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Minister of Foreign Affairs appearance before the Committee of the Whole – Portfolio list – Briefing material

2021-12-07/08

Table of contents

  1. Background information
    1. Scenario note 
    2. Opening statement and speeches  
    3. Critics biographies 
    4. This week in parliament reports and high-level talking points
  2. Afghanistan
    1. Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan from 2001-2021 
    2. Afghanistan today: Political, economic, humanitarian and security 
    3. Safe passage and resettlement efforts  
    4. Engagement with the Taliban 
  3. China
    1. China policy & bilateral relations 
    2. China capacity review 
    3. Return of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor to Canada  
    4. China consular cases 
    5. Procurement of physical security equipment (NUCTECH) 
    6. Regional maritime tensions (South China sea, East China sea) 
    7. Taiwan  
    8. Human rights: Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang and forced labour 
    9. Belt and road initiative  
  4. United States
    1. Canada-United States relations  
    2. Bilateral economic priorities  
    3. Buy America and buy american 
    4. Roadmap for a renewed U.S.-Canada partnership 
    5. Central American migration
    6. Line 5 
    7. Clean energy (Hydro exports) 
    8. Transboundary oil and gas pipelines - Support  
  5. COVID-19
    1. COVID-19 canadian leadership 
    2. Impact of COVID-19 on human rights 
    3. Vaccines and medical supplies – Trade commissioner service support 
    4. World health organization (WHO) including COVID-19 origins  
    5. COVID-19 travel restrictions 
    6. COVID-19 international vaccines, therapies, and diagnostics support (including COVAX) 
  6. Arms Exports
    1. Export controls: General 
    2. Saudi Arabia: Export controls and LAVs 
    3. Production of papers 
    4. Turkey: Export controls
  7. Saudi Arabia
    1. Human rights 
    2. Bilateral dispute 
  8. Iran
    1. Human rights 
    2. Joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA)
    3. Flight PS752
  9. Israel
    1. Bilateral overview  
    2. Boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) 
    3. International criminal court investigation into the “Situation in Palestine”  
    4. Israeli settlements 
    5. Jerusalem   
    6. Israeli-Palestinian conflict  
    7. United Nations relief works agency for palestinian refugees (UNWRA)
  10. Myanmar
    1. Political situation 
    2. Rohingya crisis  
    3. International court of justice (ICJ) 
  11. Syria
    1. Consular cases 
    2. Crisis and peace talks 
    3. Convention against torture 
    4. Syrian civil defense (White helmets) 
  12. Foreign policy
    1. Arbitrary detention initiative 
    2. Arctic sovereignty  
    3. Feminist foreign policy
    4. Indo-Pacific approach
    5. International climate action 
    6. Middle East strategy extension  
    7. Physical security at missions abroad 
    8. Canada’s sanction regime
    9. Democracy policy
    10. Consular cases involving canadians abroad 
  13. International security
    1. Bill to amend the chemical weapons convention implementation Act 
    2. Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons
    3. NATO
    4. Canada’s national action plan for women, peace and security
    5. Disinformation and the G7 Rapid response mechanism (RRM)
    6. Foreign state-backed interference and intimidation activities in Canada
    7. Peacebuilding 
    8. UN peace operations 
  14. Multilateral topics
    1. Canadian centre for peace, order and good government  
    2. US summit for democracy 
    3. International engagement on digital governance 
    4. Office for human rights, freedoms, and inclusion (OHRFI) 
    5. OECD secretary-general campaign 
    6. UN security council (UNSC) campaign
    7. Quadrilateral dialogue 
  15. Africa
    1. Cameroon
    2. Crisis in Tigray, Ethiopia  
    3. Libya
    4. Mali (Sahel)
    5. Sudan 
  16. The Americas
    1. Cuba
    2. Unexplained health incidents
    3. Haiti
    4. Mexico trade challenges
    5. Nicaragua
    6. Venezuela
  17. Asia
    1. India Bilateral Relations
    2. North Korea (Nuclear Focus)
    3. Sri Lanka
  18. Europe
    1. Belarus
    2. Nagorno-Karabakh
    3. Russia
    4. Ukraine – Russia’s destabilizing activities 
  19. Middle East
    1. Lebanon
    2. Yemen 

Committee of the whole main estimates appearance

December 7 and 8, 2021

Meeting scenario

MPs are granted 15-minute speaking slots, alternating between political parties, and allocated proportionately according to the number of seats each party holds in the House of Commons. We anticipate the following order for the speaking slots during Committee of the Whole:

Opening Round (Tuesday, 7pm)

CPC (15 minutes)

LPC (15 minutes) - Fortier

BQ (15 minutes)

NDP (15 minutes)

Rotations

Tuesday

LPC (15 minutes) - Boissoneault -8pm

CPC (15 minutes)

LPC (15 minutes) - Duclos

CPC (15 minutes)

LPC (15 minutes) - Joly – 9:00PM (Approximately)

CPC (15 minutes)

LPC (15 minutes) - Miller

BQ (15 minutes)

LPC (15 minutes) -10:00PM

CPC (15 minutes)

LPC (15 minutes)

NDP (15 minutes) -Final

Wednesday

LPC (15 minutes) -7:00PM

CPC (15 minutes)

LPC (15 minutes)

CPC (15 minutes)

LPC (15 minutes) -8:00PM

CPC (15 minutes)

LPC (15 minutes)

CPC (15 minutes)

LPC (15 minutes) -9:00PM

BQ (15 minutes)

LPC (15 minutes)

CPC (15 minutes)

LPC (15 minutes) -10:00PM

NDP (15 minutes)

LPC (15 minutes)

CPC (15 minutes) -Final

Should any of the above run short, backup:

LPC (15 minutes)

BQ (15 minutes)

CPC (15 minutes)

LPC (15 minutes)

CPC (15 minutes)

Notes for a Speech

The Honourable Melanie Joly, P.C., M.P.

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Supplementary Estimates B, Committee of the Whole, House of Commons

December 6, 2021

[1,814 words of 1,100 requested]

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to participate in today’s debate and begin by acknowledging that we’re gathered on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe.

Global Affairs Canada plays a lead role in how this country interacts with and influences other countries. The importance of this role has only become more apparent during the past 20 months. The expenditures detailed in the supplementary-estimate documents now before this House are a wise investment. They will help to secure Canada’s place in the world.

Canada will continue to act on pressing international challenges.  We will work with partners towards global solutions. Our prosperity and our security depend on it.

Canada remains focused on ending the pandemic and building back better with our partners around the world.

Canada is also steadfast in meeting our climate commitments under the Paris Agreement. We will work with partners to  take urgent climate action.

In the face of rising authoritarianism and great power competition, Canada remains committed to advancing democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and our national security. These are at the core of Canada’s foreign policy.

No matter the issue, international cooperation requires an effective and inclusive rules-based international system. Canada will continue to strengthen this system with partners. We will work to ensure respect for international law and established norms.

To that end, Canada will reinforce our bilateral and multilateral ties with traditional allies. We will also pursue cooperation with emerging partners. Our Feminist Foreign Policy underpins these efforts. Indeed, Canada’s commitment to gender equality, diversity and inclusion, which is at the heart of all everything we do.

Mr. Speaker, as noted in the Speech from the Throne, a changing world requires adapting and expanding our diplomatic engagement. This means strengthening Canada’s engagement and presence in the UN system, as well as other multilateral bodies such as the Francophonie. Our objective is to ensure more effective, efficient, relevant and accountable institutions.

Canada’s Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations now endorsed by over one third of the world’s countries.

We are leading a global common front against arbitrary detention for diplomatic leverage, wherever and however it occurs. This is Canadian diplomacy in action.

Indo-Pacific region 

Mr. Speaker, no region will be more important to Canada’s ability to address these priorities than the Indo-Pacific. The Indo-Pacific is taking centre stage in global issues. The region is home to about 60 percent of the world’s population, including more than a billion people who live in poverty. However, economies across the region are growing fast. The Indo-Pacific accounts for approximately one-third of global GDP, a number expected to rise to one-half within two decades. Meanwhile, many countries in the region face signficant challenges around governance, human rights, and the rule of law.

Earlier this year, all G7 countries agreed to work together to promote a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific based on the rule of law, democratic values, territorial integrity, transparency, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Canada believes in this. And in July, Canada and Japan announced a new plan to work together in pursuing our interests in the region.

We are also diversifying our engagement with Indo-Pacific countries and partners. We’re at work on all fronts: diplomatic, security, sustainable development, and economic.

Diplomatically, we will work closely with our friends and partners to protect the rules-based international order. Canada will promote inclusive and open regional governance, accountability and human rights.  These are the key norms and values that underpin Canada’s approach to global governance.

Canada also recognizes the need to reinforce our support to Indo-Pacific regional security and stability. We must do so in concert with our like-minded partners. We will ensure the future security environment is favourable to Canada’s interests and those of our friends and allies in the region.

Mr. Speaker, sustainable development is essential to our goals of strengthening governance and the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific. In keeping with our Feminist International Assistance Policy, Canada will actively support the Indo-Pacific in its efforts to achieve the SDGs. Inclusive governance and open societies, protecting human rights and building resilience to climate change will be key elements of this effort.

Despite thepandemic, the Indo-Pacific remains a critical hub for global trade, investment, production and supply chains. Canada’s post-COVID success hinges upon our private sector’s ability to expand market access and pursue economic opportunities in the region. We will strengthen and diversify sustainable supply chains, and secure productive investment while fostering a more open, predictable, and sustainable regional economic order.

Canada’s pursuit of these goals must be done in a way that aligns with our global commitments to act on climate change and biodiversity. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, no region will be more consequential than the Indo-Pacific in shaping our ability to meet and exceed our global commitments and targets. And few other regions are more vulnerable to rising oceans, changing weather patterns and natural disasters. A renewed commitment to this issue in the Indo-Pacific will reinforce Canada’s standing as a global leader in this regard.

China

Mr. Speaker, this government remains deeply concerned about China’s behaviour.

As a leading democracy, Canada will not stand by when China violates human rights and flouts international norms, coerces or humiliates smaller nations, or imposes unequal terms on them.

Canada continues to challenge the Chinese government when its actions are contrary to Canadian values and interests. Earlier this year, a Canadian-led resolution at the Human Rights Council on Xinjiang received the support of 43 other countries.

Canada will continue to hold China accountable, whether to international agreements like the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong, or to UN Security Council resolutions such as sanctions on the DPRK.

We are also ready to build alliances to compete with China’s authoritarian model.

We do so because we know there is a better way to conduct international relations – a way that benefits us all.

A way that favours all countries, not just big countries, through a level playing field.

At the same time, Canada will find ways to cooperate with China on global issues and shared interests, such as climate change.

These actions are at the core of Canada’s evolving China approach.

Afghanistan

The situation in Afghanistan is also of grave concern to this government. The country’s humanitarian crisis is worsening, and its social and economic systems appear to be collapsing. The implications for regional stability and global security are severe.

The only viable way for Canada to try and improve the situation in Afghanistan is through continued collaboration with our international partners. We’re committed to Afghanistan and to the Afghan people, and we will continue to support them. Our government recently increased its allocation of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan from $27.3 million to $77.3 million. Canada has also committed to resettling 40,000 Afghan refugees. 

As the Prime Minister has stated clearly, Canada has no plans to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. Canadian law continues to list the Taliban as a terrorist entity. Our only engagement with the Taliban occurs informally, through Canada’s Senior Official for Afghanistan, based in Doha.

Canada’s focus in Afghanistan includes ensuring the Taliban respect their commitments to allow the safe passage of Canadians, foreign nationals and Afghans, as well as the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

We also strive to ensure that the Taliban respect their international obligations. They include forming an inclusive and representative government and protecting fundamental rights, including the rights of women and girls, and religious and ethnic minorities.

Canada also continues to collaborate with like-minded partners on counter-terrorism measures in Afghanistan.

North America

Canada is a key ally for the United States. We are their closest ally and partner in defence and national security matters. Our strategic partnership extends from the shared defence of North America to joint operations, exercises and training around the world, and it includes alliances like NORAD, NATO and Five Eyes. No other countries depend on each other as much for their prosperity and security as Canada and the United States.

Millions of jobs on both sides of the border depend on this partnership, and it is important to note, Mr. Speaker, that the United States sell more goods and services to Canada than to any other country in the world.

Mr. Speaker, the Biden administration recognizes the importance of this special relationship for our two countries, and Prime Minister Trudeau and I have had the opportunity to reinforce this message in our recent meetings in Washington with President Biden and his Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as well as with several other members of Congress. A number of my fellow ministers have done the same with their American counterparts.   

During these meetings, including on the margins of the North American Leaders’ Summit on November 18, we agreed to:

Despite these significant advances, recent events have shown that strong protectionist and unilateralist tendencies remain, whether in government procurement, electric vehicle production or softwood lumber.  

We will continue to uphold the importance of rules- and science-based solutions to trade barriers, such as those being faced by Prince Edward Island’s potato exporters.

That being said, Mr. Speaker, Canada must continue to work to strengthen its bilateral relationship with the United States, including on key global issues, but we must do so transparently and without apology for defending our strategic interests first and foremost, both in the United States and around the world. This is what Canadians expect of their government.

Conclusion

Mr. Speaker, even as countries around the world strive to recover from the worst pandemic in a century, they must also address other significant challenges: climate change, mass migration and environmental degradation, to name a few. At the same time, the number of countries questioning the value of the rules-based international order is growing. These challenges call for collaborative solutions, designed and implemented through multilateral negotiations.

Canada is committed to multilateralism and this government will continue to work alongside our international partners to achieve shared goals.

The relevant expenditures included in the supplementary estimates will further this important work. They merit the support of my honourable colleagues.

Thank you.

Hon. Michael D. Chong, P.C. (CPC—Wellington – Halton Hills, ON)

Critic for Foreign Affairs

Hon. Michael D. Chong

Key interests

Parliamentary roles

Mr. Chong is currently serving as the Official Opposition’s Critic for Foreign Affairs. MP Chong previously occupied the positions of President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Minister for Sport from February to November 2006. He has been a member of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association (CANA), the Canada-China Legislative Association (CACN), the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group (CEUS), among others.

Notable committee memberships

Background

Mr. Chong was first elected to Parliament in 2004 and has been Chair of several House of Commons Standing Committees. He is a co-founder and member of the All Party Climate Caucus since it was formed in 2011. In the 42nd Parliament, MP Chong served as the Official Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Shadow Minister for Science. In 2015, Chong’s Reform Act passed Parliament and became law.

Prior to his election, Mr. Chong acted as Chief Information Officer for the National Hockey League Players’ Association and as a Senior Technology Consultant to the Greater Toronto Airports Authority for the redevelopment of Pearson International Airport. MP Chong also co-founded the Dominion Institute, now known as Historica Canada, an organization committed to raising Canadians’ awareness of history and civics. He currently sits on its Board of Governors. Mr. Chong attended Trinity College in the University of Toronto where he obtained a degree in philosophy.

Issue specific background

MP Chong has been interested and vocal on a variety of issues including China, the mistreatment of Uyghurs, arms export controls, and Armenia.

On March 26, 2021, during Question Period, he raised the secret trials of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and questioned the government on its participation in the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB). On March 30, he expressed concerns on Twitter that the Chinese were limiting access to the WHO investigating team.

On April 12, he accused the government of threatening to cancel funding for the Halifax Security Forum if it awarded the John McCain Prize to Taiwan’s President and wanted to know whether Canada supports Taiwan’s participation at the WHO’s meeting in May 2021.

On September 30, 2020, MP Chong stated that China was violating human rights and international treaties in its treatment of Michael Spavor, Michael Kovrig, the Uyghurs, and the people of Hong Kong. He asked if the government would impose sanctions on those responsible in China.

On December 10, 2019, MP Chong rose in the House of Commons to speak about Canada’s relationship with China. He stated, “I would say this in response to the economic concerns that have been voiced by many about our relationship with China. More important than economic concerns are the principles and values on which this country is founded, principles such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Those are the very principles we risk undermining and doing away with if we continue to focus on the economic consequences of taking a reset and decoupling in our China relationship.” He went on to speak about how China has increasingly used economic blackmail, including attacks on Canadian farmers with regards to pork, beef and canola.

MP Chong and MP Garnett Genuis have focused significant attention on the human rights situation of the Uyghur population in China. On January 24, 2021, the two MPs issued a Conservative statement calling on the government to recognize the Uyghur genocide, encourage allies to do the same, and update its travel advisories to reflect the potential threats to Canadians when travelling to China. He led the charge on the motion adopted by the House recognizing the genocide of Uyghurs on February 22, 2021. On March 27, MP Chong, along with members of SDIR, was specifically targeted by Chinese sanctions to which he responded that he would wear it as a badge of honour. He is now advocating for Canada to put in place systems to prevent imports of goods issued of forced labour.

On October 6, 2020, during an address in reply of the Speech from the Throne, MP Chong noted that the government has been inconsistent in upholding its international obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) by permitting arms exports to Saudi Arabia and Turkey. On October 26 at QP, MP Chong asked whether the PM overrode GAC’s recommendation and approved the export to drone systems to Turkey, saying their diversion to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is in clear violation to the ATT, the Wassenar Arrangement and Canadian laws. On November 3, 2020, MP Chong continued this line of questioning and enquired whether the PM had agreed to PM Erdogan’s request for the export of drone systems to Turkey.

In QP on March 24, MP Chong raised the documents provided to the Committee on arms exports to Turkey, concluding that “after a bit of pressure was put on the government by the arms export lobby and by Turkish authorities, and after the government was told that these arms exports would be used for the defence of human rights, the government buckled and naively reversed its earlier decision and approved these arms exports to Turkey.”

On May 13, MP Chong expressed concerns on social media about reports of Azerbaijani troops crossing into Armenia. He declared “Having approved arms exports that upset the balance of power in Nagorno-Karabakh war, the Trudeau government must speak up to defend the territorial integrity of Armenia.”

