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Minister of Foreign Affairs appearance before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (FAAE) on main estimates

May 4th, 2023

Published: December 1st, 2023

Table of Contents

  1. Background Information
    1. Scenario Note
    2. Opening Remarks
    3. Biographies of FAAE Members
  2. Ukraine
    1. Sanctions in Response to the Russian Invasion in Ukraine
    2. Ukraine – International Security, Humanitarian and Development Programming
  3. Afghanistan
    1. Afghanistan - Recent Engagement and Policy Developments
  4. China
    1. Recent Diplomatic Engagement with China
    2. Human Rights: Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang and Forced Labour
    3. Canada-Taiwan – Bilateral Relations
    4. Regional Maritime Tensions (South China Sea, East China Sea)
  5. Sudan
    1. Situation in Sudan – Background
  6. United States
    1. Canada’s Response to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act
  7. Arms Exports
    1. Export Controls – General
  8. Foreign Policy
    1. Feminist Foreign Policy
    2. Indo-Pacific Strategy
    3. Future of Diplomacy: Transforming GAC
    4. Canada’sSanctions Regime
    5. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
    6. Consular Policy and Operations
  9. International Security
    1. NATO
    2. NORAD
    3. Foreign Interference
  10. The Americas
    1. Haiti
  11. Asia
    1. Current Situation in Sri Lanka
    2. Current Situation in Pakistan
    3. Current Situation in Punjab, India
    4. Political Crisis in Myanmar
  12. Europe
    1. Russia – Recent Diplomatic Engagement
    2. Strengthened Diplomatic Presence East and Central Europe and the Caucasus
  13. Middle East
    1. Flight PS752
    2. Actions taken against Iran/IRGC
    3. Current situation in Israel/West Bank/Gaza
    4. Middle East Strategy
  14. Arctic
    1. Arctic and Northern Policy Framework and Arctic Council

Scenario Note

Expected Opposition Lines of Questioning

Committee Membership

Opening Remarks

Intro

Main lines of action

Conclusion

Biographies of FAAE Members

Same as member biography section in: https://www.international.gc.ca/transparency-transparence/briefing-documents-information/parliamentary-committee-comite-parlementaire/2022-10-31-faae.aspx?lang=eng#a1_3

Sanctions in Response to the Russian Invasion in Ukraine

Supplementary Messages

Update

Canada’s most recent sanctions actions were implemented on April 5, 2023 and targeted Russian companies that provide services to Russia’s military and the senior management of these firms. It included Volga-Dnepr, a Russian air cargo company that has an airplane grounded at Toronto Pearson airport. Canada also listed an additional nine banks in Belarus that help Russia evade sanctions. Canada has recently banned the direct import of Russian steel and aluminum imports, targeted Russian disinformation and propaganda actors and implemented the Oil Price Cap. 

Supporting Facts and Figures

Ukraine - International Security, Humanitarian and Development Programming

Supplementary Messages

Update

In Budget 2023, allocations include a $2.4 billion loan via the IMF Administered Account for Ukraine, $200 million in 2022-23 to the Department of National Defence (for donations of existing Canadian Armed Forces military equipment, including eight previously announced Leopard 2 main battle tanks), and $171.4 million over three years to extend the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel.

Budget 2023 announced $84.8 million for GAC from internal reference levels to fund international assistance support to Ukraine, including humanitarian assistance, mental health support, demining, agriculture, and other priority areas. No additional incremental funding was allocated to GAC at this time.

Supporting Facts and Figures

From January 2022 to March 2023, GAC has committed $320 million in humanitarian assistance, $96 million in development assistance, and over $81 million in security and stabilization assistance to support Ukraine. 

Canada’s humanitarian assistance is aligned with the UN’s Humanitarian Response Plan and includes support for emergency health interventions, protection services, and essentials such as shelter, water, sanitation, and food. Canada has also committed $96 million in development assistance funding, including $52 million for grain storage and $35 million to support Ukraine’s government and civil society.

Canada’s over $81 million in security and stabilization programming supports civil society and human rights organizations, the security sector, mine action, accountability for human rights violations, including conflict-related and sexual violence, and countering Russian disinformation.

Afghanistan – Recent Engagement and Policy Developments

Supplementary Messages

Background

Canada’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, based in Doha, coordinates with other countries to ensure a united international response to the crisis in Afghanistan. The Special Representative has been advocating for human rights, and particularly women’s and girls’ rights, in his diplomatic engagements. Canada is also actively engaged through a variety of diplomatic and international assistance channels, including as Chair of the United Nations Group of Friends of Afghanistan, as an active voice at the United Nations Human Rights Council, and as an active member of the Afghanistan Coordination Group. Canada has committed to resettle at least 40,000 vulnerable Afghan nationals to Canada. More than 30,000 Afghan refugees have arrived in Canada since the start of the Special Immigration Measures programs. Canada provided $143M in humanitarian assistance in 2022.

