Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act

An Act providing for controls on the export, import or transit across Canada of rough diamonds and for a certification scheme for their export in order to meet Canada's obligations under the Kimberley Process

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in November 2003.


Allan Rock  Liberal


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2002 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Canadian Alliance Skeena, BC

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

As mentioned in the title of the bill, this enactment would fulfill Canada's undertaking to participate in the Kimberley process, which is an international certification scheme that aims to break the link between armed conflict and the trade in rough diamonds. Generally speaking, the bill states that:

The enactment permits export of rough diamonds to be made only to countries participating in the Kimberley Process. It also requires exported and imported diamonds to be in prescribed, tamper-resistant containers and to be accompanied by a certificate from a participating country attesting that they have been handled in accordance with the Kimberley Process.

I would like to talk a little about what I understand the process to have been so far in leading up to the creation of this act. I understand that Canada has been keenly involved in international efforts to help stop the global trade in conflict diamonds, which have had a devastating impact on peace and human security in several African nations, including Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Unlike the legitimate trade in rough diamonds, which benefits numerous developing countries and developed economies including Canada's, conflict diamonds, or blood diamonds as they are frequently known, originate in areas controlled by rebels and are used to fund military actions that target government. The illicit trade in blood diamonds represents a very small percentage of the world's rough diamond trade.

The Kimberley process was initiated by South Africa in May 2000 to develop an international certification scheme for rough diamonds to prevent blood diamonds from entering legitimate markets. The Kimberley process brought together 48 countries, including Canada, the U.S. and members of the European Community. These participatory countries represent some 98% of the world's diamond trade market.

At the Kimberley process meetings here in Ottawa this past March, participants reached agreement on a proposal for an international certification scheme for rough diamonds. Under the scheme, participating countries will be required to export rough diamonds in tamper-resistant containers and provide a certificate validated by the government of the exporting country confirming that the diamond exports are conflict free. Participating countries will also be prohibited from importing rough diamonds from countries not engaged in the Kimberley process. Canada agreed to the implementation of this scheme by the end of 2002.

As members can see from my comments so far, I certainly can see the need for this legislation in Canada. I recognize that Bill C-14 will make legal the agreement that Canada has reached in the process, but later in my comments I will make suggestions on how the bill can be improved.

One area of concern right at the moment is a very tight timeline for the passage of the bill and, more important, for the implementation of the certification process in Canada by the end of this year. I am concerned that Canada's diamond extraction business may suffer because the government infrastructure needed to inspect and provide the certification needed for exporting our diamonds may not be ready on time. This is a concern and I suspect we will hear more about this from witnesses when the bill is sent to committee.

Canada is developing its diamond industry, and I believe everyone in the House will agree that we do not wish the bill to hamper its development in any way. The Ekati diamond mine in the Northwest Territories, located about 300 kilometres from Yellowknife, is Canada's only operating diamond mine at this time. It employs 650 people and produces three million to four million carats of gem quality rough diamonds each year. This is equivalent to nearly 4% of current world diamond production by weight and 6% by value.

The Diavik mine, located near the Ekati mine, will begin operation in 2003. Two more projects, one in the Northwest Territories and one in Nunavut, could open by 2007. These four mines would provide direct employment for about 1,600 people and could bring total annual production to approximately $1.6 billion.

Canada exports its entire production of diamonds for sorting. Some gem quality diamonds are returned to Canada in support of a small but growing cutting and polishing industry. That is why we in the House must ensure that Bill C-14 will not in any way hamper the development of Canada's growing diamond industry.

As I mentioned earlier, in general at this stage in the process before we have had the opportunity to hear from witnesses in committee, I believe the bill has merit and understand it is needed. I do have concerns that I would like to see addressed.

Time constraints are tight due to the target of this November for all 48 participating nations to commit to national implementation and December 31 for simultaneous implementation worldwide. The process led by South Africa began in the year 2000 and was included on the African agenda at Kananaskis with full Canadian government involvement from the start. If the government has known about this since 2000, I really do have to question why there is a last minute rush.

