Coptic Christians in Egypt (B)

Mr. Chair, something that I do not get to say from this side of the House as the leader of the Green Party very often is that I am also pleased our Prime Minister has raised this. I am also pleased that Canada has asked for the United Nations to intervene.

I am sorry that Canada is the only country so far that has raised it. I think the United Nations and other nations should come to the aid of Coptic Christians. This is a significant issue, and we have seen it all too often. We topple a dictator, be it a Ceausescu or be it a Tito, and then we see ethnic cleansing, then we see sectoral violence, then we hear things being said such as, “We rejoice at the loss of a dictator, but where are the voices of the international community to protect the religious rights, the human rights of women, persecuted Christians, persecuted Muslims, persecuted Baha’i, and persecuted Tibetans?”

Where will the government’s relative priorities be in dealing with the new government in Egypt?

We have a new ambassador, a fine person by the way; I commend the government again. Ambassador Drake is a brilliant choice, a person with a terrific background. He is just going to Cairo now to set up shop. What is his top priority: protecting Coptic Christians or protecting Canadian trade?

Mr. Brad Butt: Mr. Chair, I think that was the best question of any I have had tonight. I want to thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for being a strong, non-partisan advocate on this because this is not a partisan debate tonight. This is about showing our solidarity for Coptic Christians in Egypt. That is why we called for this debate and it is why we are having it.

I suspect the main role of the new ambassador will be to voice Canada’s grave concerns over the way religious minorities are treated in Egypt. Yes, there will be trade discussions, but I am fairly sure the number one message our new ambassador will send is that Canada will not stand for religious minorities in Egypt continuing to be persecuted and attacked. That is the number one priority. That is why we are having this debate tonight. That is the message we are sending to Egypt by members being here tonight. I thank members of the House for being here tonight and participating in this very important debate.