As part of increasing accountability to you, I am providing this video report to inform you on the details of my recent trip to Washington and what I accomplished there.
Click here to watch a video of the highlights from my trip.
On March 16, I participated in the 28th Anniversary commemoration of the Chemical Attacks known as the genocide of the Kurds in Halabja, Iraq. It was organized by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) representation in the United States at the Centre for Transatlantic Relations SAIS at the John Hopkins University. Representatives of the U.S. Government, from the Iraqi government, survivors of the genocide, and various political party officials from the region, including government and opposition members, were in attendance. As they remembered the victims of this genocide, a look ahead on current events in Syria and Iraq was provided with 1st person accounts along with discussions of justice, accountability, and the legacy of genocide. Several panel speakers also raised the point that many members of the former ruling Baathist Party of Iraq are key members of ISIS, providing logistical and organizational support.
In the afternoon, I joined a bipartisan effort including Michael Cooper, Conservative Member of Parliament for St. Albert-Edmonton, and Gord Johns, New Democrat Member of Parliament for Courtenay-Alberni, to meet with the KRG Representative to the USA, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, to discuss the establishment of the Parliamentary Friends of the Kurds, a cross-party initiative including MPs and Senators to strengthen our relationship with the Kurdish people in Northern Iraq, promote democratic education, and build stronger relationships between our parliaments as well as legislators. These types of friendship groups exist in our Parliament for many other countries -- the United Kingdom and the United States have these types of groups as well.
We also pressed the KRG officials in private as well as during a live press conference with Kurdish media for the safe return of the Azer children, namely Sharvahn, Rojevahn, Dersim, and Meitan. This case has received national attention in Canada and in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Later that day, I met with Alberta's Trade Representative to Washington in DC, Gitane Da Silva, to discuss North American energy policy, pipeline politics south of the border, and the impact the lack of market access is having back home in Calgary. I pressed the point that job losses are mounting and that employment figures do not reflect the depth of the joblessness with many working less than a full week or the increasing use of furlough, secure work but no pay. Da Silva provided me with valuable insight into how Americans perceive our energy needs, and the differing interests within the American environmental movement which is much more fluid than I originally thought.
I wrapped up my day in Washington by meeting with Naomi Kikoler, the Deputy Director of the Simon-Skjodt Centre for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, to discuss her latest fact finding mission to the province of Nineveh in Iraq where some of the worst atrocities have been committed by ISIS. The report she published includes first person accounts of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the terror organization. Partially thanks to her findings, the United States officially called the acts perpetrated by ISIS as genocide against the minority groups in Nineveh in Iraq. We also discussed the effectiveness of Canada's Office of Religious Freedoms and how highly regarded it is in the human rights advocacy movement.
I trust this fulsome report will be of interest to constituents. As always, please email me or call me about any of this content. I appreciate the feedback I receive.
In your service,
Member of Parliament