Situation in Syria

Mr. Chair, I thank the leader of the Green Party for her nice remarks in welcoming me. Certainly we have shared some time at Dalhousie Law School together, although not at the same time.

Her questions are good ones. We are working with other states in the region to address the refugee crisis caused by the Syrian civil war in the last two years. Members on this side have expressed that we need to do more and to particularly watch how that evolves.

There is also security ramifications caused by a refugee exodus under these circumstances. Importantly, I have also heard some discussion in the chamber tonight about NGOs and actions by non-state actors on the ground in Syria, and I think we have to express some words of caution.

We are not even at the halfway point in 2013. I would remind this House that Syria is in a state of war, and as I said in my remarks, with very hard to identify teams within that war. There is certainly a united front against a regime, and then there is the regime. There have been five journalists killed this year in Syria, and we are only days past Press Freedom Day. Last month, two archbishops were abducted. It is a country with which we have to proceed cautiously, even with non-state actors on the ground.

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