Canadian minister urged by parliamentary colleague to retract or resign

Published March 29th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

A senior member of parliament in Canada's governing Liberal Party called Wednesday for one of his colleagues to resign from the cabinet after he was quoted as criticizing a Canadian company doing business in the Sudan. 

 

Roger Gallaway, one of three members of parliament to have visited Sudan earlier this month on a trip partly financed by Talisman Energy, said he was shocked by media reports of comments made by Secretary of State for Africa and Latin America David Kilgour. 

 

"That company (Talisman) is behaving in a way that is unacceptable to any fair-minded, knowledgeable Canadian." Kilgour was quoted as saying. "Canadians who hold shares in Talisman should sell them." 

 

Quizzed on this in parliament, Kilgour did not confirm or deny that he made those remarks."The government of Canada does not call for the divestiture of shares in any company, including Talisman," he said. 

 

"The government of Canada is very concerned about the incalculable suffering that is going on among the people of southern Sudan and we call on all companies involved in Sudan to make sure they do everything they can to bring that tragedy to an end." 

 

Gallaway said Kilgour should "retract his statements or, in fact, do the honourable thing" and resign from the cabinet if the statements attributed to him were accurate. Gallaway said he had not contacted Kilgour to verify the statements. 

 

Gallaway, another Liberal MP and a member of the opposition Canadian Alliance, visited Egypt and Sudan earlier this month. Gallaway said the trip was financed by the National Council on Canadian-Arab Relations. 

 

That group is largely financed by Talisman, a member of the controversial Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company consortium, along with Chinese and Malaysian partners, producing oil in the war-ravaged south of the country. 

 

Human-rights activists have accused the consortium of helping finance the Sudanese government's efforts to crush the rebellion in the south. 

 

Gallaway also agreed at the press conference that he and his fellow MPs had flown from Khartoum to Southern Sudan on board a private plane owned by the consortium and that the members of parliament had not contributed to the costs of the flight. 

 

But he strongly denied that he had been influenced by what a New Democrat (left of centre) member of parliament described as "a junket paid for by Talisman." 

 

Gallaway, who said he met with human-rights and church groups as well as members of the Sudanese opposition, claimed Wednesday: "Every individual and group met stated conditions would be worse in the terms of the environment and human rights if Talisman were to withdraw. 

 

"In fact, we could find no one who would say that Talisman should get out of Sudan. Some complimented Talisman for their community development initiatives, while some said they could do more." 

 

The New Democrat MP, Svend Robinson, who was not on the trip to Sudan (and Egypt), said after Gallaway's press conference: "What we have witnessed is a complete, blanket whitewash of Talisman following a junket paid for by Talisman." Robinson insisted there was clear evidence of "Talisman's complicity in this bloody war."—AFP. 

©--Agence France Presse 2001. 

 

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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