Hon. John McKay PC, MP Letter to Constituents on Sri Lanka

February-06-09

February 6, 2009

Dear Friends:

I too am gravely concerned about the conflict in Sri Lanka and the toll that it is taking on innocent civilians.

On February 4, 2009 I rose in the House of Commons to address this issue:

“This is a small island. It has about 23 million people... There is no solution to this war. This conflict cannot be won militarily...If the Government of Sri Lanka thinks it will win the war it will not... on the day after this conflict subsides-and it will not end-there will still be millions and millions of Tamil people looking for peace, for justice, for fairness and for access to their various government facilities.”

Under the guidance of Hon. Bob Rae, who has also been a part of past peace negotiations in Sri Lanka and is our Foreign Affairs Critic, we have been pressuring our government take the following actions:

 • Join the United Nation’s appeal for the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to create “no fire zones” and to guarantee the safety of civilians fleeing the violence;
• Call upon the Sri Lankan government to recognize the civil and human rights of the Tamil community;
• Support the call to appoint a UN Special Envoy for Sri Lanka to monitor human rights and to assist in an on-going and lasting peace process;
• Increase Canadian relief and development aid to Sri Lanka to rebuild war-torn areas and to support international NGOs in their ongoing work in the country;
• Play a greater role in confidence building, peace-keeping and constitutional reform to sustain an ongoing peace in Sri Lanka.

On the day of the debate, under intense pressure from the Liberal Opposition, the government issued the following press release:

 “The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement regarding the situation in Sri Lanka:
‘Canada calls for the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to declare and honour an immediate ceasefire to allow full, safe and unhindered access; the evacuation of the sick and wounded; and the delivery of much-needed humanitarian assistance to civilians...
Canada strongly condemns recent shelling attacks on the hospital in Puthukkudiyiruppu and firing into the government-designated safe area. All efforts must be made to avoid civilian casualties. We continue to believe that the conflict cannot be resolved militarily and can only be settled through a durable political solution that meets the legitimate aspirations of all the people of Sri Lanka.”

(To read the full version of the press release please visit: http://w01.international.gc.ca/minpub/Publication.aspx?isRedirect=True&publication_id=386795&Language=E&docnumber=30)

In addition, the government has announced an additional $3 million in aid for Sri Lanka.

I know that many of my constituents have family members who may be affected by this conflict. The Canadian Foreign Affairs website provides emergency contact information that may be useful. This information is located at:

http://www.voyage.gc.ca/contact/emergency_urgence-eng.asp

We will continue to do everything possible to ensure that the violence ends and that both parties work to maintain peace.

Sincerely,

Hon. John McKay PC, MP
Scarborough-Guildwood