House of Commons Hansard #11 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was kimberley.

Topics

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

On a different point of order, the hon. member for Elk Island.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite said, I would point out that it was the Liberals who were opposed to this.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Just so the Chair can be consistent, while it was not a point of order from one side of the House, it is neither a point of order for the other side of the House.

I want to make it clear that the Chair will not possibly be as generous on another point of order if it is not a different point of order. The hon. deputy whip.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I defer to your judgment. It would seem to me that what I proposed as a motion has nothing to do with the way the chairs are elected, but rather with the composition of the committees—

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but this is heading toward the same debate as was raised by the hon. member for Elk Island. This point of view has been submitted to the House and did not obtain consent. The matter is closed and will be brought up again at another time within another context.

Resuming debate on Bill C-14. The hon. member for Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Bill C-14, an act providing for controls on the export, import or transit across Canada of rough diamonds.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the hon. member for Nepean—Carleton. While it was the minister who introduced the bill today, everyone knows that it was the hon. member who raised this issue last year.

I also want to congratulate the hon. member for Manicouagan, who addressed this issue earlier today. He gave an excellent speech and presented the various and very important aspects of this activity, while also stressing the need to do this properly, using controls. There is the whole issue of certification, among other things. The hon. member for Manicouagan is right when he says that, when it comes to protecting the interests of his region and of Quebec, he does so vigorously, as he did this morning, for which I congratulate him.

As members know, this is a very important activity. The rough diamond industry is a US $7.5 billion industry. It is said that 70 million jewels are created every year in the world, for a value in excess of US $58 billion. So, this is a very important issue.

The point raised by the hon. member is that part of what was done within the Kimberley process by NGOs and others has identified a minimum of 4% of this economic activity as going to purchase weapons. In one specific region, Africa, the three countries mentioned most often are Angola, Sierra Leone and the Congo. Trading is done through neighbouring or other countries.

Africa may seem far away, but what goes on there concerns us all. I do not see it as a waste of time to debate this subject today. The more debates there are in the House, and the more press coverage there is, the greater public awareness of the importance of this issue will be.

If I may draw a parallel here, last Friday I was with a secondary school class studying Amnesty International. These young people are very much attuned to what is going on in the rest of the world. They were quick to ask “What can we do?” People may feel helpless, but there is a lot that can be done, particularly public education so that people can be better informed and take action indirectly, even if this only means making their opinions known publicly.

The debate was raised by NGOs and by MPs, but many people took an interest, resulting rather quickly in pressure which culminated in the Kimberly process. There have been 12 international debates on the topic, some here in Ottawa, and things got moving pretty quickly.

It is urgent for this bill to be passed in order to ratify Canada's commitment in connection with this process. We in the Bloc Quebecois are in favour of this bill. We acknowledge the impact it will have. That impact has already begun to be felt, even if it has not yet been implemented, but it is a step in the right direction.

Many other things should be done. For example, over the last ten years, 500,000 civilians have been victimized by weapons and human rights violations in the three countries that I mentioned. I am referring to civilians who have died, but there are also civilians who have been injured. Other members have mentioned this. There have been atrocities and we must do something.

However, in terms of a broader policy, we must also consider the sale of weapons. There are countries that continue to sell weapons to groups and even to armies from certain countries, sales that are not always made under proper trade conditions.

There is also another way. I am referring to international assistance. There has been much talk of late of the crisis in Afghanistan and in Africa. Now the possibility of a conflict with Iraq looms. All too often, we forget about civilians.

I do not wish to be partisan, because not all issues are matters for partisan comments, but we have to face certain facts. In 2001, of 22 countries in the world that provided assistance, Canada ranked 18th. The country that ranked last, in 22nd place, was the United States. When it comes to aid, Canada must not view the U.S. as a model, because they may be the least generous country in terms of international assistance.

However, there are other countries that could serve as better models. For example, Denmark, in that same year, gave more than 1% of its gross domestic product; Norway gave 0.83%; Holland also gave 0.83%; the little country known as Luxembourg gave 0.8%, Sweden gave 0.76%. In the end, these are the only countries that reached the standard set by the United Nations, the famous 0.7% of GDP in international aid contributions.

With these conflicts, the reality is that the victims are people who have been displaced, people who are hungry, and there are health problems. We must keep this in mind.

As I said, we support the bill. Naturally, it is a step in the right direction, and is was urgently needed. We are therefore in agreement. We will make no attempt, either in the House or in committee, to slow down the passage of the bill. On the contrary, we will be very cooperative.

Pending ratification, people are still dying because of diamonds. In this respect, I will draw a parallel with the impact of oil around the world. Where there is oil, there are often conflicts. Oil fuels conflicts. It may not be the root cause, but it fuels conflicts around the world. That is number one.

There is also illicit drugs—let us not forget them—in Colombia, in some Asian countries and elsewhere. The diamond, however, because of its small size, combined with enormous value, is easy to market, especially under the current conditions.

Incidentally, I wish to respond to the question raised by students from the group representing the Commission scolaire de Lévis with whom I met on Friday about what young people can do. Of course, they must raise their own awareness. And often, interested young people are in a position to influence their parents at home.

