Hon. Linda Frum: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Last week, the Iranian-sponsored terrorist regime, Hamas, launched 690 rockets into Israel in a concentrated barrage that killed four Israelis. Senator Harder, does your government believe that the Israeli people have the right to defend themselves against such unprovoked and murderous attacks?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question. She will know that this government, along with all previous governments that I can recall, have continuously supported the right of self-defence for the government and the people of Israel. These events are tragic. They bear consequences that we are all concerned with. This latest example is one which any government would condemn.
Senator Frum: I thank you for that answer and I know you mean it sincerely. I note that after a similar attack against Israel last year, Prime Minister Trudeau denounced Israel for having an excessive response and he called for an independent inquiry into the IDF’s response.
I’m happy to hear you agree that Israel cannot let Hamas kill its citizens. We all know Hamas is just a puppet for the Iranian Mullah regime. I’d like to know what your government intends to do to apply pressure on Iran to stop their blatant support of terrorist entities such as Hamas.
Senator Harder: Again, I thank the honourable senator for her question. I would also like to address the preamble to the question.
It’s important that we emphasize that not just this government but other governments of Canada have, from time to time, cautioned parties in disputes like this not to have a disproportionate response in situations that are so inflamed. It’s not unusual.
With respect to the specific question, there are two parts. One is to recall the response of Minister Goodale earlier this week to a similar question with regard to Iran. Honourable senators will know that, in his response, he not only enumerated the steps the government has taken but also the work under way with respect to future steps that the government may take.
The other point I would like to make with respect to Iran is that, in the Government of Canada’s view, it is in our collective interests to work with like-minded countries to bring pressure to bear on Iran not only with respect to the support that they are providing outside of their territory but also other issues of high importance, including ensuring that the nuclear deal to which they are a signatory remains robust and enforced.