frandroid: (conservatives)
[personal profile] frandroid
Sri Lanka during Question Period on Monday, May 11:

Mr. Robert Oliphant (Don Valley West, Lib.): 
    Mr. Speaker, violence continues in Sri Lanka today while Tamil Canadians mourn death after death. Civilians are being massacred and Canada has failed to step up to the international plate. Yesterday the UN called this conflict a “bloodbath”, but the UN is still not allowed a role in securing safety for civilians.

    Specifically, what instructions has the government given to our UN ambassador and our high commissioner to aggressively pursue a ceasefire and to ensure an international humanitarian presence?

Hon. Bev Oda (Minister of International Cooperation, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, our government has taken significant steps. We have continually asked for a ceasefire and unhindered access for humanitarian aid. We have increased our humanitarian aid support.

    I was in Sri Lanka last week. I gave instructions to our high commissioner there to diligently pursue the call for a ceasefire. We have engaged with the humanitarian organizations that are working there. We will continue to support the innocent civilian victims.

Hon. Albina Guarnieri (Mississauga East—Cooksville, Lib.): 
    Mr. Speaker, volunteers are today digging mass graves for Tamil women and children killed by Sri Lankan army shelling. Tens of thousands more have been herded into government detention camps where British television exposed horrific living conditions, murders, disappearances and rampant sexual abuse of women.

    I ask the government why it has been so late and so lame in the defence of women and children against this brutality.

Hon. Bev Oda (Minister of International Cooperation, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, our government is very aware of the impact this is having on innocent women and children. That is why we have called for unhindered free access for humanitarian organizations, who are being kept out of the no-fire zone, who are being kept out of the refugee camps.

    We are taking significant steps and we are joining other concerned countries in the pressure we are applying for a ceasefire and help for the innocent victims.

-----

Hon. Jack Layton (Toronto—Danforth, NDP):
    Mr. Speaker, the Sri Lankan civil war is rapidly becoming a bloodbath. This weekend, indiscriminate bombing has killed hundreds, perhaps even thousands of civilians, a hundred of them children, by reports we are hearing.

    Canada's 300,000 Tamils are calling, writing, appealing and are in the streets asking for our government to help.

    We simply cannot stand by and watch this slaughter continue. Will the Prime Minister or his senior government officials agree to meet with respected leaders of the Tamil community to discuss the crisis, and will he be in touch with the President of Sri Lanka to call a halt to the bloodbath?

Hon. Bev Oda (Minister of International Cooperation, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, first let me commend the leader of the NDP for the help he gave in defusing the situation in the demonstrations yesterday in Toronto.

    We will continue to have discussions. Many of the government members have met with the Tamil community. We share their concerns. We will continue to dialogue with them. We will have meetings with any Tamil community representative who is not part of a terrorist organization.

    We are working to enhance the ability for members of the government at a senior level to meet with this community.

----

Statement by New Democrat Leader Jack Layton on Tamil protest in Toronto

Tamil-Canadians continue to protest to stop the violence in Sri Lanka. Last night, I worked with the Toronto Chief of Police, Chair and Vice-Chair of the Police Services Board and representatives from the Canadian Tamil Congress to ensure the safe conclusion of the protest that had blocked the Gardiner Expressway.

I have urged the Prime Minister to have officials meet with respected Tamil-Canadian leaders in Toronto to discuss how Canada can better work towards an end to violence in Sri Lanka. I repeat that call today.

New Democrats will also continue our call for the Prime Minister to apply diplomatic pressure on the Sri Lanka President to end the conflict and work with the UN Security Council towards a lasting peace process.

The ongoing protests have caught the attention of Canadians, the media and the opposition parties, yet the Prime Minister and his Conservative MPs still refuse to act. Too many women, men and children are already the casualties of violence in Sri Lanka. Canada must work to stop the violence now.


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