House of Commons Hansard #141 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.

Topics

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I thought the member's speech was excellent. I want to comment on four points and primarily agree and reinforce what the member said. I also am glad that he told me what was in the article on Trafalgar because I ripped it out of the paper and have not had a chance to read it yet.

On the first point on promulgating our laws abroad, I do not think that is a problem, for two reasons. One is that all the countries in the world that are signed on to this agree with the same concepts or are doing the same thing in this particular case. We have a sort of world unanimity and we are exporting our law in this particular law just to apply to Canadians who are overseas. We would not want them destroying cultural artifacts in another country when they cannot do it here now.

On the fact that it was not us in the second world war, one of the reasons for joining international agreements even when we are not the problem is just to show that there is so much moral suasion in the world, with so many countries signed on, such that those who are not signed on or are creating these offences will feel more pressure.

Related to the rules of engagement, of course, incidental damage would not be a problem. It is a problem only if it is purposeful.

Finally, on sentencing, there could be debates on sentencing related to various laws, that is true, but in this case the sentencing functions and offences were simply transferred domestic laws. We just transferred them internationally. We are already applying those particular sentences and levels of offences in Canada without having any serious challenges to them. It seems to be working well. So to be fair, we would have to use the same offences if someone engaged in that crime in another location.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I actually like the point that Canadians can use moral suasion in encouraging other countries to follow our lead. We cannot persuade others to our point of view if we do not act on these ourselves.

While I agree with those veterans who made the point to me that they and certainly this country were not in the business of the destruction of cultural artifacts, nonetheless it is still something that we feel strongly about and these laws must apply to Canadians. I think it sets a very good example when we do incorporate our beliefs into the Criminal Code and we adopt international conventions.

I think it is a step in the right direction because I think it then does put us in a position where, in our discussions with other individuals and other countries, we can urge them to follow Canada's lead. We can say to them that we are not asking them to adopt or do anything that we do not have for Canada. To that extent I think it is the right thing for us to do.

I am pleased. I support this sort of thing when it comes through, but nonetheless I think there is that problem of uneven sentencing within the Criminal Code. It will take a much larger discussion than the discussion of Bill S-37 to correct some of that, but I am sure that we will have to leave that for another day.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Richmond Hill
Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to support Bill S-37, which is about the importance of protecting cultural heritage.

Canada, as we know, is a country with a rich and diverse heritage. The importance of our heritage has long been recognized by the government. We have established our national museums, our libraries and our archives. We have a system of national parks, sites and monuments that, I would suggest, is second to none.

We are committed players on the international stage in terms of international agreements that seek to protect the world's heritage.

Why do we do this? Because as a nation we recognize that our cultural heritage is at the heart of our society: where we have been, what we have done and, indeed, who we are.

From the famed totem poles of the Haida to the Parliament buildings, from the historic districts of Quebec City to Newfoundland and Labrador's Cabot tower, our historic places are as important to us in terms of our identity as the maple leaf, the beaver and, indeed, the Rocky Mountains.

Because we recognize how important heritage is, we also recognize what a terrible thing it is when heritage is lost. There is ample evidence of our efforts as a nation and as a government in seeking to prevent the loss of heritage.

Most recently, I would like to point out the government's historic places initiative. As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment, I had an opportunity to work with our provincial and territorial colleagues in this regard. It is a model, I believe, of a federal-provincial-territorial partnership, which seeks to stem the loss of our built heritage and other historic places through such means as financial initiatives and financial incentives for developers to adopt and reuse rather than tear down historic buildings.

As a former educator who taught Canadian history for many years, I can tell members that for me this is a very personal issue. It is extremely important in terms of protecting the heritage of this country for future generations.

I can give another good example. We have seen only too clearly the impact on a society of the loss of culture and heritage among Canadian aboriginal peoples. We have learned that regaining a sense of culture and a sense of identity can be central to the healing of a community.

The government has committed to providing support to aboriginal communities to help preserve aspects of their heritage that have been or could be lost. One of the most important initiatives of this kind is the government's commitment of $172.5 million over 11 years to preserve, revitalize and promote aboriginal languages and cultures, because we understand how important cultural heritage is to a society.

We have seen that the very reason heritage is so important to people is also why it is a target during armed conflicts. We have seen it in the former Yugoslavia. We have seen it in Afghanistan and recently in Iraq. We have seen cultural heritage targeted specifically because of the long term and often permanent damage its destruction can do to a people, to their morale, their identity and the long term well-being of their society.

The list of examples is disturbingly long and is evidence of great pain and distress. I would like to illustrate this with just a few points.