The Taliban has consolidated power and has continued to introduce severe restrictions for women and girls in Afghanistan, including requirements for women to travel only with a male-relative as chaperone, and bans to attend university and work for non-governmental organizations, including the United Nations. These developments have significantly altered the diplomatic and policy contexts. The Taliban remain a listed terrorist entity under the Criminal Code, making it complex to carry out humanitarian and development activities in Afghanistan. Bill C-41 would amend the Criminal Code to facilitate Canada's international assistance and safe passage efforts in Afghanistan by establishing a regime that would allow authorizations to be granted to shield organizations and individuals from criminal liability while carrying out these activities.

Recent Diplomatic Engagement with China

Supplementary Messages

Update

Minister Joly held an informal meeting with PRC Foreign Minister Qin Gang on the margins of the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting on March 2, 2023. This was Minister Joly’s first interaction with Foreign Minister Qin following his appointment on December 30, 2022. They discussed bilateral relations, consular issues, the incident of the Chinese surveillance balloon over North American airspace, the war in Ukraine, and alleged Chinese interference in Canadian elections. Before that, her last interaction with former PRC Foreign Minister Wang Yi took place on the margins of the G20 Summit on November 15, 2022, during which she raised the war in Ukraine, North Korea, COP15, and alleged Chinese foreign interference.

Supporting Facts and Figures

Human Rights: Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang and Forced Labour

Supplementary Messages

Canada-Taiwan – Bilateral Relations

Background: Since 1970, Canada’s One China policy has recognized the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the sole legitimate government of China, noting – but not endorsing nor challenging – the Chinese government’s position on Taiwan. Although Canada does not have official, government-to-government relations with Taiwan, our shared interests are extensive, and we have been able to maintain unofficial but valuable economic, cultural and people-to-people ties with Taiwan. It has been Canada’s practice to avoid any actions or statements that could imply recognition of Taiwan as a sovereign country.

The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei: Canada is represented in Taiwan by the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, a locally incorporated entity staffed by Government of Canada employees. CTOT has Canada-based and locally-engaged staff in three main sections: Trade and Investment; Political, Economic and Public Affairs; and Administration and Consular Services. Also present is the Province of Alberta. Quebec closed its office within the CTOT in 2014.

The CTOT facilitates cooperation with Taiwan on trade and investment, science and technology, foreign and public policy issues, education and youth exchanges, arts and cultural industries, and Indigenous affairs. Consular and citizenship services are provided to an estimated 53,000 Canadian residents. With Air Canada’s resumption of direct flights between Vancouver and Taipei on March 2022, travellers in both directions, whether for business, education, tourism or other reasons reached record numbers prior to the onset of the pandemic. The latest statistics from Taiwan indicate 10,042 Canadians visited Taiwan in 2020. Meanwhile, 2,156 Taiwanese tourists visited Canada in 2023 (Statistics Canada).

Canada-Taiwan Economic Consultations: Canada and Taiwan hold annual economic consultations (led at the ADM-level on the Canadian side and Vice-Minister level on the Taiwanese side) which allow for senior officials to proactively engage on bilateral irritants and seek out new areas for cooperation. On February 7, 2023, MINT spoke with Taiwan’s Chief Trade Representative John Deng agreed to begin formal negotiations on a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Arrangement (FIPA). FIPA is part of Canada’s effort to create a stable, rules-based investment environment for Canadian businesses investing abroad and for foreign businesses investing in Canada.

Culture: Canada and Taiwan have a long and rich history of cultural exchanges. In 2022, the CTOT organized the Persistence/Resistance: Taiwan – Canada Indigenous Arts Festival at the Tainan Art Museum. Following extensive cultural consultations across Taiwan in late 2020, CTOT’s latest initiative in cultural diplomacy is the Festival of Canadian Arts and Culture (FESTICA), launched in September 2023 to promote Canadian arts and artists and to advance Canadian values and Government of Canada priorities. Over the next 18 months, FESTICA will feature more than 20 productions across a wide range of disciplines, from films to performing arts and literature, allowing Canadian arts and culture to shine in Taiwan like rarely before. Canada enjoys a positive image in the area of culture in Taiwan with Canadian artists seen as both innovative and international, and their work is often featured in major festivals. 

