House of Commons Hansard #221 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environment.

Topics

Canadian Wheat Board Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canadian Wheat Board Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian Wheat Board Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee.)

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-87, an act to implement the convention on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and on their destruction, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act
Government Orders

June 19th, 1995 / 1:05 p.m.

Saint-Léonard
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano for the Minister of Foreign Affairs

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I did not hear anyone from the Reform Party or the Bloc. On division, or is it agreeable to go without division?

It is not a debatable motion. I am asking whether it should be on division or by unanimous consent.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Reform

Elwin Hermanson Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, could I just have some clarification as to what we are on? There is some confusion here.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

We are at concurrence in report stage of Bill C-87. Can we do this by unanimous consent?

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Saint-Léonard
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano for the Minister of Foreign Affairs

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park
Ontario

Liberal

Jesse Flis Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to take too much time on the bill because I spoke on it before it went to committee.

This bill could probably set a model for future bills to be passed expeditiously. When the bill came to committee we asked the chemical producers and other witnesses to appear. Because the chemical producers and other interested parties monitored this problem during the convention they did not see any need to appear before the committee other than to endorse the legislation. Canada showed leadership in trying to convince other countries to accept this convention against the development, production, stockpiling and use of any chemical weapons or their precursors.

All three parties were very co-operative. We all saw that we are making the planet safer for future generations. We are very fortunate to have a member on this side of the House who actually witnessed the signing of the convention. He will be one of our speakers in this debate.

It is important to get the legislation through the House and the Senate before the summer because Canada would like to be one of the first 65 signatories to ratify this convention. With the kind of co-operation we have been getting from the official opposition, the Reform Party and independent members, I think we will have this legislation passed very quickly through this House and then hopefully passed just as quickly in the Senate.

The reason this convention was so successful is that companies which are producing chemicals were involved. Canadian manufacturers were even used as a test ground to see if this is the kind of convention that will work. It is a convention that is doable. Canadians can be proud that here again when it comes to the security and environmental cleanup of our planet, Canada always shows the lead.

In closing I thank all parties and the private sector for helping us to get this legislation passed as quickly as possible.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act
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1:10 p.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to again address Bill C-87 which, when proclaimed, will enable Canada to implement laws prohibiting the production and use of chemical weapons and providing for the regulation in Canada of certain chemicals which could readily be turned into chemical weapons.

This new law will fulfil Canada's obligation under the United Nations chemical weapons convention signed by Canada and over 130 other states in Paris in January 1993. Almost a quarter century of negotiations have taken place at the conferences on disarmament in Geneva to bring this initiative to fruition.

This is a major achievement and the first multilaterally negotiated treaty to abolish an entire category of what can only be called weapons of mass destruction. Not only will all chemical weapons and their production facilities be destroyed under international supervision, all government and industry activities falling under the convention's objectives will be liable to international monitoring and possibly inspection. This is a mammoth undertaking and the success of this important milestone in world affairs is dependent upon each participating state or country ratifying the convention and then abiding by their treaty obligations.

Canadian negotiators have done a tremendous job and can take great pride in the instrumental role government in co-operation with the private sector has played in the successful negotiation of the convention. An important multilateral process has taken place. Its success can fuel even greater co-operation among nations so that even larger strides can be made to make our world a safer place in which to live.

Because trade with nations which have not signed the agreement will be prohibited, our ratification of the treaty will ensure our chemical industry remains competitive. Additionally, speedy passage of this bill will make it possible for Canada to be among the first countries to ratify the treaty. It is fitting that Canada be among the first 65 nations to ratify the treaty. After all our nation has worked diligently to ensure its success.

The treaty will come into force 180 days after it has the validation of 65 of the 160 signatories to the agreement. Should some member nations require more than the 180 day period to meet the criteria, there are provisions to extend this period but it may not be extended beyond two years.

Because of the implications and complexity of this convention, every avenue has been sought to ensure that all obligations under the convention are fully met. It is important that we

recognize those who have dedicated their efforts to ensure that implementation will go smoothly for our industries.

With the co-operation of the Canadian Chemical Producers Association, the Canadian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, Merck Frosst and government officials conducted a trial inspection of the Merck Frosst facility in Quebec to test the verification provisions. These results were presented by both associations to the annual industry consultations with negotiators in Geneva. This ongoing private sector co-operation was instrumental and invaluable in ironing out the wrinkles during the negotiations and in drafting the legislation.

