Myanmar floods and leadership through NGOs

I was pleased to be involved with Canadian international relief organization Global Medic in responding to the crisis in Myanmar.

Canadians in Myanmar to boost democratic governance

Parliamentary Centre mission set out to help ensure a strong parliament.

Myanmar could use a dose of Canada as it pursues political reforms

Canada has much to offer in terms of federalism, decentralization and multiculturalism.

Myanmar: The ‘next economic frontier’ for Canadians

Trade delegation’s June visit to Canada highlights that both sides are itching to do business.

Myanmar’s evolving political landscape

Myanmar: An emerging opportunity for Canada

Canadians have a lot to offer in terms of critical infrastructure, transport, mining and jurisprudence.

Canada needs leadership on climate change—not rhetoric

Canada was the only country of 33 to regress in creating climate change legislation in the last year, according to a new study.

Canada’s energy dilemma: China’s lure, US concern

Put out the welcome mat for Chinese and other foreign investors and risk a backlash from the US, or block the CNOOC and Petronas proposals and become a minor player in the Asian market.

Time to bring Saeed Malekpour home

For months, Fatima Eftekhari has been repeating the same impassioned plea: "Stephen Harper, bring my husband home." The outspoken wife of Canadian resident Saeed Malekpour, Ms. Eftekhari knows it will take direct action by the federal government—and perhaps even the prime minister—to see her husband safely returned to Canada after he was issued a death sentence in Iran last November on charges related to operating an adult website. Yet while Ms. Eftekhari pleas for her husband's life, the prime minister and the minister of foreign affairs, Lawrence Cannon, have cast a foreboding cone of silence around Mr. Malekpour's case. Sadly, their silence extends from the House of Commons out to the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa and into Mr. Malekour's hometown of Richmond Hill, Ont.. It's evident when Mr. Cannon turns aside opposition questions on the matter during Question Period (as was the case on Dec. 15) and when officials from the Iranian Embassy tell me they have not heard from the government even once on this issue. It's also evident when Ms. Eftekhari contacts my office and asks why the prime minister still hasn't responded to any of her letters. Perhaps worst of all, however, this silence is evident in Tehran, where executions are a daily occurrence, and where only extensive diplomatic pressure seems capable of saving the lives of prisoners on death row. It was, after all, only vocal and near-global opposition that seems to have saved the life of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, whose execution was stayed indefinitely in September by Iranian authorities under the heat of international pressure. At the time, Mr. Cannon played a leading role in voicing Canadian opposition to Ms. Ashtiani's death, issuing numerous statements and press releases directly addressing her case. He has also spoken out in similar fashion on behalf of other Iranians facing long prison terms or lengthy death sentences, including a recent statement condemning the 11-year prison sentence handed down to Iranian human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh. But while Ms. Ashtiani, Ms. Sotoudeh and other Iranian recipients of Canadian support have little or no connection to Canadian society, Mr. Malekpour has lived in Canada, has a wife in Richmond Hill, and has gained permanent residency while awaiting his opportunity to become a full-fledged Canadian citizen. In the one and only statement Mr. Cannon released in which he directly addressed his case on Dec. 10, Mr. Malekpour still appears as a mere afterthought: a second-fiddle to Ms. Asthiani. And while Prime Minister Harper and Minister Cannon continue to publicly criticize the Iranian regime for perceived human rights abuses at each and every turn, neither has yet tried to engage the regime directly in Mr. Malekpour's defence. Although this type of "megaphone diplomacy" may be politically palatable, it won't bring Mr. Malekpour home without overwhelming international help. Having met frequently with top officials from the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa over the last few months, I believe it is very much within the government's power to secure Mr. Malekpour's safe return to Canada. But with the Iranian Supreme Court already reviewing his case with an eye to confirming his death sentence, time is of the essence. Simply put, Mr. Harper and Mr. Cannon must make an important decision now: they can either continue to ignore Mr. Malekpour's case and reap domestic political gains by verbally assaulting the Iranian regime at every possible turn; or they can open a dialogue with the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa, and attempt to find a real solution that will save Mr. Malekpour's life. This is not to say that the government should not continue to point out Iran's perceived human rights shortcomings. But perhaps it is time to realize that Iran cannot be shamed into returning a member of the Canadian community. The ball is in the government's court. Stephen Harper: bring Mr. Malekpour home now. Liberal MP Bryon Wilfert is Canadian member of Parliament for Richmond Hill.

No plan, no vision, no leadership on climate

As a member of the board of directors of GLOBE International, the global legislators' organization, I had the privilege of attending the climate change meetings in Mexico City last weekend.

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