September 29, 2013 12:32 pm
Updated: September 29, 2013 2:14 pm

Baird continues to push for Canadians’ release in meetings with Egyptian counterpart


Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird met with his Egyptian counterpart this weekend amid reports that two Canadians imprisoned in Egypt have been tortured, could face charges and will be held for another 45 days, he said Sunday.

While the response to those talks from Egyptian authorities is positive, Baird said he is still waiting for them to take action.

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“We’ve had a favourable response on the political level, but we haven’t got the action that we want to see,” Baird said in an interview on The West Block with Tom Clark, speaking outside the UN General Assembly.

“I talked to the Egyptian foreign minister three times over the last week,” he said. “We spent more than an hour together on Friday evening and we’re doing all we can to push for (the detained Canadians’) immediate release and try to get them out of the country as soon as possible.”

The minister said he could not go into detail regarding reports that Tarek Loubani, a London, Ont., doctor, and Toronto filmmaker John Greyson could face charges. Egyptian prosecutors have accused the men of “participating with members of the Muslim Brotherhood” in an attack on a police station.

“Obviously, this is a more complex case than I think many Canadians understand,” Baird said. “But Canadians have to know that we’re taking every action we can to secure the release of these two Canadians.”

Baird will be speaking at the UN General Assembly Monday, where he intends to speak about Canadian values, the importance of prosperity and job creation, as well as the need to fight terrorism.

The Conservative government has been critical of the UN in the past, but Baird can still acknowledge the good it does, such as its world food program.

“There’s many dysfunctional parts of the UN,” he said, noting that more than 31 months into the Syrian crisis, the UN Security Council hasn’t even offered a condemnation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s actions against his citizens.

“Canada is very supportive of those good parts of the UN, but we’re not afraid and not unprepared to say where the emperor has no clothes.”

– With files from The Canadian Press

© 2013 Shaw Media

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