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 property.

Topics

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Madam Speaker, before I get into main body of my speech, I would like to reply to a couple of items that came up during the debate.

First, in relation to the Senate, Yukon has a tremendous senator. He gives tremendous and careful consideration of legislation and brings forward issues related especially to the rural, northern and aboriginal nature of our area. When we have a constituency larger than virtually any country in Europe and there are only two of us, it is great to have the support of a very hard-working senator.

I believe the Bloc raised a question on examples of Canadian leadership in foreign affairs. The member mentioned that a past foreign affairs minister talked about our diminishing role in foreign affairs. I agree that this occurred. That is why we are so proud of the present Prime Minister. When he took leadership, he had three major goals. One was to reinstate Canada's standing in the world. He has undertaken and been successful in a number of areas, in particular related to heritage, to which I do not think anyone in the House would object.

Not only do we have the bill before us now, but we recently were elected to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. We chair the UNESCO committee mediating disputes over cultural property. We championed the UNESCO convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions. The U.K. and Japan have both sought advice from Canada on Hague and UNESCO conventions before joining them. The Canadian Conservation Institute is an international leader in the research and treatment of culture and property. The Canadian Heritage Information Network is an international leader in information systems for cultural collections, including recently providing advice to UNESCO on a new collection management system for the Baghdad museum.

In other areas of creating our place in the world, in respect to the member's question, we have expanded our consulates across the United States. In particular, I am proud of the one in Alaska. We have been one of the leaders in providing assistance to the African Union in Darfur. We have done tremendous work, everyone here would agree, in Haiti. We are taking an even more dangerous role in Afghanistan, moving our troops from Kabul to Kandahar. I have been over there and seen the tremendous work Canada is doing on the international stage and the leadership role it is taking.

We have the new Canada-Mexico Partnership Agreement. We have played a tremendous leadership role in providing money for AIDS in Africa, the Canada Corps in elections in Ukraine and Lebanon and the $70 million global fund for malaria, AIDS and TB. There was a time when the world effort in polio was collapsing. Canada came to the rescue. The Rotary Clubs across Canada have thanked the government for that. We have provided third world debt relief and tsunami relief. We have worked with other institutions like the G-20 in times when the United Nations did not work.

One thing I am most proud of as a Canadian, as I am sure all Canadians are, is when we were at the recent 60th anniversary of the UN. I was there in September when Canada finally got the responsibility to protect agreed to by signatories of members of the United Nations. This is a fantastic achievement. There was a great celebration of the Canadian delegation, the Prime Minister, our ambassador and the foreign affairs minister in New York. Citizens of nations that do not protect them can now be protected with the responsibility to protect agreement. We are now working hard on implementing systems for that.

A member of the Bloc also asked was how well we fulfilled our obligations for preparations of protection of cultural heritage in peacetime. There are a number of areas where we are working during peacetime to provide this protection. We are not waiting for a catastrophe to occur or for something to be destroyed.

I thought it was very important that the member from Winnipeg and some of the NDP members mentioned that the conflicts around the world now are different. They are not always about two nations warring over property. There are religious disputes. There are non-international terrorism types of disputes. There is an intentional targeting of cultural property for the purpose of trying to suggest that a people or their history did not exist. Of course, it does not matter what the cause of destruction of cultural heritage or property is, but these matters just make the problem ever more complex. That is why during peacetime we have to do our duty to get ready and put everything in provisions for protecting this.

What we are doing is that, first, we have disaster preparedness training by the Canadian Conservation Institute. Also, most Canadian museums are now developing disaster plans. The government's new critical infrastructure assurance program of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada will include in its plans the key national symbols, such as buildings and monuments and important heritage property. We also have an elaborate new system of training military personnel in regard to cultural property. As well, the Hague convention is already in place, without need of additional resources.

For years we have been onside with the other efforts related to the protection of cultural property, obviously, and this is not the first convention or the first international initiative. We have always been onside and in the spirit of this. Our military has always been carefully trained. In the training of every member of the military there is included the understanding of the importance of cultural and religious property, buildings and artifacts so that our troops can do their best, first, to be in line with international law and follow international law and conventions, but also simply in the spirit of protecting something so important to the existence of peoples on earth so that the immeasurable loss of property does not occur.

Bill S-37 would basically provide a basis for Canada to go forward in joining the two protocols of the Hague convention. As I mentioned earlier, before Canada joins conventions we always do a legal analysis before we sign to ensure that we have the legal tools in place so that we can implement those conventions.