I would add another element here, namely ethical investment. Sometimes, people unwittingly contribute to activities in certain countries which are more or less dubious from an ethical point of view, whether they concern oil or other economic goods such as diamonds.

One must be very aware of this possibility. One can ask questions at one's mutual fund managers' meeting: Where are we investing? It would seem that large corporations are increasingly aware of this. The impact is extremely important. There are also our actions as consumers.

Let us take the example of diamonds. In Canada, buying diamonds is probably done properly, but again the Kimberley process must be more closely followed. We often hear people say that, when they visited certain countries, they were able to buy goods—I am referring to jewels—for such and such a price, but that they did not pay any tax. They probably got these jewels on the black market. First, it is a risky thing to do. Also, not only are these people not sure of the quality of the diamonds, they are also contributing to an underground economy that can serve non-humanitarian purposes.

Today, I would like to bring my small contribution to this debate. After hearing our party critic and the other hon. members who have spoken on this issue today, I can see that that the House is off to a good start this week. I heard reasonable, intelligent and useful comments. This is an issue on which every citizen should reflect. As we know, not everyone listens to the debates of the House of Commons. However, most members of Parliament can use the various means put at their disposal by the House of Commons to convey to targeted groups information on important issues such as this one. This is a very relevant issue, one that is of real interest to our constituents. Even though the bill was introduced by the minister, I congratulate the hon. member who, through his initiative, helped ensure that all parliamentarians support the Kimberley process.

I remind the House that the Bloc Quebecois supports the bill. We will be very cooperative regarding similar initiatives that relate to human rights and to humanitarian issues around the world. We should ask the public to do the same.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in the debate on the bill today, Bill C-14. I think it is a positive step and one we can embrace as doing something positively as a partner in the international community to eradicate the possibility of continuing this horrible torment of conflict diamonds.

We only have to see the effects of what has happened in some of these African nations to realize how important it is for Canada to advocate the Kimberley process and to be on side with our legislation in time to have a simultaneous process start in January of next year.

I say that for a number of reasons . First let us go to the international reason. Canada has been at the forefront. I, along with my colleague from across the way, wish to congratulate the member for Nepean--Carleton for his work and advocacy on this issue. However we have also been working at it through UN resolutions during Canada's time at the security council. We have been involved in all the ministerial meetings leading up to the process of implementation.

A lot of Canadians do not understand what this process means. It means good economics for Canadians. We have in our north and throughout the provinces a nascent diamond cutting, mining, polishing industry. Recently we have heard that Tiffany wants to polish diamonds in Canada. This is great news. Hundreds of people are currently employed in the diamond industry and we could be employing thousands more.

I was very pleased to hear my colleague from the Bloc being positive and on side with this process. It is one that will help us with our economy nationally and one that will help us as a playing partner. We know that 48 nations are currently involved. Those 48 nations represent 98% of the world's diamond producing nations. We have the players around the table. I know we are heading into further meetings in November. Hopefully this Parliament can show that it can work efficiently to move things along.

I believe that members of the House from time to time do have legitimate concerns. I want to address my interpretation of the process, which I hope is the right interpretation, but we will work this out at committee stage to convince those members who have concerns.

I have heard a concern from the member for Elk Island. As a lawyer in my former life before this place, my knowledge is that when a bill does not have a process in place about search and seizure, then the Criminal Code process is utilized. I believe the Criminal Code process of warrant and search and seizure will be used with all the safeguards we have under the Criminal Code.

Therefore I think the hon. member's interpretation of the two clauses in question, clauses 23 and 24, will be straightened out in a way that addresses the concerns of my hon. friend. I have worked with him many times in the House and in many committees. I know it is an honestly felt concern about privacy and property. I believe that is something with which the member should not concern himself.

The bottom line is that we are trying to place an international certification on the import and export of diamonds. If we want to be a player in this part of the economy, we have to be part of this process. There is the morality issue of not wanting to purchase or be trading in any conflict diamonds.

I was in Sierra Leone for a week last year training potential female parliamentarians who had come out of a decade of civil war. I and a former member of the House, Audrey McLaughlin, visited Sierra Leone with other parliamentarians from Nigeria and Ghana. We spent a week in Freetown and helped train some of the women to take their place in their parliament. In fact in the elections held within months after our visit the female members of parliament went from six to sixteen. It was a successful intervention.

While I was in Sierra Leone I saw the results of the conflict. If they say a picture is worth a thousand words then members would be impacted as immensely as I was to see many children with their limbs cut off as a format of the civil war that went on. What was the cause of that civil war? It was the guerrilla actions that revolved around an illicit industry on the wealth of a nation, a wealth that went underground and by illicit means out of the country as opposed to legitimately raising the value of the economy for the whole population to share in the wealth as it grew.

Let us help all the people in those countries right now, get involved in a conflict resolution situation where they can export what they have underground in their alluvial rivers, where they can mine the diamonds. I congratulate South Africa, the Congo and all the other players that have worked so hard to put this process in place.

