House of Commons Hansard #25 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was international.

Topics

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-14, an act providing for controls on the export, import or transit across Canada of rough diamonds and for a certification scheme for their export in order to meet Canada's obligations under the Kimberley Process, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria for the Minister of Natural Resources

moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

When shall the bill be read a third time? By leave, now?

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
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10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria for the Minister of Natural Resources

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

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today at the third reading stage of Bill C-14, a bill to provide controls for the export, import or transit across Canada of rough diamonds and to establish a certification scheme for the export of rough diamonds.

By way of background to the bill, it is important to understand the international concern that persists about the link between the illicit international trade in rough diamonds and armed conflict, particularly in places like Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

While conflict diamonds constitute a very small percentage of the international diamond trade, they have had a devastating impact on peace, security and sustainable development in affected countries. Having witnessed the devastation that occurred in Sierra Leone over the past number of years, this concern is not underestimated.

The Kimberley process is the principal international initiative established to develop practical approaches to the conflict diamond challenge. Launched in May 2000, the process was initiated by several South African countries in response to growing international pressure to address peace and security concerns, as well as to protect several national economies in the sub-region, including Namibia, Botswana and South Africa that depend on the diamond industry.

The process, which is chaired by South Africa, now includes 48 countries involved in producing, processing, importing and exporting rough diamonds. These countries account for 98% of the global trade in and production of rough diamonds and they include all of Canada's major diamond trading partners.

Canada has participated in the Kimberley process since its inception. Over the course of nine plenary sessions and three ministerial meetings, the process has developed an international certification scheme for rough diamonds. In March 2002 Canada hosted a meeting of the Kimberley process which achieved consensus on the scheme.

Since the House last debated the bill, the participating countries have met in Switzerland and renewed their commitment to the certification scheme and to the target implementation date of January 1, 2003. The proposed international certification scheme includes the requirement that all shipments of rough diamonds imported to or exported from Canada be certified under the scheme and it bans trade in rough diamonds with countries that do not participate in the scheme.

Bill C-14 would establish the trade regulation regime necessary to participate in the Kimberley process rough diamond certification scheme. The bill would provide the authority to verify that natural rough diamonds exported from Canada are non-conflict diamonds. It also would give the authority to verify that every shipment of natural rough diamonds entering Canada is accompanied by a Kimberley process certificate from the exporting country, again certifying that the diamonds have a non-conflict source.

A number of people in this process deserve thanks. I would like to extend my thanks to the Minister of Natural Resources and his staff, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister for International Trade and their staff. Particular thanks are also in order to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, as well as to the Parliamentary Secretaries to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister for International Trade.

In particular, I would like to thank the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade for its work to improve the bill. The committee has clarified the offence provisions in the bill, improved the sections dealing with disclosure of information, dealing with access to property related to investigators and dealing with the issuance of Canadian certificates for the export of rough diamonds recovered from test samples of rock or concentrate not necessarily mined in Canada.

As well, the committee has strengthened the review and monitoring provisions in the bill. I have been very concerned about the issue of future monitoring and it was included in the provisions of a private member's bill that I introduced on this subject.

Canada will continue to pursue the Kimberley process internationally and domestically and will undertake a review of the provisions and operations of the act after three years. For the review, the Minister of Natural Resources has indicated that he intends to consult with stakeholders in the process, especially the NGOs who have been involved in the Kimberley process from its early stage, such as Partnership Africa Canada and the industry, including diamond exploration and producing companies and cutters and polishers.

The result of the review will be reported back to Parliament. I am sure that from the standpoint of especially NGOs, such as Partnership Africa Canada, they will not only be keeping a close eye on the implementation of the legislation domestically but they will also be keeping a close eye on the situation in places like Africa, the Congo, Sierra Leone and Angola.

Both the mining industry and the diamond cutting and polishing industry are dependent on access to export markets and, therefore, on Canada's participation in the Kimberley process. Passage of Bill C-14 will put in place all of the authorities required for Canada to meet its commitments under the international Kimberley process. The early passage of Bill C-14 will ensure that these authorities are in place by year end when the process is planned for international implementation.