The Canadian Chemical Producers Association played an integral role by submitting one of the first papers on the issue of confidentiality to the conference on disarmament. This preliminary private sector involvement provided valuable constructive support and all participants are to be applauded for their contribution.

Additionally, officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs deserve commendation for their extensive preparatory work initiated to ensure the legislation will be effective while at the same time minimizing any negative impact on or interference with the affected industries.

By choice and representing the views of Canadians, Canada does not possess chemical weapons or chemical weapon production facilities. Therefore the overall impact will not be as difficult or significant for us as for those nations that do produce these instruments of war.

The greatest impact within Canada will arise from the provisions dealing with industry activities. The underlying thrust of the legislation is, as dictated by the chemical weapons convention, to completely prohibit any activity relating to the production of chemical weapons.

The most toxic, destructive and dangerous chemicals are listed in schedules 1 and 2. These chemicals will have the least impact on Canadian industry because production in Canada of chemicals on these lists is negligible. They have little or no commercial use. The more commonly used industrial chemicals noted in schedule III will have the greatest impact on our industry. Because of the commercial value of schedule 3 chemicals, industry production will proceed without inspection up to a limit of 30 metric tonnes.

As for Canadian industry, the initial and annual declarations will be mandatory for all plant sites that were in production the previous year and/or those plants expected to produce in the following year more than 30 metric tonnes of schedule 3 chemicals.

The initial declarations where necessary must be made within the 30-day period after the treaty comes into force. Chemical amounts exceeding 230 tonnes will be subject to verification and random onsite inspections to ensure compliance. They will require an initial declaration followed thereafter by mandatory annual declarations. Such declarations must include aggregate national data from the previous year on quantities produced, imported and exported of each schedule 3 chemical. Also each involved country must provide a quantitative itemization of each product exported and imported. This information will be declared no later than one month after the convention enters into force.

Reporting will commence in the calendar year following ratification of the treaty. Canada will be required to submit annual declarations within 90 days after the end of each calendar year. Also annual declarations on past activities are to be presented no later than three months after the end of the previous year.

Should production estimates exceed the projected threshold a new declaration must be submitted within a two month period. Should projected production be greater than the reported estimates such new activity must be reported at least five days before such production commences.

To allow some flexibility for industry declarations may not be necessary for any schedule 3 chemicals that are mixed in low concentration with other substances. The guidelines dictate that if these chemicals could be easily recovered from the mixture or if the total weight represents a risk factor reporting could be required.

Reports for production exceeding the 230 tonne threshold will include the purpose, the chemical name, common or trade name used, the structural formula and chemical abstracts service registry number if one has been assigned. The declaration of anticipated activity will be indicated in ranges starting for example between 20 and 200 metric tonnes and extending all the way to ranges above 100,000 tonnes.

Production levels for previous years will be similar in nature to the outline just mentioned. Verification within Canada will be carried out by onsite inspections. Using mechanisms such as specially designed computer software, the technical secretariat will randomly select plant sites for inspection. Such selection will be based on factors such as the identified chemical designation, as provided for in the legislation, plant site characteristics and the nature of activities carried out at the plant.

Every effort will be made to ensure there is an equitable geographic distribution of inspection activities. As a note, provisions clearly stipulate that no more than two inspections per year will take place at any one plant although special provisions pursuant to article IX will permit more inspections.

The combined number of inspections in any one country shall not exceed three plus 5 per cent of the total number of plant sites declared by a state or the maximum number of 20 inspections, whichever of these two figures is lower.

The general aim will be to verify that activities are consistent with the information reported in the declarations and ensure that no chemicals indicated on other schedules are being produced or used. Inspection teams will be authorized to demand access to records, particularly in situations where it is determined this information is needed for verification.

Sampling and on site analysis will be conducted to check for the presence of undeclared chemicals. If on site analysis is not possible, analysis may be required at a designated laboratory. Plant areas to be inspected will include storage sites, delivery sites, reaction vessels, feed lines to the reaction vessel valves, flow meters or other equipment associated with the production. There will be an external inspection of reaction vessels and ancillary equipment as well as any lines leading to long term or short term facilities for the chemicals, areas for waste, effluent handling and disposition of chemicals not meeting specifications.

