House of Commons Hansard #166 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was animals.

Topics

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to eight petitions

International Criminal Court
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Madam Speaker, it is my honour to inform the House this morning that at a special ceremony held at the United Nations headquarters in New York earlier this morning the Rome statute of the international criminal court received its 60th ratification. This means that the Rome statute will proceed to enter into force and the international criminal court will become a reality.

Today's number of ratifications demonstrates the overwhelming international public and political support for the international criminal court as a means of ending impunity for the most horrific of crimes. Today's achievement of the required 60th ratification represents the culmination of more than half a century of efforts towards the realization of a permanent International Criminal Court.

Having been signed by 139 countries and now ratified by more than 60, the international criminal court will be a truly international court. The ICC will have jurisdiction to try genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in instances where countries are unable or unwilling to prosecute.

The Rome statute also contains significant developments in international law for the victims of violence in times of conflict.

The Rome statute will now enter into force on July 1, 2002, notably Canada Day. I think this is most appropriate as Canada is recognized as a world leader in the creation of the international criminal court having been involved in the process from the very beginning.

Canada ratified the ICC in July 2000 and became the first country in the world to pass comprehensive legislation implementing it in the form of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.

Canadians have served in key positions during the negotiations and preparation of the ICC and, through our ICC campaign, Canada has provided assistance to countries to ratify and implement their obligations under the statute.

In informing the House of this landmark event, I would like also to reaffirm Canada's continued support of the establishment of the international criminal court. Canada will continue its involvement in creating the court and providing assistance to countries to promote the widespread ratification and implementation of the Rome statute.

Today is truly a milestone for international justice. I invite all members of the House and all Canadians to join me in congratulating all those, particularly my predecessor, Lloyd Axworthy, and members of the House, like the member for Mount Royal, who have worked so hard for the international court, and to celebrate with us this historic day.

International Criminal Court
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Madam Speaker, we have no doubt that the ICC is well-intentioned by many and the establishment of specific tribunals to pursue and prosecute in the area of specific war crimes is also something that we know takes place in history and which we support.

However, a permanent court to try war criminals, though it sounds great, does present serious problems. Adequate accountability has not been identified. Mary Robinson, the UN high commissioner for human rights, has already accused NATO of acting illegally in the air campaign related to Kosovo. Many others share that view. Here we have a situation where Canadian soldiers should not have to fear international prosecution when they make decisions to defend Canadian national interests.

We also have comments from Philippe Kirsch, the Canadian chairman of the court's preparatory commission. Yesterday, at a briefing in New York, he admitted and agreed that after the court is established on July 1 states or political activist groups could demand prosecutions of world leaders or other individuals who they oppose politically. We have some concerns from that point of view.

The concept of war crimes against peace and even a specific quote “waging aggressive war”, these remain undefined. How can Canada agree to a treaty when these concepts are undefined?

The United States also is not part of the ICC. The U.S. did sign the treaty under the former Clinton administration but he Bush administration does not support it and the United States senate will not ratify it. That has to throw into question this whole concept.

While we agree with some of the specifics, we are very concerned about the lack of defined terms. We are concerned about the possibility, as we see in some countries, including ours from time to time, a notion that citizens have some concern with judicial activism without properly defined terms of limits. We would hate to see that develop on a global scale.

The consequential bureaucracy that would have to accompany the ICC could have a ballooning effect on a monetary basis and that could create problems as we have seen in some areas of UN administration.

For those reasons and others we share our grave concerns with the permanency of this establishment and the announcement today.

International Criminal Court
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Madam Speaker, in opening the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, held in Rome, Italy, from June 15 to July 17, 1998, at which the Rome statute was adopted, Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Prize winner, said the following:

In the prospect of an international criminal court lies the promise of universal justice...We ask you to do your part in our struggle to ensure that no ruler, no state, no junta and no army anywhere can abuse human rights with impunity. Only then will the innocents of distant wars and conflicts know that they, too, may sleep under the cover of justice; that they, too, have rights, and that those who violate those rights will be punished.

