Motion to Condemn the Philippine Government’s Unjust and Arbitrary Detention of Senator Leila M. de Lima

By: The Hon. Peter Harder

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War memorial, Ottawa

Hon. Peter Harder: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to non-government Motion No. 75, which deals with the horrible conditions being meted out by the Government of the Philippines against Senator de Lima, the subject of which has been well described in the excellent speech by Senator McPhedran in presenting this motion.

It had been my intention, while speaking in favour of the intent of the motion, to draw your attention to my concerns with particularly part (c) of the motion as it relates to explicit direction to the Government of Canada with respect to the use of the so-called Sergei Magnitsky Law. But rather than give that speech, I contacted Senator McPhedran and asked whether she would be open to amendments that would see this chamber being able to hopefully unanimously endorse this amendment and have the Senate of Canada join with other legislative bodies in bringing attention to Senator de Lima’s treatment and call on the Government of Canada in an appropriate fashion to raise this attention with the appropriate officials in the Government of the Philippines.

I was delighted when Senator McPhedran expressed a strong desire to find wording that could accommodate the concerns I raised. By the way, those were concerns that were shared with other senators, both in speeches and elsewhere. I will now move that amendment so that we can get to the motion and hopefully adopt it tonight.

Therefore, honourable senators, in amendment, I move:

That the motion be not now adopted, but that it be amended by replacing point (c) with the following:

“(c) draw attention to the plight of Senator de Lima and urge the government of Canada to join with other countries in actively advocating for her release, and to determine and pursue all mechanisms and options that can be brought to bear, be it moral suasion, diplomatic intervention and influence, multilateral action or legislative tools, up to and including the consideration of the use of sanctions pursuant to the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law), within its discretionary executive remit and as it deems most appropriate to this cause

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