Inspections are not to take more than 24 hours but in some cases extensions may be sought and negotiated. At least 120 hours' notice of an inspection must be given prior to the arrival of the inspection team. Industries producing chemicals such as phosphorous, sulphur and fluorine, which can be readily adapted to produce chemical weapons, will have to report their activities but at least at this stage will not be subject to random inspections.

Inspection data will then be compiled and forwarded to the International Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, OPCW. Our government must also control and report the import and export of these chemicals ensuring the confidentiality of the data collected.

For the most part the necessary structures are already established in Canada. The national authority will be set up within the Department of Foreign Affairs. Our current export and import permits and laws will facilitate the monitoring of the products.

Domestic enforcement is to be conducted under the Criminal Code. Industries must co-operate with inspectors or be subject to conviction if indicted and found deficient. The most serious infractions can make industry liable for up to five years in prison and a $500,000 fine. After five years an international conference will take place to evaluate the success or failure of measures implemented to monitor the agreement. If necessary new methods or requirements may be established at that time.

In establishing mechanisms to bring this convention into effect, every effort must be made to ensure the paper burden and costs do not become so prohibitive that smaller industries will be adversely affected or even forced out of business. Government must also continue to be sensitive to the financial implications of administrative costs. Extreme care must be taken to ensure the decision making will be streamlined and effective avoiding the creation of an excessive bureaucratic machine to track these chemicals. Already business in Canada has far too much bureaucracy and red tape to contend with.

The collection of data and conduct of inspection should be cost effective and any industry feedback must be heard and receive due consideration. Hopefully the co-operative relationship established between government and industry during the preliminary development stage will continue.

Although some of our veterans were subjected to it most Canadians are fortunate to have been spared the horrors of the use of chemical weapons such as were experienced with the use of mustard gas or nerve gases in wartime. Chemical warfare in the Iran-Iraq conflict brought vivid pictures of the terrible lethality of these weapons. The indiscriminate and massive loss of human life convinced the international community that every effort has to be taken to outlaw these terrible weapons of human destruction.

Our world has changed. The cold war is over but recent events in Japan bring home the necessity of continuing to work toward the elimination of these terrible weapons. That event proved it does not take a war to result in chemical weapons intruding into our lives.

At the time when the nerve gas assault on Tokyo's subway system took place, leaving 12 dead and 5,000 sick, it was not illegal to make or possess sarin and other nerve gases. In the days and even weeks after the nerve gas attack, a series of frightening incidents affecting defenceless civilians continued. The cult's top scientist was fatally stabbed in front of reporters. Burning bags containing a form of cyanide were found in a public washroom in a huge train station. Mysterious noxious gases were released several times in train stations and other public places making hundreds of people ill.

Police raids on cult sites yielded tonnes of chemicals and equipment necessary for the manufacture of sarin. There is even further evidence that research was taking place on biological weapons. Because of the cult attacks, Japan recently enacted laws to prohibit these chemicals.

Moving to another region, there is now very conclusive evidence that chemical and biological weapons were present in the theatre of operations during the Persian Gulf war. In this instance the introduction of low levels of such chemicals may have resulted from bombings of either Iraqi chemical weapons facilities or caches of Iraqi weapons on the Saudi border.

The Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association in Victoria has been approached by field engineers who were involved in operation axe. One of their duties was to destroy objects that could not be specifically identified and some are now suffering from what appears to be exposure to highly toxic substances. Their reported symptoms include severe headaches, bleeding gums, rashes, joint pain, memory loss, dizziness and breathing difficulties.

Collectively these symptoms, first traced to their origins by the doctors examining American veterans, had become known as the gulf war syndrome. Not only is this of great concern to those directly affected, a molecular toxicologist at the University of Maryland, Dr. Ellen Silbergeld, told a congressional hearing last fall that scientists now know that those exposed to these toxic chemicals can pass the poison on to their children.

Dr. Francis Waickan, an environmental pediatrician, has compared birth defect statistics between gulf war babies and other children. His findings reveal that abnormalities among children of gulf veterans is probably tenfold that of the normal population.

