House of Commons Hansard #154 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cultural.

Topics

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 215, 216, 217 and 218 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 215
Routine Proceedings

November 21st, 2005 / 3:15 p.m.

Independent

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

With regard to federal actions concerning the town of Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids First Nation in Manitoba: ( a ) with the planned construction of the hydro dam in the Grand Rapids area beginning in the 1950s and continuing into the 1960s and 1970s, what was the consultation process with the local aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities; ( b ) did the government take on the representation of the First Nation community; ( c ) what was the impact of the project on the surrounding communities; ( d ) what is the current status of the planned Manitoba Lowlands National Park; ( e ) who were the stakeholders identified in the establishment of the national park; ( f ) what consultations were undertaken with the communities regarding the establishment of the park; ( g ) what contacts were made with the Mayor and Council of the Town of Grand Rapids; ( h ) what contacts were made with the Chief and Council of the Grand Rapids First Nation; ( i ) what is the expected opening date of the park; ( j ) have there been any environmental studies done on the effects of the dam; ( k ) have there been any outstanding monetary or land claim issues related to the dam construction; and ( l ) what was the total cost of compensation paid by the government to the First Nation or the town?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 216
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Independent

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

With regard to the use of federal money for First Nations communities in the riding of Churchill: ( a ) what is the amount spent in First Nations communities by each ministry, department, agency, Crown corporation and foundation over the past 10 years; ( b ) what are the projects and programs that have been supported by each ministry, department, agency, Crown corporation and Foundation over the past 10 years; and ( c ) what is the breakdown of these projects and programs and spending for every community?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 217
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Independent

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

With regard to the relationship between the government and private banks: ( a ) what was the amount paid by the government last year for private banking services; ( b ) is MERX still the private contractor for dealing with public tenders; ( c ) during the sale of shares of Petro Canada, what bank handled the sale and how much was the government billed for the services; ( d ) what is the tendering process for Crown corporations when seeking private banking services; ( e ) what are the ethical guidelines for Crown corporations when dealing with banks; ( f ) what are the ethical guidelines for government departments when dealing with banks; ( g ) are the guidelines different for departments and Crown corporations when dealing with banks; and ( h ) how much interest is accrued on the public funds that the government is temporarily giving to banks?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 218
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

With regard to internal government audits of Technology Partnership Canada programs, were there violations of government conditions on the payment of lobbyists and, if so: ( a ) what are the names of the firms; ( b ) how much money did each firm receive; ( c ) who were the lobbyists who received such payments; and ( d ) what was the specific dollar amount that each lobbyist received?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 218
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 218
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Question No. 218
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from October 25 consideration of the motion 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

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Senate bill, Bill S-36, is entitled An Act to amend the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act. This bill includes only a few clauses that are essentially of an administrative nature.

From the outset, the Bloc is quite sympathetic to this bill, but I would like to explain two important effects Bill S-36 will have.

First, Bill S-36 will authorize the government to compile and distribute data on international trade in diamonds. The adoption of this amendment, which would make the diamond trade more transparent and easier to control, is necessary for Canada to remain in compliance with its international obligations pursuant to the Kimberley process. I will say more on that later, but the Kimberley process is the action, past and present, taken by the international community to monitor the money earned from the mining of conflict diamonds.

Second, Bill S-36 will remove a formality associated with the Kimberley process as regards very small diamonds less than one millimetre in size. In number and in weight, the great majority of the diamonds dealt on the market are tiny. They are not used just to make jewellery, but have more of a utilitarian function. They are to be found, for example, in turntable needles, in watch-making or in certain industrial knives. Unlike large diamonds whose scarcity makes their price exorbitant, these diamonds are of no great value, and the administrative burden associated with the Kimberley process can be prohibitive. This proposed amendment will facilitate the diamond trade and is good news for the industry.

I might mention that Canada recently became the world's third largest diamond producer. In Quebec, even though no diamond mine is yet active, seven mining companies hold licences for such mines, mostly in Abitibi, Témiscamingue and in northwestern Quebec. Deposits of kimberlite, the ore in which diamonds are found, have been discovered in five sub-regions of Quebec.

As I said right from the start, the Bloc Québécois is not opposed to this new flexibility in principle, but it intends to ensure, in the course of review in committee, that it will not be introduced to the detriment of achievement of the objectives for which the act was passed, that is, the establishment of fairly tight control so as to prevent trade in what are and what must be called “conflict diamonds”. These amendments are the result of decisions made by countries adhering to the Kimberly process and are essential for Canada's continued compliance.

