Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
1st Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 143, Issue 60
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, my question, directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, concerns the deteriorating situation in Somalia.
Somalia has suffered droughts, wars and lawlessness. Recent floods have left one million people homeless. Ever since the transitional federal government formed in 2004, the country has been drifting toward a new war. This trend has recently accelerated dramatically and peace talks have disintegrated. The standoff between the transitional federal government and the Islamic courts, which now control Mogadishu, threatens to escalate into a wider conflict, which would consume much of the South and possibly involve terrorist attacks in neighbouring countries.
The Islamic court’s success and the rise to prominence of hard-line jihad Islamists has sent shock waves throughout the international community. Many countries are determined not to allow Somalia to become an African version of the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan
What is the government doing to help the people of Somalia?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for that good question. Canada and other countries face incredible challenges in Somalia, Darfur and many other places in the world. There is no easy solution to this problem. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has been monitoring the situation and consulting with officials in his department.
Unfortunately, I cannot, today, give the honourable senator the definitive answer on what Canada will be asked to do or what Canada can offer to do in Somalia. However, I will certainly ensure that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. MacKay, is aware of not only the honourable senator’s concern, but also the concern of a great many Canadians about the deteriorating situation in Somalia.
Senator Jaffer: I understand we are in Afghanistan to help get rid of the Taliban. In Somalia, there is increasing Taliban-like behaviour. Why are we not playing a leadership role in Somalia? Terrorist acts in other parts of Africa continue to begin in Somalia.
I ask the honourable leader if she would ask her government to play a leading role and lead the international community to stop terrorism and extremist acts in Somalia.
Senator LeBreton: I think we would all agree that our government and all Canadians support the leading role that is being taken in Afghanistan in routing out the Taliban and trying to create a more secure environment for the citizens of Afghanistan, as well as participating in many wonderful projects.
I was interested last night to see on the CBC news some of the troops from Edmonton who had just returned from Afghanistan talking about the wonderful successes. There is no question that a great deal of Canada’s effort at the moment is toward the situation and the conflict in Afghanistan, along with our other NATO and UN partners.
With regard to the situation in Somalia, I do not know what the United Nations or NATO is recommending or suggesting or asking Canada to do, but I will, as I said in my earlier answer, bring the honourable senator’s concerns to the attention of the minister.
Of course, we were in Somalia in the past, and it is a very difficult situation. Nonetheless, it requires attention, and I will be happy to respond after I have referred this matter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.