Hon. Linda Frum: I would like to return to my previous question and ask you how it is anything less than contempt for Parliament for the foreign minister to continue her negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran when the Prime Minister, she herself, the entire front bench of the Liberal government and the entire Liberal caucus itself voted on June 12 for a motion in the House of Commons to cease any and all diplomatic relations with Iran.
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Again, let me repeat: It is not at all inconsistent for the foreign minister to make clear what the obstacles are to complete restoration of diplomatic relations. That’s what the minister did. I congratulate her for it.
Hon. Frances Lankin: I question is for the Government Representative. As I understand, with respect to issues of national security, defence, war-making actions and foreign affairs, much of that is guided by Crown prerogative and provides a right and a responsibility for the executive branch to make decisions with the advice of Parliament.
The questions I have heard seem to strike at whether this undemocratic and a flouting of the democratic majority wish of Parliament. I’m not sure those two things are the same. I am wondering if you could dig down deeper on the Crown prerogative issue?
Senator Harder: Thank you, senator. I would be happy to. I was attempting to say, in more diplomatic words, the voice of Parliament is important, whether that be the House of Commons or the Senate. The Government of Canada conducts Canada’s foreign policy and is accountable for that to the people of Canada. The Government of Canada, through the Crown prerogative to which you refer, has great latitude, as we would wish it to have, to ensure the security of Canada, the defence of Canada and the advancement of Canada’s interests in diplomatic and other avenues.
Senator Frum: Am I to understand now that we have had a legal explanation of the difference between a contempt of Parliament and something merely dishonest and cynical on the part of the Liberal government?
Senator Harder: No.