Immigration and Visas: According to Taiwan’s Overseas Community Affairs Council, there are around 186,000 Canadians of Taiwanese descent (2019) living in Canada. However, Taiwan no longer represents a significant source of immigrants to Canada. In November 2010, Canada lifted the visa requirement for ordinary Taiwan passport-holders who wish to visit Canada for tourism, to study (up to six months), or to do business. In November 2013, a Visa Application Centre (VAC) opened in Taipei to accept applications for study and work permits, visitor visas (temporary resident visas), and travel documents for permanent residents.

Indigenous Affairs: With sizeable Indigenous populations, Canada and Taiwan share common interests with regard to Indigenous issues and boast strong people-to-people linkages between Indigenous communities. On December 10, 2021, Canada endorsed the Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement (IPETCA) – a non-binding arrangement with Australia, New Zealand and Chinese Taipei to identify and remove barriers that Indigenous businesses face in international trade.

Cross-Strait Tensions: Mainland China and Taiwan have been administered separately since 1949, when the Kuomintang retreated to Taiwan following its defeat in the Chinese Civil War. Beijing continues to view Taiwan as an inalienable part of its territory that must eventually be reunified with the mainland. While peaceful reunification remains its preferred outcome, Beijing has explicitly refused to renounce the use of force in the event Taiwan moves toward formal independence or indefinite separation from the mainland. A majority of Taiwan’s population support a broadly-defined “status quo” in cross-strait relations and place great value on Taiwan’s distinct socio-political identity and democratic political system.

Regional Maritime Tensions (South China Sea, East China Sea)

Supplementary Messages

Update

The Royal Canadian Navy vessel HMCS Montreal is currently en route to the Indo-Pacific, delivering on a key commitment in the Indo-Pacific Strategy to deploy a third warship to the region annually.  While deployed, the frigate will carry out a number of activities in the East and South China Seas, including joint exercises with allied and partner navies, port visits and monitoring evasion of UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea. These activities will contribute to upholding the rule of law and maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Supporting Facts and Figures

Background

Regional tensions have heightened as China continues to pursue a more assertive policy to advance its maritime and territorial claims in the East and South China Seas through repeated entries by naval, coast guard and militia vessels in disputed waters. Canada works with G7 and other partners to call on China to cease its coercive behaviour and to abide by the 2016 ruling by the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal. In September 2022, HMCS Vancouver 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. The joint sail was consistent with international law, including UNCLOS, and took place where the high seas freedom of navigation regime applies.

Situation in Sudan – Background

Description of Conflict

The fall of President Omar al Bashir in a popular uprising in 2019 led to the establishment of a joint transitional government between civilians and the military, led on the military side by the head of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, as the Head of State, and Lt. General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as ‘Hemedti’, as his deputy. Hemedti retained control of the paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). On October 25, 2021, the Sudanese military unconstitutionally dismissed the country’s civilian transitional government.

The military coup was greeted by widespread international condemnation and sparked persistent street protests.

Since January 2022, there have been on again/off again consultations on a political process for a return to civilian rule. On December 5, 2022, the military and a civilian bloc signed a Framework Political Agreement (FPA) which was to address several sensitive topics, including security sector and military reform. Particularly contentious was the question of integrating the RSF into the SAF, including how long the process should take and what command structure would apply to an integrated force.

On April 15, 2023, a direct confrontation began between the SAF and RSF in Khartoum and several locations throughout the country. Neither side appears willing to consider negotiations, and both have sufficient supplies to continue fighting for weeks. Civilians have not been targeted, although they have been caught in the crossfire. Civilians are sheltering in place or travelling by road away from the fighting, with limited access to food, fuel and water. The main airport in Khartoum is closed and occupied by the RSF. The two sides agreed to a cease fire that started on April 24th, but was never full respected and had broken down completely by April 30th with significant fighting reported in Khartoum and Darfur.

With its strategic location straddling the boundary between sub-Saharan Africa and northern Africa and the Gulf, Sudan is a key regional actor with political links with surrounding countries, notably Egypt, Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Central African Republic, and Chad, as well as the Gulf countries. On April 16, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council announced that the AU Chairperson would travel to Sudan to facilitate dialogue. That same day, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) announced it would send Presidents Kiir (South Sudan), Ruto (Kenya), and Guelleh (Djibouti) to reconcile the conflicting groups. Most recently, IGAD announced that President Kiir would host mediation talks in South Sudan. The collapse of the ceasefire and renewed fighting on April 30 has dashed these hopes.

