Hon. John Mckay PC, MP Letter and Petition on Sri Lanka

May-05-09

My fellow members of Scarborough-Guildwood:

I have undertaken the task of submitting a petition to the House of Commons regarding the atrocities in Sri Lanka on behalf of the Tamil community in our riding. This petition calls upon the Government of Canada to take meaningful action to put an end to the violence in the area. To date I have collected 106 pages of signatures representing over 1500 constituents in the riding and the surrounding area with more coming in. I plan on submitting these petitions to the House of Commons in groups of roughly 50 signatures daily until all of the names have been submitted.

I hope you will visit the constituency office to sign the petition at 3785 Kingston Rd., Scarborough, ON, M1J 3H4. The phone number is (416) 283.1226.

This is petition is part of my continued effort on behalf of the citizens of Sri Lanka. On December 12th, 2008 I wrote to the High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in Ottawa, demanding documented assurances that the Sri Lankan government was respecting civilians caught in the midst of this conflict. I was then, and still am very concerned with the lack of respect shown towards civilian lives in Sri Lanka, and I will continue work towards ending violence against these innocent civilian lives. 

The Liberal party has also taken action on this issue. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff recently met with representatives of the Tamil community to hear their concerns first hand. As well, the President of the Liberal party attended the rally held on Parliament Hill on April 21st to show the Liberal parties support for a humanitarian ceasefire in the area. Out of the conversations from these encounters the Liberal Party has been able to hear the concerns of the Tamil people and begin to come up with ways to address these issues.

The Liberal Party believes Canada should be taking a leadership role in responding to this crisis. Unfortunately, the Conservative government waited until February 4 to respond with $3 million in emergency aid relief, and joining the international community in calling for a ceasefire between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (the LTTE or Tamil Tigers).  

This is not enough. We have called on the government to push for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and for independent international monitors to be put in place to ensure it is respected.

The Canadian government should also encourage the United Nations Secretary General to appoint a Special Representative for Sri Lanka, who will have the full support of the international community in the protection of human life, the respect for diverse communities, and an end to violence.

We are also pressing the government to examine the feasibility of fast-tracking existing visa applications, under a special assisted relative class, for those wishing to escape the violence and join their immediate family members in Canada.  New applications should also be dealt with as quickly as possible and processing fees should be waived for those who have been personally affected by the escalating violence.

The international community has a responsibility to intervene and protect these innocent victims of civil war. As home to one of the largest Tamil communities outside of Sri Lanka, many of whom live within my riding of Scarborough-Guildwood, Canada has a special responsibility to assist in international efforts to bring about a political reconciliation and to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches those who need it.
Once again thank you for your letter on this issue. I appreciate you sharing your concerns with me. If you have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Sincerely, 

Hon. John McKay P.C., M.P. 
Scarborough-Guildwood