Honourable senators, as many of you have heard, I am the candidate for the presidency of the Inter-Parliamentarian Union. I am the first ever and only Canadian candidate running for this international leadership position. In the last two days, I have been approached by many of my colleagues who are unfamiliar with the IPU and its mandate. I thought I would take this opportunity to share more details about the work done by the IPU and my contributions over the last decade. The IPU is an international organization of national parliaments — 131 years old, it predates the League of Nations — and the IPU works on strengthening parliaments, promoting democracy and defending and promoting human rights and gender equity. It is the only international intergovernmental organization that speaks on the human rights of parliamentarians.
This is some of the most important work that the IPU does. At every assembly, the names and pictures of parliamentarians who have been wrongfully imprisoned by their governments are shared with the governing council. I have personally known parliamentarians through the IPU who have later been imprisoned for speaking out against their governments. The IPU meets with these imprisoned parliamentarians and puts pressure on their governments for release. This is just one way we work to promote democracy and freedom of speech globally.
Canada has been a member of the IPU since 1912 and has hosted four IPU assemblies. My involvement in the IPU extends beyond a decade. Some of the positions I have held include rapporteur for the IPU Standing Committee of Democracy and Human Rights, Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, member of the executive of the Bureau of Women Parliamentarians and a member of the Executive Committee where I was the chair of the Sub-Committee on Finance.
Currently I serve as the chair of the Committee on Middle East Questions where I am working on projects for peace. The committee works to support peace processes between Israel and Palestine, and most recently in Libya and Yemen.
One of the activities I am most proud of is co-leading a report called Access to Health as a Basic Human Right, which focused on maternal and child health. This report was drafted here in our libraries. Its success is a testament to Canada’s impact on the health of women and children globally.
Colleagues, I’m proud to tell you that the report resulted in a landmark resolution at the one hundred and twenty-sixth IPU Assembly in Uganda. My commitment to, and strong belief in, the importance of the IPU’s work has encouraged me to run for the presidency. I’m proud of the work the IPU does and my contribution to it. But most of all, I’m proud of the strong presence Canada continues to have today in the IPU. I hope to continue Canada’s legacy as the first-ever Canadian IPU president.