This morning, some four years later, the Rome statute criminal court received its 60th ratification, despite the opposition of a number of countries, which have concerns about their military officials.

On July 1 of this year, the international criminal court will see the light of day. It will sit at the Hague and will have jurisdiction over the worst crimes, that is war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide committed after its creation. Some see this as a weakness in the court, but we must agree that its creation is a great victory.

The independent nature of this court will put an end to the criticisms by some that the existing international courts responsible for judging those responsible for these atrocities apply the justice of the winning side. The fact that the statute calls for the national courts, with their newly acquired universal jurisdiction, to have primary responsibility for judging the authors of these crimes and for the court in the Hague to intervene only in the event of a refusal to apply the law should allay concerns that the creation of the ICC will constitute interference in our justice system.

The Bloc Quebecois enthusiastically supported Bill C-19, which implemented the Rome statute. I recall the work that was done in committee, when the bill was examined, by my colleague representing Beauharnois--Salaberry, who is no longer in the House, Daniel Turp.

We are equally enthusiastic today in greeting the news of its 60th ratification, which sets off the process for its implementation.

The United Nations was created “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. With the creation of the international criminal court, we can perhaps hope to save them from the most terrible scourges that war brings.

International Criminal Court
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a great privilege and a great honour to take part in this debate highlighting the historic importance of the creation, at last, of the international criminal court.

It is an honour for me to participate on this historic day as the 60th country has now officially ratified the statute that would bring the international criminal court into force.

I want to pay tribute today to those many individuals and groups who have made this possible. I think it was an outstanding partnership between civil society and many NGOs, both here in Canada and internationally, including the dedicated officials in Canada's foreign affairs department who worked long and hard to make this statute a reality.

I would also like to particularly underline the contribution of ambassador Philippe Kirsch who did such an outstanding job, particularly in Rome in 1998 at the key conference at which the statute was adopted.

Finally, I would like to commend parliamentarians as well.

My colleague, the member for Mercier, mentioned the contribution of parliamentarians from all parties. I share her thoughts on the contributions of Daniel Turp, who is no longer here, of our colleague from the riding of Mount Royal, who has worked very hard on this, and of his predecessor, Sheila Finestone, who also did so much to ensure that this court would become a reality.

I also want to commend the work of the former minister, Lloyd Axworthy, and the current minister in his capacity as chair of the foreign affairs committee who worked very hard to make this day possible.

We are sending out a very important message as a community of nations that there will be no impunity and no safe hiding place for those who are accused of war crimes, of genocide or crimes against humanity. They must now know that they can no longer hide behind the concept of state sovereignty. We saw an early signal that the world is changing with respect to Augusto Pinochet's responsibility. If I have any regrets about this, it is that this court will not have jurisdiction over the war crimes committed by Augusto Pinochet. That is a tragedy which we cannot deal with at this point but I hope the Chilean courts will deal with that.

In conclusion, I want to voice my sadness and regret that the United States has not yet signed this landmark treaty and is threatening to withdraw its signature to the treaty. Even worse than that, the republican administration, under president George Bush, is supporting legislation that would threaten to cut off American aid to those countries which have not yet ratified the international criminal court if they ratify. I would hope that members in this House would vigorously and strongly reject this kind of blackmail.

The fact that this court will be in place will give us an opportunity to provide for an alternative to war. I had deeply hoped this court would have been in effect to ensure that instead of going to war in Afghanistan, we would have been able to try as crimes against humanity the perpetrators of those terrible crimes that took place on September 11.

Other crimes are unfolding before our eyes, war crimes in the occupied territories and elsewhere, but certainly today is a day that we celebrate this historic accomplishment. We encourage all other countries to join in signing and ratifying this important and much needed statute for an international criminal court.

International Criminal Court
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Madam Speaker, on behalf of my colleagues in the Progressive Conservative Party, I want to express our tremendous support and our accolades for the many individuals, countries and organizations that have helped bring this very significant day about.

