Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the current situation in Libya

Ottawa, Ontario
25 February 2011

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the following remarks on the current situation in Libya:

“Good evening. The crisis is continuing to unfold in Libya and the situation on the ground is continuing to change; to deteriorate, in fact, hour by hour.

“Our first priority remains the evacuation of Canadians, safely and quickly by any means possible.

“Our diplomats, in close cooperation with our allies, are working around the clock to execute this operation by sharing resources and helping each other.

“The circumstances are very difficult and are unlikely to improve. To date, we have facilitated the safe evacuation of approximately 200 Canadians on a number of flights and vessels.

“I do want to take this occasion to thank Minister Cannon, Deputy Minister Rosenberg, Ambassador McCardell and all those working with them for their tireless efforts during this crisis. 

“These evacuation efforts will continue tomorrow despite circumstances, particularly at the airport in Tripoli, that are becoming ever more difficult.

“A Canadian Armed Forces C-17 is standing by in Malta, ready to be deployed to Libya at a moment’s notice. Although our priority at this moment remains the evacuation, we are actively preparing to move to the next steps and to take other measures.

“The actions of the Libyan regime are, in the eyes of the Government of Canada and indeed, the entire world community, appalling.

“We condemn these brutal attacks, and call again on the Libyan regime to immediately cease the use of force against its own citizens.

“The international community must send a very clear message: the killing of innocent civilians – the citizens of its own country – constitutes a gross violation of human rights and must carry serious consequences.

“I have instructed our officials to prepare a full range of sanctions against the Libyan regime, both in collaboration with our international partners, or unilaterally, if necessary.

“No options have been ruled out.

“Canada fully supports the United Nations Security Council on a resolution that could include a weapons embargo, individual sanctions against key Libyan officials and an asset freeze.

“The Libyan regime must and will be held accountable for its violation of human rights atrocities committed against the Libyan people.

“Canada also calls for Libya’s immediate suspension from the United Nations Human Rights Council. We are working with our allies and international partners to ensure that this suspension occurs, and will be acted on by the General Assembly.

“As well, Canada fully supports the Human Rights Council’s decision to dispatch a mission to investigate human rights violations in Libya.

“Finally, we call on the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court.

“Those responsible for ordering and carrying out atrocities against the Libyan people must be held accountable.

“Minister Cannon will attend a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council Monday in Geneva, to forcefully represent Canada’s views on this unfolding crisis, and the humanitarian needs it will inevitably create, and we will keep you up-to-date as the situation evolves.