I want to take a few minutes to talk about the Kimberly process and conflict diamonds. I was associated with a study conducted by the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology. This study was the result of pressure by international NGOs that realized just how much conflict diamonds, as they are called, contribute to the development, maintenance and continuation of wars that should never have happened. However, these wars were fostered and fueled by these diamonds.

I want to quote Mr. Ian Smillie of Partnership Africa Canada, as he really puts things into context:

In 2000, the international diamond industry produced more than 120 million carats of rough diamonds with a market value of US$7.5 billion. At the end of the diamond chain this bounty was converted into 70 million pieces of jewelry worth close to US$58 billion. Of total world production, rebel armies in Sierra Leone, as well as in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), are estimated by De Beers to traffic in about 4 per cent. Other estimates place the number higher. Although not a significant proportion of the overall industry, four per cent of $7.5 billion—or whatever other estimate one might use—can buy a lot of weapons.

This is particularly true in countries in which merchants take part in this traffic in order to finance wars between developing countries.

The Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act ensures that Canada is in compliance with the Kimberley process, an international agreement which has established a process for certifying the origin of rough diamonds. This was to ensure that any diamonds traded by or transiting through signatory countries were not conflict diamonds.

The Kimberley process is basically designed to limit the trade in conflict diamonds, which are sold by armed factions to finance their wars.

Because the diamonds are small and highly valuable, they are easy to market and can be very profitable

In the 1980s, this trade was a veritable scourge, and a major component in the funding of wars that displaced about 10 million people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to name just a few.

At first, only a few NGOs were concerned about these conflicts and critical of the lucrative diamond trade that bankrolled them.

In 2000, the UN published a report on the funding of the war in Angola, confirming everything that the NGOs had been proclaiming for years: the diamond trade was being used to finance the war.

Also in 2000, the RUF, the Revolutionary United Front, an armed faction in Sierra Leone, stepped up its attacks on civilians, making Sierra Leone the country with the largest number of displaced persons in the world.

With these two events, the African conflicts and their link to the diamond trade left the back pages and made the headlines.

That is when the countries and the companies that produce diamonds began to get involved. The moment that diamonds become synonymous with war, rape and murder and not with dreams, wealth and eternal love, they lose their essential value.

Responding to the invitation of two NGO groups, Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada, 37 countries and the principal diamond merchants agreed to sit down together with the NGOs to find a solution to the problem.

The first meeting was held in May 2002 in the city of Kimberley, South Africa, hence the name, the Kimberley process

At the end of a series of meetings, they agreed that the best way to civilize the diamond trade was to put in place a system for certifying the origin of diamonds. Certification of the diamond's origin was the only way this group of individuals and businesses could find to ensure that diamonds from companies using them to fund wars were not getting into the legal diamond trade.

Under this system, all diamonds, without exception, exported from a country participating in the Kimberley process must be placed in a sealed container and accompanied by a government-issued certificate of authenticity called a Kimberley certificate. Note that I said all diamonds.

Importing countries that are participants in the Kimberley process may import only diamonds that are placed in a sealed container and accompanied by this certificate. They may trade in diamonds only with participating countries.

Today the Kimberley process has 45 participants—all to their credit—including the European Union and its 25 members, for a total of 69 countries. These countries account for 99% of the legal international trade in diamonds.To the NGOs which started this initiative and succeeded in transforming an awareness campaign into binding rules of international law, the Bloc Québécois says: well done. I hope Parliament will agree with me in congratulating them.

Without taking anything away from the other NGOs that have joined the movement and made it the success it is, the Bloc Québécois wishes to specifically salute the work, clear-sightedness and tenacity of the two NGOs which got this initiative under way, Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada.

That is a short summary of the Kimberley process, which might help our viewers.

From what I have read, there appears to be a need to amend the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act and to pass Bill S-36.

From the outset, the Bloc Québécois has demonstrated keen support for the Kimberley process. In the fall of 2002, it lent immediate support to the bill on the export and import of rough diamonds, Bill C-14, which was intended to bring Canadian practice into compliance with the Kimberley process. The Bloc Québécois continues to support the Kimberley process and will support the initiatives to make it more efficient and effective.