The international criminal court is something that has been contemplated now for many years and Canada has played a significant role. I personally had the opportunity to attend the UN conference and meet a number of Canadians who had worked extremely hard to establish this court. Individuals, like Madam Justice Louise Arbour, have continually made a mark internationally as Canadian judiciary and Canadian individuals. In the case of Justice Arbour, she has worked as a prosecutor of war crimes and of crimes against humanity,

Canada has had its say and continues to have its oars in the water on such issues. We are uniquely positioned. We have an opportunity to assert ourselves as a nation internationally to bring about the type of world that we all envision.

This is certainly a day of pride and a day of accomplishment. As was previously mentioned, this has great support internationally. There is hope that member countries will expand and that other countries will embrace this initiative.

Members of the House of Commons should applaud and laud the individuals who were able to bring this about. Countries like Rwanda, Bosnia and, sadly, the wartorn Middle East, continue to shock the world with horrible images of crimes against humanity.

Today in the House we should show solidarity. This is certainly a day of non-partisanship, a day in which there has been a huge accomplishment and a huge step forward to a world in which individuals can live free of oppression. When horrific things occur there is now a forum, a place in which individuals can go to seek justice to see that those who refuse to abide by the laws of humanity which bind us all are brought to some form of justice.

This day should not be the end or the fruition of a simple accomplishment. It should be the beginning of a process that will continue to expand and embrace other countries in this regard.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

April 11th, 2002 / 10:20 a.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition which was signed by hundreds of residents of British Columbia, including many constituents from my constituency of Burnaby--Douglas, on the subject of the proposed free trade area of the Americas.

The petitioners voice their concern about the secret negotiations that have been conducted on the proposed FTAA. They note that the FTAA would expand the NAFTA to the entire hemisphere, and they raise concerns about that. They point out that the proposed FTAA would block the ability of governments to create and maintain laws, standards and regulations to provide universal public education and health care, to protect the safety and well-being of their citizens and the environment, and they raise other concerns as well.

They therefore request that parliament, among other things, reject any trade deals including the proposed FTAA that would propose NAFTA-style provisions which would put the rights of corporations and investors ahead of the rights of citizens and governments.

Finally, they urge that we adopt a new approach to globalization that places social, economic and ecological justice above the profits of multinational corporations and establish an alternative rules-based system that promotes and protects the rights of workers and the environment, respects cultural diversity and ensures the ability of governments to act in the public interest.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, Question No. 122 will be answered today.

Question No. 122—
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Can the Department of Natural Resources provide: ( a ) the number of commercial woodlot owners by province; ( b ) the number of private woodlot owners by province; ( c ) the total acreage owned by each group; and ( d ) the amount of revenue the federal government receives from capital gains taxation of commercial woodlot owners?

Question No. 122—
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Vancouver South—Burnaby
B.C.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal Minister of Natural Resources

(a) Whether a woodlot owner is considered commercial or non-commercial is determined by the Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency, CCRA, on a continuing basis. To help in its determination the CCRA uses the interpretation bulletin IT373R2.

While Natural Resources Canada, through the state of the forest report, does report on the amount of private forest land in each province, it does not distinguish between commercial and non-commercial woodlot owners. However, data is available for the estimated number of woodlot owners by province

b)

1

The number of owners for most provinces are estimates based on estimates by provincial forestry agencies, the Canadian Federation of Woodlot Owners as well as management plan figures and past surveys.

2

One hectare equals 10,000 square metres, or 2.471 acres.

(c) See table above.

(d) That amount is not available. However, as indicated in the 2001 federal budget, facilitating the inter-generational rollovers of commercial woodlot operations that are farming businesses will reduce federal revenues by an estimated $10 million annually.

NOTE: While the questions posed relate to woodlots per se, the questions deal with tax law, policy and revenue, and would be more appropriately addressed by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and the Department of Finance.

Question No. 122—
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Madam Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 122—
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is that agreed?

Question No. 122—
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 122—
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I wish to inform the House that, because of the ministerial statement, government orders will be extended by 14 minutes.

The House resumed from April 10 consideration of the motion that Bill C-15B, an act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms Act, be read the third time and passed, and of the amendment.