Question Period: International Relations

By: The Hon. Andrew Cardozo

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Grizzly bear, Yukon Territory

Hon. Andrew Cardozo: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate and is on the issue that has been raised a couple of times so far on foreign interference. It’s more a discussion question.

We have Bill C-70 coming to us shortly, and we have the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians report. I find that, as a parliamentarian, we have a fair amount of interaction with embassies. I wonder where we draw a line. On one hand, embassies talk to us about their interests, and it may be around trade, the environment or selling light rail transit, or LRT, trains to Canada. On the other end of the spectrum, there is certainly what I would call interference that is everything from intimidating diaspora communities to funding electoral campaigns.

Where do we draw the line between where we can interact with an embassy and where we should be drawing the line and indicating that we don’t need to have —

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): First of all, it’s a very good question.

First, I think each individual senator — and we carry the term “honourable” — has a responsibility to ourselves to ask ourselves that very question and to make sure we don’t even approach the line, much less cross it. I have confidence in us, individually and collectively, that we do that — as we should — diligently and with due regard to our fiduciary responsibility to Canadians.

Second, we have resources in the Senate, the Senate Ethics Officer being one, from which advice can be sought. We can ask them individually — as many senators have done — as it concerns our own personal activities.

Finally, there is the common-sense smell test; we should be mindful of accepting favours or trips —

An Hon. Senator: Order, order.

Senator Cardozo: It would be good if one could hear one’s own voice during a question and answer.

I would like to ask you about that last point. In terms of accepting a dinner or trip, what are your suggestions about where we draw that line?

Senator Gold: Thank you for the confidence you have in my advice. Those questions are properly addressed to one’s self and one’s own moral compass, to the Senate Ethics Officer or to colleagues who have more experience than I did when I first arrived.

I will say — and I counsel those who have not done this to do so — before I was sworn in, I had a long conversation with the Senate Ethics Officer about travel, boards and those activities I had been privileged and pleased to do as a citizen before joining the Senate.

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