A Quartet of international actors (US, UK, Norway, Saudi Arabia) provide support to the transition process in Sudan and negotiated the first and second 72-hour ceasefires. The US announced plans to establish a broader committee to support a return to the transitional political process, although the commitment of the SAF and RSF to military victory has kept this US intervention stalled. Russia has sometimes played a spoiler role as it seeks a naval base in Sudan; the Wagner Group provides support to the RSF (although this is likely limited in scope).

Embassy of Canada to Sudan

After the fall of President Bashir, Canada announced its intent to deploy an Ambassador (the mission had previously been headed by a Chargé d’affaires) and a new bilateral development program. The mission in Khartoum hosted 6 CBS (2 dependents) and 12 LES. Of the CBS and dependents, 6 were in-country and 2 were outside the country when fighting broke out. On April 22, all 6 were evacuated and a temporary suspension of operations at the Khartoum Mission was announced. Over the week that followed, the Canadian Armed Forces evacuated hundreds of Canadians, permanent residents, locally-engaged embassy staff and others on six flights before security constraints closed the airfield on April 29. On April 30, the Government of Sudan announced plans to temporarily relocate the capital for a three-month period to Port Sudan, a major commercial hub on the Red Sea with good port facilities and an airport.

Impact on Civilians

The death toll (civilian and military) reportedly exceeds 500, with another 3700 people injured (likely an underestimate), including the death of three World Food Programme (WFP) employees and the injury of two others. The April 30 resurgence of military action, including air bombardment, puts civilians at greater risks, exacerbated by widespread power and water outages, and many people are unable to leave their homes to purchase food, water, and fuel. There are increasing  reports of looting of private homes and violence and sexual assaults against civilians, diplomats, and humanitarian staff.

Canada’s International Assistance to Sudan:

Following the uprising in 2019, and prior to the outbreak of the current violence, Canada was providing humanitarian assistance, development, and peace and security programming in Sudan. In 2021-22, Canada’s international assistance delivered through organizations active in Sudan totaled CAD $82.32 million. Of this amount, Canada provided $43.08 in humanitarian assistance funding to meet the lifesaving needs of crisis-affected populations in Sudan -particularly internally displaced persons, refugees, women and girls.  Canada’s development assistance totalled approximately $16M and worked to improve access to education, strengthen sexual and reproductive health and rights, support women’s economic empowerment and reinforce the resilience of the poorest and most marginalized.  Canada’s peace and security funding has contributed to peacebuilding efforts and Canada’s Women, Peace and Security thematic funding has been supporting a regional initiative that aims to promote a conducive environment receptive to women’s inclusion in decision-making processes.

Assessments of the impacts of the fighting on international assistance programming are still being undertaken, but early reports indicate that activities have been severely interrupted due to widespread insecurity and the evacuation of large numbers of program staff. In Khartoum, many have lost power and water, and looting has been reported, including of warehouses holding critically needed aid, and offices of agencies like the World Food Program and UNICEF.

GAC officials are monitoring the situation, assessing impact and investigating options for Canadian assistance.

Situation in Sudan – Key Messages

Responsive Only:

Canada’s Humanitarian Response to Conflict in Sudan – Key Messages

Humanitarian needs in Sudan had already reached historically high levels:

The recent fighting has severely exacerbated needs and vulnerability:

However, existing humanitarian operations have been interrupted by the ongoing hostilities:

Humanitarian partners are preparing for various scenarios:

In this context, Canada continues to provide humanitarian support through a coordinated humanitarian system that is well-placed to deliver life-saving assistance where and when conditions permit:

Canada is working with partners and like-minded stakeholders to support a coordinated response:

Our flexible funding will allow partners to respond to evolving needs in Sudan:

… And in the region:

We are positioned to support a rapid scale up of operations, if and when it is required:

And we will respond to appeals as needed

MINE Sudan Key Messages

Canada’s Response to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act

Supplementary Messages

Background

On August 16, 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law. It commits US$369 billion for energy and climate-related actions and is expected to accelerate the clean growth economy. The IRA contains several incentives and tax credit programs to incentivize domestic production and the development of supply chains related to clean vehicles, batteries, renewable energy, and clean fuels production and related infrastructure projects.

Certain IRA incentives have the potential to adversely impact Canada’s competitiveness to attract foreign investment. This is why Budget 2023 proposes a range of measures totaling more than $80 billion over 10 years to ensure Canada remains competitive and supports investments critical for the realignment of global supply chains and the net-zero future. It includes a set of clear and predictable investment tax credits, low-cost strategic financing, and targeted investments and programming, where necessary, to respond to the unique needs of sectors or projects of national economic significance. These investments are underpinned by Canada’s world-leading pollution pricing systems and large-emitter credit markets.

