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Speech in Senate Chamber: Study on Economic and Political Developments in the Republic of Turkey-Second Report of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee—Motion in Amendment Adopted—Debate Continued

Study on Economic and Political Developments in the Republic of Turkey

Second Report of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee—Motion in Amendment Adopted—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Fortin-Duplessis, seconded by the Honourable Senator Unger, for the adoption of the second report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade entitled: Building Bridges: Canada-Turkey Relations and Beyond, tabled in the Senate on November 28, 2013;

And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Andreychuk, seconded by the Honourable Senator Plett, that the motion to adopt the report be amended to read as follows:

That the second report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade entitled: Building Bridges: Canada-Turkey Relations and Beyond, presented in the Senate on November 28, 2013, be adopted and that, pursuant to rule 12-24(1), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs being identified as minister responsible for responding to the report, in consultation with the Minister of International Trade.

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to the motion in amendment for the adoption of the second report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade Study on Economic and Political Developments in the Republic of Turkey. This report is the product of our Foreign Affairs Committee's welcome study of Canada's bilateral relationship with the Republic of Turkey, a post-war country that was established in 1923 with its capital at Ankara. This country is to be distinguished from the old Ottoman Empire that was dissolved and partitioned after its defeat in the Great War, as the First World War was called.

Many use the words "Turkey" and "Turks" to mean the old Ottoman Empire. To avoid misunderstanding, we should be clear that the Republic of Turkey and the old Ottoman Empire are two different constitutional entities and states. This report is about Canada's relationship with the Republic of Turkey, the independent and sovereign nation, with its own constitution and capital of Ankara as created in 1923 by the Turkish people under the leadership of the most distinguished Mustapha Kemal.

Honorable senators, I support this committee report. I shall vote for its adoption. Its title, Building Bridges: Canada-Turkey Relations and Beyond, is fitting because it expresses a positive approach. This is desirable and uplifting.

Our Senate Foreign Affairs Committee is crystal clear that Canada's international relations and foreign policy dealings with the Republic of Turkey must be forward-looking and future-leaning. Our foreign policy dealings with Turkey must be anticipatory and expectant. The phrase "building bridges" is humble but its message is large and powerful.

This report anticipates and promises the release of abundant creative energy and resources as required to meet the shared goals of a renewed and reinvigorated Canada-Turkey relationship. I laud the thoughtfulness embodied in the report's title, Building Bridges: Canada-Turkey Relations and Beyond. This title holds great hopes and possibilities for the Canada-Turkey bilateral relationship and is especially supportive of ministerial and governmental action to that end.

Honourable senators, we should reflect on the meaning of the group of activities that we describe as foreign policy and international relations. We should contemplate the human and political fact that foreign policy and foreign relations have, for their single purpose, the building and sustaining of stable, peaceful, healthy and humane interchange between peoples and nations. Such interchange and exchange require persistent and consistent attention, and that means constant work. Neglected or afflicted international relationships do not prosper, nor do they deliver the shared good.

This committee report is timely and necessary. It promises a new chapter in Canada-Turkey relations. I support it with vigour. I congratulate committee Chair Senator Raynell Andreychuk, Deputy Chair Percy Downe and the committee members. I thank them for their labours. I laud them. I also take this opportunity to note that Senator Andreychuk brings much experience and knowledge of foreign affairs to this work. She is a credit to the Senate and to Canada.

Honourable senators, the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee's study of Canada-Turkey relations was well received by the Turkish government and the Turkish people, as was the committee's visit to Turkey, where it heard from many Turkish ministers, officials, business people, foreign ambassadors posted in Turkey and other sectors.

Turkish interest in the committee's work was keen and broad-based. This demonstrates that Turkey and its people have a great interest in a productive and successful relationship with Canada in trade, industry, education and, of course, in diplomacy. Similarly, in Canada, Canadians see the benefits of a healthy and robust relationship with Turkey.

The connection between healthy international relations and economic health and prosperity is obvious. Those who advocate and desire strong Canada-Turkey relations are alive to the mutual benefits of this bilateral relationship, particularly in these dynamic times. The work and report of our Senate Foreign Affairs Committee seeks to enhance and enrich the Canada-Turkey relationship.

