Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 104

Tuesday, October 2, 2012
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Foreign Affairs

Rights of Women and Girls

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

On September 14 in an address to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations, Minister Baird emphasized our government’s commitment to promoting the rights of women and girls. In his address, Minister Baird stated:

Women’s rights are human rights. Women are the key to the development of pluralistic societies.

Simply put, if women play a role in a society, it’s likely to be a better one.

That’s why women’s rights have become such an important part of Canada’s foreign policy, and why it has become a personal priority of mine.

I would first like to commend Mr. Baird for putting women’s rights first. My question to the leader is exactly what part will women play in Canada’s foreign policy and how will the government implement the inclusion of women in Canada’s foreign policy?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I believe Senator Jaffer has asked similar questions in the past. I thank her for the compliment to the Honourable John Baird, who acquits himself very well as Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.


Obviously, there are many areas where the government involves women, including the child and maternal health initiative through the United Nations. I know I have provided written responses to the honourable senator before, that outlined many programs where the government promotes and advances the cause of women all over the world. I would be happy, honourable senators, to dig out those answers, add further to them and give the honourable senator a more detailed response in writing.

Senator Jaffer: I thank the minister.

More important, I would like the leader to seek an answer to the question about the role that Canada will play under Resolution 1325 in empowering women in conflict zones. Specifically, what role will Canada play in helping women from Egypt and Libya so that they also are able to press for their rights?

Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator asked me a question some time ago about the role we would play in advancing women in Afghanistan. I believe the honourable senator received a response to that, so I would be very happy to do the same for women in Libya and Egypt.

Senator Jaffer: I think maybe there is a misunderstanding, so I will ask a supplementary.

I am not asking about the maternal health programs the Prime Minister implemented some time ago and the response the leader gave. I am not asking about the malaria programs the Prime Minister spoke about some time ago.

I am asking specifically what Minister Baird will do to empower women’s rights.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the record of this government on empowering women and advancing women’s rights is stellar. I think Minister Baird has made that very clear everywhere he has gone, including when he visited the refugee camps of the women and children and their families who had fled Syria and were living in Jordan and Egypt.

It is hard to answer a question like this because we have done so much. I know the honourable senator was not asking specifically about malaria, and I did understand the question. I knew she was not referring to child and maternal health.

However, honourable senators, I think in all fairness the record of the government, of Minister Baird and of all ministers of our government in advancing the role of women and ensuring their safety is paramount. I will be happy, honourable senators, to try to provide Senator Jaffer the information, but the actions of the government speak for themselves. I will provide her with the information they have at Foreign Affairs and the various programs they embark upon to assist women, children and, as a matter of fact, humanity in general.