The most significant outstanding concern for Canada in the IRA is the clean electricity tax credits that include local content requirement “boosters” if 100% of iron and steel and not less than 40% (increasing to 55% by 2026) of other manufactured products used in a project are produced in the U.S. In light of these conditions, Budget 2023 announced targeted consultations on the possibility of introducing reciprocal treatment to Canadian measures.

Export Controls - General

Supplementary Messages

Update

Since 2019, the issue of export controls has received significant and sustained public, media and parliamentary attention, including through the 2021 study and report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (FAAE) on the granting of arms exports permits with a focus on Turkey. In February 2022, export controls restrictions were amongst the first measures announced by the Prime Minister following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Supporting Facts and Figures

Global Affairs Canada assesses approximately 5,000 export permit applications every year. In 2021, Canada’s exports of military goods amounted to approximately $2.731 billion, compared to a value of $1.966 billion in 2020. In 2021, Saudi Arabia was the largest non-U.S. export destination (approximately 64% of the total value of non-U.S. military exports). Data for 2022 will be published in the 2022 Report on the Export of Military Goods upon tabling in Parliament on or around May 31, 2023.

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

Feminist Foreign Policy

Supplementary Messages

Update

Discussions continue to take place with other countries that have avowed feminist foreign policies, and a coalition of likeminded partners, including civil society, is expanding. A public-facing policy paper articulating Canada’s feminist foreign policy approach is pending finalization and launch. Minister Joly co-hosted a Munich Security Conference side event (18 February 2023) for Women Foreign Ministers and delivered remarks on Canada's feminist foreign policy. Participants issued a joint statement on the situation of women’s rights in Afghanistan and Iran. In March 2023, the Auditor General tabled a report critical of Global Affairs Canada’s ability demonstrate international assistance results in support of gender equality.

Indo-Pacific Strategy

Supplementary Messages

Update

Canada has already made early progress in implementing the various initiatives of its IPS. Since the launch, there have been several ministerial visits to the region, the announcement of the first Indo-Pacific Agriculture and Agri-Food Office (December 2022), the official launch of Canada Trade Team missions to the Indo-Pacific (in Singapore in February 2023), and the deployment of the HCMS Montréal to the region as part of the “Enhanced Defense Capacity” initiative (March 2023). The announcement of, Ian Mackay as Canada’s first Special Envoy for the Indo-Pacific is one step further in that direction(April 2023).

Supporting Facts and Figures

Future of Diplomacy: Transforming GAC

Supplementary Messages

Update

Canada’s Sanctions Regime

Supplementary Messages

Update

Recent listings under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) include:

In December 2022, the Government announced the first restraint of an asset (worth
US$26 million) under SEMA’s new asset seizure and forfeiture authorities. We are carefully considering next steps, given the complexity and uniqueness of this regime in the international sanctions context.  

Supporting Facts and Figures

Background

SEMA allows Canada to impose sanctions on a foreign state, its individuals and entities in four situations: a grave breach of international peace and security; when an international organization calls on members to impose sanctions; human rights violations; or corruption. They can include a dealings ban on individuals/entities and restrictions on trade or financial transactions. Individuals listed in response to gross and systematic violations of human rights or acts of significant corruption are also rendered inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. To maximize effectiveness, Canada coordinates with other countries. There are SEMA sanctions on 15 countries.

The Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (JVCFOA) allows Canada to sanction foreign nationals responsible for or complicit in violations of human rights and acts of 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.

In June 2022, amendments were made to the SEMA and JVCFOA to allow for the seizure, forfeiture, disposal and redistribution of sanctioned assets. Proceeds generated from the sale of assets may be used for reconstruction of affected states, restoration of international peace and security, and compensation to victims.

Canada is legally required to implement sanctions imposed by the UNSC. These sanctions are implemented in Canada through regulations under the United Nations Act. Thirteen countries are subject to UN sanctions: Central African Republic, Mali, DRC, Haiti, 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 also mitigates unintended humanitarian consequences of sanctions through legislated exceptions for certain activities, as well as through the permit and certificate processes.

Annex: Canadian Autonomous Sanctions Listings

Special Economics Measures Act (SEMA)

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (JVCFOA)

The Vienna Convention On Diplomatic Relations

Supplementary Messages

Background

Overview: the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations outlines the rules of diplomatic law, ratified by Canada in 1966 and implemented by the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act. The Convention codifies the rules for the exchange and treatment of envoys between states, which have been firmly established in customary law for hundreds of years. The Convention establishes for example rules for the appointment of foreign representatives; the inviolability of mission premises; the protection for the diplomat and their family from any form of arrest or detention; and that diplomats must respect the laws of the host state. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations codifies the rules with respect to consular posts and consular officers.

