Ottawa Journal (May 10 – May 14, 2021)
David Tilson, M.P. (Dufferin-Caledon)
The Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association is an all-party parliamentary organization with members from the Conservatives, Liberals, NDP, and the Bloc Quebecois. Every year, members from the Association form a delegation and meet with our European counterparts, in Europe, to discuss a number of matters of mutual importance. Having been re-elected as the President of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association for the third time, I was again afforded the honour of leading this year’s delegation to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France over April 26-30th.
The Council, which has 47 member states throughout Europe, strives to develop common principles on human rights and the protection of individuals throughout Europe. Given the Council’s mandate, our discussions revolved around issues of the rule of law and democratic accountability. Due to Canada’s reputation as a stalwart democracy, the Council asked that I give a speech on lobbying accountability within democratic societies. Drawing on the recent changes to the Accountability Act here at home, I presented a number of well received points on possible ways to ensure lobbying remains respectful and responsible.
The next point of discussion for this year’s meeting was the Russia-Georgia war. Canada has always, and continues, to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states throughout the world. As such, our Government remains gravely concerned about Russia’s recognition of the independence of Georgia’s southern regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This action violates the territorial integrity of Georgia and threatens the independence of the country. The resulting debate was long and passionate with many varied opinions among the 47 member states and Canada.
During our time in Strasbourg, the delegation also had time to engage in bilateral meetings with Mexico, which like Canada, is an official observer to the Council of Europe. Our delegation’s discussions with Mexico included Canada’s decision to impose visa requirements on Mexican citizens. This decision was made after asylum claims from Mexico almost doubled between 2005 and 2008, making Mexico the number one source of Asylum claims in Canada. Once again, the debates were lively and informative with each side eventually coming to a better understanding of the other’s position.
The final and very significant item discussed at this year’s meeting was the rise of extremist activity within Europe. The Canadian delegation and our European counterparts sought to better understand the underlying causes for increasing extremist behavior throughout the globe, as well as in Europe specifically.
Our discussions also focused on identifying potential avenues for increased cooperation between Canada and the European Union in the ongoing fight against terrorism.
All in all, the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association’s 2010 visit to Strasbourg was a complete success, yielding many days of passionate discussion on matters of mutual importance. Such discussions provide the foundation for the immense level of cooperation between Canada and the members of the European Union and Europe as a whole. Both Canada and Europe have a great deal to learn from one another and it is my hope that such fruitful discussions will continue and increase in scope and regularity.