In conclusion, I ask for the support of all members of the House in passing this important bill in order that Canada can be in a position to implement the Kimberley process in concert with our global partners.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, today we are speaking to Bill C-14, the Kimberley process. I have concerns with the bill, some which were addressed in committee through amendments. My main concern was with the rights to private property. I am happy to say that through different methods we got that changed in committee. For a change the government is starting to respect the rights of private property.

While Bill C-14 is needed, I have grave concerns with the way the bill has been drafted because it lacks toughness and teeth when it comes to sentencing people who are caught and convicted of using conflict diamonds.

The government has had time to work on the bill and to bring it forward to the opposition parties in the House. Why has it waited until the last minute to do that? It was a process that could have been dealt with through more consultation, more than we were allowed. Instead, it now is trying to ram it through the House. This seems to be a favourite habit of the government. It knows full well that such a bill is needed to keep our people working, particularly in our exploration and mining fields and in import and export.

Years ago we knew that the funds being derived from the sale of rough or conflict diamonds were being used by rebels and state actors to finance military activities to overthrow legitimate governments, to subvert international efforts to promote peace and stability and to commit horrifying atrocities against unarmed civilians.

During the past decade more than 6.5 million people from Sierra Leone, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been driven from their homes by wars waged in large part for control of diamond mining areas. Millions of these refugees are eking out a very miserable existence in neighbouring countries. As well, tens of thousands of others have totally left the continent.

Approximately 3.7 million people have died during these wars. The countries caught up in the fighting are homes to nearly 70 million people whose societies have been torn apart, not only by fighting but also by terrible human violations.

Human rights activists, the diamond trade, as represented by the World Diamond Council and governments around the world have been working to block the trade in conflict diamonds. Their efforts have helped to build a consensus that action is urgently needed to end the trade in conflict diamonds.

We have known this for years and yet it is only today that the government has decided to rush the bill through.

We know that without effective action to eliminate the trade in conflict diamonds, the trade in legitimate diamonds faces the threat of a consumer backlash that could damage the economies of countries not involved in the trade of conflict diamonds and penalize members of the legitimate trade and the people they employ. Because of this, I probably will do something that I have never done before in the House, and that is hold my nose and vote in support of Bill C-14. I say I will hold my nose because the legislation lacks teeth. I do not see anything in the bill that will be a roadblock through penalties or fines in the area of conflict diamonds.

It just seems to be here in Canada that we believe even a weak law is better than no law so I have lots of concerns. Industry has some concerns but has been assured by the government that it will work to rectify those concerns.

I have talked to some people in the industry and I must say they have a lot more confidence in the government than I do when it comes to rectifying a number of concerns. They are accepting a promise of the government, and we all know the government has a tendency to break its promises and its word. Hopefully this will not be the case in this instance. I only have to go back and think of the promises of the government and its word to the lumber industry on the softwood lumber agreement. Look at what happened to many people employed in the industry.

Hopefully the government will be better at keeping its word under the Kimberley process and Bill C-14 than it has been for others.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
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10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part today in the debate on Bill C-14, An Act providing for controls on the export, import or transit across Canada of rough diamonds and for a certification scheme for the export of rough diamonds in order to meet Canada's obligations under the Kimberley Process.

Not only will this bill have an impact on the way we do things in Canada, but in my opinion it also has an important role to play in protecting human rights in a number of countries. I am thinking in particular of countries with totalitarian regimes, which make use of a mineral resource, a natural resource, in order to finance entire armies. This enables them to commit atrocities and abductions and torture civilian populations. Later in my speech, I will not hesitate to name some of those countries.

When such major violations of the most basic of human rights are committed in certain countries, African countries in particular, it is our responsibility as parliamentarians in a democratic society to speak out against these atrocities, but also to engage in an international process to prevent such situations from occurring. That is the purpose of Bill C-14, with its 14 or 15 pages.