There appears to be no objection to Bill C-14 from BHP Billiton Diamonds Inc., which operates the Ekati diamond mine in the Northwest Territories. As I mentioned earlier, it employs 650 people and includes offices in Kelowna and Vancouver in British Columbia, in Yellowknife, in Antwerp, Belgium, and in London, England. Other companies expect their mines in the territories to be put into operation, one in 2003 and two more by 2007, which will mean 3,200 plus in indirect jobs. This will be a huge benefit to the Canadian economy if they are allowed to proceed without too much interference by government.

Additional diamond exploration in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador has not to date yielded any economically viable sites. Some cutting and polishing is centred at Yellowknife and in Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula. Training programs, especially for aboriginal workers, are in progress, with resulting jobs skills being among the benefits for northern residents.

All Canadian diamonds are first exported to London and Antwerp for sorting. We also import diamonds from 44 countries, including Israel, India, the U.S., Belgium and the U.K., the top five in terms of the value of our diamond imports. The multiple stages of handling, from initial mining through sorting, polishing and cutting et cetera, are a major reason for the Kimberley process agreement to ship this valuable product in tamper-proof containers with a certificate attached to prevent inclusion of blood diamonds.

I reiterate my previous concern with the bill. With such an expanding and developing diamond industry in Canada, I am concerned that there is not a balance between the obvious need for effective world legislation to stop the trade of blood diamonds and overzealous red tape and bureaucracy which may slow down the export of legitimate diamonds and thereby hurt our developing industry. These are concerns that I would like to see addressed at the committee stage of the examination of the bill.

The weakest link remains initial certification, especially when performed by officials in countries widely reputed to suffer from an epidemic of corruption, notably African countries. No independent international agency will verify or even spot check the certification, but Bill C-14 requires that Canadians ensure the certificate provides accurate information, with company officials and individual directors liable. Given the Bre-X scandal, it is difficult to justify such reliance on international honesty. I guess we have to hope it occurs but it is hard to rely on that.

Prosecutions under Bill C-14 can only be instituted within three years from the time of a complaint. Due to the significant degree of international cooperation which is likely to be involved and the fact that human lives are at risk with the trade in blood diamonds, we suggest that a time limit of up to seven years would not be unreasonable. A company's reputation will already be damaged by the laying of charges, so the best way to minimize such impacts would be to obtain convictions, not have guilty parties get away with their crimes due to delay over paperwork technicalities.

Finally, the bill provides that seized diamonds can only be held with the consent of the owner. An improvement would be to authorize holding such diamonds until the case is resolved as a guarantee that possible fines would get paid.

In conclusion, at this time I would suggest this enactment to control the import and export of rough diamonds, Bill C-14, is on the surface a good bill. I am looking forward to discussion and questions posed in committee by witnesses from the industry. I suspect they may raise concerns similar to my own, and I hope the government will take notice of them and amend the bill accordingly.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2002 / 1:55 p.m.
See context


Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, sometimes when we try to help in a situation it is not always perceived as help. There is nothing I can do about that.

In my opinion the Criminal Code search and seizure provisions would apply in this situation. There are no search and seizure provisions in Bill C-14 so we do use all the due process that we normally have in this country. That being said, after the bill leaves this place, it will go to committee where all members can assert themselves in the manner they deem most appropriate.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2002 / 1:45 p.m.
See context


Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in the debate on the bill today, Bill C-14. I think it is a positive step and one we can embrace as doing something positively as a partner in the international community to eradicate the possibility of continuing this horrible torment of conflict diamonds.

We only have to see the effects of what has happened in some of these African nations to realize how important it is for Canada to advocate the Kimberley process and to be on side with our legislation in time to have a simultaneous process start in January of next year.

I say that for a number of reasons . First let us go to the international reason. Canada has been at the forefront. I, along with my colleague from across the way, wish to congratulate the member for Nepean--Carleton for his work and advocacy on this issue. However we have also been working at it through UN resolutions during Canada's time at the security council. We have been involved in all the ministerial meetings leading up to the process of implementation.

A lot of Canadians do not understand what this process means. It means good economics for Canadians. We have in our north and throughout the provinces a nascent diamond cutting, mining, polishing industry. Recently we have heard that Tiffany wants to polish diamonds in Canada. This is great news. Hundreds of people are currently employed in the diamond industry and we could be employing thousands more.

