Coptic Christians in Egypt (D)

Mr. Speaker, I put this question to the member with some trepidation because I try to maintain as much as possible a non-partisan approach, in particular when we are so unified. But I am wondering what kind of influence we have with the new government of Egypt. We did not play a role in encouraging Cairo Spring. I remember that I was the only leader of any of the parties who said that we should pressure Hosni Mubarak to resign. When he was toppled, the first comment by our Prime Minister was “I guess you can’t get the toothpaste back in the tube”.

There was no sense that we were building a strong relationship with that new government. I wonder if the member has a sense that we are building that now. Again, I apologize for bringing back what the Prime Minister’s comments were at the time. We certainly took a lead in Libya, but in Egypt we did not. I am wondering if the hon. member thinks that will affect our ability to influence the government to protect the lives of Coptic Christians.

Hon. John McCallum: Mr. Speaker, my colleague has a really good point. I had forgotten about that, but I do remember that comment by the Prime Minister back then that “you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube”. It hardly seemed an enthusiastic endorsement of the Arab Spring in Egypt. I seem to remember our leader was a little more positive than that, but the Prime Minister is the one who really counts in foreign relations.

One cannot undo what happened in history, but clearly that comment and the lack of enthusiasm that he displayed would not be a positive in our ability to exert influence on Egypt. But we have to work with what we have and do our best even where we are.