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Perspectives — October 3-5, 2017
Perspectives — October 3-5, 2017
October 11, 2017
OPINION

A new governor general, deliberations on the Rohingya crisis and the passing of multiple bills were some of the highlights from the Senate this week.

Government

Last week the Senate hosted an event that only occurs once every several years: the installation of a new governor general.  It was an honour to witness history first-hand, as Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette became the 29th Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada.

Her Excellency is a superb choice as governor general. She is a trailblazer in the truest sense of the word, having served as Canada’s Chief Astronaut and flown two missions to space.  Furthermore, as an engineer, scientific broadcaster, and corporate director, Her Excellency has proven herself to be a respected leader, a team player, and a powerful advocate for change.

During her inaugural address as governor general, Her Excellency focused on themes of unity, compassion, and solidarity.  She also spoke of the importance of science, education, and the environment.  Those who witnessed the ceremony, either in person or on television, couldn’t help but be inspired by Her Excellency’s message of hope and optimism.

Throughout her life, Her Excellency has demonstrated the power of hard work, discipline, and passion.  In many ways she represents the very best of what it means to be Canadian, including dedicated service and a commitment to integrity.

On behalf of my colleagues in the Senate, I wish the Right Honourable Julie Payette success in her new role as governor general.  Collectively, we look forward to seeing her fulfill her mandate while engaging Canadians to reach for their dreams and join forces to tackle the global challenges that face us all.


Opposition

It has been a busy and productive week for the Senate Conservative caucus. I would like to congratulate the Honourable Senator Raynell Andreychuk and the Honourable Senator Claude Carignan for the passing of Bill S-226 (Magnitsky’s Law) and Bill S-231 (protection of journalistic sources) respectively. 

Thanks to the hard work of Senator Carignan, Bill S-231 will protect journalistic sources, will define a journalist, allows for officers of the law to conduct investigation and gives them the tools to do so, and reverses the burden of proof to place it onto police, rather than the individual being investigated.

The successful passage of Bill S-226 will enact the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law) to provide for the taking of restrictive measures in respect of foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. Despite threats from the Russian government, the successful passage of Bill S-226 is an example of the commitment and service that Senator Andreychuk has provided to Canada for more than three decades. 

The challenges this week began with the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance focusing on the details surrounding the proposed Liberal tax increases to small businesses.  Under the current system small businesses already pay more tax than an employee when comparing equal income over a fixed time.  Our Finance committee will hear Canadians concerns and study these proposed tax changes by visiting several towns across the country.  Visit this link to learn more.


Senate Liberals

Last week in the Senate, I added my voice to those of Canadians across the country who are horrified by the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people being carried out by Myanmar’s security forces and urged our government to do more to end it.

Currently, over 500,000 Rohingya have fled from Myanmar, of which 145,000 are children. They have fled from atrocities that are being carried out by Myanmar’s military, including mass killings, gang rape, and the burning of entire villages. These horrors are what compelled me to urge our government to take action in both a statement and a speech this week.

“Honourable senators, I urge you all to hear their message and to push our Canadian government to do more to help the Rohingya people. We must tell them to act like leaders. That is what leadership is all about. The time to act is now.” 

I am not alone in this message. I have been contacted by Canadians from across the country urging me to help end the plight of the Rohingya, and had the honour of attending a demonstration urging our government to do more. They prove that Canadians will never let the Rohingya be the ‘world’s most forgotten people,’ as they were once called.

We live in a country that has prided itself on bringing peace to conflict regions around the world in the past. Canada must continue this legacy and do whatever is necessary to end the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.