The enactment permits exports of rough diamonds to be made only to countries participating in the Kimberley process. The Kimberley process is the result of a consensus by 37 governments and NGOs who wanted to do away with the trade in what are commonly called “blood diamonds”. Some governments actually go so far as to use money from the diamond trade to finance and equip armies to crush civilian populations, often populations who are fighting for their freedom.

The atrocities funded by the proceeds from these conflict diamonds are well documented, as we know. It is therefore imperative to take action in order to put an end to them.

This process, moreover, means that diamond purchasing societies such as Canada end up financing the atrocities committed in those countries. It is our social and moral responsibility to take steps on this. This one is just a baby step, considering the terrible situation in these countries. Canada must therefore be consistent, and must step up its development aid and other actions as well in order to help Africa, and the countries in the most precarious positions. This bill is a beginning, but we have to go beyond it.

When I accompanied the Prime Minister to Johannesburg in September for the Earth Summit, I made three recommendations. One of them was to increase international assistance to developing countries. How can it be considered acceptable that a country such as Canada, a member of the OECD, refuses to provide a percentage of its GDP that is comparable to the average of other OECD countries? Obviously we need measures, such as the Kimberley process, which must be applied.

This bill, which would work towards implementation of the process, must be encouraged. We must also provide the funds necessary to help these countries to develop, to develop their abilities, and to truly promote the conditions required for establishing real democracy, and to prevent governments from using diamond sales and revenues to fund organized groups that violate the most fundamental human rights.

This is why the Kimberley process was developed, and one of the first meetings on the process was held here in Ottawa. Canada must also be consistent and adopt this bill, because in many ways, Canada hosted a number of meetings that led to the adoption of the Kimberley process.

The process sets up an international certification system. The process must be applied. However, it must apply from the mining operations all the way to the place of processing, in this case, the diamond cutters. This has to be the case from the moment the resource is developed. However, those who handle the resource, the diamond cutters, must be governed by the process. This is the only way to avoid loopholes.

Many countries apply some certification scheme. However, too many countries take advantage of certain loopholes between the time when the resource is mined and the time it is processed. The UN security council has prohibited, among others, diamonds from Liberia. It also has strong reservations about diamonds produced by Sierra Leone and Angola.

For example, the Government of Angola funds its action against UNITA by using other sources of revenues to buy its military equipment. Under the sanctions imposed in 1998 on UNITA by the UN security council, it is illegal to acquire diamonds from UNITA and to sell arms to that rebel group. Despite these measures, the illegal trade in diamonds by UNITA has not been stopped, even though it is not as active. The murders, acts of torture and kidnappings are continuing.

This is still a reality. It is also a reality in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Amnesty International estimates that several thousands, and even several tens of thousands of unarmed civilians have been killed deliberately and arbitrarily since August 1998 by armed forces engaged in the conflict.

No less than 2 million people, the majority of whom were living in and around mining areas, were displaced by armed forces. A large number of them died of hunger, cold and untreated diseases that they contracted while trying to escape from armed men.

Moreover, civilian populations living close to areas where mineral resources are mined—in this case it is diamonds—are the direct, and more so than others, victims of such action, which is in total violation of human rights.

The group Partnership Africa Canada estimated that the illegal trade conducted by rebel armies in Sierra Leone, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo represents about 4% of total world production, according the De Beers. Other estimates place the number higher. While not a significant part of the world trade, 4% of U.S. $7.5 billion will buy a lot of weapons. So, as those who are listening to us can see, there is a reality and this reality has a definite and significant impact.

It turns out that, in certain countries, certification is not uniformly rigorous throughout the process, that is to say that there were inspections, of course, at a few stages of the process before the diamonds are cut but not at all of them.

We must therefore support the implementation of the Kimberley process by passing Bill C-14, but we must not stop there. We must take this one step further. We must understand that the violence perpetrated in these countries, often against the population, is a reality of non-democratic regimes.

