Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 2
Thursday, March 4, 2010
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development—Appointment of President
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Rights & Democracy is a respected organization worldwide that was established by Prime Minister Mulroney to encourage the spread of democracy and the establishment of human rights standards. The organization has given many awards to many Muslim women, including Dr. Sima Samar, who has been a fierce advocate of the rights of Afghan women; and also to Ayesha Imam of Nigeria, for her stance against Sharia criminal laws in Nigeria. We have been able to give these awards because this organization has credibility around the world.
Minister Cannon announced Gérard Latulippe as president of this organization. This appointment is a sad turn of events. Why? In a submission written to the Bouchard-Taylor commission, which was created by the Quebec government to investigate the accommodation of immigrants to the province, Mr. Latulippe stated that “geographic concentration of more and more immigrants from Muslim countries” undermines “the proper functioning of Quebec.” He further stated that if the Quebec government does not take this matter seriously, they are taking a role in promoting terrorism in the province.
He went on to say:
Intercultural tensions send the process into an upward spiral . . . and a new generation of terrorists is born. Here at home, in the next neighbourhood . . . in the house next door. That is how the public safety of a host society becomes threatened.
He added that, like language, compatibility of values should be among the selection criteria for immigrants.
These comments are offensive to all Canadians. I accept comments made by an individual to the commission as an individual’s thoughts and an individual’s rights. However, today he will represent one of Canada’s most respected agencies around the world, and he will be our face in many Muslim countries.
The honourable leader was a key member of Prime Minister Mulroney’s staff. How can the leader today accept the appointment of Mr. Latulippe?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, has appointed Gérard Latulippe to the position of President of the Rights & Democracy organization. He is an exceptionally qualified person for this position. He has experience promoting democracy abroad, most recently as resident director for the National Democratic Institute in Haiti. Prior to that position, he worked in many countries of the world, most recently in Morocco and in Iraq. I believe that Mr. Latulippe, with his background, will acquit himself well in this position.
While I am on my feet, honourable senators, I want to extend the sympathies of this chamber to the family of Rémy Beauregard, who died of a heart attack in January. The event was a sad one. We express our deepest sympathies to his family.
Senator Jaffer: How will Canadians trust the work that this man does in Muslim countries, with which Canada needs to build relationships?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I think I have already pointed out that he has credentials and a background in this area. He has worked in many countries in the world. He is involved with human rights organizations through the National Democratic Institute in Haiti.
The honourable senator pointed out that I was part of Mr. Mulroney’s government when this agency was set up. If the honourable senator were to go back and check the record, Mr. Mulroney named the Honourable Ed Broadbent as the first president. There were many protests saying that Mr. Broadbent would not exercise his responsibilities in a non-partisan way. We did not prejudge Mr. Broadbent, so I ask the honourable senator not to prejudge Mr. Latulippe.