Persona non grata: when the receiving State (Canada) is concerned about the behaviour of a foreign representative, it can either 1) request that the sending State voluntarily recall the representative (end the assignment) or 2) expel them. With respect to the latter, both Vienna conventions provide that the receiving State may, at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that any member of its diplomatic or consular staff is persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable.

Notification that a foreign representative is persona non grata triggers an obligation on the sending State to recall that individual “within a reasonable period”, defined in the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act as “a period, not exceeding ten days, commencing on the day on which notice is given”.

Decisions to declare a foreign representative as persona non grata are made in the exercise of the Crown prerogative by the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the basis of a recommendation from the geographic branch and legal advice from the Legal Affairs Branch. The Office of Protocol implements the decision by sending the diplomatic note conveying the decision to the foreign mission.

A receiving State may declare a foreign representative persona non grata due to reasons that include suspected espionage, other criminal activity, or in retaliation for the expulsion of its own personnel abroad. A police investigation or the laying of criminal charges are not pre-requisites for a persona non grata determination.

Reciprocity: in international relations and international law, the concept of “reciprocity” entails the mutual exchange, as well as withdrawal, of privileges between states. Depending on the circumstances, a persona non grata declaration by Canada against a foreign representative carries the risk that a reciprocal persona non grata declaration will be made against a Canadian foreign representative at Canada’s mission in the foreign state in question.

Consular Policy and Operations

Supplementary Messages

Consular Program Funding

Clemency – Canadians facing the death penalty abroad      

Canadians detained in North-eastern Syria

COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program

Background- Arbitrary Detention Initiative

Canada launched the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations to demonstrate global opposition to the practice of arbitrary detention of foreign nationals for diplomatic leverage on February 15, 2021, and developed a Partnership Action Plan to coordinate further action. A Ministerial event on the margins of UNGA is being prepared. New funding is being used to create an Office responsible for the Initiative.

Background – Consular Program Funding

Funding is allocated to the following priorities: 1) Enhancing emergency management preparedness and response capabilities, including establishment of a Standing Emergency Response Team; 2) Reinforcing core consular operations capacity; 3) Sustaining and expanding the Canada-led Arbitrary Detention Initiative; and 4) Improving program management capacity and tools.

Background – Canadians detained in North-eastern Syria

Canada closed its mission in Damascus, Syria, in 2012 and currently has no diplomatic representatives in the country, limiting the ability to provide consular assistance. In January 2023, Canada reached a settlement agreement to repatriate all women and children who are part of the Bring Our Loved Ones Home (BOLOH) litigation. The majority were repatriated on April 6, 2023. Canada is awaiting a decision from the Federal Court of Appeal of the decision on the four remaining BOLOH men.

Background – COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program

The COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program (ELP) for Canadians Abroad was launched when the pandemic was declared in March 2020 to provide recoverable financial assistance to support citizens returning urgently to Canada. The ELP provided 4,818 interest-free loans totalling $20.04M CAD, assisting 7,878 Canadians in 125 countries.

NATO

Supplementary Messages

Update

On April 4-5, NATO Foreign Ministers met in Brussels to discuss issues of concern to the Alliance. Ministers welcomed the accession of the newest NATO member, Finland, discussed future practical and political support to Ukraine, and deliberated the future of NATO’s Defence Investment Pledge ahead of the Leaders Summit in Vilnius in July.

Supporting Facts and Figures

NORAD

Supplementary Messages

Supporting Facts and Figures

Foreign Interference

Supplementary Messages

Supporting Facts and Figures

Haiti

Supplementary Messages

Supporting Facts and Figures

Current Situation in Sri Lanka

Supplementary Messages

Update

Sri Lanka continues to navigate the worst economic crisis it has faced since independence, a year after it defaulted on foreign debt obligations for the first time. In response to the situation, Canada announced $3M in humanitarian assistance funding on January 6, 2023 to respond to the appeals launched by the UN and the IFRC. On March 20, 2023 the IMF Executive Board approved USD $2.9B in funding for Sri Lanka, after receiving financial assurances from bilateral creditors, including Canada. The funds are conditional on Sri Lanka demonstrating progress against macro-economic reforms, including a focus on anti-corruption and mitigating the impacts on the poorest and most vulnerable.