I was very pleased to hear my colleague from the Bloc being positive and on side with this process. It is one that will help us with our economy nationally and one that will help us as a playing partner. We know that 48 nations are currently involved. Those 48 nations represent 98% of the world's diamond producing nations. We have the players around the table. I know we are heading into further meetings in November. Hopefully this Parliament can show that it can work efficiently to move things along.

I believe that members of the House from time to time do have legitimate concerns. I want to address my interpretation of the process, which I hope is the right interpretation, but we will work this out at committee stage to convince those members who have concerns.

I have heard a concern from the member for Elk Island. As a lawyer in my former life before this place, my knowledge is that when a bill does not have a process in place about search and seizure, then the Criminal Code process is utilized. I believe the Criminal Code process of warrant and search and seizure will be used with all the safeguards we have under the Criminal Code.

Therefore I think the hon. member's interpretation of the two clauses in question, clauses 23 and 24, will be straightened out in a way that addresses the concerns of my hon. friend. I have worked with him many times in the House and in many committees. I know it is an honestly felt concern about privacy and property. I believe that is something with which the member should not concern himself.

The bottom line is that we are trying to place an international certification on the import and export of diamonds. If we want to be a player in this part of the economy, we have to be part of this process. There is the morality issue of not wanting to purchase or be trading in any conflict diamonds.

I was in Sierra Leone for a week last year training potential female parliamentarians who had come out of a decade of civil war. I and a former member of the House, Audrey McLaughlin, visited Sierra Leone with other parliamentarians from Nigeria and Ghana. We spent a week in Freetown and helped train some of the women to take their place in their parliament. In fact in the elections held within months after our visit the female members of parliament went from six to sixteen. It was a successful intervention.

While I was in Sierra Leone I saw the results of the conflict. If they say a picture is worth a thousand words then members would be impacted as immensely as I was to see many children with their limbs cut off as a format of the civil war that went on. What was the cause of that civil war? It was the guerrilla actions that revolved around an illicit industry on the wealth of a nation, a wealth that went underground and by illicit means out of the country as opposed to legitimately raising the value of the economy for the whole population to share in the wealth as it grew.

Let us help all the people in those countries right now, get involved in a conflict resolution situation where they can export what they have underground in their alluvial rivers, where they can mine the diamonds. I congratulate South Africa, the Congo and all the other players that have worked so hard to put this process in place.

Let us be a participant. Let us not bicker along partisan lines. Let us do something that is right for Canadians, the Canadian economy and all of us around the world who want to get these international resolutions of problems done in a manner that helps everyone. Let us not do it two years from now, but let us do it so we can be a player and go forward with the process of certification for our diamonds leaving Canada and for all the diamonds in transit that we receive from other countries. Let us do something right and let us do it expediently.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2002 / 1:35 p.m.
See context


Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Bill C-14, an act providing for controls on the export, import or transit across Canada of rough diamonds.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the hon. member for Nepean—Carleton. While it was the minister who introduced the bill today, everyone knows that it was the hon. member who raised this issue last year.

I also want to congratulate the hon. member for Manicouagan, who addressed this issue earlier today. He gave an excellent speech and presented the various and very important aspects of this activity, while also stressing the need to do this properly, using controls. There is the whole issue of certification, among other things. The hon. member for Manicouagan is right when he says that, when it comes to protecting the interests of his region and of Quebec, he does so vigorously, as he did this morning, for which I congratulate him.

As members know, this is a very important activity. The rough diamond industry is a US $7.5 billion industry. It is said that 70 million jewels are created every year in the world, for a value in excess of US $58 billion. So, this is a very important issue.

The point raised by the hon. member is that part of what was done within the Kimberley process by NGOs and others has identified a minimum of 4% of this economic activity as going to purchase weapons. In one specific region, Africa, the three countries mentioned most often are Angola, Sierra Leone and the Congo. Trading is done through neighbouring or other countries.

Africa may seem far away, but what goes on there concerns us all. I do not see it as a waste of time to debate this subject today. The more debates there are in the House, and the more press coverage there is, the greater public awareness of the importance of this issue will be.