I shall read from the committee report. In its foreword, the committee confidently declares at page v:

The Committee believes that the contents of this report remain an accurate assessment of the evolving Canada-Turkey relationship.

Honourable senators, confidence is the tone most expressed throughout this report. In the report's conclusion, the committee notes the importance of trust in foreign affairs and diplomatic relations. Going to the heart of the matter, the committee boldly states at page 49:

As the Committee's previous studies on Brazil, Russia, India and China have collectively emphasized, in a world of rapidly changing dynamics, creative thinking and multi-level approaches are key differentiators. Commercial diplomacy is essential, but insufficient in and of itself. A truly coordinated foreign policy, involving expertise in Canada's private, public and civil society sectors, is critical towards the establishment of lasting bilateral relationships. As highlighted in this report, Turkey is no exception to this rule. As Canada continues in its efforts to seize new opportunities in a changing world, a durable and trusting relationship with Turkey fits squarely within our regional, global and domestic interests.

I repeat:

As Canada continues in its efforts to seize new opportunities in a changing world, a durable and trusting relationship with Turkey fits squarely within our regional, global and domestic interests.

Honourable senators, the committee report is clear and well spoken, and its conclusions are well supported by human and diplomatic experience, and the wisdom of the ages. The report's conclusion articulates the well-agreed principle and well-established practice that trusting relationships are vital to successful partnerships in all human endeavours. This is the fundamental guiding principle of life, of human experience, and of all social and human intercourse. Trusting relationships are the quid pro quo to the success of all engagement and relations between human beings. This is true between individuals and nations.

Mutual respect, with its mutual sense of humanity, is the ground on which sound international and foreign relations are built and stand. Governments ignore these human facts at their peril. International relations demand constant care and attention, and demand these of the highest officeholders of state power. In Canada, this means the Foreign Affairs Minister and the Prime Minister. For this reason, international and foreign relations, known as diplomacy, are part of that group of high powers known as the royal and prerogative powers. These powers are absolute and are to be exercised with meticulous care, meaning meticulous international care.

Honourable senators, the committee report, in its executive summary at page 1, employs unique and interesting metaphors and language. It refers to the country Turkey as the "new Turkey." It also adopts a tone of urgency, noting that time is important and of the essence, and that Canada may run out of time or miss out in respect of the positive and favourable developments in Turkey, and its own relationship with Turkey. The report's executive summary is forthright on this point saying at page 1 that:

The report finds that Canada is not too late to capitalize on the opportunities that Turkey presents...

The report's executive summary continues:

Building on the groundwork already laid out by government officials, businesses and educational institutions, the report offers six recommendations to the Government of Canada that focus on ways to deepen political engagement and enhance commercial diplomacy in order to renew relations between Canada and Turkey and strengthen mutual awareness.

And that:

The Committee believes that now is the right time for Canada and Turkey to pursue deeper commercial partnerships... including in agriculture, mining, energy, infrastructure and transportation, as well as education.

This report's executive summary also notes that:

The Committee underscores that fostering a positive and constructive dialogue at the highest political levels is critical to building the Canada-Turkey relationship, increasing Canada's visibility and helping Canadian businesses to position themselves for success in Turkey. In particular, deeper political engagement underpins other initiatives and enhances their contribution.

Honourable senators, this committee report, in its entirety, is bursting with persuasive pleas that can only originate from those who are well acquainted with their subject, and who are truly convinced of their findings and conclusions. Conviction and confidence in one's work are desirable and helpful.

Clearly, our Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, with its work well done, is cognizant of the importance of their findings and conclusion to the people of Canada and to the Canada-Turkey relationship. By providing the Senate with the necessary tools, our Senate committee report seeks adoption by us here to support and strengthen the Government of Canada with their sound knowledge-based opinion that the future of the Canada-Turkey bilateral relationship is bright, and that both Canada and Turkey are ready for renewed and full engagement with each other.

The committee's conclusions and recommendations are assuring. Canada, its people and its trade, business, education, tourist and other sectors are ready and are calling for a reinvigorated, contemporary, well-considered, well-nurtured and thoughtful Canada-Turkey relationship.