During the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, members may remember hearing and seeing the story of the intentional destruction of the 16th century bridge at Mostar. It was not just a bridge. It was an important cultural icon to the local community. It was intentionally destroyed to demoralize them.

I want to quote the comments of a journalist who tried to convey what the loss of this important piece of heritage meant. He said:

We expect people to die; we count on our own lives to end. The destruction of a monument to civilization is something else. The bridge, in all its beauty and grace, was built to outlive us...it transcended our individual destiny. A dead man is one of us; the bridge is all of us forever.

Bill S-37 will clear the way for Canada to strengthen our commitment to prevent and punish acts of this kind. We demonstrated that commitment by joining the Hague convention. It is now time to reaffirm that commitment by joining the two protocols to the convention.

Canada has been very fortunate not to have suffered the loss of its heritage during a modern armed conflict, but Canadians are not strangers to this issue.

We have seen the conviction of former Yugoslav military personnel for war crimes as a result of the 1991 attack on the world heritage site in Dubrovnik. I can tell members that it was a member of the Canadian armed forces who led the UN war crimes investigation team that investigated alleged war crimes in the former Yugoslavia in general and in Dubrovnik in particular.

This same expert from our armed forces also participated in Canada's delegation to the diplomatic conference that finalized the second protocol to the Hague convention in 1999.

Canadians understand what this is about. We are involved. We are committed to the protection of heritage at home and abroad. We understand and are committed to the international rule of law and to preventing the damage and destruction of important heritage during armed conflict.

We have an international obligation. We are going to fulfill that obligation with the passage of Bill S-37. In my view, joining the Hague protocols is the next logical step in that commitment. I would certainly urge all members of this House to support this. I believe it is timely. Again, I believe it is the last piece we need to have to ensure the protection, on an international basis, of heritage sites during armed conflict.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Is the House ready for the question?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

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

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

October 25th, 2005 / 1:10 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora
Ontario

Liberal

Belinda Stronach for the Minister of Natural Resources

moved that Bill S-36, An Act to amend the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to give an executive summary of the bill. The bill contains two small administrative changes.

Canada has joined with other countries in the world to stop the use of blood diamonds for dictators and bloody wars. Under the Kimberley convention, we have to make two minor adjustments as it evolves.

One is that Canada cannot give out its statistics. The purpose of having the act is so the certificates and the statistics can be given out and people know what is happening. The other is to put a minimum size on diamonds that would not require certificates, such as tiny powder diamonds which are worthless or valued in cents, otherwise the whole system would bog down.

The Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act provides controls for the export, import or transit across Canada of rough diamonds. It enables the implementation in Canada of the international Kimberley process certification scheme for the trade in rough diamonds.

The international community is still greatly concerned about the link between the illegal rough diamond trade and the financing of armed conflicts, particularly as occurred in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of 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.

With the leadership from Canada, the United Nations has taken several initiatives to address this problem. As far back as 1998, the Security Council imposed sanctions prohibiting the import of rough diamonds from Angola that were not controlled through an official certification scheme.

During its term on the UN Security Council in 1999 and 2000, Canada played a key role as chair of the Angola sanctions committee in pressing for measures to strengthen implementation of these sanctions. These measures laid out the foundation for the adoption of the additional sanctions on Sierra Leone which placed similar restrictions on rough diamond imports from that country.

In December 2000 and again in March 2002, the United Nations General Assembly passed resolutions, of which Canada was one of the sponsors, calling for the creation of an international rough diamond certification program to tighten up measures to control the rough diamond trade and prevent illicit diamonds from getting into legitimate markets.

At the 2002 June Kananaskis summit in Canada, under the G-8 action plan for Africa, G-8 leaders reiterated their support for the international efforts made to identify the link that exists between the development of natural resources and conflicts in Africa, including the monitoring measures developed under the Kimberley process.

The Kimberley process was initiated in May 2000 by several African countries. In addition to responding to growing international pressure to address peace and security concerns, the process protects the national economies of several southern African countries, including Namibia, Botswana and South Africa that are highly dependent on the diamond industry.

Over the course of nine plenary sessions and two ministerial meetings, the process developed detailed proposals for an international certification scheme for rough diamonds.

In March 2002 Canada hosted the meeting of the Kimberley process that achieved consensus on the proposals for the scheme just across the river. I was delighted to be the guest speaker at the conference.

The scheme was seen as taking the form of international political understanding rather than a legally binding international agreement. At the meeting held in Switzerland early in November 2002, participating countries made a commitment to simultaneously implement the scheme at national levels on January 1, 2003.

In order for Canada to follow through on this commitment and implement the Kimberley process certification scheme on a solid legal foundation, the Government of Canada established the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act. The act came into force on January 1, 2003, under the authority of the Minister of Natural Resources.