If I may draw a parallel here, last Friday I was with a secondary school class studying Amnesty International. These young people are very much attuned to what is going on in the rest of the world. They were quick to ask “What can we do?” People may feel helpless, but there is a lot that can be done, particularly public education so that people can be better informed and take action indirectly, even if this only means making their opinions known publicly.

The debate was raised by NGOs and by MPs, but many people took an interest, resulting rather quickly in pressure which culminated in the Kimberly process. There have been 12 international debates on the topic, some here in Ottawa, and things got moving pretty quickly.

It is urgent for this bill to be passed in order to ratify Canada's commitment in connection with this process. We in the Bloc Quebecois are in favour of this bill. We acknowledge the impact it will have. That impact has already begun to be felt, even if it has not yet been implemented, but it is a step in the right direction.

Many other things should be done. For example, over the last ten years, 500,000 civilians have been victimized by weapons and human rights violations in the three countries that I mentioned. I am referring to civilians who have died, but there are also civilians who have been injured. Other members have mentioned this. There have been atrocities and we must do something.

However, in terms of a broader policy, we must also consider the sale of weapons. There are countries that continue to sell weapons to groups and even to armies from certain countries, sales that are not always made under proper trade conditions.

There is also another way. I am referring to international assistance. There has been much talk of late of the crisis in Afghanistan and in Africa. Now the possibility of a conflict with Iraq looms. All too often, we forget about civilians.

I do not wish to be partisan, because not all issues are matters for partisan comments, but we have to face certain facts. In 2001, of 22 countries in the world that provided assistance, Canada ranked 18th. The country that ranked last, in 22nd place, was the United States. When it comes to aid, Canada must not view the U.S. as a model, because they may be the least generous country in terms of international assistance.

However, there are other countries that could serve as better models. For example, Denmark, in that same year, gave more than 1% of its gross domestic product; Norway gave 0.83%; Holland also gave 0.83%; the little country known as Luxembourg gave 0.8%, Sweden gave 0.76%. In the end, these are the only countries that reached the standard set by the United Nations, the famous 0.7% of GDP in international aid contributions.

With these conflicts, the reality is that the victims are people who have been displaced, people who are hungry, and there are health problems. We must keep this in mind.

As I said, we support the bill. Naturally, it is a step in the right direction, and is was urgently needed. We are therefore in agreement. We will make no attempt, either in the House or in committee, to slow down the passage of the bill. On the contrary, we will be very cooperative.

Pending ratification, people are still dying because of diamonds. In this respect, I will draw a parallel with the impact of oil around the world. Where there is oil, there are often conflicts. Oil fuels conflicts. It may not be the root cause, but it fuels conflicts around the world. That is number one.

There is also illicit drugs—let us not forget them—in Colombia, in some Asian countries and elsewhere. The diamond, however, because of its small size, combined with enormous value, is easy to market, especially under the current conditions.

Incidentally, I wish to respond to the question raised by students from the group representing the Commission scolaire de Lévis with whom I met on Friday about what young people can do. Of course, they must raise their own awareness. And often, interested young people are in a position to influence their parents at home.

I would add another element here, namely ethical investment. Sometimes, people unwittingly contribute to activities in certain countries which are more or less dubious from an ethical point of view, whether they concern oil or other economic goods such as diamonds.

One must be very aware of this possibility. One can ask questions at one's mutual fund managers' meeting: Where are we investing? It would seem that large corporations are increasingly aware of this. The impact is extremely important. There are also our actions as consumers.

Let us take the example of diamonds. In Canada, buying diamonds is probably done properly, but again the Kimberley process must be more closely followed. We often hear people say that, when they visited certain countries, they were able to buy goods—I am referring to jewels—for such and such a price, but that they did not pay any tax. They probably got these jewels on the black market. First, it is a risky thing to do. Also, not only are these people not sure of the quality of the diamonds, they are also contributing to an underground economy that can serve non-humanitarian purposes.

Today, I would like to bring my small contribution to this debate. After hearing our party critic and the other hon. members who have spoken on this issue today, I can see that that the House is off to a good start this week. I heard reasonable, intelligent and useful comments. This is an issue on which every citizen should reflect. As we know, not everyone listens to the debates of the House of Commons. However, most members of Parliament can use the various means put at their disposal by the House of Commons to convey to targeted groups information on important issues such as this one. This is a very relevant issue, one that is of real interest to our constituents. Even though the bill was introduced by the minister, I congratulate the hon. member who, through his initiative, helped ensure that all parliamentarians support the Kimberley process.