The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and its report's most important conclusion is that, on behalf of the people of Canada, the Government of Canada — meaning the Prime Minister and the Foreign Affairs Minister — must meet the challenge of modernity. Modernity, emerging Asia and its dynamic Republic of Turkey, in its glorious beauty, antiquity and ancient existence are beckoning. This modernity requires Canada's finest effort at diplomacy to attain the Canada-Turkey bilateral relationship that contemporary Canada and Canadians need and deserve.

Honourable senators, led by Senator Raynell Andreychuk, the chair, and Senator Percy Downe, the deputy chair, our Foreign Affairs Committee has contributed greatly to meeting this challenge. The senators on this committee have provided yeoman service. The Senate has provided vital and needed support to the government, while staying solidly within the Senate's proper constitutional framework.

As we know, all bilateral relationships, including Canada-Turkey, are foreign affairs questions and therefore in the exclusive ken of Her Majesty's Government and the responsible Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird. The Senate has provided this service to Canada in the knowledge that it has no constitutional power in foreign affairs decisions. The Senate's role has been very properly one of study, inquiry and advice, delivered as findings and recommendations to Her Majesty's Government in the committee report, Building Bridges: Canada-Turkey Relations and Beyond. The Senate has performed its constitutional duty. It will now be up to Her Majesty's Government and Foreign Affairs Minister to act in their proper constitutional role for the public good and welfare of Canada in foreign and international affairs.

Honourable senators, this committee report is emphatic that Turkey is a country on the move and is, and has been for some time, an important and powerful player in its region and in the world. This report of our Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade makes six well-considered recommendations. I shall read them into the Senate record, in numerical order.

Recommendation 1, at page 39, states:

That the Government of Canada maintain consistent engagement with the Government of the Republic of Turkey at the highest political levels in order to develop a new and more significant bilateral relationship.

Recommendation 2, at page 40, states:

That the Government of Canada identify Turkey as a strategic commercial priority and accelerate negotiations with the Government of the Republic of Turkey for a free trade agreement.

Recommendation 3, at page 42, states:

That the Government of Canada facilitate partnerships between Turkish and Canadian businesses, including innovative financing collaborations in third countries.

Recommendation 4, at page 44, states:

That the Government of Canada undertake to enter into a youth mobility agreement with the Government of the Republic of Turkey, which could include young professional and international co-op experiences, and with reasonable quotas for each category.

Recommendation 5, at page 45, states:

That the Government of Canada develop a foreign policy strategy that features a Canada Brand and profiles Canada's advantages, notably in technology and education.

And Recommendation 6, at page 47, states:

That the Government of Canada consider memoranda of understanding with the Government of the Republic of Turkey in the areas of science and technology, mining and energy.

Honourable senators, this report is an admirable piece of insightful, well-considered and needed work. I commend it to all senators, to the Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and to the Government of Canada.

This report did not address this government's policy, adopted in 2006, that the Armenian tragedy of the Great War was genocide, or that Canada was the only government in the world to do so. Nor does it note the unintended, negative consequences of this policy for Turkey, Turkish sovereignty and Canada-Turkey bilateral relations. I shall speak to this.

Honourable senators, in recent years it has become clear that this well-meaning but unfortunate policy needs review and repeal. I propose that such review and repeal should be part of the renewed Canada-Turkey relationship and the negotiations thereon.

The term "genocide," as is its complex legal framework, is new. The creation of this new term is credited to a Polish-Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin, who was an advisor to the Washington War Department. In his 1944 book, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, in Chapter 9, titled "Genocide," Raphael Lemkin wrote:

New conceptions require new terms. By "genocide" we mean the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group. This new word, coined by the author to denote an old practice in its modern development, is made from the ancient Greek word genos (race, tribe) and the Latin cide (killing), thus corresponding in its formation to such words as tyrannicide, homocide, infanticide, etc.

I shall address this a bit more on the next motion.

I thank honourable senators for their attention for listening. I commend this report to the reading of all senators. We are not in the habit of doing applause, but the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, under the leadership of Senator Andreychuk and Senator Downe, has really performed a great service, a very thorough service, and a very thorough study. I thank you, honourable senators.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable senators ready for the question? In amendment, it was moved by the Honourable Senator Andreychuk, seconded by the Honourable Senator Plett, that the motion to adopt the report be amended to read as follows:

That the second report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade entitled: Building Bridges: Canada-Turkey Relations and Beyond

Dispense? Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion in amendment agreed to.)

The remainder of this day's Senate Debates are available here