Marc Garneau

Your member of parliament for


Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount

Marc Garneau

Your member of parliament for


Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount

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Statement by Marc Garneau on The Central African Republic

Mr. Chair, I thank the minister for his comments. He painted an alarming picture of the situation.

[English]

It is very important for us to be able to accurately assess to what point this is alarming. To quote Amnesty International, they have actually begun to use the words “ethnic cleansing”.

If we quote from Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, he says that “We must act concertedly and now to avoid continued atrocities on a massive scale”.

At this point in time there is the possibility that this will escalate considerably. We welcome the $5 million that has been added to our contribution. UNICEF, however, is saying that they need far more funding.

I would ask the minister whether he would consider a greater contribution from Canada. I would also like to raise the point that the European Union has committed to sending 500 troops. This is over and above the 1,600 French troops and the 5,500 African troops. This is something that we have done in the past and we have done it well. Would Canada consider the possibility of sending troops to help stabilize the situation?

Mr. Chair, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his comments.

I will talk about something the Minister of International Development said in his speech and ask for his thoughts on this. It is the fact that the minister spoke about the importance of having safety corridors so that humanitarian aid could get through to those most in need of it. Somebody else spoke more recently about the fact that those who are delivering humanitarian aid are also in need of protection, because they are in a very dangerous place.

We know that the situation is deteriorating rapidly when we start hearing things like “ethnic cleansing” and when we start hearing about the atrocities committed on children. We know this is a very dangerous place.

There are 5,500 African troops. There are 1,600 French troops, and the European Union has recently announced 500 new troops. Is the government considering the possibility of Canada also making a contribution in terms of troops to help ensure the safety of those corridors so that the humanitarian aid Canada and other countries is delivering has a greater chance of reaching  its destination?

Mr. Chair, given that my colleague has a strong personal attachment to Africa and given that this is a country that is literally tearing itself apart at this time, when unspeakable atrocities are being committed and when we bear in mind that last year over $300 million of the government’s money for international aid and development lapsed because it was not spent, can she truly argue that, to use her words, Canada has responded robustly to the problem that exists in the Central African Republic? Can she really say this has been a robust response, given all the things she said in her speech?

Mr. Chair, it is clear from listening to the government members that they have done their homework because they are telling us all about the horrible situation in the CAR. Everyone knows that it is an appalling situation, and that it may even be a case of ethnic cleansing.

The real aim of this take note debate is to talk about what Canada can do to help these people. Take note debates are rare. When they do happen, it is not so we can get an overview of the situation. It is to determine what we can do. Clearly, the government believes that the $5-million contribution it announced yesterday is more than enough.

I would like to ask my colleague if he really thinks that the $17 million that Canada has provided over the course of this horrible conflict is enough.