There is a diplomatic benefit to having a presence on the ground when fighting for human rights

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, I really did appreciate my hon. friend’s reflections on the good work being done in the human rights subcommittee.

This is a very key point. I want to know if she would amplify on the conditions with which one would ever want to close an embassy, given the diplomatic benefit to having a presence on the ground when fighting for human rights.

Cheryl Hardcastle – Member for Windsor-Tecumseh

Mr. Speaker, we have so many knowledgeable people who have established relationships in troublesome places, in troublesome countries. When there are heated moments or there is a threat of escalating conflict, there is no denying we need to have safety. However, there is much in place that we have to gain back. Once we close an office, we sever very valuable ties that could be used in the future. It is invaluable.

I suspect that this motion is meant to be toxic so we talk about these things and highlight these wedge issues.

What it boils down to is that we need our diplomatic ties and our offices in every place where there is human rights abuse in order to support people and engage these countries. These sovereign nations will not care what we think if they do not have a relationship with us. How are we ever supposed to advance human rights with countries that do not have a relationship with us? What do they care what we think?

That is the trick, that is the art of diplomacy. We need to have some kind of a presence in these countries. There are a lot of different ways we can do that through consulate offices. They do not have to be done in a cookie-cutter fashion.