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Percy Downe

The Hon. Percy E. Downe, B.A. Senator Percy E. Downe was appointed to the Senate of Canada by the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien. He has served in the Senate representing Charlottetown in the province of Prince Edward Island since June 26, 2003.

Statements & Hansard

Sri Lanka

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Statement made on 13 May 2009 by Senator Mobina Jaffer

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer:

Honourable senators, thousands of Canadian Tamils came to our parliamentary doorstep asking the government to stop the killing of their family members in Sri Lanka. After 26 years of bloodshed, the Sri Lankan civil war is coming to a bloody end. In this war, thousands of Tamil civilians were caught in the crossfire between two opponents who refuse to give an inch.

Honourable senators, these civilians did not choose this war and have no control over the Tamil Tigers who presume to act in their interests. They are victims who have suffered a long time without intervention from the international community. The fundamental freedoms that Canadian Tamils have exercised, specifically the freedom of peaceful assembly and the freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, are what makes Canada a human rights leader.

No parliamentarian accepts any association with a terrorist organization, but we do have a responsibility to hear the voices of Canadian citizens. In this instance, the voices are those of Canadian Tamils.

In 2004, as your Canadian envoy for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, I worked with Canadian Sri Lankan women across the country in partnership with the South Asia Partnership Canada, the Forum of Federations and the Canadian Committee on Women, Peace and Security as well as the Canadian government. The result was a report entitled Ripples Across the Ocean. I also attended, on your behalf, discussions in Colombo, Sri Lanka, with the Sri Lankan foreign minister.

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peacekeeping and humanitarian response while stressing the importance of their equal participation in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.

We know, honourable senators, that women and children account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict. During our consultations in 2004, women's voices were strong and the participants came from diverse, professional, religious and cultural backgrounds. The resulting report was full of promise and suggested ways the Canadian government and the Canadian Sri Lankan women's community can work together to help empower women in Sri Lanka.

One suggestion included in the report was that Canadian women use their experience and influence in Canadian civil society to educate and empower their counterparts in Sri Lanka on issues of governance and peace process. It also included the development of grassroots programs dealing with gender issues, such as physical and sexual violence as well as the economic marginalization of women. The report advocated for the formation of community links to establish healing and wellness programming, and to set up community structures benefiting women and children affected by war.

Honourable senators, it was an enriching experience to have an opportunity to meet with a united Canadian Sri Lankan women's community. We had hoped the consultations would be a first step toward healing, and that they would help the Canadian government understand Sri Lankan culture as well as the importance of forming meaningful partnerships with Sri Lankan women.

Today, thousands of people are being mutilated or killed, and Canada should take steps to stop the slaughter. Canadian citizens have come to the doors of Parliament looking for help for their families. We must act. The report sets out what we can do.

I ask honourable senators to reflect on how we would feel if one of our family members were in peril. Canadian Sri Lankans are part of our Canadian family and we need to work with fellow Canadians to stop this violence.

Recent Statements from Liberal Senators

Business of the Senate

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Joan Fraser | Colleagues, I'm rising to speak on behalf of my leader, the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Cowan, who had to be in Halifax tonight on public business. I must tell you that when I called him to say we were going to be adjourning for the summer tonight, he was, I could tell, quite irritated, not because he wanted us all to go on working like galley slaves but because he had already written a speech that he wanted to give tomorrow morning.

Lighthouses as Irreplaceable Symbols of Maritime Heritage—Inquiry

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Jim Munson | Thank you, Your Honour, and my apologies to Senator Champagne.

Unequal Access to Justice—Inquiry

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Joan Fraser | Colleagues, I know that Senator Jaffer was preparing to close this debate but, before she did that, I just had to say how terribly important the subject she has raised is.

The Senate—Promoting and Defending Causes that Concern the Public Interest—Inquiry

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Jim Munson | Honourable senators, I am looking for a bit of love and empathy at this late hour because I do have a speech, but you have to understand that, in the interest of having dignified departures for our five senators this week, I gave up my time to make sure that we were able to celebrate the departures of Senator Buth, Senator Segal, Senator Callbeck, Senator Dallaire and Senator Champagne.

Study on Status of Canada's International Security and Defence Relations

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Grant Mitchell | So, you thought you weren't going to hear from me? Well, I fooled you! So there! I rise in support of this report by the Defence Committee recommending that Canada become involved in ballistic missile defence with NORAD. I congratulate Senator Lang and other members of the committee for what I think was great collaborative work, completely non-partisan, very extensive and detailed with intense research.
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