Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My Appearance before a Parliamentary Subcommittee

On October 31, 2006 I was invited to appear before the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the House of Commons Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development on October 31, 2006. I presented the report I wrote for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade entitled "Assessment of the Canada-China Bilateral Human Rights Dialogue" and responded to questions from MPs about human rights programming in Canada 's relations with China over a two-hour session held in the West Block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. Representatives of Amnesty International and Rights and Democracy also urged the Subcommittee to support implementation of the “Burton Report.”

Before I booked travel to Ottawa, the Clerk of the Subcommittee referred me to the "Guide for Witnesses Appearing Before Committees of the House of Commons." One fragment from this document that gave me pause to think is given below:

"Summoning Witnesses

In the vast majority of cases, committees are able to obtain the evidence they seek by inviting witnesses to appear before them. However, if a witness has declined an invitation to appear, a committee may issue a summons to that witness by adopting a motion to that effect. If a proposed witness fails to appear when summoned, the committee may report the fact to the House. The House then takes any action it deems appropriate."

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