Canada must increase its assistance to developing countries. It must promote technology transfer. These countries' potential for democratic development needs to be enhanced. Without a process like the Kimberley process to protect human rights, and without new capital for developing countries, we will never be able to ensure that human rights are respected, and more importantly, we will never be able to give the people of these developing countries the possibility of leading the normal life led in a country where democratic rules and the most fundamental rights are respected.

The Bloc Quebecois will support any bill that will ensure that armed groups looking to crush civilian populations are not subsidized. This is the context in which we plan to support Bill C-14, a bill that will not only change our way of doing things, obviously, but also protect human rights internationally.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to indicate, on behalf of the New Democratic Party, our pleasure in supporting this bill. It is work that needed to be done for some time. It is a significant step forward in governing the responsibilities we have to control the illicit use of diamonds.

The certification process, that is being developed and would become part of the Kimberley process, would go some distance in avoiding the use of diamonds for trade in armaments. Historically some of the civil wars in Angola, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo have been or are still being fuelled by the use of diamonds for the purchase of armaments.

I want to acknowledge the work that has been done by the member for Nepean—Carleton. He has done a lot of work in this regard. He has travelled to Sierra Leone and is a major reason why we are seeing this legislation come before the House now.

I also want to acknowledge the work that has been done by some of the NGOs, in particular Partnership Africa Canada. It has done an outstanding job of bringing this point up the political agenda and assisting in the actual drafting of the legislation in terms of some of the criteria that needed to be in it. The work it has done needs to be acknowledged in that regard.

It has worked extensively with Global Witness Limited, an international NGO. It has been monitoring the situation of the use of diamonds for illicit purposes around the globe and has brought the issue to the forefront internationally. It needs to be acknowledged and credited for all the work that it has done.

I have one final point in terms of acknowledgments and that is our former ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Fowler. Some of us have read some of the speeches that he gave at the UN and internationally. They were quite impassioned ones at times, and that is something we normally do not see from an ambassador, one of our international representatives. He felt strongly about the issue and was able to communicate that inside Canada but more important to the international community. His work needs to be acknowledged and commended.

The use of the certification process that has been established under the Kimberley round of negotiations is one that would benefit the diamond mining industry in Canada. We have never had a problem. Our diamonds have never been used to purchase armaments or in illicit trafficking. However, it will acknowledge that fact. It would allow Canadian diamonds to move forward as part of the international market. Our share of that market is growing and this process would only lend more credence to our industry and would allow us to expand even further. That has been a particular advantage to people from the western territories and would give them a much needed shot in the arm.

I want to address one of the weaknesses not so much in this legislation but in the process internationally. We must be clear that Bill C-14 is an internal law to regulate almost 100%, the use and trade of diamonds in this country. It only, in a rather small way, deals with the importing of diamonds; there are some provisions in the bill for that. What it does not deal with, and was not intended to but it will be the next step in the Kimberley process, is the major weakness that still exists at the international level, that is, an effective meaningful monitoring of the industry at the international level.

To date there are several countries in the world who are suspect in the trade of diamonds. They are shipping significant amounts of diamonds into the international market; however they have no mining industry for diamonds in their home country.

This process as it stands now does not deal with those countries, with how to monitor that and, more important, with how to enforce the Kimberley process to avoid this trade that has caused so much pain and suffering, particularly in Africa. That still needs to be done. I think the member for Nepean--Carleton is well aware of this, as is the foreign affairs department and a number of people at the international level.

The bill does have a provision for review in three years and then within six months of that a report to the House. Hopefully the government will not wait for that entire period of time to set in place our own monitoring to deal with other countries around the globe that are concerned about this, to deal with the NGOs like Partnership Africa Canada, Global Witness and Amnesty International, which are all monitoring this on their own at this point. Hopefully it will get information from them and perhaps move ahead with an international monitoring process that we would all contribute to and use and then have some type of enforcement mechanism against those countries that continue to trade in illicit diamonds.