Following large scale protests and civil unrest in 2022 over the economic situation, the previous President and Prime Minister resigned, and a new President was elected by parliament in July 2022. Since then, the current Sri Lankan government has prioritized efforts towards economic recovery, and has advanced some political reforms, including to address corruption and curtail the powers of the executive presidency. On January 10th, 2023 Canada announced sanctions under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) against four Sri Lankan state officials, including former Presidents Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa, responsible for gross and systematic violations of human rights which occurred during Sri Lanka’s civil conflict.  The sanctions aim to encourage an end to impunity in Sri Lanka for human rights abusers.

Supporting Facts and Figures

Current Situation in Pakistan

Supplementary Messages

Supporting Facts and Figures

Background

Canada-Pakistan Bilateral Relations: Canada and Pakistan enjoy a multifaceted bilateral relationship, with extensive people-to-people ties (e.g. over 300,000 Canadians of Pakistani origin in Canada). Our two countries have committed to working together on common interests, such as working to address climate change, strengthening commercial relations, and advancing gender equality. Pakistan is also a critical partner for Canada in its efforts to resettle at least 40,000 Afghan refugees by the end of 2023 as it continues to be a key transit country for Canada-bound Afghans seeking safe passage out of Afghanistan.

Political and Economic Overview: Pakistan is facing an unprecedented economic crisis, which has resulted in spiraling inflation, a balance-of-payments crisis, and a shortage of foreign currency and essential goods. The Government of Pakistan is currently focused on meeting conditions set out by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to resume its USD 6.5 billion loan program. The political situation in Pakistan remains dynamic, with tensions between the governing coalition and opposition. Tensions surged in March 2023 after authorities attempted to arrest former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan for failing to appear in court over corruption charges, resulting in violent clashes between his supporters and the police and an escalation in rhetoric on all sides. The country is also entering a constitutional crisis over provincial elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkwa. The National Assemblies of both provinces were dissolved in January 2023 when members of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party resigned. Constitutionally, elections must be held within 90 days. The Supreme Court ruled that elections must be held on May 14, 2023. The coalition government opposes this timeline.

Current Situation in Punjab, India

Update

On 10 April, Papalpreet Singh, a close aide of Amritpal Singh, was arrested. Canada’s mission in Chandigarh reports that the arrest received limited media attention in Punjab, and that the state remains broadly stable, calm and peaceful. Global Affairs Canada has not received any request for consular assistance related to this situation.

Background

On 18 March, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of the Indian state of Punjab launched a major security operation to arrest the leader of the organization Waris Punjab De, Amritpal Singh Sandhu. Amritpal and members of his group are wanted for a violent attack on a police station in February 2023, during which six police officers were injured. These charges come amid a broader deterioration in the security situation in the state, particularly over the past year. At the start of the police operation, Punjab state and local governments had imposed restrictions on gatherings and communication. While the vast majority of these were lifted within 48 hours, these restrictions raised the fears of many, including in particular in Canada, of a return to levels of violence and conflict last seen in Punjab the 1980s.      

Local media and reporting from on the ground in Punjab suggest that the operation was widely-supported by the Punjabi population. Canadian assets and operations in India have not been affected by the operations.

Political Crisis in Myanmar

Supplementary Messages

Update

On December 21, 2022, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted its first ever resolution (Resolution 2669) on Myanmar,

On April 11, 2023, an important national holidays, the military conducted airstrikes against civilians, with reports of over 100 deaths, including women and children.

Supporting Facts and Figures

Background

On February 1, 2021, the military forces of Myanmar deposed the civilian government, arresting the democratically elected civilian leadership, protesters, journalists, and pro-democracy activists. The regime has failed to fully consolidate its power, and violent resistance across the country has grown, pushing Myanmar close to failed state status and economic collapse, reversing previous democratic and economic gains, with accelerating armed conflicts, making the prospect of any safe, voluntary or dignified return of the displace Rohingya people unlikely.On June 20, 2022, Canada announced the next phase of its Strategy to respond to the Rohingya and Myanmar crises ($288.3 million over 2021-2024).

Russia – Recent Diplomatic Engagement

Supplementary Messages

Update

Strengthened Diplomatic Presence East and Central Europe and the Caucasus

Background

Canada is expanding its diplomatic presence and capacity in Central and Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. The diplomatic expansion will help guide Canada’s response to evolving security threats, enhance political and economic cooperation to support European Allies, and further counter the impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and support Armenia in its democratic development. This was announced by Minister Joly in June 2022.

Specific action includes:

These changes will further enhance Canada’s engagement in the region, help counter Russia’s destabilizing activities and increase support for Operation REASSURANCE.