Social media

On social media, MP Chong has been most vocal on the following issues: China Uyghur genocide, Taiwan, Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the democracy movement in Hong Kong. Since his nomination as Foreign Affairs Critic in October 2020, he has been meeting with ambassadors and posting reports of their discussions on Twitter. Of late, he met with the ambassadors of Saint-Kitts-and-Nevis (May 11), Colombia (May 11) and Serbia (Apr 23).

Stephane Bergeron(BQ—Montarville, QC)

Critic for Foreign Affairs, International Development and Canada-China Relations

Stéphane Bergeron

GAC-related key interests

Parliamentary roles

Mr. Bergeron is currently the Bloc Québécois’ (BQ) Critic for Foreign Affairs, International Development and Canada-China Relations. He has been a member of numerous parliamentary associations and interparliamentary groups, particularly the Canada-China Legislative Association (CACN) and the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association (CANA). He also served as the Whip for the BQ from 1997 to 2001.  

Notable committee membership

Background

Mr. Bergeron served as a BQ member of the House of Commons from 1993 to 2005 and a member of Quebec’s National Assembly from 2005 to 2018. In 2019, he returned to the House of Commons as a BQ member.  Mr. Bergeron has bachelors and master’s degrees in Political Science. After first leaving the House of Commons and serving in Quebec’s National Assembly for 13 years, he was Registrar of Rimouski’s CEGEP. He was previously a political advisor and a teaching assistant at Université Laval within the Political Science department. From 1984 to 1993 he served in the Canadian Forces as a naval Cadet Instructor Cadre officer.  

Issues-specific background/statements

The majority of Mr. Bergeron’s statements have been related to China, including the eight-month vacancy of the Ambassador position and the related impact on the bilateral relationship.

He has raised human rights in Question Period, asking “What will it take for the government to take action and finally get Raif Badawi released?” Then following up his question by stating, “it is scandalous that Raif Badawi is languishing in prison after seven years without having committed any crime. If the government can sit down with Saudi Arabia at the G20, if it can sit down with Saudi Arabia to do business and sell the country weapons, then it can certainly sit down with Saudi Arabia to demand the release of Raif Badawi.” On social media, he advocated for the Government to repatriate Canadian children in Syrian refugee camps, denounced privatization and social injustices in Chile, criticized Canada’s lack of action regarding Israel’s annexation plan.

Following Canada’s announcement on lifting the ban on the export of military goods to Saudi Arabia, MP Bergeron tweeted: “Aurait-on profité de la crise (COVID-19) pour aller de l’avant en catimini avec cette décision controversée, en espérant qu’elle passe sous le radar?”

On COVID-19, MP Bergeron criticized the government on social media for not closing its borders with the US. He also commented on the repatriation of Canadians saying that Minister Champagne needed to keep his promise to offer consular and financial support to Canadians abroad. BQ leader Yves-François Blanchet also expressed his concerns early on about the Canada-US border remaining open, insisting that all non-essential entries should be prohibited. On the repatriation of Canadians, he stressed that no Canadian should be left alone. He criticized the government in light of closures of consulates and missions. He asked his caucus members to help in any way possible with repatriation efforts of Quebecers. On April 9 though, he thanked GAC and consular officials for having done a Titans’ job. On vaccination, on March  he commented on an article from the Journal de Québec entitled Le vaccin comme baïonette : Par sa «diplomatie des vaccins», la «Chine (cherche à couper) l’herbe sous le pied à ceux qui appellent au boycottage des Jeux de Pékin pour son horrible bilan en matière de droits de la personne, (notamment) des Ouïghours»...

Heather Mcpherson (NDP—Edmonton Strathcona, AB)  

Critic for Foreign Affairs and international development

Heather Mcpherson

Key interests

Parliamentary roles

In the 44th Parliament, MP McPherson was appointed as the NDP Deputy Whip, Critic for Foreign Affairs, International Development, and Deputy Critic for Canadian Heritage. McPherson is also a member of numerous Parliamentary Associations and Interparliamentary Groups such as the Canadian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CCOM), and Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group (CAIL). She is Vice-Chair of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association (CAAF).    

Notable committee memberships

Background

Heather McPherson is the Member of Parliament for Edmonton Strathcona. She was elected in 2019 and 2021. McPherson was a member of the Canadian delegation to the United Nations and the former Executive Director of the Alberta Council on Global Co-operation. MP McPherson’s website states that she has an interest in poverty reduction, human rights, environmental protection, and gender equality.      

Issues specific statements

MP McPherson has repeatedly raised Canada’s Official Development Assistance at both FAAE and SDIR. For example, at the November 26, 2020 SDIR meeting, she stated that “Canada has not played a strong enough role in development” and asked witnesses to speak to the importance of humanitarian aid.   

McPherson has been a strong voice on Afghanistan, especially on women and girls in the region.

This week in parliament – week of November 22, 2021 

The First Session of the 44th Parliament commenced on November 22, 2021, following the federal election on September 20, 2021. MP Anthony Rota (LPC) was re-elected as Speaker of the House of Commons. MP Chris d’Entremont (CPC) was appointed Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole, and MP Carol Hughes (NDP) was appointed Assistant Deputy Speaker and Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole.  

The Speech from the Throne was delivered by Governor General Mary Simon (full text) on November 23, 2021. The Speech noted Canada will continue to:  

  1. Increase engagement with international partners, coalitions, and organizations;  
  2. Reinforce international peace and security, the rule of law, democracy, and respect for human rights;  
  3. Preserve and expand open, rules-based trade and ensuring Canadian supply chains are strong and resilient; and  
  4. Work with key allies and partners, while making deliberate efforts to deepen partnerships in the Indo-Pacific and across the Arctic. 

On November 25, 2021, the House adopted “Government Business No. 1” (full text), a motion that allows the House of Commons to adopt a hybrid sitting model, with LPC, NDP, and Green MPs voting in favour. Within this motion, it was agreed that “witnesses shall participate remotely”. A CPC amendment to the motion passed unanimously, and will require a second four-hour Committee of the Whole on Supplementary Estimates “B” to occur before December 10, 2021, for a total of eight hours over the span of two days. The Senate also adopted a motion (on division) to allow for hybrid sittings, including at committees.  

The President of the Treasury Board tabled the Supplementary Estimates “B” on Friday, November 26, 2021.  

Committees

Now that the House of Commons has returned for the 44th Parliament, Standing Committees will be re-established in the coming weeks. Opposition MPs will continue to have a majority of membership on House of Commons committees. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (PROC), once established, will have 10 sitting days to confirm the membership of the other Standing Committees. Committees will then have 10 sitting days to meet to elect a Chair and to decide on studies to begin their work.  

Parliamentary return

On Wednesday, MINT tabled the following in the House of Commons: 

  1. The Government of Canada’s negotiating objectives for a Canada-Indonesia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement; and 
  2. The Government’s intent to initiate negotiations toward a Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. 

Additionally, on Thursday, MINA tabled two amendments for the Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures Regulations (Belarus and Nicaragua)

Question period

GAC-related questions and statements this week touched on the CFIA decision to halt PEI potato exports to U.S. over potato wartsoftwood lumberelectric vehicle subsidies, and Canada-US relations

Senate

On November 24, 2021, seven GAC-related Senate Public Bills were introduced:  

  1. S-204: An Act to Amend the Customs Tarriff Act (Goods from Xinjiang) – Senator Leo Housakos (CPC);  
  2. S-211: An Act to enact the Fighting Against Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act and to amend the Customs Tariff – Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne (ISG);   
  3. S-216: An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (use of resources of a registered charity) – Senator Ratna Omidvar (ISG);  
  4. S-217: An Act respecting the repurposing of certain seized, frozen or sequestrated assets – Senator Ratna Omidvar (ISG);   
  5. S-223: An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs) – Senator Salma Ataullahjan (CPC);  
  6. S-224: An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Trafficking in Persons) – Senator Salma Ataullahjan (CPC); and  
  7. S-225: An Act to Amend the Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act (Investments) - Senator Salma Ataullahjan (CPC).  

Additionally, Senator Leo Housakos (CPC) gave notice of two motions, one on Cuba and one regarding the situation in Lebanon. Senator Thanh Hai Ngo (CPC) introduced a motion regarding the Act of the International Conference on Viet-Nam to Agree to the Reconvention of the International Conference on Viet-Nam.  

GAC-related statements and questions in Question Period focused on China, Cuba, the import prohibition on goods produced by forced labour, and Afghanistan.  

Look ahead

This week in parliament – week of November 29, 2021 

The second week of the 44th Parliament focused predominantly on trade-related issues, including a take note debate on softwood lumber on December 1, 2021. During the debate, MPs took the opportunity to reiterate previously established positions on the topic and spoke to issues such as the doubling of tariffs, American protectionism, Canada-US relations, forestry products processing, softwood lumber negotiations, Canadian subsidies, supply chains and value chains. 

Committees

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (PROC) was established on December 2, 2021. Now that PROC has been stood up, the membership of the other House standing committees will be established within 10 sitting days (by December 16, 2021). After committees have been established, they are allotted 10 sitting days to meet to elect a Chair and begin their work. Taking into consideration the extended winter break, House standing committees are expected to be up and running on or before February 10, 2022.  

Senators have been nominated to committees, and a motion approving the nominations is expected to move to a vote on December 7, 2021.  

Parliamentary return

On Thursday, amendments for the Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures Regulations (Belarus) and, the GAC Fees Annual Report, were both tabled in Parliament. 

Question period

GAC-related questions and statements this week touched on the CFIA decision to halt PEI potato exports to U.S. over potato wartsoftwood lumberAmerican protectionismelectric vehicle subsidiesCanada-US relations, World Aids Day, Afghanistan, Huawei, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People

Senate

Senate Public Bill S-216, The Effective and Accountable Charities Act was debated on December 1 and 2, 2021. 

Debate continued on Senator Thanh Hai Ngo’s (CPC) motion regarding the Act of the International Conference on Viet-Nam to Agree to the Reconvention of the International Conference on Viet-Nam on December 1, 2021.  

GAC-related statements and questions in Question Period focused on softwood lumberChina, and international aid in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Look ahead

On supplementary estimates B

Thank you for your question. The Supplementary Estimates contain details on spending that arises due to developments in the time since the publication of the Main Estimates. At Global Affairs, the largest single item in the Supplementary Estimates relates to COVID-19. Specifically, we’re seeking funding ($375.0 million) to support coordinated global efforts to develop, produce and distribute COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. This responds to Budget 2021.

See: https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/services/planned-government-spending/supplementary-estimates/supplementary-estimates-b-2021-22.html

Phrases that can be used in general high level responses

The funding detailed in the Supplementary Estimates will support Canada’s priorities of X

Canada is committed to

This spending is consistent with Global Affairs’ mandate to define, shape and advance Canada’s interests and values in a complex global environment

The measures this funding supports are consistent with Canadian principles and values

We take this issue very seriously

Canada believes in respect for human rights and the rule of law

Canada applauds those who stand up for

We are working to ensure that

X is an important to democracy and essential to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms

Canada will continue to work with likeminded partners to ensure

Canada continues to call on X to respect X

We believe we can be more effective when working in concert with our partners around the globe. This is why Canada continues to coordinate with X to achieve X

Canada continues to engage with its partners on steps to address X

In response to X, Canada has taken action to X

Whenever possible, Canada collaborates closely with like-minded allies, including X, to ensure coordinated and effective

Our actions are meant to X

Canada is acting with its partners to X

Canada is working bilaterally and multilaterally to address X

B. Afghanistan

Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan from 2001-2021

Supplementary messages

Background

On August 15, 2021, the Government of Canada temporarily suspended operations at the Canadian Embassy in Kabul. The same day, all remaining Canadian diplomats, Locally Engaged Staff (LES) and Armed Forces personnel were safely evacuated from Afghanistan.

Security assistance

Canada has contributed over $600 million in bilateral security support to Afghanistan since 2001. Security sector support was provided through the NATO-managed Afghanistan National Army Trust Fund and the UNDP-managed Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan. Both of these trust funds have paused all operations since the Taliban takeover and are in the process of closing down. 40,000 Canadians served in the NATO mission in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014, making this the largest Canadian military deployment since the Second World War. 158 Canadian Forces members and one Canadian diplomat died during this time.

Humanitarian assistance

Since 2014, Canada has provided a total of $154 million in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

Development assistance

At the Afghanistan Pledging Conference on November 24, 2020, Minister Gould renewed Canada’s commitment to Afghanistan by pledging $270 million over three years to support Afghanistan’s Transformation Decade (2015-2024). Since 2001, Canada has provided $3.8 billion in international assistance to the country. Afghanistan has been Canada’s largest bilateral country program for several years, with a $90 million annual allocation of development assistance. All Canadian development assistance is delivered through third parties (Trust Funds or implementing partners). Following the Taliban takeover, most international assistance programs in Afghanistan were paused by partners, with the exception of humanitarian assistance.

Achievements

From 2001 to 2021, with Canadian and international support, Afghanistan made significant progress in women and girls’ rights and their access to healthcare and education. A generation of men and women in Afghanistan have participated in democratic political processes and enjoyed a free and vibrant media. These gains cannot be easily reversed.

Afghanistan today: political, economic, humanitarian and security

Supplementary messages

Update

It has been three months since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan. On September 7, the Taliban declared a Cabinet comprised largely of male religious and military Pashtun figures. The Taliban’s largest immediate challenge is the economy. The Taliban’s takeover led to the rapid withdrawal of international aid and security assistance, loss of access to overseas assets, and isolation from the global financial system. Expected continued drought, escalating displacement, the collapse of public services, and a deepening economic crisis are contributing to one of the globe’s most severe humanitarian crises. Twenty-four million Afghans are expected to require humanitarian assistance in 2022, nearly one-third more than 2021. The 2022 humanitarian appeal is anticipated to exceed USD 4.4 billion, more than double 2021 requirements.

In response to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover, Canada announced on August 26, 2021, a $50 million increase of its humanitarian support for Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. Funding will be delivered through the UN and other established humanitarian partners with operational capacity to respond to these needs.

The economic and humanitarian crisis has the potential to spark refugee flows with far reaching impacts. Additionally, the increasing risk of terrorism poses a significant threat. Canada is cognizant of the implications this crisis has on regional stability and global security and is engaged with partners on mitigating those risks, including continuing to cooperate with allies on counter terrorism measures.

The Government of Canada evacuated approximately 3,700 persons out of Kabul before the air-bridge closed in late August, including Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Canada has since expanded its resettlement program to include 40,000 vulnerable Afghan refugees.

Canada’s development assistance in Afghanistan has been explicitly framed within the Feminist International Assistance Policy. Following the Taliban takeover, much of the international community, including Canada, paused most international assistance programs in Afghanistan. Consideration of future development assistance that goes beyond meeting basic human needs of the Afghan people will be weighed against the Taliban’s actions to adhere to and protect the fundamental rights of all its citizens, and form an inclusive and representative government.

Safe passage and resettlement efforts

Supplementary messages – Safe departure

Supplementary messages – Resettlement efforts

Background

Following the final military air bridge flight, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) has been working with the Canada-entitled persons (CEP) population within Afghanistan. The focus of GAC interactions have been twofold:1) ensuring that all CEPs are fully documented and able to travel when opportunities for departure become available, and 2) identifying departure opportunities and working with service providers to facilitate the safe departure of CEPs. As of November 12, 267 CEPs had departed on Government of Qatar operated flights and 13 had departed on Pakistan International Airways flights. As more flight options become available, we are working with CEPs to depart via all available routes.

In response to the crisis in Afghanistan, this summer, Canada announced two resettlement programs for Afghans: (1) the SIMS program announced on July 23, 2021 for Afghans that meet the criteria of “significant and/or enduring relationship to the Government of Canada,” and (2) a special humanitarian program announced on August 13, 2021 focused on resettling Afghan nationals who are outside of Afghanistan and lack a durable solution in a third country, including women leaders, human rights defenders, journalists, persecuted religious minorities, LGBTI individuals and family members of previously resettled interpreters.

While IRCC has the policy authority for immigration, in the case of SIMS, both GAC and DND were given the responsibility to determine if Afghans met specific criteria, and if so, to then refer the individuals to IRCC for processing.

Engagement with the Taliban

Supplementary messages

Update

On August 15 2021, the Government of Canada announced that it had temporarily suspended operations at the Canadian Embassy in Kabul due to the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, which posed serious challenges to our ability to ensure the safety and security of our mission.

Canada does not recognize the Taliban as the legitimate Government of Afghanistan. The Taliban remain a listed terrorist entity under Canadian law. Canada expects any government of Afghanistan to fulfill its obligations to uphold the human rights of all its citizens, as required by international law.

Canada engages the Taliban informally to share Canada’s priorities including safe passage and conditions for assistance that goes beyond meeting basic human needs. Canada continues to call on the Taliban to ensure safe passage of Canadians, foreign nationals and Afghans approved through our Special Immigration Program; timely humanitarian access to mitigate a humanitarian and refugee crisis; respect for its international human rights obligations, including the protection of fundamental rights of women, girls and other vulnerable groups;  to form an inclusive and representative government; and, to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe-haven for terrorism.

Canada engages the Taliban informally through our Senior Official for Afghanistan, based in Doha. Discussions and developments continue to move at a rapid pace and it is vital to Canadian interests that Canada be part of these ongoing discussions, many of which involve like-minded and other key stakeholders.

The Canadian embassy will resume its operations when security and political conditions in Afghanistan permit.