Canada's Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act provides the authority to verify that natural rough diamonds exported from Canada are non-conflict. It also gives 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 come from a non-conflict source. There also are trade restrictions whereby trading rough diamonds with non-participating countries is prohibited.

The Kimberley process, the principal international initiative established to develop practical approaches to the conflict diamond challenge, remains today. The process now includes 45 participants, including the European Union, which is involved in producing, processing and the marketing of rough diamonds. These participants include 99.8% of the global trade in the production of rough diamonds. They include all of Canada's major diamond trading partners.

The implementation of the Kimberley process has demonstrated significant benefits in curbing illicit trade in rough diamonds. For example, Sierra Leone's certified exports in 2004 were valued at $155 million versus only $10 million in 2000.

Although Canada's status as an important diamond producing country is recent, this industry currently provides an estimated 4,000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada. Mine production in 2004 is estimated to be valued at $2.1 billion Canadian, ranking Canada as the world's third most important diamond producer by value.

This only marks the start of Canada's diamond history as more mines are scheduled to come into production in the coming years, including the Jericho mine in Nunavut in 2006, the Snap Lake mine in the Northwest Territories in 2007 and the Victor mine in Ontario in 2008.

These and other advanced exploration projects located in the same areas and also in Quebec and Saskatchewan ensure prosperous times to come for the economy of many regions. These include aboriginal communities as well as major Canadian cities as hubs for the financial markets, equipment manufacturing companies and other allied industries.

In addition to diamond mining, the small diamond cutting and polishing industry has grown in Yellowknife, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Matane, Quebec. These operations have an important training component which includes a number of aboriginal apprentices.

Because the Kimberley process is in its early phase of operation, shortcomings which impede its effectiveness were noted and addressed at the Kimberley process plenary meeting held in Gatineau, Quebec, from October 27 to October 29, 2004. For Canada to be compliant with the Kimberley process, as per the modifications brought forward at that plenary meeting, the following amendments to our act are required.

We have to introduce a provision to enable publication of Canadian process certificate-based import and export statistics collected through the Kimberley process certification scheme.

We have to change the term “rough diamond” as defined in the act to provide ministerial powers to exclude classes of diamonds prescribed by regulation from the scope of the Kimberley process certification scheme.

With respect to the first amendment, under the Kimberley process certification scheme, participants are required to submit trade data to facilitate the identification of their regular trade activity. This is the foundation of the certificate scheme. Most participants submit trade data based on Kimberley process certificates. However Canada currently is one of only a handful of participants that does not submit Kimberley process certificates based trade data as it does not have the authority to do so. Canada submits the official trade statistics published by Statistics Canada because its definitions differ from the Kimberley process statistics.

Statistics Canada rough diamond trade stats are customs-based and measure rough diamonds imported and exported to Canada as a result of a financial transaction. Kimberley process trade certificate statistics, derived from information on the Kimberley process certificates, measure the flow or movement of all rough diamonds entering or leaving the country.

For example, exploration samples, technical evaluations or rough diamonds that are shipped for events such as trade shows are not included in the Statistics Canada trade data because the rough diamonds have not been sold to anyone, that is, no financial transaction has taken place. However, they are included in the Kimberley process certificates based trade data since all rough diamonds entering or leaving the country must be accompanied by Kimberley process certificates.

At the Kimberley process plenary meeting in October 2004, participants recognized that statistics derived from different sources were hindering the comparability and analysis of the trade data and, consequently, the effectiveness of the Kimberley process certification scheme. For this reason, Partnership Africa Canada has been quite vocal in having Canada amend its act to enable a publication of Kimberley process certificates based trade data. Further, as Canada chairs the Kimberley process working group on statistics, it is important that we lead by example.

NRCan has confirmed with Statistics Canada that the latter does not have any problems with Kimberley process certificates based trade statistics being published in addition to its trade data as long as they are appropriately sourced, which they will be.

The second amendment is to change the definition of the term “rough diamond” as defined in the act and to provide ministerial powers to prescribe the classes of diamonds to be excluded from the definition “rough diamond”. It is required to comply with a change adopted by the Kimberley process plenary meeting, which limits the applicability of the Kimberley process certification scheme to diamonds equal to or larger than one millimetre in dimension. This decision was made to remove the unnecessary administrative burden on the Kimberley process certification scheme as the smaller diamonds are too low in value for illicit trade.

As concerns the exclusion of the smaller rough diamonds from application to the Kimberley process, we propose to set the sizing criteria through a regulation. Some concerns have been expressed about addressing this issue through regulation rather than in legislation itself. There are four important reasons as to why this should not be an issue.