Many of the amendments contained in Bill S-36 are the product of the discussions of the plenary session of Kimberley process participants held at the Lac-Leamy Hilton in Gatineau in 2004. Their adoption is necessary for Canada to remain in compliance with the Kimberley obligations. Most of the amendments in Bill S-36 are in fact designed to facilitate application of the process.

For these reasons, the Bloc Québécois supports Bill S-36 in principle and will vote in favour of it at second reading.

However, there are shortcomings in Bill S-36. Bill S-36 was introduced before Parliament could do a serious review of the current control mechanism. Events will no doubt help the process unfold, as the Bloc Québécois would have liked at the outset.

The Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act requires the government to carry out a complete review of the operation and effect of the act three years after its coming into force and submit a report to Parliament. Next January, the act will have been in effect for three years. The government will therefore submit a complete review of the act, its operation and its flaws. That is what we are expecting at least.

By then, Bill S-36 will probably have already been passed—and then again, maybe not, and that may be for the best—but, at any rate, the process has to go on because some of the provisions must be in force by January 1 for Canada to remain in compliance with the Kimberley process and be able to continue exporting diamonds. There is a problem, however.

The government is in a minority situation and can no longer allow itself to think that a majority of members in the House are at its command and will pass anything it proposes, even without being provided with appropriate information.

The Bloc Québécois expects the government to release its review of the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act and to submit it to Parliament before Bill S-36 is considered in committee. We hope that will be done shortly.

However, even under Bill S-36, Canada is content with the minimum obligations under the Kimberley process. That is what we find unfortunate.

Let me explain why this is unfortunate.

The Kimberley process sets forth a series of minimum obligations that participating countries have to adhere to and comply with.

First, exported diamonds must be placed in sealed, tamper-resistant containers. Then, the certificates of authenticity must contain certain information, such as the origin of the diamonds, the identity of the merchant, and the total weight of the lot in carats.

In the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act, Canada decided to content itself with meeting the minimal obligations under the Kimberley process, although it would have been at liberty to go further. For example, with respect to the information required on the Kimberley certificate, Canada is content to require the total weight of the lot. However, we had been told that there could be major problems associated with this obligation alone. Let me explain. It so happens that 20 ten-carat diamonds are worth 30 times as much as 400 diamonds of 0.5 carats, even though both lots add up to 200 carats. Canada is content with asking what the total weight of the lot is.

At present, an importer can very easily buy a lot of small diamonds on the legal market, replace them with large stones bought cheap on the black market, then sell them again with no problem, since his Kimberley certificate does not contain the information that could be used to spot the swindle. This dishonest importer will be able to make an enormous profit, while at the same time laundering an entire lot of conflict diamonds.

This situation was described in committee when members heard from witnesses. Has this in fact happened? We cannot know. What we do know, however, is that in 2003 Canada imported rough diamonds valued at $730,820, from India. It exported nearly $200,000 worth of them to the same country.

The import value per carat was $162; the export value was $392. While this may simply be explained by the return of undesired gems of great value, or by exports unrelated to the imports, there might also be something fishy going on here. If the Canadian certificate contained certain optional information provided for in the process, such as the number of stones over two carats in size, this sort of stratagem would no longer be possible.

The Bloc Québécois is counting on the committee hearings to see if it might be possible to make the act more effective and whether all the parties might be interested in doing so.

The real weakness of a Kimberley process is the lack of resources dedicated to control in the poor countries and the lack of assistance the latter are being offered by the rich countries. I rarely say such a thing.

I just want to say, in the last minute remaining, that it is absolutely unacceptable that blood diamonds are being used to finance conflicts. We all agree on that. We must take the necessary precautions for the Kimberley process to be more than a semblance of assurance. It must guarantee assurance.

We are committed to the Kimberley process because we think that if we succeed in the conflict diamond issue, then we can learn from that success to promote fair globalization. Countries, companies and NGOs have been able to sit down, identify a problem and find solutions for developing countries to stop being cannon fodder and stop contributing to the wealth of companies that might come from Canada or other developed nations.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, the member made an excellent speech. She gave a great outline of the history of the Kimberley process. I would certainly like to thank the Bloc Québécois for its support for the Kimberley process and Bill S-36. I would like to help allay several fears the member has and explain why we proceeded in the way we did relating to some of her concerns.

She mentioned that she was hoping that the two elements which she outlined very nicely, to get rid of the small diamonds that do not cost very much and to publicize our stats, would not deter from the intent of the bill. I can certainly assure her that these will strengthen the way the bill enforces it because by publishing the statistics and making them transparent we will make sure there are no illegalities being done through Canada. In relation to eliminating the tiny diamonds that are measured in a few dollars or even cents, because people will not be working on the tiny ones that are not being used by dictators to fund wars, we will have time to put more resources and care into the really important ones.

