Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Oral Question / Syria

Ms. Hélène Laverdière (Laurier-Sainte-Marie, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate. The people of Homs continue to be shot and killed. What measures has the government taken to react to the most recent developments? In particular, why has the government not recalled our ambassador to Syria, which would send a clear message to the Assad regime?

Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, this government has sent a very clear message to the Assad government that the killing must stop now and to bring reconciliation, Mr. Assad has to go. That is the very clear message from the Government of Canada to the government of Syria. Our Ambassador there is passing on this message very strongly to the government of Syria.
However, Canada announced last week that we would reduce diplomatic staff at our embassy in Damascus to core personnel only. The safety of Canadian staff in Syria is our number one priority.

Ms. Hélène Laverdière (Laurier-Sainte-Marie, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, reducing staff in the embassy is one thing but recalling the ambassador would send a real message.
The Prime Minister has a unique opportunity, over the course of his trip to China, to raise the issue of Syria with the Chinese authorities. What concrete action does the government intend to take to persuade China to get on board with international efforts, particularly those of the Arab League?

Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, this government has sent a very clear message to the government of Syria. President Assad must go, Canada wants reconciliation and the killing must stop now. We are working with our allies to put pressure on the Syrian government.
As far as China is concerned, the Prime Minister will discuss a whole range of issues with our hosts, including the situation in Syria and Iran.