First, changes to the Kimberley process certification scheme are adopted by all Kimberley process participants on a consensus basis. Canada has no discretion on whether to implement these changes, if it is to remain a participant of the process, and not disrupt Canadian trade in rough diamonds. Therefore, any regulation will have to conform to the requirements of the international process.

Second, dealing with the Kimberley process guideline through regulation provides additional checks and balances as the regulation development process requires a public consultation as well as review by the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations, which reviews and scrutinizes regulations on the basis of legality and procedural acts. Consultations will take place with all stakeholders, including producers, importers and civil society to ensure that the regulation is practical to implement and that at the same time meets the intent of the Kimberley process guideline.

Third, the regulation is technical in nature and will require input from the industry to ensure that the wording of the regulation meets the intent of the Kimberley process, but at the same time is practical to implement and enforce.

The diamond industry in Canada uses sieves to separate its diamonds into different size fractions. We understand that the sieves currently in commercial use do not result in 100% separation between diamonds one millimetre or longer and those less than one millimetre. Therefore, the wording of the regulation must address this issue.

Finally, should the Kimberley process decide to alter the technical guideline related to the size for any reason, Canada would be in a position to comply without going through a legislative process.

As we know, because the bill is technical in nature, it was first introduced in the Senate on May 19. It was eventually referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources and passed by the Senate without amendments on June 20. Both the mining industry and the diamond cutting and polishing industry are dependent on access to export markets and this access depends on Canada's participation in the Kimberley process.

In conclusion, I am looking for the supports of members for the bill in order to signal to Canadian stakeholders and to the international community that Canada is moving ahead to comply with the evolving requirements of the Kimberley process certification scheme.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, this initiative has the support of the diamond mining industry and the value added sector, so did the private member's bill, which I sponsored in the House of Commons, Bill C-259 on removal of the excise tax on jewellery. That bill is now sitting in the Senate. I was wondering if the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources would indicate whether the department will be pursuing support of and quick passage of that bill in the Senate to ensure that we get that very positive bill through to royal assent this fall.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I do not have the technical knowledge to answer that question right away, but I will get an answer as quickly as I can for the member. It too is definitely in my best interest because in my riding of Yukon it is not related to diamonds, but it is related to gold nugget jewellery which is a very important industry. We are certainly keen on getting that through as well and I will find out for the member as quickly as I can.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Etobicoke North
Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, the bill before the House that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources has presented is something that I will be supporting. I think it is a very good initiative.

I have a question related to diamond mining and the diamond industry generally in Canada. We have become, as I understand it, the third largest diamond producing country in the world. I am wondering what opportunities there are to add more value to those diamonds in Canada. A lot of those diamonds now are being shipped, in fact all of them are being shipped, from Yellowknife to places like Antwerp where they are cut and polished.

I am working on a proposal to create a diamond trading centre in Toronto where many of the rough diamonds, let us say 30% to 40% of the production from the Northwest Territories, would come to a diamond trading centre in Toronto. When a diamond trading centre is set up, we would get all the value added industries around that because the cutters, the polishers and the other value added players want to be close to the diamond trading centre.

I know there is some interest to have a value added industry in Yellowknife, but I am told by the industry players that it would be difficult to implement. Rather than just let the diamonds flow offshore, why can we not have the diamonds adding value in Canada?

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary is hoping that we could initiate and encourage some processing in Canada of the diamonds, so that we are not just exporting raw diamonds. As he says, all the rough diamonds are actually sent to The Hague.

We are actually already doing what he is asking about. Once those Canadian diamonds get there a number of them are evaluated, so they can be recorded. They are then sent back to Canada and are processed in areas where there are small diamond cutting and polishing operations: Yellowknife, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Matane, Quebec. We are already doing that. I will certainly do anything I can to support the member in getting more of it.

I have visited a diamond cutting and polishing operation in Yellowknife. One of the things that was very exciting, when I talked to the experts there and the aboriginal people who were involved who had stuck with the business, we were rated as being among the best in the world. Our people are very talented in this particular highly technical skill.

The one problem that I can foresee which makes it difficult for us is that the wages of the people who are doing this in the traditional areas of the world, like Antwerp, South Africa and so on, are doing it for much lower wages than the people we would like to see do it here. This provides our people with opportunities for higher wages.

To attract the skilled workforce in this world of international competition, when people with those skills can get higher paying jobs in Canada, is a bit of a challenge. However, outside of that, I agree 100% with the parliamentary secretary. We will be doing everything we can, not only in diamonds but in all the industries, to add value to the remarkable raw resources that we have in Canada. Certainly, there is a lot more money and economic input to be gained in the value added stage than just exporting raw materials.