C. China

China policy & bilateral relations

Supplementary messages

Update

Canada’s evolving approach acknowledges the complexity of the relationship and the need to: challenge the Chinese government’s violations of rules and norms; compete with China’s authoritarian model; cooperate on global issues of shared interests; and, co-exist with the world’s most populous country.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

In recognition of a more assertive and authoritarian Chinese governance model under President Xi Jinping, Canada’s approach is evolving by taking steps to boost resilience and resistance to China in the domestic, bilateral, regional and multilateral spheres. Under President Xi, China has implemented a coercive foreign policy—as demonstrated by its use of aggressive political and economic levers to punish Canada (and others)—as well as made efforts to shape the rules-based international order in ways inimical to Canada’s interests, or to flout these norms when irreconcilable with Chinese Communist Party interests. At the same time, it remains in Canada’s interest to work with China on global issues, such as climate change. China is also an important market for Canadian commodity and agri-food exports, and its growing consumer market offers further opportunities for Canadian businesses.

[REDACTED]

China capacity review

Supplementary messages

[REDACTED]

Return of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor to Canada

Supplementary messages

Update

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were released and returned to Canada on September 25, 2021, following 1020 days of arbitrary detention.

ATIP protected background

On December 10, 2018, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were arbitrarily detained for allegedly endangering China’s national security. Their detention followed Canada’s arrest of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou on December 1, 2018, pursuant to the Canada-U.S. Extradition Treaty. Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig’s trials were held on March 19 and March 22, 2021, respectively. A verdict was pronounced in Mr. Spavor’s case on August 11, 2021.

Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor were released and returned to Canada on September 25, 2021. Ms. Meng returned to China that same day, following a plea deal she made with U.S. Department of Justice and the resolution of her case.

Canadian officials are providing ongoing support to Mr. Kovrig, Mr. Spavor, and their families.

China consular cases

Supplementary messages

Due to privacy considerations, no further information can be disclosed.

Update

Mr. Schellenberg’s death penalty sentence was upheld by a Chinese court of appeals on August 10, 2021.

ATIP protected background

Canadians sentenced to death in China

In January 2019, following a swift retrial, Robert Schellenberg’s initial 15-year verdict on drug smuggling charges was overturned and a death sentence was issued. Mr. Schellenberg appealed the executable death sentence and an appeal hearing took place on May 9, 2019. His appeal was rejected and the death penalty was upheld by an Appeals Court on August 10, 2021. His case has been transferred to the Supreme People’s Court for a mandatory review. There are no timelines for the issuance of a decision by the Court. Canadian officials have been able to visit Mr. Schellenberg regularly.

Other Canadians have received a death penalty sentence in China, including Mr.FAN Wei (dual Canadian/Chinese citizen), who was sentenced to death in April 2019 for drug manufacturing and trafficking. Other than Mr. Schellenberg’s case, only Mr. Fan’s case is public. Consular access has been granted to Mr. Fan.

Canada has raised its opposition to the death penalty with China and continues high-level advocacy for clemency in these cases.

Consular case of Huseyincan Celil

Huseyincan Celil, a dual Chinese-Canadian member of the Uyghur ethnic group, was arrested in Uzbekistan in March 2006 and was extradited to China despite vigorous protests by Canada. Mr. Celil’s initial sentence of life imprisonment was commuted to 19 years in 2016. China does not recognize Mr. Celil’s Canadian citizenship and refuses to grant consular access. Canadian officials remain in regular contact with Mr. Celil’s wife.

Arrest/Detention Cases in China

Approximately 115 Canadians are detained in China on a broad range of offences which can range from basic infractions, such as immigration violations, to more serious charges such as drug trafficking and fraud. These figures are subject to change.

Procurement of physical security equipment (NUCTECH)

Supplementary messages

Update

On September 7, 2021, GAC obtained Public Services and Procurement Canada’s approval for a National Security Exemption for detection equipment including x-ray machines. Our current priority is the establishment of a second National Security Exception for armoured vehicles.

Regional maritime tensions (South China sea, East China sea)

Supplementary messages

Update

HMCS Winnipeg is currently deployed to the Indo-Pacific region where it has carried out a number of activities including joint exercises with allied and partner navies, port visits and monitoring evasion of UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea. This follows the deployment of HMCS Calgary earlier this year.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Regional tensions have heightened as China has pursued a more assertive policy to advance its claims in the SCS and ECS through repeated entries by Chinese naval, coast guard and militia vessels in disputed waters. China has also increased the pace and scale of land reclamation and construction of military facilities on disputed features. Tensions between the U.S. and China have escalated concurrently as U.S. military ships have been more frequently undertaking Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) designed to assert navigational rights and freedoms and to challenge maritime claims that it deems excessive under international law. Canada does not conduct FONOPS.

ATIP protected background

On October 15, HMCS Winnipeg sailed through the Taiwan Strait with a U.S. Navy vessel while navigating from the South China Sea to the East China Sea to participate in a multinational effort to counter North Korea’s evasion of UN Security Council sanctions. [REDACTED]”

Taiwan

Supplementary messages

Taiwan/ Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)
Taiwan/FIPA

Supporting facts and figures

FIPA
Trade and Investment
CPTPP

Background

From October 1-4, 2021, around the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, numerous People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft entered Taiwan’s self-declared “Air Defence Identification Zone” (ADIZ), but remained in international airspace. Media reported that these activities represented the largest incursions into Taiwan’s ADIZ to date.

On October 3, 2021, the U.S. State Department released a statement expressing concern with China’s “provocative military activity near Taiwan.” At a meeting on October 31, Foreign Minister Wang Yi reinforced China’s concerns over the U.S.’s approach to Taiwan, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed the U.S.’s commitment to its One China Policy but warned against unilateral changes to the status quo in the region.

Most recently, the PRC and Taiwan have both submitted their formal request to join the CPTPP.

Under its One China Policy, Canada recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the sole legitimate government of China, noting—neither challenging nor endorsing—the Chinese government’s position on Taiwan. Canada does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state, but continues to develop people-to-people, cultural and economic ties with the island.

Human rights: Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang and forced labour

Supplementary messages

If pressed on how forced labour goods are identified

The risk analysis to assess the likelihood that a specific shipment may contain goods produced by forced labour is made on a case-by-case basis, based on available information and analysis.

If pressed on whether Canada would engage in diplomatic boycott of the Olympic Games over China’s human rights violations

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Xinjiang: Canada is gravely concerned by the mass arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture, mistreatment and mass arbitrary separation of children from their parents of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region by Chinese authorities. Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang face deeply repressive security and mass surveillance practices, restrictions on movement, forced patriotic education, and suppression of their freedom of religion or belief, their linguistic and cultural rights and their freedom of expression. Canada continues to call on China to allow for meaningful, unfettered access to the XUAR so that impartial experts can observe and report on the situation first-hand.

Forced Labor: Since July 1, 2020, the Customs Tariff prohibits the import of goods mined, manufactured or produced by forced labour into Canada. The issue of forced labour in supply chains is a complex problem to address that requires considerable work on the part of governments and industry. On January 12, 2021, Canada adopted a comprehensive approach to defending the rights of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. Canada’s approach includes the following seven measures:

The Prohibition of imports of goods produced wholly or in part by forced labour;

A Xinjiang Integrity Declaration for Canadian companies;

A Business Advisory on Xinjiang-related entities;

Enhanced advice to Canadian businesses;

Export controls;

Increasing awareness for Responsible Business Conduct linked to Xinjiang; and

A Study on forced labour and supply chain risks

Tibet: Canada recognizes Tibet as an integral part of the People’s Republic of China with a distinct cultural identity. China opposes foreign government contact or involvement with the Dalai Lama and Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) representatives. The CTA is exiled from Tibet and not recognized by the Chinese government. Canada’s Ambassador to China, Dominic Barton participated in a Chinese government hosted visit to Lhasa, Tibet from October 26 to 30, 2020. This was the first visit to Tibet by a Government of Canada official since 2015.

Hong Kong: On June 30, 2020, the Chinese central government imposed the National Security Law (NSL) on Hong Kong, which led to a rapid erosion of rights and freedoms in the Special Administrative Region. Escalating developments have compelled Canada, in concert with its international partners, to issue numerous statements of concern with respect to Hong Kong. In March 2021, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress enacted sweeping changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system, including a requirement that only “patriots” are eligible for office in the territory. On August 1, 2021, Hong Kong’s Immigration (Amendment) Bill 2020 came into force. This empowers the Hong Kong government to stop people from entering or leaving the territory without a court order. Global Affairs Canada updated its Travel Advice and Advisory for Hong Kong to reflect this latest development.

Beijing Winter Olympics and Boycotts:  There are continuing calls from media, parliamentarians, and the public for government action on China’s human rights record in relation to its role as host of the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. The issue of a diplomatic boycott has come to the forefront as on November 17, media reports indicated that the White House was expected to announce, by the end of November, that neither President Biden nor any other U.S. government officials would attend the Beijing Games. Canada has engaged with like-minded partners and will continue these discussions as the games approach.

Belt and road initiative

Supplementary messages

Responsive – BRI and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

Supporting facts and figures

Background

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): Established in 2013 as President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy strategy, the BRI aims to foster economic linkages and improve trade routes across the Eurasian, African and South American continents. The BRI allows China to leverage its economic capacity to diversify its international commercial relationships, secure strategic supply chains, gain regional influence and advance geopolitical objectives. No time limit has been imposed on the BRI, nor is there a defined budget, fixed list of projects, or definition for what constitutes a BRI project. Widespread concerns have been raised as to whether the BRI conforms to established principles, rules and norms for international development surrounding human rights, financial sustainability and environmental protection. China seeks international participation in BRI to confer legitimacy to the initiative and has called on Canada for endorsement on multiple occasions.

China’s Lending: China is the world’s largest official creditor, the largest official bilateral lender in nearly all countries in which Canada is a creditor, and a driver of unsustainable debt levels in many developing countries. [REDACTED]. The economic impacts of COVID-19 have made addressing Chinese lending and debt treatment practices a key policy objective for many countries in international fora such as the G7, G20, IMF, World Bank, Paris Club, the OECD and the UN. China’s participation in the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) and Common Framework (CF) represents its first participation in multilateral debt treatment. However, China has been selective in its application of the DSSI terms, advocated for reduced transparency in CF debt treatments and caused significant delays in treatment, thus hampering multilateral debt treatment efforts.

G7 Infrastructure Finance: The G7 is exploring a new strategic framework for infrastructure financing in order to provide developing countries with alternatives to existing funding sources. Canada is supportive in principle of both the UK’s Clean and Green Initiative and the US’s Building Back Better for the World (B3W).

BRI and AIIB: As the lead on AIIB, all questions should be directed to Finance Canada. The BRI is a national foreign policy and development strategy, while the AIIB is a multilateral development bank. Canada’s investment in the AIIB is alongside its long-time partners of Australia, France, Germany, India, Italy, South Korea and the UK. The AIIB has adopted the operating framework, governance structures and best practices of similar longstanding MDBs. The majority of the AIIB’s active projects are co-funded with other multilateral development banks and are accordingly governed by well-established rules and norms, including those regarding financial sustainability.

[REDACTED]

D. United States

Canada-United States relations

Supplementary messages

Update

You met with Secretary of State Blinken in Washington on November 12 and discussed a range of issues, including Ethiopia, Afghanistan, China, Haiti, and December’s U.S.-hosted Summit for Democracy. You also raised concerns about the negative impacts on jobs and economic recovery created by U.S. local content requirements, including “Buy America” provisions and the protectionist U.S. tax credits for electric vehicles.

You joined Prime Minister Trudeau at the North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS) in Washington, D.C. on November 18, as well as at the Prime Minister’s bilateral meeting with President Biden. The Prime Minister has been invited to the U.S.-hosted Summit for Democracy on December 9-10.

Supporting facts and figures

Background (NGA to update closer to the date of the CoW)

Since President Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021, the Prime Minister and other members of Cabinet have undertaken 148 engagements with senior U.S. Administration officials. Through this outreach, combined with calls and meetings by Canadian federal officials, Canada’s Ambassador in Washington, and Consuls General, 435 individual contacts have been engaged.

Representation: The Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. is Kirsten Hillman, and the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to Canada is Arnold Chacon. Former Comcast executive David L. Cohen was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Canada in the full Senate. He is scheduled to present his credential letters to the Governor General in December.

Bilateral economic priorities

Supplementary messages

Supporting facts and figures

Background

PM Trudeau and President Biden met on February 23, 2021 and committed to the Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership, a cornerstone of a whole-of-government approach to Canada-U.S. relations. Economically, it prioritizes building back better to address the pandemic’s disproportionate impacts on women and underrepresented groups, as well as on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The leaders have also launched a strategy to strengthen Canada-U.S. supply chain security.

The North American Leaders’ Summit took place in Washington, D.C. on November 18, 2021, where Canada and the U.S. again shared a vision of building back better, together. 

Canada and the U.S. are increasing public spending on climate-resilient and green infrastructure as a means to spur economic recovery. President Biden’s US$1.2 trillion infrastructure bill was signed into law on November 15, 2021. The bill calls for investments in national infrastructure, including highways, transit, rail, the electric grid and clean energy technologies, drinking water and wastewater facilities, and broadband internet. The bill contains Buy America language that applies new domestic content requirements to all federal financial assistance programs for infrastructure.

The House of Representatives draft of a second infrastructure bill (the Build Back Better bill) contains tax credits for purchases of electric vehicles in the U.S. that threaten the viability of automotive production in Canada. The proposed credits are inconsistent with U.S. obligations under the CUSMA and WTO and could risk triggering a trade war with U.S. allies, including Canada.

CUSMA entered into force on July 1, 2020, reinforcing the strong trilateral economic ties and enhancing North American competitiveness. The first CUSMA Free Trade Commission Meeting took place on May 18, 2021 involving the responsible minister from each of the parties. On July 7, the CUSMA Ministers met in Mexico City to celebrate the 1-year anniversary of the entry into force of the Agreement. Canada and the U.S. are working closely together to support the effective implementation of Mexican labour reforms, including those required under CUSMA.

Buy america and buy american

Supplementary messages

Update

On November 5, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and President Biden signed the bill on November 15. The bill which provides approximately US$1 trillion in infrastructure spending over five years expands Buy America requirements to all infrastructure projects in the U.S. and beyond iron and steel to all manufactured products and construction materials. These expanded requirements could have negative impacts on Canadian industries not historically impacted by Buy America requirements.

Background

Buy America and Buy American are two types of domestic content requirements applied to U.S. procurements. Buy American requirements apply to procurements undertaken directly by the U.S. federal government. Canada is exempt from Buy American requirements as a result of our respective obligations under the revised WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA).

Buy America requirements apply to purchases of iron, steel and other manufactured products used in certain infrastructure projects undertaken by state/local governments with federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As federal transfers to lower levels of government are not covered by the U.S. under the GPA, and because the U.S. has exceptions to its market access commitments, Buy America requirements can be applied in a manner that is consistent with U.S. trade obligations. 

Buy America requirements have been in place since 1982, but have gained in bipartisan support in the U.S. over the past five years. Their expansion has been a priority of the Biden Administration. The Biden Administration’s IIJA expands existing Buy America requirements to all infrastructure projects undertaken with funds from any U.S. federal agency (i.e. not limited to the DoT and EPA), and to all manufactured products and construction materials. This could have a negative impact on Canadian industries not historically affected by Buy America requirements, including non-ferrous metals, plastic and polymer-based products, glass, lumber and drywall.

Canadian officials have been actively engaging U.S. decision-makers and advocating for a binational solution which would carve Canada into any expanded Buy America requirements via a legislative “fix”. While U.S. interlocutors are generally sympathetic to Canada’s position, no one has come forth to champion a fix under the IIJA. Canadian officials continue to explore whether a fix may be possible in the context of end-of-year U.S. appropriation bills and/or as part of the implementation of the IIJA.

Roadmap for a renewed U.S.-Canada partnership

Supporting facts and figures

Background

The February 23 Roadmap for a renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership to revitalize the bilateral relationship outlines six pillars to advance our shared priorities: combating COVID-19; building back better; accelerating climate ambitions; advancing diversity and inclusion; bolstering security and defense; building global alliances by working through multilateral organizations.

Canadian and U.S. officials, including multiple members of Cabinet, have engaged intensely since President Biden’s inauguration. This activity has helped Canada and the U.S. make significant progress delivering on the Roadmap’s commitments.

Since President Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021, the Prime Minister and members of Cabinet have undertaken 136 engagements with senior U.S. Administration officials. This includes contacts with the President of the United States, the Vice President, 20 U.S. Cabinet members, 31 senior administration officials, 218 members of Congress, and 18 governors (as of October 31, 2021).

Central american migration 

Supplementary messages

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Central America and Mexico are experiencing socio-economic turmoil and a growing number of persons are fleeing the high level of poverty, violence, corruption and impunity to seek international protection in countries within the region. President Biden has committed to address irregular migration in the region with a comprehensive, four-year, $4 billion strategy. Migration commitments in the region are also featured in the US-Canada Roadmap. Canada’s development assistance address root causes of irregular migration. In July 2021, Canada assumed the chair of the MIRPS Support Platform - a United Nations platform to support the efforts of Central America and Mexico to offer protection and seek solutions to forced displacement. Canada’s theme is the Protection and empowerment of women and girls on the move.

Line 5

Supplementary messages

Update

October 4: Canada formally invoked with the U.S. the dispute settlement provision of the 1977 Transit pipelines treaty, thereby triggering formal negotiations on Line 5.

November 9: Canada and the U.S. held a preparatory meeting to discuss modalities for the Treaty negotiations. While early days, this meeting went better than expected, with the U.S. engaged and indicating they hoped to find a negotiated solution. The first negotiating session will likely take place in early December.

November 16: The U.S. (federal) District Court decided on a procedural motion in the Michigan v. Enbridge case addressing Michigan’s order to shut down Line 5, to retain federal court jurisdiction and not remand the case to state court. This is a win for Enbridge (and Canada). The Court also granted Canada’s request to file an amicus brief (submitted on November 5) informing the Court of Canada’s Treaty invocation on October 4.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

In November 2020, Governor Whitmer (D-Michigan) ordered Line 5 shut down permanently effective May 12, 2021, by withdrawing an easement that allows the pipeline to run along the bottomlands of the Straits of Mackinac, where Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron. The Governor requires, but does not yet have, court authority to implement her decision. Line 5 remains fully operational.

