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Yesterday in Parliament – Monday, September 19, 2016

Sep 20, 2016 | Iran, Israeli Politics, Middle East

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House of Commons

UNRWA

Questions on the Order Paper

Hon. Peter Kent: With regard to the Global Affairs Canada’s international development program and in light of statements made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in March, 2016: (a) has the Department reached a decision regarding the resumption of humanitarian aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), and if so, what is the sum UNRWA should expect to receive; and (b) will the Department have a protocol in place to follow up with the relevant UNRWA representatives to ensure the funds are not mismanaged?

Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau (Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Lib.):Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the department has made a recommendation regarding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA. No decisions have yet been finalized.

With regard to (b), if Canada were to provide funding to UNRWA, then Global Affairs Canada would apply the same enhanced due diligence measures that are in place for other organizations that implement Canada’s assistance in the West Bank and Gaza. These measures are outlined below.

Global Affairs Canada’s approach to enhanced due diligence for assistance to West Bank and Gaza includes the following. Enhanced due diligence is an essential element in programming and risk management for Global Affairs Canada’s West Bank and Gaza development program. Responsibility for oversight of projects that receive Canadian funding is shared between Global Affairs Canada and the implementing organizations, through up-front due diligence, ongoing monitoring, and audits, evaluations and other reporting.
Most of the due diligence occurs at an early stage in the decision-making process by making strategic choices to engage experienced multilateral, international, and Canadian partner organizations, with an on-the-ground presence, and with strong anti-fraud, anti-corruption, monitoring, and audit and evaluation practices. They are neutral actors with non-political mandates and they adhere to humanitarian principles. As part of Global Affairs Canada’s approach to risk management, a fiduciary risk assessment of the partner is conducted before recommending approval of a project. Potential operational and development risks are also assessed. All proposed programming is thoroughly examined to be consistent with Canadian values and to meet the highest standards of transparency and accountability.
For all assistance projects in the West Bank and Gaza, Global Affairs Canada follows enhanced due diligence procedures to ensure compliance with Canada’s anti-terrorism policy and legislation. This includes the following measures: systematic screening of organizations and their key decision-makers against Government of Canada terrorist lists; clear anti-terrorism requirements and clauses within all funding instruments; clear definitions of the partner’s obligations, roles, and accountabilities for selecting and screening sub-partner organizations; the identification, within each funding instrument, of all of the organizations involved in a project; and ensuring that Global Affairs Canada must approve any proposed changes to the partner organizations involved.
Once a project is operational, monitoring is conducted both by Global Affairs Canada officials in the West Bank and by implementing partners in the field. Global Affairs Canada officials based in Ramallah closely monitor project activities and results through regular site visits, including sites managed by sub-partner organizations; maintain dialogue with implementing partners; and engage with representatives of like-minded donor governments that support similar initiatives or work with the same organizations. Global Affairs Canada also contracts third-party professionals to provide monitoring services to departmental officials. Partner organizations are accountable to Global Affairs Canada for: monitoring their sub-contractors and local counterparts; validating end-use of materials; following authorized procurement procedures; providing regular reporting; and undertaking audits and evaluations.
Monitoring and oversight is conducted by Global Affairs Canada officials and implementing partners. Information collected through regular monitoring ensures that any necessary adjustments can be made immediately, that risks can be managed on an ongoing basis, and that results are being achieved for intended beneficiaries.
Each funding instrument requires partner organizations to provide regular reporting on work plans and activities, financial records, and results achieved. As mentioned above, Global Affairs Canada officials closely monitor projects and partners, and reserve the right to request additional information or clarification from partners as needed, to ensure compliance with the terms of funding instruments, to manage risks, to assess results or to obtain further financial details.

Iran

Petitions

Mr. James Bezan (Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, CPC)Mr. Speaker, the second petition I wish to present is signed by many people from across Canada.

The petitioners are looking to the Government of Canada to maintain the listing of the Islamic State of Iran as a terrorist organization. We all know that the government of Iran is a major sponsor of terrorism around the world. We want to ensure that the Government of Canada, although it has decided to open up a diplomatic relationship with the regime, does not take it off the terrorist list both as a government but also with its Quds force as well.

Questions on the Order Paper

Hon. Tony Clement: With regard to the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ stated intention to reengage with Iran following the cutting of diplomatic ties in 2012: (a) can the government confirm that officials from Global Affairs Canada have been in contact with officials from the Islamic Republic of Iran with regard to reengaging in diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran; (b) if the answer to (a) is in the affirmative, at what levels are the talks between Canada and Iran being held; (c) is the evaluation or analysis of reopening a Canadian mission in Tehran complete; (d) if the answer to (c) is in the affirmative, what are the details of the evaluation; (e) if the answer to (c) is in the negative, what is the status of the evaluation; (f) has a security audit been conducted on the safety of Canadian personnel in a future mission in Tehran; (g) if the answer to (c) is in the affirmative, what are the expenses so far for the evaluation or analysis mentioned in (c); and (h) if (f) is in the affirmative, what are the expenses so far for the security audit mentioned in (f) and have stakeholders such as Iranian-Canadians been consulted in relation to the reopening of a mission in Tehran?

Hon. Stéphane Dion (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), officials from Global Affairs Canada, GAC, have had preliminary discussions with officials from the Islamic Republic of Iran, as publicly stated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This government is committing to re-engaging with Iran in a responsible and step-by-step manner. This is a harder path than the one chosen by the previous government, but it is the best way to make real progress in promoting human rights and protecting Canada’s friends and allies.

With respect to (b) and (e), in processing parliamentary returns, the government applies the principles set out in the Access to Information Act. Information has been withheld on the grounds that the disclosure of certain information could be injurious to the conduct of international affairs.

In response to (c), no. Discussions on re-engagement are at their preliminary stages. There is no precise timeline for the potential re-establishment of a Canadian diplomatic presence in Iran.
Part (d) is not applicable as the answer to (c) is not in the affirmative.

In response to (f), the safety and security of Canadian personnel is of paramount importance and will be a key consideration in any decision to re-establish a Canadian diplomatic presence in Iran. There is no precise timeline for the potential re-establishment of such a presence in Iran.

Part (g) is not applicable as the answer to (c) is not in the affirmative.

Part (h) is not applicable as the answer to (f) is not in the affirmative on the question of a security audit. GAC has not organized consultations on the reopening of a Canadian mission in Tehran.

Projected Order of Business

The House’s projected order of business for this session can be found here. Of note:

  • Tuesday, September 20, 2016 – S-201 – Mr Rob Oliphant (Don Valley West) – Genetic Non-Discrimination Act – Second Reading, first time debated.

Senate

The Senate is expected to resume sitting on Tuesday, September 27, 2016.

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