In regard to this bill, although we have a lot of the items and the resources in place and obviously the goodwill and spirit in place, we do need to make some amendments to the Criminal Code and the Cultural Property Export and Import Act. We already have a number of provisions in place, some of which I have already referred to, in the National Defence Act and the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, which would help us implement this convention.

One of the major benefits of the second protocol we would be assenting to, as I think the speaker from Oshawa mentioned, is that we would be able to prosecute Canadians. It is a very strong initiative of this bill. We would actually be able to prosecute Canadians when they commit crimes overseas. If some rogue Canadian or organized crime group from Canada were to go overseas and commit these offences against cultural property or try to repatriate them to Canada during a conflict, not only would be able to prosecute them in Canada through the second protocol and the amendments we are making, but we could send that property back to its rightful owners.

The 1954 Hague convention was a reaction by the international community to the terrible damage inflicted on cultural sites, monuments and buildings during the course of World War II. Of course, there were treaties going back to the beginning of the 20th century and even earlier that condemned the international destruction of cultural sites during war, but the experience of World War II demonstrated that more needed to be done to prohibit and prevent such acts.

Why? Because we understand today that the loss of important cultural heritage is a loss that reaches across time and robs future generations of a legacy that is rightfully theirs.

UNESCO took action and in 1954 adopted the Hague convention for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict. UNESCO celebrated its 60th anniversary this past week. In a speech marking that occasion, the director general of UNESCO said:

What we are celebrating today is not so much the commemoration of a past event but pride in our capacity to respond with courage, energy and commitment to the challenges of our time.

That is also what we are here to do today: to respond with courage, energy and commitment to the challenges of our time. We certainly appreciate the support of all speakers from the other parties in the spirit of international protection of cultural property, the legacy of us all.

In addition to the Hague convention itself, UNESCO has also established two protocols to the convention. The second protocol in particular came about partly because of the changes that we have seen in conflicts and the risk to cultural heritage in the years since the convention was adopted.

We know that the first protocol prohibited the illegal export of cultural property from occupied territories and required the return of such property in the event of illegal export, and it allowed for the safekeeping of cultural property by a state party at the request of another state party in the event of an armed conflict. I believe there are currently 91 state parties that are signatories to the first convention.

As we are all aware, since September 11 the nature of conflict has changed and brings even more complicated dangers to the cultural heritage that is so important to history, to all of us and to the various culture and peoples of the world. We have seen an increase in non-international ethnic or religion based conflicts. These sorts of conflicts have included more intentional targeting of cultural property than ever before.

We saw this during the war in the former Yugoslavia, which included widespread destruction of cultural sites, such as the 1991 attack on the world heritage city of Dubrovnik. To illustrate the magnitude of the destruction that the Hague protocol seeks to prevent, let me turn members' attention to the example of the destruction of the library in Sarajevo. The library contained 1.5 million books and virtually the country's entire national archives. Let us think of a library containing all of Canada's historical documents and all our national archives. That particular library was bombarded for three days in August 1992. The building was gutted by fire and 80% of the collection was destroyed. One witness said that even though it was late August, it felt like premature fall, when, for a period of almost a week, charred bits of books fell like leaves as ashes from the sky.

If there is anything that Canada could do as a nation to make sure that such a terrible event is not repeated, it is our duty as a civilized country to do it.

What have we done? Canada is a party to the Hague convention. We are also a member of other international treaties governing conflict, including the Geneva conventions of 1949, and in particular an additional protocol to those conventions which prohibits the international targeting of cultural property and its use in the support of military operations. As I have said, because of the Geneva convention of 1949, its protocol and our military training, this is another additional step that Canada is taking in the protection of cultural property.

This aspect of international law is deeply ingrained in the training and conduct of our military. Rule 9 of the code of conduct of Canada's military forces is the requirement to respect all cultural objects and places of worship. This is basic training for every member of our military. Additional training on the law of armed conflict and on international humanitarian law, including the Hague convention, is also offered during officer training and to senior officers every year across the country.

In advance of every deployment, our troops are given mission specific training on the law of armed conflict. I do not think I would be overstating the case by saying that Canada's armed forces are among the best trained--if not the best--of any nation's troops when it comes to understanding international laws and obligations that apply to conflict and military activity. Within our military, there is also a very sophisticated legal mechanism within our military checks and balances, which ensures that targets are not chosen in violation of international law, including the Hague convention, which we have been discussing at length today, and of course its two protocols.

Our legal expertise is well recognized. It was a member of Canada's armed forces who led the UN war crimes investigation team investigating war crimes in former Yugoslavia and in particular the attack on the historic city of Dubrovnik. For that act, the former members of the Yugoslav military were recently convicted of war crimes related to the destruction of cultural heritage.

