2nd Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 149, Issue 60

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Foreign Affairs

Nigeria—Canadian Aid to Find Abducted Girls

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, it has now been 29 days since 200 young girls were kidnapped by the Boko Haram group in Nigeria. Three weeks after this horror began, the same terrorist group kidnapped eight other young girls.

“Boko Haram” essentially means “education is forbidden.” This is a group of Islamist extremists who are terrorizing their own country and their own people. I remind honourable senators that this situation is similar to Joseph Kony’s attempts to recruit child soldiers in Uganda. I am sure that you all remember the day when Evelyn Apoko, a survivor of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, visited Parliament and received a warm welcome.

These individuals are using terror to instill fear within their communities. However, all across the world, this fear is being transformed into outrage. Our thoughts are with these young girls and their families. We hope they will be freed and that they are safe and sound.

The eyes of the world are on the Nigerian government as it tries to resolve this situation. I congratulate our government for the action it has taken to help the Nigerian government through this crisis, but we must remain vigilant. We must keep in mind that these young girls are not the only ones to suffer this fate, and we must continue working tirelessly to make sure that this kind of situation does not happen again.

Leader, I want to thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, and the Government of Canada, who have offered their assistance to the Nigerian government to help bring home the young girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram group.

I completely agree with the minister, who said that the kidnappings are absolutely abhorrent. Leader, I know that you may not be able to share certain information for security reasons; however, could you tell us more about the assistance that will be offered?

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Thank you for your question, Senator Jaffer. As you pointed out, I believe you are well aware of our government’s position on this.

The fact that Boko Haram kidnapped these young girls is abhorrent. It was a crime committed against innocent victims. These young girls and their families are in our thoughts during this difficult time.

Canada has offered its assistance to Nigerian authorities in their efforts to find the young school girls who have disappeared. Canadian personnel on the ground are simply there in a liaison and consultation role. As I said earlier in response to another question, Canadian representatives will continue to work with other allies that share our views, including the United States, the United Kingdom and the government of Nigeria.

Boko Haram has been considered a terrorist organization by Canada since 2013, and the group’s actions simply strengthen our commitment to fighting terrorism and protecting the rights of women and young girls around the world. That is what our government will continue to do.


Senator Jaffer: Will we provide this support over the long term or was it offered solely for this specific incident in order to help the government of Nigeria rescue these young girls?

Senator Carignan: I do not wish to comment further because of the security issues that you mentioned. However, our Canadian representatives on the ground, together with representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom and the government of Nigeria, are doing everything they can to find the young school girls.

Sudan—Canadian Aid to Find Abducted Girls

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: I have a supplementary question. Canada provided assistance to Sudan to rescue the young girls who were kidnapped by Joseph Kony in Uganda. Is this assistance still in place?

Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): I will take this specific question on another subject as notice and get back to you in the next few weeks.