Before invoking the Treaty, Canada was the active actor in engaging with the U.S., seeking solutions that would help Michigan and Enbridge resolve their dispute. During the period from April 1 to October 3, Canada reached out more than 40 times to the U.S., including former Minister Garneau’s September 30 conversation with Secretary Blinken, to encourage the U.S. to make a final effort to work constructively or persuade Michigan to compromise, to no avail. This outreach also included six informal meetings at the officials’ level between June and September, in which Canada proposed collaborative, non-adversarial solutions, none of which was taken up by the U.S. Side.

The opposition to Line 5, including environmental and Indigenous groups, has been vocal, publically calling on Biden to intervene to shut down the pipeline, including cancelling the Line’s 1953 Presidential permit at the border on the St. Clair River.

Clean energy (hyrdo exports)

Supplementary messages

Supporting facts and figures

Background

On November 2, in a statewide referendum, Maine voters retroactively rejected the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) project. This, in spite of the fact that NECEC has all state and federal permits in place. Pre-construction and construction activities started in 2021, with completion scheduled for mid-2023.

NECEC’s proponents, Central Maine Power and Hydro Quebec, filed motions with the Maine Superior Court to invalidate the referendum as illegal and unconstitutional. The opposition is also going to court to file for an immediate halt to construction.

NECEC is a 1200 MW transmission line, a partnership of Hydro Quebec and Central Maine Power. It is located entirely within Maine. The NECEC line will run 145 miles from the Quebec-Maine border to a sub-station at Lewiston in southern Maine, connecting from there to Massachusetts through the existing grid. The first section in Maine from the Quebec border, 53 miles long, represents a new corridor which requires clear cutting, with the rest of the corridor following existing rights-of-way controlled by Central Maine Power.

NECEC is a consequential cross-border infrastructure project for Quebec and Canada. It will provide clean, renewable, firm (24/7) and low-cost power to Massachusetts, and some to Maine. Hydro Quebec’s 20-year multibillion-dollar contract with Massachusetts represents a major addition to Canada’s clean energy export trade and helps Massachusetts and New England achieve emission reduction goals.

Transboundary oil and gas pipelines - support

Supplementary messages

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Completing key transboundary oil and gas pipeline projects will support exports, Western Canada’s energy sector, strengthen the bilateral energy relationship and support North American energy and economic security. Canada has strongly supported new and expanded oil and gas transboundary pipelines.

No matter how successful we are at achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and de-carbonizing the economy, Canada and the U.S. will require significant amounts of fossil fuels over the next three decades. For the U.S., Canada is the best, most sustainable producer of this energy.

Crude oil exported through pipelines dominates our energy exports and drives Canada’s huge energy trade surplus, which in turn affects the health of our overall goods trade balance.

The positions of the Biden Administration to cross-border energy infrastructure pipeline projects have varied widely, from outright opposition (in January 2021, the President cancelled KXL permits on his first day in office) or often disengaged (Line 5).

Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement project runs through Canada, into the U.S., connecting to U.S. refineries. At a construction cost of $10 billion, it became operational on October 1 after six years of permitting reviews and appeals. It carries 760,000 barrels/day of crude oil.

E. COVID-19

Covid-19 canadian leadership

Supplementary messages

Update

Canada’s $2.6 billion commitment to the global COVID-19 response includes $1.3 billion for the ACT-Accelerator, over $740 million in humanitarian and development assistance, and adapted funding arrangements with organizations to address COVID-19 needs worth over $555 million.

At the G20 Leaders Summit in October 2021, the Prime Minister announced Canada’s commitment to donate the equivalent of at least 200 million doses to the COVAX Facility by the end of 2022. The Prime Minister announced an investment of up to $15 million, to COVAX Manufacturing Task Force partners, in support of the establishment of the South Africa Technology Transfer Hub.

Background

Canada has taken strategic actions across a range of fields to address the international implications of COVID-19. Efforts have been framed by three strategic pillars: 1) fighting the pandemic, 2) managing financial stresses and stabilizing economies, and 3) supporting the most vulnerable and reinforcing recovery. To fight the pandemic, Canada is strengthening capacities at home and abroad. This involves strengthening health systems and key institutions, and providing equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines, notably through the ACT Accelerator, and all of its pillars, including the COVAX Facility. Canada also led in the formation of multiple ad hoc groupings to respond to the pandemic and foster concerted action by the international community.

To manage financial stresses and stabilize economies, Canada has worked to enable financial liquidity and stability through the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative to provide debt relief to the poorest countries and within the OECD to identify sound economic practices. Canada also increased its loan commitment to the International Monetary Fund’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust. To support the most vulnerable and reinforce recovery, Canada has focused its efforts on a humanitarian response and addressing longer-term socio-economic impacts of the pandemic in developing countries. Canada’s support under this pillar has focused in particular on food security, nutrition, access to education, promoting economic recovery and growth, and humanitarian action.

Impact of Covid-19 on human rights

Supplementary messages

Update

Canada recognizes that COVID-19 is not limited by international borders and requires coordinated global action in allowing for equitable access to vaccines, tests, and treatments. Since February 2020, Canada has mobilized more than 2.6 billion in international assistance during the course of the pandemic. Additionally, Canada is also working with international partners to address barriers to equitable access to vaccines by improving global capacity to manufacture them.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Any COVID-19 response must ensure that vulnerable and marginalized communities are not negatively affected as a result of chosen responses. Additionally, the pandemic should not be exploited by instituting unwarranted restrictions under the guise of public health measures, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR).

The pandemic’s spread and consequences affect specific groups differently based on differentiating and oftentimes intersecting forms of discrimination. Efforts should be made to mitigate the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on vulnerable groups, including the elderly, Indigenous peoples, children, persons with disabilities, LGBTI persons, ethnic and religious minorities, persons deprived of their liberty, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.

Vaccines & medical supplies – TCS support

Supplementary messages

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Assisting Canadian suppliers of COVID-19 solutions: The TCS has developed an evergreen directory of Canadian companies with export ready solutions to support the fight against COVID-19. The Directory is intended to be a tool for Trade Commissioners at post to match COVID-19-related opportunities with Canadian manufacturers that have capacity for internationalization.

Vaccines: The TCS continues to support lead departments (PSPC, PHAC/HC) in vaccine procurement and roll-out, facilitating global connections and referrals and trouble-shooting vaccine shipments from overseas to Canada.

Global supply chains: Canada depends on imports of medical products, pharmaceuticals and input components for domestic production. Although Canada was affected at the onset of the pandemic in its ability to secure medical supplies, vaccines, therapeutics and some pharmaceutical inputs, it has now strengthened its manufacturing capacity for urgently needed medical supplies, vaccines and is working with allies and industry to ensure international trade rules are respected and supply chains are not interrupted.  Canada will continue to require inputs from international markets to build finished products and access international markets for medical and pharmaceutical supplies to ensure long-term sustainability.

Backlogs caused by COVID-19 response: COVID-19 put an enormous strain on existing notification bodies and certification agencies around the world.  Canadian manufacturers experienced delays in obtaining critical certifications that have impacted procurement and fulfillment of contracts. For instance, on N-95 mask certification from the US, the TCS worked with stakeholders to address the issue and commencing May 2021, the US certifying body NIOSH began to accept Canadian applications.

World health organization (WHO) including Covid-19 origins

Supplementary messages

Update

WHO recently established a Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO) to define and guide future studies into the origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens of epidemic and pandemic potential, including SARS-CoV-2. One Canadian, Dr. Normand Labbé from the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Centre for Biosecurity, has been selected as a member of the SAGO alongside 27 other international experts.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

The international community has yet to pinpoint the origins of the COVID-19 virus. Canada, along with several other countries, is concerned that the independent experts on the WHO-convened Joint WHO-China Mission in Wuhan did not receive timely and complete access to raw data and other research from the early days of the outbreak. Following the release of the full report of the study on March 30th, Canada supported a US-led Joint Statement along with 14 other countries to express concerns and to underscore the need for further study. In August 2021, Canada sent a letter to the Director-General of WHO to express support for the proposed plans for the second phase of the work on determining the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and to reiterate that all Member States should uphold their obligations for transparency. The new SAGO will first advise WHO on the development of a long term framework to study the emergence of novel pathogens and then move onto the consideration of which further studies and field investigations on the origins of SARS-CoV-2 should be conducted.

Covid-19 travel restrictions

Supplementary messages

Supporting facts and figures

Background

As of March 18, 2020, the Government of Canada put in place border measures designed to keep Canadians safe and healthy and to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. This is primarily achieved through three regularly-renewed Orders in Council (OICs) outlining quarantine, testing and other requirements; prohibiting travel for persons who do not meet Canada’s definition of ‘fully vaccinated’, with limited exceptions from the United States (U.S.); and from all other countries. Under the OICs the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, of Public Safety and of Immigration can exempt travellers from quarantine requirements or entry prohibitions if in the national interest.

At Global Affairs Canada exemptions to individual travellers for entry or from quarantine are normally issued at the Assistant Deputy Minister level. Exemptions from quarantine have been authorized in exceptional circumstances and require consultation with the Province or Territory of travel and with the Public Health Agency of Canada on conditions that the traveller must follow.

Work is ongoing to ensure alignment between the international travel restrictions and the upcoming domestic transportation vaccination mandate. Travellers in the federally regulated air, marine and rail sectors will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of November 30, 2021 with limited exceptions.

The Government of Canada continues to take a gradual and phased approach to reopening to international travel that takes into account the evolution of the domestic COVID-19 situation as well as a range of factors, including domestic and international vaccination rates, Provincial/Territorial considerations; processing capacity at the border; and public health system capacity to manage potential increases in cases. This work is led by Health Canada.

The Global Travel Advisory recommending against all non-essential travel since March 13, 2020 was lifted on October 21, 2021, and returned to providing destination-specific travel information for the 236 destinations listed so that Canadians be provided with the information they need to fully assess the risks while travelling.

Covid-19 international vaccines, therapies, and diagnostics support (including COVAX)

Supplementary messages

Update

On October 30, 2021, at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Rome, Italy, the Prime Minister announced that Canada will donate the equivalent of at least 200 million doses to the COVAX Facility by the end of 2022. This will be composed of vaccine doses procured by Canada that are surplus to domestic requirements and donated to COVAX, including an immediate contribution of up to 10 million Moderna vaccine doses, plus financial support to COVAX for the procurement and delivery of doses. Canada is also providing $15 million in support for the set up an mRNA technology transfer and manufacturing hub in South Africa.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator is the world’s most comprehensive end-to-end solution to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. It is co-convened by ten leading global health organizations (including the WHO, Gavi, UNICEF, the World Bank and the Global Fund). The ACT-Accelerator comprises three pillars: Diagnostics, Therapeutics and Vaccines (also known as COVAX), with a Health Systems and Response Connector working across the three pillars. The administrative hub of the ACT-Accelerator is located at the WHO.

F. Arms Exports

Export controls: general

Supplementary messages

Update

Since 2019, the issue of export controls has received significant and sustained public, media and parliamentary attention. On June 21, 2021, and after months of studying the granting of arms exports permits with a focus on Turkey, the Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (FAAE) tabled the Committee’s Report entitled: Assessing Risk, Preventing Diversion and Increasing Transparency: Strengthening Canada’s Arms Export Controls in a Volatile World, which included eight recommendations.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Export controls are meant to ensure that controlled items are exported in a manner that is consistent with Canada’s foreign and defence policies and national security. Controls are not meant to unnecessarily hinder international trade, but to regulate and impose certain restrictions on exports in response to clear policy objectives. Most strategic items are controlled for export further to Canada’s commitments in the four main multilateral export control regimes.

Saudi Arabia: export controls and lavs

Supplementary messages

Update

In January 2021, the Biden Administration announced a temporary pause of arms transfers to KSA pending a review of military sales signed under the previous Administration. This measure affected transactions above specific thresholds. In February 2021, President Biden stated that his administration would end “all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales”. The suspension has since been focused on air-to-ground munitions that have caused civilian casualties in Yemen, and certain contracts suspended in January have been allowed to resume. In fall of 2021, Congress was notified of two major Foreign Military Sales contracts for the maintenance of Saudi Arabia’s helicopter fleet and the sale of medium-range air-to-air missiles. On November 12, 2021, House democrats presented a joint resolution of disapproval to block the transfer. Earlier on April 21, 2021, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Protection of Saudi Dissidents Act, which would prohibit the Administration from approving sales of defense articles or transferring such items to the Government of Saudi Arabia for a minimum period of 120 days following enactment, unless the President certifies that the Saudi government is not violating the human rights of dissidents or detainees though actions such as forced repatriation, intimidation or murder. This legislation still needs to pass the U.S. Senate.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

GAC’s review concluded that Canadian exports were not at substantial risk of being used contrary to the ATT, but did identify a substantial risk that certain controlled items such as air-to-surface missiles would lead to violations of International Humanitarian Law. No permits assessed fell into these categories.

Production of papers

Supplementary messages

Background

Parliament has far-reaching power to compel departments to produce documents through production motions. Committees exercise this power when they perceive officials or ministers are not being sufficiently transparent.

The 43th Parliament saw six committee motions that touched on Global Affairs Canada records, most notably on arms exports to Turkey, which produced 3500 pages (EN), and implicated12 departmental divisions.

On March 31, 2021, the House Special Committee on Canada-China Relations (CACN) passed a production of papers motion requesting that unredacted documents on the transfer of Ebola and Henipah viruses to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in March of 2019 and the subsequent revocation of security clearances for, and termination of the employment of, Dr. Xiangguo Qiu and Keding Cheng, be handed over to the Law Clerk.

The Public Health Agency of Canada’s refusal to provide unredacted records prompted the agency’s president, Iain Stewart, to be called before the bar and reprimanded by the House.

It is expected that this issue and production of papers motions, more broadly, will garner much interest in the 44th Parliament.

Turkey: Export controls

Supplementary messages

Update

Since April 2021, Canada and Turkey have been in discussion to initiate a dialogue on export controls. Both sides agreed that the next step in this process would be the upcoming Canada-Turkey Political and Security Consultations at the Assistant Deputy Minister level (date to be confirmed).

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Canada’s export permit policy toward Turkey has evolved considerably over the past two years. In October 2019, following Turkey’s military incursion into Syria, Canada temporarily suspended the issuance of all new export permits based on concerns that the issuance of new export permits could further destabilize the region. On April 16, 2020, Canada lifted that over-arching suspension and significantly narrowed the scope of its policy to focus on Group 2 military items.

G. Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia – Human rights

Supplementary messages

Update

Saudi Arabia’s ongoing human rights violations remain a predominant concern for Canada. Despite some recent announcements, which Saudi Arabia is framing as improvements on human rights, including changes to laws related to flogging and the death penalty for minors, Saudi Arabia continues to perpetuate grave human rights violations.  

Supporting facts and figures

Background

The human rights situation in Saudi Arabia continues to be a focus for Canada. Some dismantling of the guardianship system, including lifting the ban on women driving and removing a range of restrictions related to women obtaining passports, has improved the daily life of women in Saudi Arabia and allowed some of them to participate more actively in society. However, despite some social reforms, Saudi society remains highly conservative and the government continues to perpetuate very serious human rights violations.

While the downgrading of the bilateral relationship continues to pose challenges, Canada works with like-minded partners both on the ground in Saudi Arabia, as well as in international fora (particularly Geneva and New York), to promote human rights generally as well as with regard to specific cases. Canada also continues to engage directly with relevant Saudi officials at every opportunity, including the Saudi Human Rights Commission.

Raif Badawi: Mr. Badawi is currently serving a ten-year sentence (his release date is likely sometime in the first half of 2022 but includes a ten-year travel ban upon his release) in Saudi Arabia. Former Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler is acting as Mr. Badawi's “international legal counsel.” His wife, Ensaf Haidar, a Canadian citizen, is also a human rights activist and maintains attention on Mr. Badawi’s case internationally and in Canada.

Saudi Arabia – Bilateral dispute

Supplementary messages

Update

The bilateral relationship has been fractured since August 2018 and many Saudi punitive measures against Canada remain in place. Saudi Arabia’s ongoing human rights violations remain a predominant concern for Canada.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Bilateral relations remain fractured since the downgrading of relations by Saudi Arabia on August 5, 2018, in reaction to a series of tweets by then-Foreign Minister Freeland and Global Affairs calling for the immediate release of detained human rights activists. Saudi Arabia sees Canada’s sustained public engagement on human rights issues as an unacceptable interference in their domestic affairs.

As part of the downgrading of bilateral relations, Saudi Arabia announced it was suspending new trade and investment ties with Canada. While trade has remained unexpectedly strong, Canadian businesses have suffered the consequences of this action, with multiple examples of companies being excluded from potential contracts and bidding processes they were able to access prior to the downgrading of relations. 

Canada’s relationship with Saudi Arabia strives to balance a range of objectives: respect for human rights; international and regional security; and trade diversification and investment. While Saudi Arabia’s poor record on human rights continues to be problematic, it remains an integral and valued security partner (notwithstanding concerns related to Yemen), as well as the key regional bulwark against Iran’s expansionist ambitions and the threat these pose to global and regional security.

H. Iran

Human rights

Supplementary messages

Update

There were no significant improvements in the situation of human rights in Iran during President Rouhani’s two terms (2013-2021), and there is no indication that the situation will improve under the newly-elected President, Ebrahim Ra’isi, who is under U.S. sanctions for his role in the massacre of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. The regime continues to securitize dissent, often linking any criticism of the government to unsubstantiated foreign plots. Discriminatory practices against women, ethnic, religious and sexual minorities remain pervasive.

Joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA)

Supplementary messages

Update

In April 2021, the US and the JCPOA parties commenced negotiations to restore Iran’s commitments to the agreement and for the US to implement sanctions relief. While negotiations had been adjourned since the Iranian presidential election in June 2021, Iran has now agreed to reengage in negotiations on November 29, 2021.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Iran and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US) plus Germany reached a historic nuclear deal on July 14, 2015. Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program to peaceful use and to permit enhanced IAEA monitoring and verification in exchange for relief from sanctions.

The Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 and applied sanctions on Iran, citing flaws in the agreement, and that it did not address Iran’s ballistic missile program and destabilizing regional activity. In response, since June 2019, Iran increased its uranium enrichment and stockpile levels of uranium and heavy water as well as other violations under the JCPOA. In 2021, Iran further enriched uranium up to 60%, increased its online centrifuges, and suspended the Additional Protocol (which limits the IAEA’s ability to verify Iran’s nuclear program).

Should Iran return to compliance under the JCPOA, President Biden has indicated interest in rejoining the agreement as a starting point for further negotiations with Iran (human rights, ballistic missiles and regional tensions).

Flight PS752

Supplementary messages

Background

The shooting down of the Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 by Iran, in which 55 Canadian citizens, 30 permanent residents, and several others with ties to Canada perished, continues to have a significant impact on Canada’s relationship with Iran. Although Iran admitted three days after the downing that it had launched the missiles, its actions in the aftermath (including bulldozing the crash site, initially denying any responsibility, and harassing mourners) resulted in an increased amount of mistrust and lack of credibility among families of the victims and the affected states.

A report from Canada’s Forensic Team brought to light information confirming that Iran’s decisions, actions and omissions – by civil and military officials at the highest level – led to this tragedy and supports Canada’s determination that Iran was fully responsible for the shoot-down. The report highlights Iranian authorities’ recklessness, incompetence, and disregard for human life, although it found no evidence of premeditation. Notwithstanding the thorough investigation by Canada’s Forensic Team, as well as an Iranian safety investigation, there are still several outstanding questions related to the downing of PS752 that only Iran can answer.

Canada’s priority has now focused on state-to-state negotiations with Iran on reparations. Canada enters these negotiations with its eyes open, alongside its partners in the PS752 International Coordination and Response Group (now Sweden, Ukraine and the U.K). In accordance with international law, Iran must make full reparations to the affected states for the harm caused, including to the victims and their families. Coordination Group members have come to a common negotiating position and have set out their demands in a Notice of Claim delivered to Iran on June 3, 2021. The demands include compensation for material and non-material damages, a public apology and an acknowledgment of wrongdoing, a full accounting of the events that led to the downing, the return of stolen belongings, assurances of non-repetition, and transparency in the criminal prosecution. Should negotiations fail, possible next steps include referring the matter to the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization, and through an arbitral process, or to the International Court of Justice as the venue of last resort.  A follow-up message reminding Iran to enter good-faith negotiations was sent in September and Ukraine is pursuing discussions with Iran on behalf of the Coordination Group with a follow-up note in November.

Canada continues to raise PS752 at appropriate international gatherings and during key bilateral interactions. Canada is also working to develop the Safer Skies initiative, which seeks to improve the safety and security of civilian aircraft travelling in or near conflict zones, as well as efforts to reform the international investigation framework and address the inherent conflict of interest that exists when a state implicated in a downing is in charge of the investigation.

I. Israel

Israel – Bilateral overview

Supplementary messages

Boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS)

Supplementary messages

Supporting facts and figures

Background

The BDS movement is a campaign founded in 2005 by Palestinian NGOs. The BDS movement "urges nonviolent pressure on Israel until it complies with international law by meeting three demands: (i) Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the barrier between the West Bank and Israel; (ii) Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and (iii) Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.” Much of the movement is focused on university campuses in Europe and North America and includes academic and cultural boycotts.

Critics of the campaign argue that the BDS movement is antisemitic and promotes the delegitimization of Israel. There are also more targeted calls for boycotts of products produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank or the Palestinian boycott of Israeli goods sold in the West Bank.

On February 12, 2020, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a list of 112 companies operating in Israeli settlements (no Canadian companies were listed). Canada has previously expressed concerns to the High Commissioner.

International Criminal Court Investigation into the “situation in Palestine”

Supplementary messages

Update

On February 5, 2021, the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC ruled that the Court’s jurisdiction extends to Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, for the purposes of the ICC Prosecutor’s investigation into the situation in Palestine. Accordingly, on March 3, 2021, the ICC Prosecutor announced the opening of such an investigation.

Background

On December 20, 2019, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to formally advance the investigation on the “Situation in Palestine” after finding that in her view, war crimes had been or are being committed in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. However, due to the contested legal issues surrounding territorial definitions in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, the Prosecutor requested a ruling from the Pre-Trial Chamber confirming whether the ICC has the jurisdiction to investigate in those territories.

In January 2015, Canada expressed its position to the treaty depositary that it does not recognize a “State of Palestine” and it does not consider “Palestine” to be a party to the Rome Statute or to have any treaty relationship to Canada as a State Party. In the absence of a Palestinian State, it is Canada’s view that the Court does not have jurisdiction under international law to investigate the “situation in Palestine.” Canada reaffirmed this position in 2018, and again on February 14, 2020, via a letter submitted to the ICC.

Canada strongly supports the ICC and the important work that it does as a key pillar of the rules-based international order. Canada continues to respect the independence of its judges and of the ICC Prosecutor.

Israeli settlements

Supplementary messages

Update

In October 2021, the Israeli government published tender for the construction of 1,355 settler housing units deep in the West Bank. A few days later, the Israeli Ministry of Defense advanced the approval processes for another 2,860 units in 30 settlements.

Background

Settlement activity in East Jerusalem and the West Bank has continued under all Israeli governments since 1967. Israel claims that the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply in the West Bank and that settlements in annexed East Jerusalem are neighbourhoods of the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem.

As of 2020, there are 132 Israeli settlements in the West Bank with an estimated population of 441,600, making up approximately 14% of the West Bank population. In East Jerusalem, around 225,000 settlers live in 14 settlements built by Israel since 1967, some located within primarily Arab neighbourhoods. There are also 140 smaller, unauthorized outposts in the West Bank considered illegal under Israeli law. The overall population growth rate in Israeli settlements in 2019 was 3%, representing around 12-15,000 new settlers per year.  The vast majority of population growth in settlements is due to natural growth and not migration.

According to the Oslo Accords, the future of settlements is one of the final status issues (others include Jerusalem, borders, water, refugees, and security) to be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians as part of a comprehensive agreement.

Jerusalem

Supplementary messages

Update

In early May 2021, tensions boiled over in the Old City at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif compound where Israeli police clashed with Palestinians before the focus of hostilities shifted to Gaza. The Israeli government has continued to advance the approval process for several settlements in the Jerusalem area in Autumn 2021.  Following the move of its embassy to Jerusalem in 2018, the current US administration has recently announced intentions to re-open its consulate to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Jerusalem.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Settlement activity significantly complicates the task of drawing a future border and threatens the contiguity as well as the economic and political viability of a future Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

In 2017, the US administration formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (without, however, going so far as to recognize Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem and the Israeli-drawn municipal boundaries of Jerusalem). In 2018, the US relocated its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and incorporated within the Embassy the former Consulate General in Jerusalem, which had until then managed relations with Palestinians. The current administration has maintained recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but has signalled an intention to re-open the Consulate General to the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem, a step which is opposed by Israel.

Canada considers that the status of Jerusalem can be resolved only as part of a general settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. Canada does not recognize Israel's unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem.

Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Supplementary messages

Update

On May 21, 2021, a ceasefire came into effect between Israel and Hamas, ending 11 days of intense fighting in which 282 people were killed. Clashes in Jerusalem and inter-communal strife occurred in several cities alongside intense exchanges of fire between Israel, Hamas, and other armed terrorist groups in Gaza, in the worst round of fighting since the 2014 Gaza war. In Autumn 2021, efforts have been undertaken to rebuild confidence between the two sides, including through high-level diplomacy.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Prospects for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have diminished over the past several years, with no negotiations taking place since 2014. Mutual distrust and competition on all sides has limited their ability and willingness to negotiate over the key final status issues in the conflict (Jerusalem, borders, security, refugees, recognition). A new coalition government came into power in June 2021 under PM Naftali Bennett, whose stated overarching approach has been to reduce frictions without aiming to resolve the conflict. Efforts have been made to rebuild ties between Israel and the PA, including a meeting between Israeli Defence Minister Gantz and PA President Abbas in August 2021 and the introduction of an “economy for security” proposal to advance Israeli-Gaza relations beyond the current status quo, but relations remain difficult.

In Gaza, recurrent violence, severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods, limited economic growth, poor governance, and poverty have eroded the population’s resilience. Recently Israel has taken steps to loosen its restrictions, including by increasing the supply of goods allowed into Gaza, expanding the fishing zone, and increasing the number of permits to 10,000 for Palestinians from Gaza to work and trade in Israel. However, the situation remains very volatile, with a constant risk of a return to violence.

United Nations relief and works agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA)

Supplementary messages

Update

In 2021, two significant alleged neutrality violations were brought to the attention of Canadian officials and other donors. In January and February, Canadian officials were alerted to certain problematic learning materials that violated UN values were used by UNRWA for ‘self-learning’ during pandemic-related school closures. UNRWA has since assessed those materials and taken corrective actions. The Minister of International Development and Canadian officials continue to work closely with partners and UNRWA’s senior management to address the issue, and to help ensure that UN values are upheld and that UNRWA takes further corrective actions, as needed, in this regard. In August, a report from a group known as UN Watch alleged that UNRWA personnel promoted violence and hate through social media channels. UNRWA launched an investigation into these allegations; should misconduct be found, the Agency is expected to decide upon appropriate administrative or disciplinary action.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Since 1948, UNRWA has been the only UN organization mandated to provide basic services to over five million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. UNRWA is almost entirely funded through voluntary contributions by international donors and has faced a significant funding shortfall partly as a result of growing needs, falling contributions, and a volatile environment. UNRWA's Program Budget (education, health and social services) and its Emergency Appeals for humanitarian assistance are currently significantly underfunded to cover services up to the end of 2021. Without significant additional resources, services may need to be cut, leading to negative humanitarian consequences.

J. Myanmar

Myanmar – Political situation

Supplementary messages

Update

At present, the situation in Myanmar continues to deteriorate with violence escalating throughout the country. Opposition members remain detained and will face what are perceived to be sham trials –including Aung San Suu Kyi whose trial has already begun.  Those who have been convicted have received very stiff sentences.  Street protests, which the Tatmadaw lethally and brutally suppressed, have given way to low intensity persistent armed conflict, with People’s Defence Forces (civilian militias) operating throughout the country, killing both military and regime-linked civilians throughout.  The National Unity Government is claiming to have their own forces now taking the field and launching attacks, in addition to attempting to claim command of hundreds of diverse People’s Defence Forces across the country.  The Tatmadaw has launched a major offensive in the Western part of Myanmar in the past weeks with the intent to root out People’s Defence Forces in the region; this is likely to result in further rights abuses and atrocities.

On the political side, ASEAN’s 5-Point Consensus, reached in April, remains unimplemented and stalled.  ASEAN Chair’s Special Envoy to Myanmar – Second Foreign Minister Dato Erywan Yusof – was appointed in August but has logged no progress due to regime intransigence on inclusive talks with opposition, forcing a planned visit by Special Envoy October 12 to be cancelled.

On 15 October, Canada joined likeminded allies in releasing public statement of support for ASEAN and the Special Envoy.  Later that day, ASEAN convened an emergency Foreign Minister’s Meeting and downgraded Myanmar`s representation to ASEAN High Level Summit during week of 25 October – focusing on self-proclaimed Gen. Commander Min Aung Hlaing.  This is an unprecedented move in ASEAN’s 50+ year history.  The downgrade is foreseen to be the new norm to maintain pressure on the regime to move on the 5-Point Consensus.

Supporting facts and figures

As of November 07, it is estimated that:

Background

On February 1, 2021, the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) overthrew the democratically-elected government, returning the country to full military rule after a short span of quasi-democracy that began in 2011.

A nationwide civil disobedience movement, including most of the country’s public service and health personnel, has been brutally suppressed by the regime, killing hundreds and arbitrarily detaining thousands.

Local armed opposition groups have formed across the country and continue to launch attacks against the regime and associated officials through bombings and targeted assassinations, increasingly targeting civilians, in some cases coordinating with Ethnic Armed Organizations in those areas. Low-intensity, but accelerating/increasing conflict is simmering in multiple states between the Tatmadaw and Ethnic Armed Organizations who have been in conflict with the government for decades.  Political opposition has crystallized in a National Unity Government which continues to vie for international recognition, having formed a fully shadow government – and is increasingly moving toward armed resistance itself.

Canada has supported ASEAN in taking up a leadership role in resolving the crisis.  ASEAN convened a Leaders Conference in April where a 5-Point Consensus was reached to guide ASEAN’s efforts, including appointment of a Special Envoy tasked with leading inclusive dialogue as a key first step toward political resolution; Myanmar was present and agreed, but quickly dismissed the Consensus as a suggestion afterward.  Progress has been slow; the Special Envoy tasked with shepherding peace dialogues was only appointed over 4 months later and the Tatmadaw has denied access to relevant parties.

Despite ASEAN efforts, ongoing violence, human rights violations and COVID-19 outbreaks have plunged the country into a deep socio-economic crisis, exacerbating what was already a dire humanitarian situation, and increasingly leading to more forced displacement of vulnerable populations, both within Myanmar and internationally.

Although Rakhine State, the traditional home of the Rohingya, has so far avoided some of the worst of the recent violence, the plight of the Rohingya remains unaddressed. Prospects for a return of Rohingya who have previously fled Myanmar—most of whom are just across the border in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh—are bleak.

Canada is pursuing a four pillar policy response to the political crisis, with a focus on the restoration of democratic rule and release of political detainees, support for ongoing needs of conflict-affected populations, continued support for Rohingya refugees and host communities in Bangladesh, and pursuing accountability for serious human rights violations.

As part of this response, Global Affairs Canada has reviewed its official development assistance (ODA) to ensure that no aid (e.g. training) is being delivered to the regime (programming with civil society and UN partners continues). Concretely, Canada issued two rounds of new sanctions against leaders of the coup and on February 18, 2021, and subsequently on May 17, 2021, coordinated closely with our allies.  Canada has also put into place a unilateral arms embargo and is actively engaged in lobbying for other states to do likewise.  We have led and joined various resolutions and statements in UN and other multilateral fora through out the year.

Further, ongoing efforts continue to support accountability include a joint intervention on the Gambia’s Genocide Convention case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice and supports the work of the Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar that is gathering evidence relating to past and current alleged violations of international criminal law.

Canada’s position, in line with the broader approach of the international community, is that assistance to provide life-saving care and treatment to vulnerable populations in Myanmar, especially urgent needs in response to COVID-19, needs to be sustained and channeled through civil society organizations.

Myanmar - Rohingya crisis

Supplementary messages

Update

Following the Myanmar military’s attacks against the largely Muslim Rohingya minority, in August 2017, over 700,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh, joining hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people who fled previous targeted violence over decades. Now more than 900,000 Rohingya live in extremely difficult conditions in Cox’s Bazar, the world’s largest and most congested refugee camp. Refugees are reliant on international assistance for their basic needs, including shelter, water and sanitation, healthcare, and food. The influx of refugees has also impacted host communities, depressing wages and increasing competition for resources and services including access to health care. The root causes of the conflict, which sparked this genocide, remain unaddressed. Roughly, 600,000 Rohingya remain in Rakhine State (Myanmar), where they face systematic discrimination limiting their access to essential health services, freedom of movement, pathways to citizenship and livelihood opportunities. The coup and its aftermath have eliminated any progress and the prospect for the return of Rohingya to Myanmar. Bangladesh is concerned and frustrated that the coup has undermined repatriation efforts and exacerbated impunity for the Myanmar military. As a result, Bangladesh is increasing pressure on the international community to accept a greater share of the humanitarian burden, to accelerate repatriation, and to pursue accountability for a lasting solution. Bangladesh has placed restrictions on services in the refugee camps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and continues to implement policies that discourage Rohingya from staying long term—such as limiting opportunities for education and livelihoods for the refugees in Cox’s Bazar. It has also begun to relocate up to 100,000 refugees from the camps in Cox’s Bazar to Bhasan Char, a cyclone-prone silt island, despite the international community’s concerns that relocations be voluntary, including that refugees maintain freedom of movement.

Supporting facts and figures

In addition, Canada will continue to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to populations in need in Bangladesh and Myanmar, in accordance with needs.

Results from Canada’s 2018-2021 Strategy

Canada’s humanitarian assistance funding to Bangladesh and Myanmar:

Canada’s development assistance in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh:

Canada’s development assistance in Myanmar has:

Planned Results for Canada’s 2021-2024 Strategy (Phase 2)

Canada will dedicate over $288 million from 2021-2024 to achieve 4 key objectives:

In Bangladesh, Canada will:

In Myanmar, Canada will:

Background

In August 2017, systematic, large-scale and targeted attacks by Myanmar’s security forces caused over 727,000 Rohingya in Rakhine State to flee to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The influx of refugees has resulted in significant humanitarian needs in Cox's Bazar and conditions in the refugee camps and settlements remains difficult.

The humanitarian and security situation in Rakhine State is also dire, with an estimated 600,000 remaining Rohingya with over 120,000 confined to internally displaced person camps since outbreaks of violence in 2012. They all face discriminatory systems and attitudes limiting their access to essential health services, freedom of movement, pathways to citizenship and livelihood opportunities, making the still unimplemented Rakhine Advisory Commission’s recommendations all the more important.

Canada has disbursed all of the $300 million dedicated towards “Canada’s Strategy to Respond to the Rohingya Crisis” (2018-2021), to address humanitarian, development, peace and stabilization needs, as well as support for positive political developments in Myanmar and accountability efforts.

