effort. We will continue to do that.

I can assure the member that we will continue to work with the international community to bring more pressure on the government of Sudan to accept the UN peacekeeping forces as mandated by the UN Security Council.

Canada was at the forefront at the United Nations human rights council. We want to ensure that Sudan’s human rights record remains under scrutiny all the time. We have repeatedly called on the government of Sudan to cooperate with the international criminal code with respect to the two Sudanese my colleague is talking about who have been indicted by the International Court of Justice.

Canada is working with both the UN forces and the African Union forces. As a matter of fact, we have pledged money to the UN until it is able to get all the resources it requires. We have extended the leases for the helicopters for the African Union.

The UN is facing challenges in trying to bring that force together. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, with whom I have talked on many occasions, is working hard to ensure that those UN forces are there, but it is a challenge…

Canada is waiting for the UN to tell us what it wants. We cannot tell it what to do. It is for the UN, through its peacekeeping division, to tell us what it wants and what we can do to help.

The UN has asked Canada to carry on supplying the helicopters for the African Union and we have agreed. Originally, the UN had told us it did not want our helicopters, but as has been rightly pointed out, the UN is facing challenges, so we will continue with the lease program so the UN forces can use them…"