The member made some very good suggestions for amendments. They make eminent sense on the surface to me. The question is why we are not bringing in some of the ideas now and in fact why we are bringing in a bill now when there is going to be a review in 2006. The items we are bringing in now, as I explained, are basically administrative. We want to get them in quickly because they are two items where we are not in compliance with the other countries. If we were not in compliance over the next couple of years while the review is going on, it could cause us to lose our diamond trade, which is a huge $2 billion industry in Canada providing 4,000 jobs. We cannot afford to lose that. It is not that there are not other things, like the member mentioned, that could be done, but we want to establish these bare minimum steps right away so we do not jeopardize our business.

People might ask why not wait then. It is true that there is the review in 2006 by the government and the Kimberley process meetings. They tentatively would be approved in 2007 by the plenary of the Kimberley process and maybe brought into law in Canada in 2008. That is why we want to get these basic needs items in quickly where we are out of whack with other countries. We need to finish with the administrative processes and then debate the good ideas during the mandated review.

Finally, I agree totally with the member's point that we need to continue to provide as much aid as possible. We have provided some consultative aid in enforcement to countries that cannot afford it. I certainly agree with the member that anything we can do to help those countries that do not have the resources or the political will to donate the resources for compliance in their countries will make the scheme foolproof. It has already done great work and hopefully these amendments will ensure that Canada remains part of it. Hopefully, we can do what the member says and support countries so they all have the resources to monitor carefully.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his positive comments and for his obvious will to strengthen the process, assuming it is possible to do so.

He said there was some urgency, and it concerned the date, January 1. I will not be at the committee, but I am sure that Bloc members will want to ensure that the process is working properly at that point. Indeed, if there are already flaws regarding its implementation, we should identify them and amend the legislation accordingly. We must not let obvious major flaws continue to adversely affect the process. That is what we are concerned about.

This process is being implemented for the first time, and we do not know exactly how it is going to work. For example, the mere fact that Canada kept only the weight criterion could be a major drawback that we may identify.

Therefore, we would like to be able to make changes now. This is the point that I wanted to make.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca
B.C.

Liberal

Keith Martin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, diamonds are forever as they say, but life is not. Today we are speaking about a very important topic, Bill S-36, a bill to amend the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act.

This bill provides controls for the export, import and transit across Canada of rough diamonds. Most rough diamonds in the world are actually mined, bought and sold in very ethical ways and people are enriched by them. However, a small percentage of rough diamonds are behind devastating consequences in some of the poorest areas of the world. This causes incredible hardship. Death, murder, dismemberment, rape and torture are driven in part by the desire of some despotic leaders to use the diamonds, seldom legally, for their own ends. They have driven conflicts as far away as Sierra Leone, the Congo, Liberia and Angola. The consequence has been the murder of millions of people, and the torture, mutilation and rape of others.

I was in Sierra Leone a couple of years ago, and I will give an example of why we are here to pass Bill S-36. In Sierra Leone some years ago, the president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, a despotic murderous man hired a psychotic person by the name of Foday Sanko to march into Sierra Leone. With 700 people he marched into that impoverished country. He went through the villages and abducted the children. He indoctrinated those children to murder. He told them that if they did not do what he said, they would be beaten, raped or killed.

Those children became an army of child soldiers and caused the death in Sierra Leone of some quarter million people and the mutilation of many others. Those children were forced to march into villages. They would line up the villagers and ask them, “Right or left?” meaning which arm or leg should be chopped off. Those children would go down the line with machetes and hack off the arms or legs of those people, adults and children, young and old, and leave them bleeding to death on the ground.

Charles Taylor wanted to acquire the diamond resources of Sierra Leone for his own ends. These diamonds were trafficked around the world before the year 2000 and drove those conflicts. Diamonds from West Africa have also supported the coffers of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. This bill is intended to stop the moneys and resources from those blood diamonds driving terrorist activities and conflicts in other parts of the world.

I would like to give compliments and accolades to our ambassador Robert Fowler and his team from the Department of Foreign Affairs who worked tirelessly around the world in an exhaustive series of travels to countries to start what we now know as the Kimberley process. That process was started by Canada in conjunction with other countries that were also concerned about this, and indeed today we have this process. This bill will go a long way to strengthening that process.

