Situation in the Central African Republic

Elizabeth May: Mr. Chair, I will follow up on the question by the hon. member for Westmount—Ville-Marie and my friend the parliamentary secretary. Regardless of what side we sit on—and of course this being a take note debate we could have sat wherever we wanted, and perhaps we should have, to break down the notion of partisanship—we all recognize that this is a complicated situation, a gathering storm that points toward a worsening humanitarian crisis.

We read the commentary from Médecins Sans Frontières, from Amnesty International, from Human Rights Watch, lamenting how slow has been the international response, how little the conflict has been noticed. It may not be months that we have to respond adequately. It may be weeks. It may be days.

In that context, would the parliamentary secretary not agree that Canada should be prepared to step up, not just with money, but with whatever is asked of us by the international community, the United Nations, the European Union, France, those countries that are already marshalling to put people on the ground, keep the peace, and protect the lives of innocents?

Bernard Trottier: Mr. Chair, Canada has stepped up. We talked about the dollars, and obviously the dollars are not enough. There are all kinds of diplomacy and effort we have to apply, through all our channels, in order to bring about change.

If we look at just the dollars, Canada is the sixth largest donor of humanitarian assistance in the Central African Republic. It is not a situation we created. It is halfway around the world, and we really are stepping up and doing what we can.

The assistance we are providing to France, the European Union, and the African Union is not negligible. I think there is more we can do, similar to our intervention in Mali, where we provided the French military with logistical support. These are things we need to explore. How we can provide that kind of assistance.

It is always a complicated situation. Those who have served in multilateral peacekeeping efforts know how complicated the chain of command can be, so we have to go in there with our eyes wide open. We need to look at how we can help and provide assistance to those actually doing the effort on the ground.

The NGOs on the ground are also are in great danger, so we need to make sure their security is first and foremost. Otherwise, any kind of food and medical aid is just lost through looting.

Those are the kinds of things we need to do, and we will continue to look at them in the coming weeks.