I remind the House that the Bloc Quebecois supports the bill. We will be very cooperative regarding similar initiatives that relate to human rights and to humanitarian issues around the world. We should ask the public to do the same.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2002 / 1:35 p.m.
See context

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but this is heading toward the same debate as was raised by the hon. member for Elk Island. This point of view has been submitted to the House and did not obtain consent. The matter is closed and will be brought up again at another time within another context.

Resuming debate on Bill C-14. The hon. member for Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2002 / 1:10 p.m.
See context


John Bryden Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my colleague, the member for Nepean—Carleton, for his longstanding initiative on this issue that has led to the bill before the House today.

Whether the bill is perfect of not, the credit must go to the member for Nepean--Carleton for keeping the government's attention on the issue. The member made a number of visits to Sierra Leone and saw firsthand the awful conflict, financed by the type of diamond that is basically scrabbled from the earth and then sold on the international markets, both legally and illegally.

Bill C-14 gives me an opportunity that I will take advantage of to tell a story of refugees and something that happened in my riding. It pertains very closely to the issue, although it may take a little time before members appreciate where I am coming from with this story.

In October 2000 in my constituency office I was approached by a gentleman who has a longstanding reputation of bringing refugees into Canada. He operated through an organization called Operation Lifeline. This person wanted me to intercede on behalf of two young men from Angola who had apparently been denied their refugee status. This is a common occurrence in an MP's constituency office. We try to cut through the red tape or try to intercede in compassionate circumstances because all MPs have this direct line to the immigration and refugee authorities to help out in situations like this.

I take this business of writing directly to the minister and asking for her intervention very seriously. I always do due diligence. I sought and obtained the file of the refugee hearing on these two young men before I actually interviewed them.

There was no question in my mind that the Immigration and Refugee Board was absolutely proper in its decision to reject the application of these two young men who had come in and sought refugee status at Niagara Falls. The description that they gave at the board hearing was full of contradictions. Basically their story was that they were two young men whose father worked as a chauffeur for the government in Angola. According to them, their father had fallen out of favour and had disappeared and been mysteriously shot. Suddenly, a few days afterwards, some unknown person, a benefactor, arranged for the two young men to be smuggled out of Angola and flown to Zimbabwe, from there to Rome, from Rome to Switzerland, from Switzerland to New York, from New York to Buffalo. This is quite a trip.

As the refugee board members queried them, it turned out that the young men could provide no detail. In fact, most of their information was very contradictory. Apparently, they said that when their father disappeared their mother contacted government officials. Of course that did not make sense if the government was supposed to be responsible for killing the father, and so the story went on. I had serious reservations about these two young men right at the outset.

Subsequently, just at about the time the election was called, these two young men came in with their sponsor. Their sponsor explained that they had been in the country for some nine months and they were in a local high school in grade 11 where they had, somewhat miraculously in my mind, acquired fluency in English. Angola of course is Portuguese speaking. These two young men were suddenly so fluent in English that they could obtain very high marks in grade 11, which is certainly very impressive.

He explained that various schools and organizations were very much in support of my interceding on behalf of these two young men with the minister, and so I talked with them. I had the same experience as the refugee board. They spoke but there were all kinds of inconsistencies in their story. One of the biggest inconsistencies was they could not tell me who financed their trip from Angola to Zimbabwe to Rome to Switzerland to New York and to Buffalo. They had no idea. They could not name the people who were their benefactors.

There are two problems of which we have to be aware. One is the fact that it costs a lot of money to go on the kind of particular trip we are talking about. These two young men were supposed to be the sons of a lowly chauffeur for the government of Angola. Second, is the fact that Angola is notorious for the exportation of conflict diamonds. Sierra Leone and Angola share two things in common: they are failed states with perpetual civil wars and those ugly civil wars are fueled by conflict diamonds. What is basically happening is the illicit scrabbling of diamonds out of the soil and those diamonds are usually smuggled around the world where they wind up in the hands of legitimate companies.