In order for us as a country to follow through on our commitments and implement the Kimberley process certification scheme on a solid legal foundation, our government established the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act which came into force on January 1, 2003. The act provides the ability for us to verify natural rough diamonds that are exported from Canada and make sure that they are non-conflict. It also gives the authority to verify that every shipment of a natural rough diamond entering Canada is accompanied by a Kimberley certificate. This process now includes 45 participants around the world and it represents more than 99% of those that are dealing with diamonds.

The implementation of the Kimberley Process has demonstrated significant benefits. I refer again to Sierra Leone. In 2000 the value of diamonds sold by Sierra Leone was $10 million. In 2003 that number jumped to $130 million. Why? Because we can track those diamonds. Instead of diamonds leaving that impoverished country, they can now be used by the government of the country for the benefit of its people.

Tragically, this demonstrates that in sub-Saharan Africa, which controls 40% of the world's natural resources, an inverse relationship exists between resources and the wealth of the country and its people. The more natural resources a country generally has, the poorer the people because most of the resources are not used properly to benefit the people. They are not used for the infrastructure, health care and education needs of the populace. The moneys have generally been stolen.

The bill would enable countries to utilize their resources for poverty reduction, education, health care and infrastructure. Investments in these areas must occur in order to create the investment climate that would attract private resources to these countries.

Aid will not enable these countries to get out of poverty. They need stable government structure, anti-corruption activities, critical infrastructure development and a harnessing of the private sector to invest and utilize their resources. The profits could then be put toward the critical needs of their people. The poverty cycle will be broken that way. Developing countries will get off the aid bandwagon and provide for themselves, which is all their people want.

We started mine production in Canada a few years ago. By 2004, the net production of diamonds was an enormous $2.1 billion. We are now, by value, the third ranking country in the world in diamond production, and our diamond producing sector will increase as time passes.

This legislation also is important for our country in terms of where this resource is being utilized and who will benefit, the north in particular and aboriginal communities. It also is important for value-added production in polishing and cutting diamonds, which we have now started to do in places like Yellowknife, Vancouver and Toronto. A number of aboriginal apprentices also have been trained to do this. Not only are we mining diamonds, but we are also providing value-added here at home.

Because the Kimberley Process is in its early phase of operation, shortcomings occur. Our goal is to prevent those shortcomings from happening. That is why the government produced this bill.

There are two amendments to the act. The first one involves a provision to enable the publication of Canadian import-export statistics. The second amendment involves the definition of a rough diamond. Essentially, we will get the power to exclude certain diamonds, those being less than one millimetre, which have no bearing whatsoever on the illegal blood diamond trade. Canada was one of the first countries to start this process so we must lead by example. We need to implement these amendments to be in concert with other signatories.

This certification scheme is built on a consensus. There has been consultation with the private sector. A mining working group is involved right now in developing the standards. We have consulted with this group as part of the production of the bill.

Both the diamond industry and the diamond cutting and polishing industry are dependent on an export market. We need to ensure the bill passes forthwith for our own domestic needs. We need to understand that the bill is important for the mining industry. It also is important in terms of a humanitarian capacity.

When I was in Sierra Leone, I had a chance to visit an amputee clinic in Freetown. It is probably beyond the scope of most people to understand and envision what it is like to see hundreds of people living in abject squalor, many who have had their limbs cut off.

I remember visiting a woman in a hut. She had one child with her. The rest of her family, more than six people, had been murdered by child soldiers. People have been hacked to death. People who were in the amputee clinic in Sierra Leone had their limbs chopped off because of blood diamonds. They were working to simply eke out an existence. They had rudimentary prostheses for hands or stumps for either hands or legs. These people either died or were mutilated because of blood diamonds. It is happening again today.

If we look at the Congo, people are still being murdered. More than six countries have their fingers in the eastern Congo. These countries are there not only because they want diamonds, but they want to acquire, extract and hold on to the ample resources in that country as well, a country which has seen more than 2 million people murdered.

The reason for those conflicts is resources. Most of the conflicts taking place in sub-Sahara Africa today are not because of tribal differences, but because of resources.

While it has its religious overtones, the primary driver of the conflict in southern Sudan is resources. Oil, gold, timber and other natural resources can be found in there. The venal government in Khartoum wants to retain control over those resources, despite what we have heard of late.