In Myanmar, to implement Canada’s strategy, bilateral development projects have supported and continue to support efforts to counter sexual and gender-based violence and to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights; strengthen women’s voices and leadership; and strengthen inclusive governance and the capacity of local CSOs.

In Bangladesh, bilateral development funding helped mitigate the impact of the crisis on host communities in areas such as livelihoods, community cohesion, education and environment and for longer-term learning opportunities and health services for the refugees.

Peace and stabilization programming has contributed to peaceful national reconciliation, including effective participation of women in the peace process and peacebuilding activities.

Humanitarian assistance funding has helped address the life-saving needs of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, as well as of displaced and other vulnerable and conflict-affected populations in Myanmar, with an emphasis on gender-responsive programming.

Myanmar - International court of justice

Supporting facts and figures

Background

In November 2019, The Gambia brought a case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) alleging violations of the Genocide Convention for actions taken against the Rohingya population in Rakhine state, leading to one of the largest mass exoduses in history with allegations of gross human rights violations and systemic persecution by the State of Myanmar against the Rohingya. On January 23, 2020, the Court found that it had prima facie jurisdiction to hear the case, and ordered Myanmar to take measures in the interim to prevent the commission of genocide on its territory, to protect evidence and to provide reports on its compliance with these measures to the Court while the case proceeds.

Myanmar has submitted preliminary objections, which the Court will need to consider before moving on with the proceedings themselves. The Gambia submitted its response to Myanmar’s preliminary objections, and the next step will be for the ICJ to schedule a hearing on these preliminary objections.

In September 2020, Canada and the Netherlands jointly announced their intention to intervene in this case. Both legal teams continue to work together on the content of the intervention, [REDACTED]. In February 2020, the Maldives had also announced their intention to intervene at the ICJ in support of the Rohingya people.

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K. Syria

Syria - Consular cases

Supplementary messages

Update

Background

Syria - Crisis and peace talks

Supplementary messages

Update

In October 2021, the Geneva Constitutional Committee resumed for a sixth round of negotiations but, due to the regime’s refusal to engage in a meaningful way, no progress was achieved. In July, the UNSC unanimously adopted resolution 2585(2021), reauthorizing the use of the Bab al-Hawa border crossing for humanitarian assistance for a period of twelve months, significantly reducing access hard-to-reach areas in northern Syria.  In March 2021, Canada joined the Netherlands in an effort to hold the Assad regime accountable, under the UN Convention against Torture, for its countless human rights violations inflicted against Syrians since 2011.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

After more than a decade of conflict, there is still no political solution in sight. The regime, with Russian and Iranian support, holds over 80% of territory. The regime is having increasing success in normalizing relations, especially with regional states. Economic conditions in Syria have never been worse, humanitarian needs are growing, and instability persists countrywide. The regime continues to disregard international norms and commit human rights abuses and war crimes.

Since 2011, over 5.6 million people have fled the country. There are more than six million internally displaced persons within Syria, and over 13 million are in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance, even in areas loyal to the regime. Despite low official numbers of COVID-19 cases, there is widespread community transmission across Syria in both regime-held and other areas, as ruling bodies lack the capacity to respond. Vaccine distribution and inoculation is slowly proceeding in all areas.

Tensions remain high between the regime and its allies and other opposition forces in in the northwest. Despite repeated violations, the Turkish-Russian March 2020 ceasefire in Idlib has largely held. In northeast Syria, the area under Kurdish control is mostly stable, although marked by longstanding tension between Kurdish political movements and neighbouring Turkey. Southwest Syria remains unstable, due to local tribal tensions, drug smuggling, and the presence of regime and regime-allied militias, including Hezbollah. Israel continues to conduct regular airstrikes across south and central Syria to curb Iran’s growing influence in the country.

Syria – Convention against torture

Supplementary messages

Background

Canada, the Netherlands, and Syria are States parties to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). On March 4, 2021, then Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau announced that Canada had requested formal negotiations with Syria, thereby invoking its responsibility for human rights violations under the United Nations Convention against Torture (CAT). The Netherlands made a similar request to Syria under the CAT in September 2020. In doing so, Canada and the Netherlands seek to hold Syria accountable for the systematic and widespread use of torture.

There are three stages to dispute resolution under the CAT – negotiation, agreeing to terms of arbitration, and referral to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The second and third steps can be invoked if the preceding steps are unsuccessful. Currently, Canada and the Netherlands are pursuing negotiations with Syria in a genuine attempt to resolve the dispute. Should the negotiations fail, Canada and the Netherlands are also preparing for the possibility of moving to the next stage of the dispute resolution process, as well as for potential legal action before the ICJ.

Syrian civil defense (white helmets)

Supplementary messages

Supporting facts and figures

Background

The Syrian Civil Defense (White Helmets), are a group of civilian first responders operating in opposition-held areas of Syria. Small groups of first responders spontaneously emerged in late 2012 to assist civilians injured or trapped due to bombardments by regime forces. In 2014, these teams came together to form a single organisation with a centralized leadership. The White Helmets serve an estimated four million civilians in Syria. To date, they have rescued or aided over 110,000 individuals and their work has earned them nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015 and 2016. Since the summer of 2018, when the Syrian army retook control of southern Syria, the White Helmets have been limited to operating in northern Syria, principally in Idlib governorate.

As the White Helmets have witnessed and documented regime and Russian attacks on civilians, the Syrian regime and Russia have labelled the organization as terrorists, and have maintained a vitriolic disinformation campaign alleging ties to extremist groups in Syria, and/or are organ traffickers, or western agents. Canada, and other likemindeds, has continued to express support for the White Helmets and defend the group’s legitimacy as impartial and non-belligerent.

The White Helmets are dependent on funding from international donors to maintain the civil defence services they provide communities in northwest Syria.  As the White Helmets do not have the administrative capacity to manage funding from multiple donors, they have relied on partnerships with other organizations. Current donors include the US, UK, Denmark and Germany. The White Helmets also receive limited support from various other sources, including a $1M grant from Grand Challenges Canada (2020) to support the White Helmets’ COVID response. However, concerns remain about the medium to longer-term sustainability of the organization as currently structured. 

Following the July 2018 evacuation of over 400 vulnerable White Helmets and their families from southern Syria, they were brought to Jordan to await onward resettlement to a number of countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany. The Government of Canada has continued to systematically pursue a variety of resettlement options for a number of White Helmets and their families who remain in Jordan at this time.

L. Foreign Policy

Arbitrary detention initiative

Supplementary messages

Update

The timing and manner of the return of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor leaves no doubt that these cases were examples of arbitrary detention for diplomatic leverage. We continue to seek clemency for Mr. Schellenberg, who has been arbitrarily sentenced, and for all Canadians sentenced to death in China. Canada’s Arbitrary Detention Initiative remains an essential tool to raise the political and reputational costs for perpetrator States.

Since the last appearance at the Committee of the Whole in May 2021, 5 additional countries have endorsed the Declaration: El Salvador, Palau, Marshall Islands, Cook Islands, and Honduras. Feedback on the Partnership Action Plan continues to be strongly supportive, notably by the US.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Canada launched the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations to demonstrate global opposition to the practice of arbitrary arrest, detention and sentencing of foreign nationals for diplomatic leverage on February 15, 2021. The Declaration is now endorsed by more than one third of the world’s countries (66 and the EU). Turning words into action, Canada developed an associated Partnership Action Plan, welcomed by G7 Ministers in May 2021 and by Leaders in June 2021 to coordinate further action. Progress on the Partnership Action Plan’s six core action areas (joint advocacy, research activities, case tracking, civil society, media and multilateral engagement) is ongoing.

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Arctic sovereignty

Supplementary messages

Update

In late August and early September 2021, the USG Healy navigated through the Northwest Passage (NWP). The Healy undertook MSR while in our waters, as well as participating in an exercise with the Canadian Coast Guard near Resolute. Consent for the US navigation in Canadian waters was granted under the Arctic Cooperation Agreement.

Interim Order No. 3 Restricting Pleasure Craft Navigation Due to COVID-19 issued by the Minister of Transport on 1 March, 2021 establishes measures forbidding pleasure craft to sail in Canada’s Arctic Waters. During the 2021 navigation season, the order was respected by all pleasure craft including the Chinese vessel Zhai Mo.

Background

No one disputes Canada’s sovereignty over the lands and islands of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, with the exception of Hans Island, and negotiations are taking place with Denmark to reach agreement on the Hans Island dispute.

The waters of the Arctic Archipelago, including the NWP, are internal waters of Canada by virtue of historic title, and thus Canada has full sovereignty over them. For greater clarity, in 1986 Canada drew straight baselines around the archipelago.

The U.S. disagrees with Canada’s characterization of the NWP as internal waters and considers the passage to be a strait used for international navigation, in which a right of transit passage exists. This disagreement is well managed, including through the Arctic Cooperation Agreement, under which the U.S. agrees not to sail its icebreakers through the NWP without Canadian consent. With respect to the dispute with the US over the maritime boundary in the Beaufort Sea, this is also well managed and will be resolved in due course, in accordance with international law.

Under international law, coastal states have exclusive sovereign rights over resources of the seabed and subsoil of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles. Filing a scientific submission with the Commission responsible is a key first step in clarifying where the outer limits of the continental shelf are located.  Canada filed its submission for the Arctic Ocean in 2019.

Russia filed its Arctic Ocean continental shelf submission 2015. The Canadian and Russian submissions had a significant but not unreasonable area of overlap. In March 2021, Russia amended its submission, greatly expanding the size of its continental shelf and tripling the overlap area with Canada. The Government of Canada is considering options for an appropriate Canadian response. Overlap areas will have to be negotiated at a later date.  All Arctic ocean coastal states have committed to settling their continental shelf overlap areas peacefully in accordance with international law.

Feminist foreign policy

Supplementary messages

Update

Global Affairs Canada has drafted a first overarching public statement on Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy based on dialogues with civil society and Indigenous partners, in Canada and abroad, undertaken in 2020-2021. The document is pending finalization and launch. In parallel, deeper discussions continue to take place with other countries that have avowed feminist foreign policies, including Sweden, France, Mexico, Spain and Luxembourg.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Over the past 5 years Canada has advanced a suite of feminist foreign policies and initiatives relating to diplomacy, trade, security, international development and consular services. These efforts have sought to focus on addressing fundamental structural barriers that prevent gender equality, and account for the needs of those most affected by multiple forms of discrimination.

Work with civil society and other partners is ongoing to continue to develop Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy approach. In fall 2020 and winter 2021, Global Affairs Canada undertook dialogues with domestic and international civil society, academics and Indigenous partners to inform the development of a policy paper. A series of virtual roundtables and public webinars were held in Canada and through missions abroad. Global Affairs Canada employees also shared their views. The paper is pending finalization and launch.

Indo-Pacific approach

Supplementary messages

Supporting facts and figures

Background

The Indo-Pacific refers to the vast land and maritime arc situated between Northeast Asia and the Indian sub-continent, and growing interdependence of the Pacific and the Indian Ocean regions. A growing number of Canada’s partners and allies have articulated country- and/or institutional level frameworks for the region: Australia (2013), Japan (2016), U.S. (2017), India (2018), France (2018), ASEAN (2019), Germany (2020), Netherlands (2020), the UK (2021) and most recently the EU (2021).

Canada publicly supported a “free and open Indo-Pacific” during its G7 presidency in 2018 and has since signed on to forward-leading Indo-Pacific references in all G7 foreign minister and leader-level communiqués. In joint statements with PM Modi in 2018 and then-PM Abe in 2019, Prime Minister Trudeau reaffirmed the importance of working with India and Japan in the Indo-Pacific.

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International climate action

Supporting facts and figures

Canada’s International Climate Action Initiatives:

Background

Climate change and biodiversity loss pose a growing threat to the planet and people. The earth’s surface warming is projected to reach 1.5C or 1.6C in the next two decades, with the Arctic warming 2 to 3 times faster1. Extreme weather events such as wildfires have doubled over the last 20-year period, and since the early 1990s, the stock of natural capital per person has declined by nearly 40%2. Climate change exacerbates pre-existing vulnerabilities and contributes to insecurity. Geopolitical challenges will continue to grow with conflicts over land, water or food and climate-induced human displacement.

Middle East strategy extension

Supplementary messages

Update

Budget 2021 provides over $500 million in 2021-22 to GAC, DND, CSE, and CSIS to extend Canada’s Middle East Strategy for another year. This will allow departments to continue providing development, humanitarian and security assistance and military support, and to advance peace and stability in the region.

Supporting facts and figures

Canada contributes to NATO Mission Iraq and the Global Coalition against Daesh through Operation IMPACT, which authorizes up to 850 Canadian Armed Forces members;

Background

The Middle East Strategy was launched in February 2016 to respond to the crises in Iraq and Syria, and their impact on the region, particularly Jordan and Lebanon.

The Strategy commits over $4 billion over six years to help set the conditions for security and stability, alleviate human suffering, enable civilian-led stabilization programs, and support governance and longer-term efforts to build resilience. DND, CSIS, CSE and RCMP are key partners in delivering on Canada’s objectives.

Physical security at missions abroad

Supplementary messages

Update

Since 2017, significant progress has been made to protect people, information and infrastructure at missions from increasing security threats. However, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly affected Global Affairs Canada’s operations with a majority of its workforce suddenly having to work remotely, including its staff abroad. Travel restrictions and confinement measures related to the pandemic also impacted the implementation timeline of the Duty of Care initiative, including many of the physical security projects abroad.

More recently, Canada temporarily suspended its operations at its embassy in Afghanistan as of mid-August. The rapidly evolving security landscape leading up to the August 30 due date for the complete withdrawal of US forces in Afghanistan posed significant challenges to the Government of Canada`s ability to ensure the safety and security of people, its information and its assets at the mission.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Global Affairs Canada manages Canada's overseas mission network, including security operations supporting other government departments housed within its 178 missions across 110 countries.

The Duty of Care program of work to protect people abroad is being implemented through initiatives aimed at improving mission infrastructure (e.g. physical security and seismic enhancements, consolidations or relocations of missions); mission readiness (e.g. purchase and delivery to missions of security equipment and machinery as well as security training to mission staff); and mission information security (e.g. information technology and intelligence resources).

Canada’s sanctions regime

Supplementary messages

Update

Recent listings under Canada’s Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) include:

Supporting facts and figures

Background

SEMA allows Canada to impose sanctions on a foreign state, its individuals and entities, either due to a grave breach of international peace and security resulting in an international crisis; a call from an international organization on its members to impose sanctions; gross systematic violations of human rights; or cases of significant corruption. SEMA sanctions can include a dealings ban on targeted individuals and entities, and restrictions on trade or financial transactions. To maximize effectiveness, Canada coordinates with other countries. There are SEMA sanctions on 13 countries (see annex).

The Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (JVCFOA) allows Canada to target foreign nationals responsible for or complicit in gross violations of internationally-recognized human rights and acts of significant corruption. There are 70 individuals listed under the JVCFOA (see annex). Canadians are prohibited from dealing with these individuals, effectively freezing their Canadian assets. They are also inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Canada is legally required to implement sanctions imposed by the UNSC. These sanctions are implemented in Canada through regulations under the United Nations Act. There are 12 countries subject to UN sanctions: Central African Republic, Mali, DRC, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, DPRK, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen.

Through targeted sanctions measures, the Government of Canada strives to minimize adverse consequences for civilians and for legitimate humanitarian businesses and activities. It mitigates unintended humanitarian consequences of sanctions through legislated exceptions for certain activities and the permit and certificate processes. 

Annex:

Canadian autonomous sanctions listings

Special economics measures act (SEMA)

Justice for victims of corrupt foreign officials act (JVCFOA)

Democracy policy

Supplementary messages

Background

The last decade has witnessed increased challenges to democracy, which are now being further amplified by the COVID-19 crisis. These include troubling restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms, declines in gender equality, civil society and electoral participation, and the weakening of checks and balances. Malign state and non-state actors are increasingly leveraging digital technology to conduct interference activities to erode confidence in democratic values, institutions and processes, and to undermine the rules-based international system.

Democracy contributes to more peaceful, secure, free, and prosperous societies.  Advancing democracy internationally remains a core element of Canada’s foreign policy and international assistance. Canada’s approach to supporting democracy, human rights and inclusive governance employs advocacy, diplomacy, and programming to advance and promote democratic values and defend against threats.

Canada works to strengthen international norms on democracy, human rights, inclusive and accountable governance, and the rule of law. We work in cooperation with international partners and through multilateral organizations and multi-stakeholder forums (e.g. G7, UN, OSCE, Freedom Online Coalition). We also work through our network of missions and build partnerships with non-state actors, including NGOs, academics, and the private sector.

Canada is due to participate in the U.S. Leaders-level Summit for Democracy on December 9-10, 2021, which will focus on democracy, human rights and corruption. The ‘Year of Action’ in 2022 will provide opportunities for Canada to showcase its work and strengthen cooperation with stakeholders. A second Summit in December 2022 will provide the opportunity to stake stock of commitments, initiatives and ongoing efforts on democracy.

Consular cases involving canadians abroad

Supplementary messages

M. International Security

Bill to amend the chemical weapons convention implementation act

Supplementary messages

Update

Bill S-2, An Act to Amend the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act, went through the Senate and had its first reading in the House of Commons during the last Parliament. It may be reintroduced in the next parliamentary session.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

On March 4, 2018, former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury, United Kingdom with a chemical weapon of the Novichok family. Novichoks have no use in industry and are extremely toxic. As a result of this brazen attack, Canada led efforts, along with the United States and the Netherlands, to subject Novichok agents to more rigorous control by the OPCW.

In November 2019, these efforts resulted in the Conference of States Parties to the CWC deciding to add four new families of toxic chemicals to Schedule 1 of the Annex on Chemicals, including the agent used in the Salisbury attack. As a result of this decision, these chemicals are now subject to the OPCW’s declaration and inspection regimes.