I will conclude by again acknowledging the work of the member for Nepean--Carleton and those NGOs that have done so much to move this up the political agenda and get this law before us at this time.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise on Bill C-14. Normally when we bring up the subject of diamonds we do not think of conflict, misery and poverty, but the diamonds we are talking about today play a big role in those issues. These diamonds are often referred to, surprisingly enough, as conflict diamonds or blood diamonds. Especially in Africa, they have fuelled violence and conflict in many countries, such as Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and more. The profits from the unregulated sale of rough diamonds have been used to fund the military and armed conflicts. As a result, tens of thousands of civilians have been killed, mutilated or abducted. Whole countries have been destroyed with the use of the funds from these uncut and rough diamonds.

There has been very little control of rough diamonds and the bill is about bringing Canada into line with newly established international standards for regulation, control and certification of rough diamonds. The bill would bring Canada into line with almost 50 other countries and it should help stamp out the international trade in these illicit rough diamonds that are being used to fund violence.

On December 1, 2000, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict, seeking to break the link between the illicit transactions of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of these conflicts. In taking up this agenda item, the General Assembly recognized that conflict diamonds are a crucial factor in prolonging the brutal wars in parts of Africa and underscored the fact that legitimate diamonds contribute to prosperity and development elsewhere in the Congo.

In Angola and Sierra Leone, conflict diamonds continue to fund rebel groups such as the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola and the Revolutionary United Front, both of which are acting in complete contravention of the international community's objectives of restoring peace in these two countries.

In March 2002, an international agreement was reached on a plan to require a paper trail for diamonds to help throttle the trade in so-called blood diamonds, blamed for financing most of these bloody wars in Africa. As of January 1, 2003, all gem quality diamonds must be certified according to standards outlined in the Kimberley process or they will not be allowed into other countries.

Unfortunately, Canada does not have a diamond regulatory body. Canada Customs does not have a centralized port of entry for diamonds and does not require proof of origin for diamonds. Importers can simply declare them to be from the last port of call, such as a processing centre in Antwerp.

My colleague from the South Shore has been very much involved in this debate and on this issue. He has been following the topic very closely for some time. He has spoken on it many times here in the House and has been following it through the committees involved with the legislation. He has raised a particular concern on the point of entry and exit of rough diamonds in Canada. In doing so, he proposed an amendment in the clause by clause process, which was defeated. Clause 34 of the bill states:

designating any place as a point of entry for importing rough diamonds or as a point of exit for exporting them.

The member for South Shore was not satisfied that the clause referred to more than one point of entry or exit. Therefore his argument for the amendment was to designate two or more points of entry or exit. However, the government could not go along with this and it defeated the amendment. It did not feel that it was important to make that designation. It does not make sense for rough diamonds to be exported and imported through only one port in Canada and it probably will not happen.

This is a very important piece of legislation for many people. It is important for the people in such countries as Sierra Leone, Angola and Liberia because it will stop the conflict due to blood diamonds in these countries. It is also important to our country, because we are on the verge of mining production in Canada and we are becoming a major player in the diamond business. Canada's only diamond mine, the Ekati diamond mine, employs 650 people and produces three million to four million carats of gem quality rough diamonds each year. This is equivalent to nearly 4% of the current world diamond production by weight and 6% by value. We are becoming a big player. Another mine will begin operation in 2003. Two more projects will open in 2007. These four mines could provide direct employment for 1,600 people and could bring total annual production in Canada to approximately $1.6 billion.

Overall, this is a good piece of legislation and many will benefit from it in the true sense of the word. The Progressive Conservative Party does support the bill at third reading. Even though the member for South Shore proposed important amendments to improve the bill and they were not accepted, we feel that it is so important that the bill go through we will support it even without them.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-14 deals with the Canadian situation in terms of diamonds and certification of our diamonds in the international marketplace. This certainly separates the bill, in many respects, from conflict diamonds. We have a very serious circumstance with conflict diamonds, which are tied up with a lot of destabilization in the world, a lot of terrorist acts and a lot of human atrocities. One must separate what is going on there in terms of looking at this piece of legislation, which deals exclusively with diamonds of Canadian origin within the framework of an international certification system.