When I was commenting on Canada's recent valuable contributions in international affairs in the world, I should have added the tremendous support and leadership we had related to the international court. Also, several of my constituents have written to me just this week about the great Canadian leadership in the banning of landmines, which have such destructive effects on innocent civilians far past the original conflict.

Canada's commitment to protecting cultural heritage during conflict is steadfast. With the passage of Bill S-37, we have an opportunity to strengthen that commitment even further by joining the Hague protocols, because we know how important heritage is and how devastating the loss can be and because we have a military that is second to none and it has contributions to make.

We are also exceedingly happy that the international world now has progressed to such a level and that there are so many signatories, in the order of 90. It was 91 for the first protocol and a few less for the second protocol. We do not have to worry about states using this against us, using it against freedom loving countries to hide behind, which was the case when the original protocols came out.

Other countries thought that the eastern bloc countries in particular would not live up to the spirit or the responsibility and in fact might use some important historic buildings as a shield to protect themselves, their illicit activities, their oppression and their dictatorships so that no one could attack them, so that we would helping their criminal regimes and dictatorships exist longer because of a protocol that they would inappropriately use to protect certain buildings. There were certain countries whose headquarters for such actions actually did exist in very historic buildings with a long history of important cultural heritage over the generations for those countries, but those buildings had been taken over by particularly aggressive regimes.

Let us respond with courage and commitment to the challenges of our time. I urge us to join the Hague protocols. I appreciate the support of all the parties. Let us clear the way to supporting Bill S-37.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, it was an interesting and well delivered speech by my colleague from Yukon. We have stirred up a great deal of interest in this issue. My colleagues from Timmins—James Bay and from Ottawa Centre and now my colleague from Yukon have all spoken to this issue which speaks to something deep inside. This resonates with a basic sense of Canadian fairness.

Perhaps my colleague could expand on an aspect of the bill that I find most interesting. It extends Canadian law beyond our domestic jurisdiction into the international arena. It might be one of those cases where Canada could lead by example, at least with the countries that are signatory to the protocol which is affected by this.

I think of Greece and its struggle to have the Elgin marbles repatriated to that country. I think of the Royal Museum in London, England which is the repository of literally thousands of cultural and religious artifacts from all around the world. I am not trying to overstate this, but they are being held selfishly by the British people with full recognition and knowledge of the cultural and heritage importance of those pieces.

My question for my colleague from the Yukon is more about a pattern that we see developing here, the precedent of extending Canadian values and Canadian laws beyond our domestic jurisdiction into the international arena.

I cite the one example of the tourism sex trade. Canadians can now be prosecuted under Canadian law in foreign lands if they are engaged in the sexual exploitation of children. I for one celebrate this idea and it is an excellent practice.

I would ask my colleague if he would agree with me that the principles such as those found in the Westray bill regarding criminal culpability for workplace accidents, that kind of legislation should apply to Canadian mining companies operating abroad in foreign countries. In other words, would he be willing to extend the same logic that applies to what we in this country believe is wrong to the foreign activities of Canadian mining companies when they are engaged abroad?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, I basically agree with the member. His colleague from the New Democratic Party talked about this new trend in certain situations of extending Canadian jurisdiction.

In relation to mining, I would like to commend the Mining Association of Canada for developing international standards so that such things do not happen. In relation to international law, he is right that we have extended the provisions internationally so that Canadians cannot escape. These are very powerful restrictions for Canadians. This just fills in the gaps, because the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act allows prosecution in Canada of Canadians committing crimes overseas. We have been moving in this direction since 2000. This fills in the gaps for armed conflict. I agree with the member that this is a great asset.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

Is the House ready for the question?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

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

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

On division.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

Rodd Hotels and Resorts
Statements By Members

November 21st, 2005 / 1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate Rodd Hotels and Resorts for winning the APR media Business of the Year award for multiple unit properties at the TIAC National Awards for Tourism Excellence held in Quebec City.

The Rodd family's long term commitment to the tourism industry and their important contributions to its development in Prince Edward Island began when Sally and Wally Rodd built guest cottages on their farm in Winsloe, Prince Edward Island. They founded Rodd Hotels and Resorts in 1935. The company has become Atlantic Canada's largest privately owned hotel chain, with 13 properties in Atlantic Canada.

Its focus on customer service and satisfaction is supported by employee training and certification, customer feedback and a mystery shopper program.

Tourism plays an important role in my riding of Cardigan, Prince Edward Island. I am pleased to see that Rodd Hotels and Resorts are nationally recognized.