The amendment to the CWC Annex on Chemicals entered into force automatically on June 7, 2020. This introduced an inconsistency between the list of chemicals held by the OPCW (which is in effect for Canada) and the obsolete list in the CWC Implementation Act. The department therefore seeks to remove the list of chemicals from the Act and make other minor edits to account for its deletion. An Act to Amend the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act was introduced in 2020 as Bill C-9 and again as Bill S-2.

Nuclear disarmament - treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons

Supplementary messages

Update

The First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will be held in March 2022 in Vienna under Austrian chairpersonship. Norway is the only North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally which has announced (in October 2021) its intention to attend as an observer.

Background

The perceived lack of progress on nuclear disarmament led a number of states to negotiate, at the United Nations, a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW, also known as the 'Ban Treaty'). None of the nuclear weapons states, nor any of the NATO allies, took part in the negotiations (except the Netherlands, which participated under a parliamentary mandate). Likewise, none of these states have signed or ratified the Treaty. The TPNW opened for signature in September 2017, and entered into force in January 2021.

As of November 2021, the TPNW has been signed by 86 countries, of which 56 have ratified. The Treaty prohibits participation in any nuclear weapon activities, including developing, testing, producing, acquiring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons. The Treaty also prohibits the deployment of nuclear weapons on national territory and the provision of assistance to any state in the conduct of prohibited activities.

The TPNW is inconsistent with Canada’s membership in NATO, which relies on nuclear deterrence as a core aspect of its collective security. The Treaty also lacks the monitoring and verification mechanisms that are necessary for a credible disarmament treaty. In addition, without participation from states that possess nuclear weapons, this Treaty will not eliminate a single weapon.

Canadian civil society actively advocates for Canada to sign the Treaty, and opposition parties have pressed the Government on the issue. Canada supports the total global elimination of nuclear weapons, but only as the ultimate step of a step-by-step process which must involve states possessing nuclear weapons.

As such, Canada and many of its allies continue to focus their efforts on initiatives that take into account states’ security concerns and that could bridge the divide between nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states. Canada actively advocates the commencement negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (we are recognized for our leadership on this); the entry-into-force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty; efforts to build global capacity for nuclear disarmament verification; expanding nuclear arms control; and enhanced engagement of underrepresented groups – particularly women and youth.

NATO

Supplementary messages

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Canada’s national action plan for women, peace and security

Supplementary messages

Update

The third annual report for Canada’s National Action Plan on WPS was tabled in on June 15, 2021 and the report outlines in detail the progress made to advance WPS in fiscal year 2019-2020. The tabling of the report was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report for fiscal year 2020-2021 is underway; tabling was delayed due to the last federal election.

Supporting facts and figures

Disinformation and the G7 rapid response mechanism (RRM)

Supplementary messages

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Canada’s international efforts to counter threats to democracy culminated in the announcement of the G7 Rapid Response Mechanism in 2018 during the Charlevoix Summit. Since then, Canada has worked to operationalise and consolidate the mechanism, to share real-time assessments, country approaches and lessons learned with a view to fostering a shared understanding of the threat and coordinated response.

Foreign state-backed interference and intimidation activities in Canada

Supplementary messages

Update

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Foreign state-backed interference and intimidation activities have also been referred to as Hostile Activities by State Actors (HASA). HASA encompasses any foreign effort to undermine Canada’s national interest, and those of our closest allies, with a view to advancing that state’s own interests. Hostile states may employ proxies that blur the lines between domestic and foreign and overt and covert activity.

HASA constitutes a real and present threat to Canada’s national interest. Given its scope, scale, and wide-ranging implications for every facet of society, a whole-of-government effort is needed, including by GAC, to detect threats and work closely with international partners.

Canada has taken steps to respond to HASA. Canada launched the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations on February 15, 2021 to demonstrate global opposition to the practice of arbitrary arrest, detention and sentencing of foreign nationals for diplomatic leverage. Canada became a member of The European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE), on October 30, 2018. The Hybrid CoE was established in 2017, and acts as an international hub for practitioners and experts of member-states to strengthen their capabilities and coordinate responses.

Canada’s research community faces growing threats posed by foreign interference and espionage. Government-led guidelines and outreach are part of Canada’s evolving efforts to mitigate threats which may have economic security implications.

Peacebuilding

Supplementary messages

Update

UN Peacebuilding Commission:

Canada as a peacebuilding donor, including to the UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF):

Background

Canada recognizes that addressing the root causes of conflict are long-term endeavours that go beyond poverty reduction and are closely linked to issues of political inclusion and access to opportunity, particularly among marginalized and vulnerable groups. Canada’s work in conflict prevention and peacebuilding is guided by its National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. While the Peace and Stabilization Operations Programme (PSOPs) provides policy expertise, support to multilateral institutions, programming and deployments on conflict prevention and peacebuilding, it is a shared priority at Global Affairs Canada.

Canada is a leader on these issues at the multilateral level. In 2019, the UN reformed its bureaucracy towards conflict prevention, building peace, and attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The focus of these reforms is a “pivot to prevention” (i.e. away from crisis response).

Under the new Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace Agenda, the UN’s Peacebuilding Commission plays a central role to foster an integrated and coherent UN focused on prevention. The PBF catalyzes these reforms in fragile and conflict-affected settings. The Fund is the largest investor in the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and the only instrument to consistently dedicate 40% of all investments to gender-responsive peacebuilding. The UN Secretary General (UNSG) has called for a “quantum leap” in PBF funding, but UN Member States have not agreed on how best to achieve this.

In 2020, Canada chaired the PBC and facilitated the informal review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture, advocating for its most significant outcome, a mandate for a high-level, action-oriented meeting on financing peacebuilding. In 2021, your predecessor co-hosted the PBF replenishment conference that mobilized US $246 million in new contributions and pledges for the 2020-2024 period. However, a large gap remains between the Fund’s US $1.5 billion target for this period and the amount pledged. This underlines the need for predictable and sustained financing, which Canada believes should include the use of UN assessed contributions.

UN peace operations

Supplementary messages

Update

The next UN Peacekeeping Ministerial will be held 7-8 December 2021 in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Peacekeeping is an effective tool in the promotion and maintenance of international peace and security. UN peace operations are deployed in very complex operating environments, without the commensurate financial, human and military resources necessary to fully meet demands.

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N. Multilateral Topics

Canadian centre for peace, order and good government

Supplementary messages

Supporting facts and figures

Background

In December 2019, the Prime Minister gave the Minister of Foreign Affairs the mandate to, with the support of the Minister of International Development, “establish the Canadian Centre for Peace, Order and Good Government* to expand the availability of Canadian expertise and assistance to those seeking to build peace, advance justice, promote human rights and democracy, and deliver good governance.” In May 2021, building on work from 2019 and early 2020, GAC struck a task force to work on the design and policy options for the Canadian Centre for Global Democracy, to be established as the central piece of existing and new Canadian efforts to advance the vision of a peaceful and just global society. Further stakeholder consultations are planned to support this work.

* Pending finalisation of the Centre’s name, we are using the interim title “Canadian Centre for Global Democracy”. This will facilitate communications with domestic and international partners.

[REDACTED]

US summit for democracy

Supplementary messages

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Against a backdrop of 15 years of democratic decline globally, growing demands for greater inclusion, evolving threats from authoritarian forces, and the unprecedented challenges of living in a digital age, President Biden will host a virtual Leaders’ Summit for Democracy on 9-10 December, 2021.  The aim of the Summit is to address challenges facing democracy, improve collaboration between both established and emerging democracies, and galvanize commitments for democratic renewal and respect for human rights, both domestically and internationally.

The Summit’s agenda will focus on three main themes: 1) Advancing democracy and defending against authoritarianism; 2) Fighting corruption; and 3) Advancing respect for human rights. A second, in-person Leaders’ Summit will take place one year later in 2022, to take stock and showcase progress made on implementing commitments. In between will be a “Year of Action”, an opportunity for consultation, coordination, and action on commitments. Both summits will include participation by civil society, philanthropic institutions, and the private sector.

International engagement on digital governance

Supplementary messages

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Canada engages myriad international partners and organisations to address the horizontal challenge of digital technology governance, including data, AI, and online platforms. These issues have become geopolitical battlegrounds where shaping the international rules of the game will be consequential for decades to come. Global Affairs Canada works with several other government departments and stakeholders to advance Canada’s normative, economic, and security interests in these spaces. Domestically, Canada has worked to ensure that digital technologies respect privacy and personal data protection laws and are built on the 10 principles of Canada’s Digital Charter, including universal access, safety and security, control and consent, transparency, portability, and interoperability.

Office for human rights, freedoms, and inclusion (OHRFI)

Supplementary messages

Update

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated global inequality and exclusion, including online; there has been a resurgence of expressions of intolerance, xenophobia and racism associated with the pandemic. Respect for human rights, as well as freedom from discrimination and hate, must be at the center of all efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Canada’s foreign policy and security objectives are rooted in the promotion and protection of human rights and democracy. These are increasingly under threat due to emerging global issues, both online and offline, including an upsurge in polarizing discourse, hatred, and acts of violence on the basis of identity.

The Office of Human Rights, Freedom, and Inclusion (OHRFI) serves as the focal point for the Government of Canada’s engagement with faith and belief communities, civil society actors, Indigenous communities, academics and the broader international community. It takes a global approach in advocating for all human rights, working bilaterally and within multilateral forums to promote human rights, including freedom of religion or belief. In support of this work, the office also promotes the benefits of inclusion and respect for diversity, which includes anti-racism efforts. The Office includes a programming unit which delivers timely and targeted programming initiatives to protect democracy and human rights, and to promote inclusion and respect for diversity. Since November 2020, the Office has supported the work of Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism, the Honourable Irwin Cotler.

OECD secretary-general campaign

Supplementary messages (Responsive)

Background

UN security council (UNSC) campaign

Supplementary messages

Quadrilateral dialogue (“Quad”)

Supplementary messages

Updates

Following a March 2021 virtual summit, President Biden hosted the group’s first in-person meeting in September 2021, where the Leaders committed to continue cooperation on issues such as COVID-19, climate change, cyber space, critical technologies, counterterrorism, quality infrastructure investment; and announced new initiatives in areas such as space and people-to-people exchange.

Previously in April 2020, New Zealand, Vietnam and South Korea were invited to an informal “Quad Plus” format focussed on COVID-19 and economic recovery in Asia.

Background

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (known as the “Quad”), comprising Australia, India, Japan and the U.S., is a strategic policy dialogue and coordination process focussed on the Indo-Pacific. The origins of the group date back to the formation of the Regional Core Group in 2004 to coordinate humanitarian assistance in response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami. 

In 2007, the U.S. proposed that India join the nascent U.S.-Japan-Australia trilateral group to establish a group of likeminded democratic states. The four countries met in Manila but different approaches to China and the region meant that the group did not meet again for a decade.

The four countries revived the quadrilateral dialogue format (“Quad 2.0”) during the 2017 East Asia Summit. Subsequently in 2019, the process was elevated to foreign minister level. Quad ministers met in Tokyo in October 2020 and once again (virtually) in February 2021.

Since assuming power in January 2021, the Biden Administration has built on previous efforts to reinforce strategic cooperation within Quad, with a renewed emphasis on cooperation on non-military matters, including climate change, COVID-19, cybersecurity, emerging technologies, and infrastructure. Two Summits took place in 2021 (the first virtually in March, followed by an in-person meeting in September in Washington D.C.).

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O. Africa

Cameroon

Supplementary messages

Update

From October 29 to November 1, 2021, the Coalition for Dialogue and Negotiations (CDN), a United States based international non-governmental organization (INGO), hosted a three-day high-level retreat in Toronto (the retreat was originally planned in the US but due to COVID-19 was later moved to Toronto). The CDN was successful in bringing together key stakeholders, including Cameroon diaspora actors, civil society activists, frontline group leaders and peace and reconciliation INGO’s to discuss the impact of the conflict on Cameroonians, prospects for a negotiated peace and enhanced collaboration between NWSW activists/frontline group leaders.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Cameroon faces significant security and humanitarian challenges on three fronts: in the Far North region, where the terrorist group Boko Haram regained momentum in 2019; in the North-West and South-West regions, where long-standing grievances of the Anglophone minority community have since 2016 turned into an armed conflict; and in the eastern region with the spillover from the crises in the Central African Republic and recent influx of refugees.

The NWSW conflict in Cameroon has its roots in a 1972 move to dismantle the constitutional provisions that protected a federation of equal Francophone-Anglophone rights. In 2016, government security forces used lethal tactics to subdue peaceful demonstrations by teachers and lawyers protesting perceived marginalization by the country’s Francophone government. Fueled by outrage over these actions, more than 30 armed separatist groups formed to fight for an independent nation they called Ambazonia. The trajectory of the conflict suggests that it will continue to grow in complexity of actors and scale and sophistication of attacks by armed groups. Reports show increases in civilian casualties and internal and cross-border displacements.

In 2019, Switzerland nominated a special envoy to mediate between the government and the armed groups. Unfortunately, since this nomination, the first face-to-face meeting to discuss a mediated settlement has not yet materialized.

Crisis in Tigray, Ethiopia

Supporting facts and figures

Background

The conflict is into its second year and has spread beyond Tigray into surrounding Ethiopian regions. Eritrean forces also remain in Tigray and Amhara regions. The Ethiopian government has maintained a de facto blockade on Tigray, which has limited the delivery of aid to only a fraction of needs and led to a humanitarian catastrophe. At least 400,000 people in Tigray are facing famine. Over the last month, Tigrayan forces have taken the military advantage, scoring several victories as they have advanced south towards Addis Ababa. On November 2, Prime Minister Abiy declared a six-month nationwide state of emergency and has called on residents to arm themselves to counter these advances. The Prime Minister and government representatives have used an inflammatory ethnic discourse that increases insecurity.

On November 3, the OHCHR and EHRC issued a joint report on allegations of violations of international law committed in Tigray. The report found “reasonable grounds to believe” that all parties to the conflict in Tigray have committed violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Canada coordinated a likeminded statement issued with fifteen partners on November 6.

Multiple mediation efforts are underway, including under the leadership of AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President Obasanjo, with ongoing engagement on the part of US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Feltman in support.

In light of the volatile situation on the ground, Canada is withdrawing family members of diplomats and all non-essential staff from Ethiopia. As of November 7, 2021, Global Affairs Canada advises travellers to avoid all travel to Ethiopia, due to ethnic conflicts, civil unrest, armed conflicts in the north of the country and the risk of them spreading to new areas without warning.

Libya

Supplementary messages

Mali (Sahel)

Supplementary messages

Update

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the international community, including Canada, continue to call on the Malian authorities to respect the February 27, 2022 deadline for holding presidential and legislative elections and their commitment to organize the return to constitutional order and a democratically elected civilian government. While the Malian transitional government has not responded to ECOWAS' demand to provide an electoral timetable by October 31, 2021, ECOWAS, at a Summit of Heads of State on November 7, adopted targeted sanctions (travel ban and freezing of financial assets) against individuals from the transitional government (prime minister, ministers) and from transitional institutions. The European Union's Foreign Affairs Council met on November 15 and agreed to establish a specific sanctions regime for Mali, supporting the decision taken by ECOWAS. In the coming weeks, technical working groups will prepare options - including options against the Wagner group. EU ministers are expected to assess the sanctions options at the next EU Foreign Affairs Council on December 13.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

One of the poorest regions in the world, the Sahel (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad) is impacted by a security and humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the presence of armed groups, criminal organizations, and terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, in addition to the impacts of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, armed and terrorist groups are taking advantage of the weak state presence to expand their influence in the Sahel, which is increasingly extending to coastal countries, including Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, and Benin.

Transition in Mali: Following the coups of August 2020 and May 2021, Mali committed to holding elections (presidential and legislative) on February 27, 2022, in order to achieve a return to democracy before the end of the 18-month transition period ending in March 2022.

Mali-Wagner Talks: In reaction to ongoing talks between Mali's transitional government and the Russian private military company Wagner, France, Germany, the European Union, ECOWAS, and several African countries such as Niger denounced any initiative involving the potential use of Russian mercenaries in Mali as incompatible with their security contributions. The potential signing of an agreement would have negative consequences for the security efforts of international partners as well as for the security situation and respect for human rights in Mali and the region.

Sudan

Supplementary messages

Update

On 25 October, the military component of the Transitional Government of the Sudan (TGS) led by Lt. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan dissolved the TGS and detained many civilian officials, including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who has since been released. This provoked strong negative reaction from the international community, as well as civilian opponents. Security forces have responded by violently suppressing demonstrations and making arrests, resulting in upwards of 41 deaths and hundreds of injuries as of November 23. On November 11, the Sudanese military unilaterally appointed a new and reconfigured Sovereignty Council, Sudan’s highest ruling body. On November 21, an agreement was signed to reinstate PM Hamdok in his position, with General Burhan continuing in his role as Chair of the Sovereignty Council President. International reaction has been cautious optimism with a desire for further assurances that Sudan has genuinely resumed a transition to civilian-led government.  

Supporting facts and figures

Background

In 2019, Sudan’s former President was ousted by the military in response to a civilian campaign against his rule.  After several months of pressure, the military formed a hybrid government with civilian actors, putting the country on a transitional path toward civilian government.  In a context of rising tensions between the civilian and military components and within them, the military dissolved the TGS on 25 October 2021.

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P. The Americas

Cuba

Supporting facts and figures

Background

During the July 11 and November 15 events, Cubans voiced their discontent with the government due to food and medicine shortages, and an increased frustration with the current economic condition and the COVID situation. The November 15 protests were underwhelming due to efforts by Cuban security forces to dissuade public gatherings.

According to reports, key opposition personalities were either detained or confined to their homes by police. The Cuban government has accused the U.S of interfering in Cuban affairs and fuelling unrest.