I would like to say right off the top that the penalties involved in the legislation in the Canadian context are rather toothless, I believe. It is one thing to deal with certification of diamonds whose origin is Canada, where we have well-established governance, rule of law and freedom of speech. It is quite different in many of the African diamond areas. We have estimates showing that at any given time approximately 20% of the world's supply of diamonds are illicit diamonds and it may well exceed that. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, many because of squabbles over diamonds. That is occurring in areas of the world where lives are not valued the way they are in the developed and industrialized areas of the world.

One diamond found on the surface in fluvial areas in Sierra Leone can be worth millions of dollars. One can see the difficulties inherent in trying to establish rules of certification for that kind of resource in a country which has just gone from a prosperous democracy through a destabilization and a civil war and is now trying to rebuild itself. It does not have well-established rules of law and other safeguards for people. Therefore, in that jurisdiction, rules of origin are not going to be respected in the same way they are here.

I have some very good friends from Sierra Leone. I have watched the films that have been smuggled out of Sierra Leone which document the tragedies of the conflict. I have had many conversations. The horror of those films have awakened me to the problems of very tragic proportions.

There has been an important document produced about the Kimberley process. “The Case for Proper Monitoring” by Ian Smillie is an occasional paper of a the joint initiative of Partnership Africa Canada, the International Peace Information Service in Antwerp and the Network Movement for Justice and Development, in Freetown, Sierra Leone. This document is current.

I will read a part of the conclusion into the record because I think we have to recognize that the bill certainly does not solve a lot of the overall problem. The bill deals with the Canadian context for the most part. The conclusion reads:

In fact, of all the recent international agreements dealing with labour, environmental and security concerns, the Kimberley Process provisions for monitoring and verification are undoubtedly the weakest. Industry monitoring proposals remain vague, and the governmental provisions are virtually non-existent. In comparing the Kimberley monitoring provisions with those of other agreements concerned with human security it would appear that there are two standards. Where the security of industrialized nations is concerned, tough, unequivocal agreements can be promulgated quickly, with clear and detailed provisions for compliance and third party monitoring. Where African diamonds and African lives are concerned, however, the issue is treated as an abstract trade matter. Terrorism and human security in Africa are treated differently from terrorism and human security elsewhere, and are therefore accorded less urgency and lower levels of remedial and preventive action.

I will summarize some of the discussions I have had with my friends from Sierra Leone.

All of Sierra Leone's problems relate to diamonds. Sierra Leone was a democracy and technically is today, but there is a lot of electoral tampering and fighting resulting from the process. Many of Sierra Leone's problems emanate from Liberia. Liberia's rebels infiltrated the border between the two countries and became involved in the Sierra Leone diamond industry to finance their schemes.

There is not a diamond industry of any note in Liberia and the Liberians are using diamonds from Sierra Leone to buy weapons. Liberia used to export a few diamonds and Sierra Leone once had a thriving industry. Now the roles have reversed and diamonds are easy to smuggle.

The smuggling can never be stopped but it can be largely curbed. Government policy is part of the problem. This is where we need to go and have not gone with any international agreements or legislation to date. If legitimate miners buy the proper permits from the government, they have to take their gems to the government valuation office and pay taxes before selling them. The existing valuation process may be flawed, with miners having to pay disproportionate fees in order to be above board.

The real concern and what really needs to be addressed and is not addressed by anything so far is not related to certification nor is it related to enforcement. It is related to the business of buying and selling diamonds, the diamond exchange.

A system is required where those in the diamond business get a square deal. This will not occur in many of these African source areas unless there is an internationally supervised diamond exchange in situ, in other words in those countries. It is essential that it is profitable to sell diamonds through legitimate channels. That is the part that is missing from all of this so far.

As a consequence the banking system of countries like Sierra Leone does not have the foreign exchange or currency because of the lack of a legitimate exchange. This would bring tradable currencies into the nation. Consequently the diamond smuggling is impacting the whole country and all of society because the national treasury is deprived of American dollars, euros and other forms of currency that would allow the country to become more involved in international trade and to purchase commodities on the world market.