There is additional evidence that some of these toxins are released from the body during night sweats experienced by these veterans thus transmitting the chemicals to their spouses. This explains why many veterans' spouses are reporting similar rashes, fatigue and other symptoms of this ailment.

Clearly the effects and tragedies connected with chemical warfare do not end at the time of their use. The ramifications persist even being passed on to the future generations and causing untold harm to the human race.

The passage of Bill C-87 is just the first step on the way to eliminating future tragedies such as these. The real test will come when we are able to measure the willingness of the major powers of this world, those having the greatest number of production facilities and the largest stockpiles, to indicate their commitment to accept and institute these measures.

It is my fervent hope that the obstacles facing the international community can be overcome and that we can look forward to a day when both biological and chemical weapons will be no more.

To reiterate, we now stand at a pivotal junction on the road to eliminating these cruel, indiscriminating and devastating weapons. Let every nation accept the challenge by agreeing to continue to further the implementation of co-operative approaches and multilateral efforts to promote world peace and security.

The Reform Party supports Canadian agreement to and execution of Bill C-87.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Warren Allmand Notre-Dame-De-Grâce, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will split my time with the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.

This bill provides for the ratification and implementation of the chemical weapons convention which I have supported for a very long time. In January 1993 I had the good fortune to be present at the signing of this treaty in Paris, where I chaired a parallel conference of parliamentarians. The purpose of the parallel conference was to mobilize parliamentary support for the ratification of this important treaty. As a result I am now part of an international task force working toward this goal.

Unfortunately the ratification process has been very slow. Of the approximately 160 countries which signed the treaty since 1993, more than two years ago, only 27 at last count have thus far ratified and deposited its ratification. This is a very small number if we consider the great number of about 160 that have signed the treaty. I should point out that the treaty can only come into force six months after the ratification by 65 countries. We still have a long way to go.

The chemical weapons convention is the most comprehensive disarmament treaty ever developed. It is the end product of a quarter of a century of negotiations and culminates 100 years of international effort to eliminate chemical weapons from the world.

Many Canadians will still remember the horrifying experience of the chemical poison gas attacks of World War I which caused 1.3 million casualties and 100,000 fatalities. Many Canadians were killed in the gas attacks at Ypres in Belgium. Following World War I, great effort was made to ban these weapons. There was agreement in the 1925 Geneva protocol but this treaty only banned the use of chemical weapons in war and did not provide for inspection and verification.

This protocol, however, was never adequate. As members will know such weapons were used by Iraq 10 years ago and were threatened to be used during the gulf war. Fortunately they were not used. They have been described, because they can be delivered by missile, as the poor man's nuclear weapons. Without this treaty they would cause a serious threat to many countries in the world.

In comparison to the 1925 Geneva protocol, the chemical weapons convention, which is before us, bans the use, development, manufacture, distribution, transfer and stockpiling of chemical weapons. It also provides for the monitoring, inspection and enforcement of the treaty and provides for penalties when the treaty is broken. One provision provides for the destruction of current stockpiles.

Part of the enforcement machinery is the establishment of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons known as the OPCW in The Hague as well as the establishment of national

authorities in all countries to monitor the internal enforcement as well as the import and export controls of these chemical weapons.

There is also the provision of criminal penalties for those who violate the treaty as implemented by this law. Consequently some cost is involved, such as the cost of the national and international authorities to monitor and enforce. However we understand that this is essential if we are serious about banning these cruel and horrible weapons.

There is also the cost of destroying existing stockpiles. This could be a considerable amount for those countries which have such weapons. In particular, I refer to the United States and Russia. Under the treaty, if these countries sign and ratify, they will have up to 15 years to destroy those stockpiles. Unfortunately neither the United States nor Russia have ratified although both have signed the treaty.

In conclusion I want to congratulate the Canadian government for its work in developing the treaty and now for its ratification through this bill. It is hoped that with this ratification by Canada impetus will be given to other countries to ratify as well. As I said at the beginning, 65 countries have to ratify before the treaty can be put into force.

I also want to congratulate those Canadian companies that manufacture chemicals and are co-operating with the government in the implementation of this treaty. This is the most advanced, complete disarmament treaty ever developed and I am extremely pleased to stand in the House and support it.