Unexplained health incidents

Supplementary messages

Background

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Haiti

Supplementary messages

Background

Development assistance: Since the 2010 earthquake, Canada has contributed $1.8 billion to Haiti, including $360 million in humanitarian aid and $1.5 billion in development assistance. With an overall annual assistance budget of approximately $89 million in Haiti, Canada is Haiti’s second-largest bilateral donor.

Political situation: Two political agreements are currently under negotiation. Prime minister Ariel Henry is pushing for reform of the constitution, a referendum, and elections in 2022, an ambitious timetable. There are increased tensions between the different political factions. Prime Minister Henry’s legitimacy is questioned and suspicions persist about his potential role in the assassination of President Moïse, with the investigation stalling.

Security situation: Gang activities (clashes, kidnappings, assassination) have greatly increased recently. On October 15, the mandate of the United Nation’s Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) was renewed for a 9-month period in a context of tense negotiations. The next day, a group of missionaries (16 US citizens and 1 Canadian citizen) was kidnapped. On October 21, the DG on the Haitian National Police resigned. Strikes in protest against insecurity and fuel shortages have paralyzed the operation of businesses, schools and transports for several weeks and were suspended on November 3. As gangs continue to control exit points and fuel delivery routes, shortages continue to affect operations. On November 11, the Canadian Embassy began temporarily withdrawing non-essential staff. On November 13, there was some easing of the blockages at fuel sources, but gang leader Cherizier has indicated this is temporary and will reinstate the blockades on November 18 if the Prime Minister does not resign.

Humanitarian situation: On August 14, an earthquake struck the Great South of Haiti (2,300 dead, 12,800 injured, 690,000 affected). Losses and damages are estimated at US $1.5 billion. Canada allocated nearly $6 million in humanitarian aid. We are awaiting the donor appeal for the reconstruction phase (December 2021). More than 40% of the population is in acute food crisis, including 1.1 million in a food emergency.

Migratory situation: About 15,000 migrants, mostly Haitians, recently gathered at the Del Rio border crossing point (Texas). In response, the US deployed 600 border officers; closed the international bridge, and began deportation flights. Between September 19 and November 8, more than 11,500 Haitian migrants were repatriated to Haiti, including 8,947 from the US.

Mexico trade challenges

Supplementary messages

Background

Energy: Over the past 18 months, the Government of Mexico has introduced a variety of regulations and legislation to strengthen the position of state-owned utility CFE while weakening the role of the private sector in energy generation. These measures have largely targeted renewable energies. Following the courts upholding multiple injunctions against the government’s attempts to amend the electricity laws, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) submitted a constitutional reform to Congress on October 1, 2021. This reform would: guarantee CFE a minimum 54% of market share; disband the independent grid operator and regulatory agencies; abolish clean energy certificates; cancel all private sector generation permits; prohibit self-supply; and amend the dispatch order. Approximately US$4.1 billion of Canadian investment in Mexico is at risk. Canadian investors in the manufacturing sector, including BRP who will be at the meeting, have also flagged concerns that the reform would lead to power shortages leading to impacts on North America’s supply chains, as well as hurdles in meeting their net-zero commitments.

It is expected that Congress will debate and vote on the bill in early/mid 2022. In the lead-up to the vote they will attempt to sway the opposition in order to get the 2/3 majority required to move forward. AMLO has indicated a willingness to negotiate content of the reform as long as the “spirit” is maintained, generally meaning a strengthening of the CFE.

Mining: The mining sector is a key element of the Canada-Mexico commercial relationship. Canadian-controlled companies had $8 billion in mining assets in Mexico in 2019. In addition to their contributions to economic growth and job creation, Canadian mining companies support sustainable local development and community well-being through programs for education, health care, and small business development. However, Canadian investors face longstanding challenges related to permitting, regulatory framework, security, taxation, labour, rule of law, and insecure land access. Currently, the Embassy is providing regular advocacy support to three mining companies, facing complex challenges with the Mexican government related to illegal blockades, security of assets and personal, labour conflicts, and the failure to issue relevant permits. One of the companies working with the Embassy, received a notification on November 11th that their request for an extension to the Environmental Impact Assessment had been rejected and new consultations with indigenous communities would commence surrounding the mine likely leading to a stoppage of their operations. Many companies suffer an inability to enter into a meaningful dialogue with the Mexican government on the issues that they face.

Nicaragua

Supplementary messages

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Since April 2018, the Government of Nicaragua has been violently repressing social protests, while security forces and pro-government armed groups have targeted political opponents, demonstrators, journalists and civil society. In the run-up to Nicaragua’s November 7th Presidential elections, the Ortega regime intensified its arrests and human rights violations against critics and removed independent media and political opponents, silencing any dissent and paving the way for a fourth consecutive term. 38 political opponents (including several hopefuls for the presidency) were arbitrarily detained under falsified accusations of money laundering and coup mongering. The June-to-present day wave of arbitrary arrests, repression and fear of political violence have pushed thousands of Nicaraguans to flee the country in recent months. The electoral process leading to the November 7 elections was not fair, free, or transparent. 

Canada responded to the results of the elections by issuing a strong Ministerial statement and imposing additional sanctions on individuals linked to the Ortega regime for gross human rights violations. Canada has taken a multi-pronged strategy to address Nicaragua crisis.  We have been cooperating with our allies (e.g. the U.S., UK, EU and other regional partners) to increase the pressure on the regime, while being active at the OAS and UN to raise awareness and leverage the international community to continue to put pressure on the Ortega regime to obtain: the release all political prisoners, the return of international human rights observers, the establishment of a meaningful national dialogue and the fulfilment of Nicaragua’s international human rights and democratic responsibilities.

Venezuela

Supplementary messages

Update

The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on November 5 that it is opening a formal investigation into possible crimes against humanity perpetrated in Venezuela at least since 2017. De facto president Maduro signed a letter of understanding with the ICC Prosecutor to facilitate cooperation in support of effective administration of justice in accordance with the Statute of Rome.

On October 16, the Maduro regime "suspended” its participation in the negotiation process (facilitated by Norway and hosted by Mexico) with the interim President Guaido-led democratic opposition in response to the extradition of suspected regime financier, Alex Saab, to the U.S. to face money laundering charges. Negotiations are expected to resume, but this may not occur until after January 5, 2022 when the current mandate of the Interim Government is set to expire. 

Supporting facts and figures

Background

In Venezuela, the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate as millions of people face food insecurity, shortages of fuel and other basic goods, a deteriorating health care system, and hyper-inflation.

Canada continues to play an active role in trying to bring key parties together in order to find a peaceful and Venezuelan-led negotiated solution to the crisis.

Q. Asia

India bilateral relations

Supplementary messages

Update

Canada and India are deepening cooperation across trade, the environment, peace and security, and immigration. India is also a priority market and Canada and India are working toward a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.  Canada and India enjoy a strategic partnership underpinned by Ministerial Dialogues on foreign policy, trade and investment, finance, and energy.

Supporting facts and figures

North Korea (nuclear focus)

Supplementary messages

Update

The U.S. and South Korean officials remain hopeful that dialogue with North Korea can resume, although North Korea has conditioned future talks on the reversal of what it describes as the U.S. “hostile policy.” The Biden administration “remains committed to the sanctions regime” and is pursuing a calibrated, practical approach that is open to diplomacy with North Korea.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

North Korea announced its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003 after the U.S. revealed that Pyongyang had a secret nuclear weapons program. In 2021, North Korea continues to build its nuclear and missile capacity claiming its continued proliferation efforts are exclusively defensive.

Sri Lanka – human rights

Update

There have been some concerning human rights trends in Sri Lanka including the militarization of the civilian government, political interference in the administration of justice, shrinking space for civil society and media, and concerns over the treatment of minority communities. At the Human Rights Council’s (HRC’s) 48th session in September 2021, Canada and Core Group partners issued a statement on the importance of a comprehensive reconciliation and accountability process, including ensuring political independence of institutions, and bringing counter-terrorism legislation (i.e. Prevention of Terrorism Act) in line with international human rights obligations.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Canada has long supported UN HRC action on Sri Lanka, joining the Core Group for the resolution on Sri Lanka at the HRC in December 2018, alongside the UK, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Germany. Canada and Core Group partners believe that previous domestic processes have proven insufficient to tackle impunity and deliver real reconciliation. Canada was disappointed when the Government of Sri Lanka withdrew its support (in February 2020) from resolution 40/1 and its consensual framework in favour of a strictly domestic approach to reconciliation. However, resolution 46/1 was adopted by the UN HRC on March 23, 2021. The new resolution strengthens the capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to collect and preserve information and evidence of crimes related to Sri Lanka’s civil war that ended in 2009. It also requests the OHCHR to enhance its monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka, including the preparation of a comprehensive report with further options for advancing accountability to be presented at the HRC’s 51st session (September 2022). Canada reinforced support for the resolution with a statement from then Minister of Foreign Affairs Garneau.

R. Europe

Belarus

Supplementary messages

Update

The migration crisis on the border with EU members (Lithuania, Poland and Latvia) has intensified since Summer 2021. An estimated 3,000-4,000 refugees are stranded in the border zone, along with over 15,000 potential migrants across Belarus.  This number has increased, although the rate of growth is slowing as international pressure has stopped some of the flights from the Middle East that were transporting migrants. Lithuania (August 2), Latvia (August 10) and Poland (September 7) declared states of emergency and there have been clashes between refugees and border guards.

Background

Human Rights: Unprecedented large-scale opposition rallies took place prior to the presidential elections on August 9, 2020, which Lukashenko (in power since 1994) “won” with 80.1% of the vote. The election, marred by irregularities, triggered further protests, to which the Belarusian authorities responded with Internet shutdowns and brutal force.  Over 35,000 people were detained at some point and there are still more than 860 political prisoners as of November 2021.  Many forms of protest have been designated as extremism and terrorism. Legislation was passed in May 2021 allowing law enforcement officers to use weapons and special equipment at their discretion, while removing accountability measures for authorities inflicting damage on protesters.

The mass protests in Belarus, unlike the 2014 Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine, were triggered by the flawed elections rather than aspirations to adopt Western governance models or to distance Belarus from Russia.

Irregular migration: Belarus deliberately manipulates the flow of foreign illegal migrants to apply pressure on Poland and the Baltic states in retaliation for EU decisions to apply sanctions and support the Belarusian opposition. The majority of migrants come from countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The Belarusian government facilitates the entry of migrants into the country and guides them to the borders with Lithuania, Latvia and Poland. Belarusian authorities then refuse to re-admit them if they are denied entry in those countries, creating a prolonged standoff that traps the refugees in the border zones.

Canadian Response: In 2020-21, Canada announced more than $3 million in funding for civil society organizations working to advance democracy in Belarus. Canada was also one of the first countries to impose sanctions against the Lukashenko regime.  To date, Canada has sanctioned 72 Belarusian officials and 5 entities under the Special Economic Measures Act.

Nagorno-Karabakh

Supplementary messages

Update

November 2021 marked the first anniversary of the end of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but also saw the latest in a series of renewed clashes along the border that reflect the ongoing tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan. On November 10, 2021, the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group met in Paris with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, both separately and jointly, discussing a number of possible de-escalatory measures, including reiterating the importance of making progress on humanitarian issues.

Background

On November 9, 2020, after six weeks of heavy fighting and thousands of deaths on both sides, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a Russian-brokered ceasefire to end the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Ceasefire Agreement resulted in Azerbaijan regaining much of the territory Armenia occupied during the 1990s conflict. The Agreement also included a five-year mandate for Russian peacekeepers and the general promise to unlock transport routes between Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, many of the outstanding issues remain unresolved, such as the final status of the Armenia-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh, the preservation of cultural sites, and the release of detainees, which has contributed to periodic small-scale border clashes throughout 2021, which occasionally result in casualties.

The OSCE Minsk Group, co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States, is the primary international body working to mediate the conflict. It is particularly useful in bringing together Armenian and Azerbaijani representatives to maintain channels of communication. Canada supports the work of the OSCE and promotes the principles of the non-use of force, territorial integrity and self-determination in resolving the conflict.

Canadian Response: Canada consistently supports a peaceful resolution to the conflict and encourages both sides to engage through the OSCE Minsk Group.  In 2020, Canada contributed $450,000 to the ICRC to support its regional budget extension and address urgent needs that arose as a result of the conflict, and subsequently provided an additional $1 million in 2021.

Russia

Supplementary messages

Update

Russia is currently massing troops along the Ukrainian border, further heightening regional tensions.  This comes against a backdrop of large-scale military exercises Russia held in September, which also included Belarus.  Additionally, in November 2021, Russia suspended its mission to NATO and NATO’s mission in Moscow in response to NATO's expulsion of eight Russians from its mission to NATO. NATO cited that they were in fact "undeclared intelligence officers.”

Background

International: Russia is a player on most international security issues, from Iran, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan, to North Korea and Venezuela. Its influence is also increasingly visible in Africa, and remains strong in the territory of the former Soviet Union – for example, Russia brokered an end to the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Moscow is the current chair of the Arctic Council (May 2021-2023).

Ukraine figures prominently in Russia’s regional power projection, and reinforces the Kremlin’s narrative of encroachment on Russia’s borders by members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  In spring 2020, Moscow took steps to strengthen its “Passportization” policy, where Russia is offering passports (and citizenship) to residents of occupied or contested territories. Russia then mobilized Russian passport holders in the non-government controlled areas of Donbas to vote in its September 2021 Duma elections, undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity and international law. 

Human Rights Situation: Restrictions on civil and political rights have increased since 2020 and worsened in the lead-up to the 2021 Duma elections. Since 2012, the government has introduced controversial legislation to control freedom of expression and assembly. Ongoing human rights violations include arbitrary detention, a lack of judicial independence and rule of law, increasing power over the media, discrimination against LGBTQ2I persons (particularly in Chechnya), and attacks on human rights defenders and visible minorities. In June 2020, Russia put opposition leader Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation on its Terrorist and Extremist list.

Canadian Response: Canada continues to condemn Russia’s illegal actions, particularly its destabilization of Ukraine.  This includes the imposition of sanctions, public attribution of cyber attacks, and coordinated statements within the G7, NATO, and with like-minded partners.  Canada also pursues engagement with Russia to reiterate our opposition to their activities and to advance specific interests.  For example, former Minister Garneau met with Foreign Minister Lavrov on the margins of the Arctic Council Ministerial in May 2021.

Ukraine – Russia’s destabilizing activities

Supplementary messages

Update

Russia is once again amassing large numbers of troops and equipment in and around Ukraine. This is the second military build-up this year, after Russia amassed troops in Crimea and along the eastern border in April 2021. This build-up is occurring against a backdrop of increased Russian aggression throughout Fall 2021.

Background

Canada has continued to actively support Ukraine following Russia’s 2014 illegal occupation of Crimea and ongoing efforts to destabilise Kyiv.  Since 2014, Canada has imposed a broad range of sanctions against more than 440 Russian and Ukrainian individuals and entities. 

Canada is also helping build the capacity of Ukraine's police and develop a more capable military through Operation UNIFIER, our military training mission which has trained over 30,000 Ukrainian security forces to date. Since 2014, Canada has provided over $880 million in multifaceted assistance to support Ukraine.

Canada supports Ukraine's Crimea Platform, which aims to develop a long-term vision and concrete initiatives towards the de-occupation and reintegration of the peninsula. Canada adopted the Crimea Declaration, with 46 other countries. In addition, Canada launched a "Partnership Fund for a Resilient Ukraine" with the US, UK, Switzerland, and Sweden at the 2021 Crimea Summit to address root causes of instability and support conflict-affected communities in eastern/southern Ukraine. Canada has committed $10 million over three years. 

Canada strongly advocated for NATO to grant Ukraine Enhanced Opportunities Partner (EOP) status. This status was granted in June 2020 and serves to deepen NATO-Ukraine relations further. Ukraine is now one of six EOPs, alongside Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan, and Sweden. EOP status does not pre-judge any decisions on NATO membership.

S. Middle East

Lebanon

Supplementary messages

Update

Prime Minister Najib Mikati formed Lebanon’s first government in 13 months on September 10, 2021. Prospects for meaningful reforms are grim with the government facing significant internal tensions since its formation. The Cabinet has not met since mid-October due to tensions stemming from sensitive files such as the investigation into the port explosion, recent violent clashes in Beirut, and the recent diplomatic crisis between Lebanon and the Gulf states.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Lebanon is facing economic collapse after decades of poor governance and widespread corruption, with the World Bank categorizing the situation in the country as one of the most severe economic crises globally since the mid-19th century. This underlying crisis has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic and the August 4, 2020 explosion at the Port of Beirut that devastated parts of the city.

Yemen

Supplementary messages

Update

On August 6, 2021, the U.N. appointed Hans Grundberg as the new Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen. Grundberg visited Yemen on October 6, 2021 for the first time to meet with key parties in order to reinvigorate the stalled peace process. Violence continues to escalate, particularly in the Ma’rib Governorate, where the Houthis are making territorial gains. Over 10,000 people were displaced in September and October due to the fighting.

Supporting facts and figures

Background

Yemen continues to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with over 20.7 million people in need of assistance. It hosts overlapping conflicts, most notably, the civil war between the government, backed by Saudi Arabia and a regional coalition, and the Iran-backed Houthis. Despite considerable U.N. and regional efforts, little progress has been made towards achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace, partially because the Houthis are not interested in engaging in the peace process in good faith.

Humanitarian needs continue to grow, driven by protracted conflict, the economic blockade (imposed by the Saudi-led coalition on air and sea routes, obstructing the delivery of food and fuel), and exacerbated by natural disasters such as flooding. Famine has also returned in parts of the country for the first time since 2018 and approximately 16.2 million people are food insecure. According to the U.N. 2021 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan, an estimated US$3.85 billion in humanitarian assistance is required to address the crisis. Yet, the humanitarian response continues to be underfunded compared to 2018 levels.

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