Let us be a participant. Let us not bicker along partisan lines. Let us do something that is right for Canadians, the Canadian economy and all of us around the world who want to get these international resolutions of problems done in a manner that helps everyone. Let us not do it two years from now, but let us do it so we can be a player and go forward with the process of certification for our diamonds leaving Canada and for all the diamonds in transit that we receive from other countries. Let us do something right and let us do it expediently.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, they are picking on me because I pointed out a serious flaw in the bill. The member said that I should not be concerned about search and seizure. I am concerned about it. There is no compensation. She said that if it is not covered here, it is covered by the Criminal Code. Well the Criminal Code is wrong too.

I know a young man, a fine, clean shaven guy who showed up at the border in a nice car. He is a hard worker and earns money. At the border his car was ripped apart. The dash was wrecked, the door panels were taken off, and the trunk was ripped apart. There was a whole bunch of damage. He did not receive compensation. He is totally innocent. He does not smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol and it was thought he was carrying contraband. It was a false accusation and he is entitled to compensation.

Those people over there just do not get it.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, sometimes when we try to help in a situation it is not always perceived as help. There is nothing I can do about that.

In my opinion the Criminal Code search and seizure provisions would apply in this situation. There are no search and seizure provisions in Bill C-14 so we do use all the due process that we normally have in this country. That being said, after the bill leaves this place, it will go to committee where all members can assert themselves in the manner they deem most appropriate.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

There will be approximately eight minutes remaining in the period for questions and comments for the hon. member for London West after oral question period.

Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport
Statements by Members

October 21st, 2002 / 1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Bras D'Or—Cape Breton, NS

Mr. Speaker, I wish to acknowledge the recent announcement by the Government of Canada to provide $2.4 million for the fiscal year 2002-03 in support of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport.

The centre is Canada's independent anti-doping organization mandated to deliver the Canadian anti-doping campaign which includes programs of education, testing, research and international compliance.

Canada continues to be a world leader in the fight against doping in sport. Such leadership is essential to ensure that sport for our children is built on a foundation of fair play and ethical values.

I commend the Government of Canada on its recent funding announcement and the leadership it continues to show in the area of anti-doping.

Terrorism
Statements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, on October 12 terrorists murdered nearly 200 people, mostly Australians, in Bali. This event should be a wake-up call for those in our country who think we are safe, yet what is our government's response? Nothing.

Our government still allows terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and others to raise funds in Canada. It has gutted our security and intelligence services. It has grossly underfunded our military to the extent that our minimum military needs for a domestic emergency cannot be met, nor does it fund our international military obligations, preferring to chant that we are the best country in the world while holding on to the coattails of our allies to protect ourselves and others.

The government's vacillating uncoordinated approach to the terrorist threat puts Canadian lives at risk. What is the government's response? Another Bali bombing here in Canada?

YWCA Week Without Violence
Statements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Yvon Charbonneau Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week is the YMCA Week Without Violence, an occasion for all Canadians to become more aware of the consequences of violence in our society.

A variety of themes will be addressed in the week's activities, including eradicating bullying and creating more peaceful communities.

Canada may not be one of the most obviously violent of countries, but according to Statistics Canada, there are more than 300,000 violent crimes annually. As well, family violence drove close to 90,000 women and children to emergency shelters last year.

The federal government has taken several steps to help eradicate violence in all of its forms, in particular the legislation against organized crime, firearm registration and the prevention of delinquency.

I encourage all of my colleagues to join in this movement to find lasting solutions to violence, for the good of our communities.

Royal 22nd Regiment
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

David Price Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, 88 years ago, on October 21, 1914, one of the most illustrious of the Canadian Forces Infantry Regiments was born: the Royal 22nd Regiment.

Among the regiment's 21 battle honours are Flers-Courcelette, Mont-Sorrel, the Somme, Ypres, Vimy, Sicily, Northwest Europe and Korea.

The blood shed by its valiant members on the battlefields of Europe and later in Korea has helped forge its reputation for excellence, a tradition handed down for the past 88 years to each member of the regimental family.

Last September, the 1st battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment was the recipient of the first Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation awarded by the Governor General of Canada for its reopening of the Sarajevo Airport in July 1992.

I invite all hon. members to join with me in expressing to the Royal 22nd best wishes for a happy anniversary and for many more such anniversaries.

Canadian Accredited Insurance Brokers
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

R. John Efford Bonavista—Trinity—Conception, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to ask the House to join me in recognizing the accomplishments of four of my constituents, Kelly Smith, Renée Batten, Dianne Parsons and Daphne Dawson, who have recently earned the Canadian Accredited Insurance Broker professional designation through the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada. These individuals are recognized by their peers and colleagues throughout the insurance industry as having achieved a very high standard of professional competence and integrity.

The CAIB is a national education program involving four challenging courses of study covering both technical and applied knowledge, each of which concludes with a comprehensive final exam. IBAC is the national trade association that brings together and represents Canada's 11 provincial and regional associations of property and casualty insurance brokers.

I ask the House to join me in congratulating these individuals and wishing them further success and achievements.