Landfill Site
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, for months I have received complaints from countless constituents of mine in Port Coquitlam who are fed up with the excessive noise and traffic disruptions and have environmental concerns regarding the landfill on the Kwikwetlem First Nation lands for which the Liberal government has issued a permit.

The City of Port Coquitlam and area residents have informed me that the hours of operation listed in the permit are not being obeyed. The surrounding community is being disrupted in the early morning and well into the evening with dump trucks rumbling up and down residential streets leaving a muddy mess. Also, constituents tell me of rotten smells emanating from the site that suggest organic material is being dumped without authorization.

The City of Port Coquitlam has also informed me that proper environmental assessments of material being dumped is not being shared with local governments.

The landfill site has become an eyesore in my community. So far, the Liberals have turned a blind eye to our concerns.

On behalf of my constituents, I call on the government to enforce our laws, respect my community and constituents, or shut down this landfill from damaging my community any further.

Gun Violence
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Madam Speaker, last week in Toronto a young man, Amon Beckles, just 18 years of age, lost his life to gun violence. What was particularly sad about the killing was that it took place in a church, a place where God's voice should be heard and not the evil whisper of a flying bullet.

In today's Toronto Star , columnist Royson James notes that the lessons of the streets too often displace those taught in Sunday school.

These tragic events, repeated all too often, are a call not to fear but to action.

Initiatives like the $50 million gun violence and gangs prevention fund are but the beginning. If we are to end this senseless violence, we must come together, all of us, united in one objective: to protect our most precious resource, our nation's young people.

John Junior Hanna
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Sydney—Victoria, NS

Madam Speaker, one of Cape Breton's hockey legends has passed away. John Junior Hanna lost his battle with cancer this weekend with his family by his side.

Junior Hanna was considered one of the greatest Nova Scotians to ever play in the Original Six. Junior Hanna was a proud and respected member of the Syrian and Lebanese communities in Sydney. As an icon in hockey circles, Junior Hanna was a mentor to many young players.

Junior Hanna turned professional in 1958 and joined the New York Rangers. He also played with the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers over his 17 year career.

Junior Hanna became a professional player-coach in the AHL in 1973, with his coaching career spanning four seasons. Junior Hanna is a member of both the Nova Scotia Hall of Fame and the Cape Breton Sport Hall of Fame.

Junior Hanna was always straightforward. As a true lover of the game, he was always available to talk hockey. As a community leader, Junior Hanna will be remembered for his kindness, hard work, talent and respect for others.

I know I speak for many in the House when I send condolences to John Junior Hanna's family.

La Seigneurie
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to acknowledge today the 40th anniversary of the newspaper La Seigneurie , in the town of Boucherville, which is located in my riding.

Thanks to its rigorous writing and information policies, La Seigneurie remains, for me and the whole community, an indispensable vehicle for informing us about the political, cultural, economic and social life in our region.

I am also taking this opportunity to congratulate the editor of La Seigneurie , Nathalie Gilbert, who just won two awards at the ceremony held by the Quebec recreation council to recognize journalists who write about recreational activities.

This evening, the newspaper La Seigneurie will publish a special section commemorating its 40 years of existence. Bravo for those 40 years, all the best for the future, and congratulations to Serge Landry, the managing director of this regional information medium, and to his whole team.

Agriculture
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Finance released his “please vote for me” mini-budget.

Canadian farmers are asking why they were not included in the Liberals' vision. The answer is plain and simple. The Liberal Party has never cared about Canadian farm families.

In fact, agriculture was continuously cut and ignored while the Prime Minister was finance minister. If we look in this fall's mini-budget, we will find no money for farmers, and the word “agriculture” is not even mentioned.

Meanwhile, the Liberals' ineffective support programs, increased costs and high taxes have forced farmers out of business.

Farm families across Elgin—Middlesex—London and this country are wondering when they will see a government that understands their concerns. I can tell them it is only days away.

A. M. Sormany High School
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, during the recent week of parliamentary recess, I visited two classrooms at A. M. Sormany High School, in Edmundston, during a course on political, economic and legal institutions.

The students of teacher Simon Nadeau had invited me to meet with them to discuss my role as a member of Parliament and the work that is being accomplished here, in the House of Commons.

I must say that these courses given to New Brunswick's young people are essential to prepare tomorrow's leaders and to ensure that our young people fully understand the issues surrounding our country's governance system.

I was surprised by the quality of the comments made by these students, who closely follow political life.

In conclusion, I wish to thank Angie Bonenfant and Eric Therrien for welcoming me at the school, and teacher Simon Nadeau and his students for giving me this opportunity to meet with them.