This is what drove that conflict for 18 years and saw the murder of 2 million civilians and the expulsion of more than 4 million people. Six countries in the region of the Congo have their mucky hands in that area. They want to control the valuable natural resources in that part of the world. What happens to the civilians? The Congolese civilians are innocent people who simply want to lead their lives without conflict. However, they see the meddling from outside to acquire and control those resources. Those countries use those resources to fuel their own ends and to enrich their pockets.

This is not an academic exercise either for us in the west. We know the money that fuels al-Qaeda's ability to engage in terrorist activities all over the world is driven in part by the sale of blood diamonds from west Africa.

This is why we need to pass Bill S-36. The bill goes to the heart of a much larger initiative by the Government of Canada called the responsibility to protect. Our Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Canada's team at the United Nations this year drove the responsibility to protect, much to the dismay and opposition of many who did not want the responsibility to protect. They do not want to be anywhere near the panoply of United Nations treaties that have been signed. They do not want to be held accountable in the world.

We have put forth the first step. Now the responsibility to protect must be married with something else, and that is an obligation to act and prevent genocide. We have to prevent the genocide that has occurred and will occur in the future. Genocide is one of the most vexing and challenging problems in the world today. The international community has signed a myriad of treaties, from the prevention of genocide, to covenants against torture, protecting children, against child soldiers. We have a responsibility to enforce those. Right now we do not have a responsibility to act or to enforce. This is the teeth required to save lives and prevent genocide.

We all know what has happened and continues to happen in Darfur today, where innocent people are being murdered, raped and tortured. Sudan is not alone.

Blood diamonds are being trafficked in the Ivory Coast. I was in the Ivory Coast this summer and it is apocalyptic. It was a jewel of West Africa. It was truly horrific to go through the streets of Abidjan. Everything was shut down. Children with automatic weapons are hauling people out every kilometre and taking their moneys. A conflict and a war will happen there within the next six months to a year. The world has an opportunity to prevent it.

Blood diamonds are being trafficked through Abidjan, through the Ivory Coast to fuel that and other conflicts. We cannot allow that to happen. That is why Bill S-36 is so critically important. That is why we take it to heart. That is why Parliament should adopt, embrace and pass the bill forthwith.

It is about Canada. It is about ensuring and enabling our mining industries to continue. It is about saving lives, not only here but half a world away as well. Those people are simply pawns caught in a bloody crossfire and they are subjected to the most heinous atrocities imaginable. We can help do that by not supporting terrorist activities that would use diamonds and other resources to fuel their anarchistic activities.

It may seem academic perhaps for us. It may seem trite perhaps or common for us to read about this. However, I can speak from personal experience. I met many child soldiers in southern Sudan, Sierra Leone and in other parts of the world. Those children are victims too. What they have been forced to do, in the name of acquiring blood diamonds and other resources for adult leaders, is heinous.

I am thankful, and I think most Canadians are too, that Ambassador Fowler and public servants of the Department of Foreign Affairs public took it upon themselves some years ago to try to address the issue. At that time, Angola, about which Ambassador Fowler felt very passionately, was an area with vast oil resources, and still is. However, it is an area that conflict has been destroying and eviscerating. Millions of people have died, or have been murdered or tortured. In part blood diamonds have driven that. The diamonds, which went through Antwerp and Tel Aviv, were sold and the money from them used to purchase arms.

I have seen young children with brand new automatic weapons that were purchased by these resources. This is a profound tragedy not only for them and the victims but for the countries as well. The resources are not being utilized for the benefit of their country.

We have had debates about the 0.7% in international aid. We know the real benefits for developing countries, most of which have vast resources, is not the aid that will go to them or 0.7%. It is about enabling those countries to have a stable government, good macro and micro economic policies and a judiciary that is fair, open and independent. It is about a country willing to have a regime that attracts foreign investment so the resources can be sustainably utilized, the profits of which can be used in large part to drive a sensible government and sensible policies for their people.

That direction is articulated a report commissioned by the United Nations about 2003. The report articulates the importance of the utilization of natural resources for the benefit of developing countries. In the confines of that document, exist the ways in which these countries can severe their ties to the west, the aid, and dependent cycle and become self-sufficient for their people. Botswana did it. It was able to utilize its diamonds in a responsible way by having a solid government that invested appropriately. It should be used as an example of a country that has utilized its resources wisely.

I beseech the House to pass the bill forthwith. It is critically important not only for our mining industry but to save lives in other parts of the world.