I want to talk a minute about the ties to terrorism and the ties to international destabilization. The trouble in Liberia stems from the country's leadership. The leader, Charles Taylor, before taking over the reins of the country was in a maximum security prison in the United States. Many postulate that the U.S. wanted the former leader in Liberia deposed and that is how Mr. Taylor was released.

Since his taking over the leadership in Liberia, he has created havoc through the region. This is ongoing. This year alone, 60,000 Liberians have fled to Sierra Leone. One of the reasons they are fleeing to Sierra Leone is that there are 17,000 UN peacekeepers in that country. Many of the peacekeepers come from other west African nations. The west African peacekeepers are very interested in the land mass where the majority of diamond extraction is going on. They had an agreement with the Liberian rebels regarding where mining could take place within Sierra Leone and it appears that some of the peacekeepers may be involved.

All of the diamonds in Sierra Leone are extracted from alluvial deposits rather than being mined deep underground. This contributes to the significance of the problem.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

I hate to interrupt the hon. member but we will be proceeding with statements by members. He will have seven and one-half minutes remaining in the time allotted for his remarks when the debate is resumed on this bill.

Point of Order
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on Wednesday, November 6, 2002 and again yesterday by the hon. government House leader concerning certain questions put to ministers earlier in the day during the oral question period.

I would like to thank the hon. government House leader for having raised this matter.

I have carefully reviewed the objections made by the hon. government House leader and the questions put to the government on Wednesday.

As he pointed out, our practice does not allow questions to be put to a minister relating to his or her former portfolio, or concerning a minister's responsibilities which fall outside his or her current portfolio, or to any regional political responsibilities a minister may have.

With reference to the question asked by the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester, I must agree that the manner in which the question was phrased seems clearly to transgress our practice. I would ask all hon. members to be mindful of House practice in this regard and more judicious in their choice of words in phrasing their questions.

The Chair views the proper conduct of question period as especially important. I assure all hon. members that I try to be vigilant in enforcing House practice, though I seem to have missed an infraction on this occasion.

Concerning another question to which the government House leader objected but which was not clearly identified, I note a question asked by the hon. member for Roberval found on page 1346 of Wednesday’s Hansard . I have some difficulty with this question, as it appears to be directed to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in respect of a former portfolio, but this is not clear.

Yesterday, the government House leader made the same complaint about a question for the hon. member from Roberval. This question troubles me also but it is not clear to whom it was directed.

I would like to remind all hon. members of the importance both to the House and to all Canadians of conducting question period in an orderly fashion, respecting the rules and practices which the House has adopted over many years.

I would also like to thank the hon. government House leader for the assistance that he has provided to the Chair in drawing these exchanges to my attention.

Canadian Women's Soccer Team
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, this Saturday the whole country will watch with pride as Canada's women's soccer team takes on the United States at the women's gold cup finals.

Canada steamed through the initial rounds, outscoring the opposition 23 to 1.

Christine Sinclair is just one of many bright stars on our team. She led the tournament with seven goals. Captain Charmaine Hooper heads into Saturday's championship already with six goals under her belt.

I invite all Canadians to join me in wishing the Canadian women's soccer team the best of success. They are truly a source of inspiration for all of us.

Stan Zuke
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadian Executive Service Organization has been sending experienced Canadians overseas for 35 years.

One of my constituents, Mr. Stan Zuke, went on assignment to Lithuania at the request of a company that makes wooden pallets. The company asked him to provide advice on the management and operation of a sawmill that is still under construction. He provided information on management, accounting control, inventory management, marketing, basic forest policy and many other aspects of operating a sawmill and marketing its products. The client was especially pleased with the analysis he provided of the potential market for wood chips in Lithuania and abroad.

I have no doubt that Mr. Zuke represented Canada and his client very well. You see, Mr. Speaker, I know this because he was my boss before I entered politics.