Flight PS752

Supplementary Messages

Supporting Facts and Figures

Background

The shooting down of the Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 by Iran, in which 55 Canadian citizens, 30 permanent residents, and dozens others with ties to Canada perished, continues to have a significant impact on Canada’s relationship with Iran.

Canada’s priority, along with its partners in the Coordination Group (the CG) has been focused on state-to-state negotiations with Iran on the matter of reparations. As Iran categorically rejected negotiating with the CG as a group, the CG formally requested that Iran submit to binding arbitration under the 1971 Montreal Convention on December 28th, 2022.  The parties have 6 months to agree to terms of arbitration, after which point either side can refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice.  Additional action at the International Civil Aviation Organization is also under consideration.

Actions Taken Against Iran/IRGC

Supplementary Messages

Current Situation in Israel/West Bank/Gaza

Supplementary Messages

Update

Canada has expressed concerns with the rise in violence and inflammatory rhetoric in Israel and the West Bank, as well as unilateral actions taken by both parties that have exacerbated tensions. In February, Canada condemned the Israeli government’s announcement of its intention to authorize illegal outposts and expand housing in existing settlements. In January Canada expressed concern following the Israeli government’s levying of financial sanctions against the Palestinian Authority. Canada supports the recent US, Jordanian and Egyptian-led efforts at Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh aimed at creating a space for direct dialogue between the parties in the hope that these talks will help improve cooperation and create the conditions for peace.

Supporting Facts and Figures

Background

Prospects for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have diminished over the past several years, with no formal negotiations taking place since 2014. Mutual distrust and competition on all sides has limited the ability and willingness of the parties to return to direct negotiations. The current Israeli coalition government under Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in on December 29, 2022. There have been no elections for the Palestinian Authority (PA) since 2006; the administration run by President Abbas suffers from low popular support. Relations between the new Israeli government and the PA have deteriorated in light of some statements made by Netanyahu’s coalition members and recent actions taken by the new government against the PA.

In Gaza, recurrent violence, severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods, limited economic growth, poor governance, damaged infrastructure, and poverty continue to erode the population’s resilience. Food insecurity amongst Palestinians has worsened due to the impacts of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Hamas, the de-facto authority in Gaza since 2006, has increased its rhetoric and conducted rocket attacks on Israel in response to tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The situation remains volatile, with a constant risk of a return to violence.

Middle East Strategy

Supplementary Messages

Supporting Facts and Figures

In addition, the Strategy has paved the way for Canada to:

Background

The 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 current Whole-of-Government Strategy was extended for three-years, to March 31, 2025.

The Strategy has committed over $4.7 billion since 2016 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. Canada continues its diplomatic engagement with key partners to address crises in the region.

Arctic and Northern Policy Framework and Arctic Council

Supplementary Messages

Background

In 2019, the Government of Canada released the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework that was co-developed with the Governments of Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec and more than 25 Indigenous organizations representing Inuit, First Nations and Métis. The Framework sets out a common long-term vision to 2030 for the Canadian and circumpolar Arctic. It includes an international chapter that seeks to position Canada as a global leader that can drive international priorities in the Arctic. The international chapter articulates Canada’s goals and objectives for the circumpolar Arctic: 1) strengthen the rules-based international order in the Arctic; 2) more clearly define Canada’s Arctic boundaries; and, 3) broaden Canada’s international engagement to contribute to the priorities of Canada’s Arctic.

Implementation of the international chapter is supported by the Global Arctic Leadership Initiative, a $6.15 million annual program in grants and contributions to strengthen Canada’s leadership at the Arctic Council; establish a Canadian-based permanent secretariat for the Arctic Council’s Sustainable Development Working Group at Laval University; strengthen the capacity of the Canada-based Indigenous Permanent Participants; strategically re-engage with the University of the Arctic (UArctic); and, enhance opportunities for youth engagement in Canada’s international Arctic policy and programming.

The Arctic Council was established in Ottawa in 1996 as an intergovernmental forum to foster cooperation and coordination among the 8 Arctic states, with the involvement of the Arctic Indigenous communities on common Arctic issues. In March 2022, seven Arctic states (Canada, Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and U.S.) issued a Joint Statement condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and announced a temporary pause in the Council’s activities. In June 2022, Canada and its like-minded Arctic partners implemented a limited resumption of work in the Arctic Council, in projects that do not involve the participation of the Russian Federation. Canada is working with Arctic partners to ensure a smooth transition of the rotating Chairship from Russia to Norway set to take place on May 11, 2023.

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