As has been referred to here several times, Zimbabwe of all countries is another state that very obviously is actively engaged in black market and contraband trades. These two young men went first to Zimbabwe then to Rome and then to Switzerland, the centre of the world trade in diamonds, and then on to New York and Buffalo. In my view, it was reasonable to suspect that these two young men were likely either couriers for conflict diamonds or their passage had been financed by conflict diamonds. I could hardly ask the minister to give them a minister's certificate allowing them to stay in the country and bypass the decision of the refugee board.

Where the story gets really awkward is the fact that this occurred at the beginning of the last election. One cannot imagine what happened. First, the people sponsoring these two boys made it very clear to me. They said that if I wrote to the minister and asked that these boys be allowed to stay, the minister would grant that request. Second, they indicated they would work against me in an election campaign if I did not write the minister.

What subsequently happened, and I have it here and I am sorry I cannot display it, but these individuals were good to their word. I was flooded with about 300 letters and e-mails as they went to every church and school in my riding. They went everywhere. When I campaigned door to door, people asked me what I was doing about these two young men. They asked me why I would not agree to let them stay in the country.

I want Canadians to know that MPs can resist that kind of pressure. I do not know how many votes I lost in the last election, but in the end those two young men were deported. I do not know what happened to them subsequently. All I know is that there was a genuine, reasonable doubt of the bona fides of these two young men. It would have been totally irresponsible for me, to merely guarantee my re-election, to have written the minister and ask that they stay in the country.

What does this all have to do with conflict diamonds? It has to do with the fact that these diamonds are not only used to finance conflicts abroad. They are also used to finance the movement of all kinds of illicit peoples around the world. This is the kind of payment that people smugglers take. This is the kind of payment that terrorists receive.

The member for Nepean--Carleton is very right to have zeroed in on this problem, not just because of the conflicts in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Angola, but also because conflict diamonds are financing terrorism around the world. They are financing people smuggling. It has to be stopped.

Bill C-14 is a very good bill because it basically requires legitimate diamond traders to issue or receive diamonds by means of a certificate of authenticity or source which says that the diamonds have been bought and purchased through legitimate channels and are not ultimately diamonds that have been obtained in countries like Angola or Sierra Leone illicitly.

I will not go through the bill in detail but I would like to draw attention to one small aspect of the bill just in case the people watching have not noticed it. That is subclause 9(2)(c) which says in effect that any diamonds which are possibly conflict diamonds and which are in the country now are exempt from this bill provided that the person who possesses them at the time this bill comes into force can show documentation on how they obtained them. In other words, if a legitimate diamond trader has diamonds that he or she knows are probably originally conflict diamonds which have been brought into the country illegally, he or she can declare this and be exempt from the impact of the bill. In other words, he or she will be able to keep the diamonds and trade them.

Here is the kicker. If, on the other hand, any trader in the country has received smuggled conflict diamonds, then he or she will not be able to present the evidence that these diamonds are indeed legitimately acquired. In other words, the beautiful trap that this bill sets is that all conflict diamonds that are in the country by way of smuggling will be trapped in the country and the only way they can be used is by smuggling them out of the country into another country. Of course I do not need to tell members that smuggling has a whole other series of penalties under the laws of Canada, with all kinds of delightful fines and terms of imprisonment. Of course this is what we want because in the end what this whole question of conflict diamonds really amounts to is the financing of death. It has to stop.

This bill takes a huge step forward. It is going forward in concert with many countries around the world. I regret to say that Canada is not actually leading this; it is among many others. However one thing that no one can take away from anyone in this place is the fact that the member for Nepean—Carleton initiated this move in the House with his private member's bill, which has now become a very fine piece of government legislation.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2002 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-14. I compliment the member for Nepean--Carleton for his extraordinary work and also our ambassador to Italy, Robert Fowler, who did an extraordinary job in Angola in articulating the role of diamonds and the trafficking of illegal arms in a murky world that causes the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people every year.

Let us get to the heart of the matter. This process is important to save the lives of millions of people around the world. Blood diamonds, as we have heard, are diamonds that are mined and sold illegally. They are the fuel of conflicts from west Africa, Guinea and Sierra Leone. They are fuelled by the tyrant Charles Taylor, down through central Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, into Zimbabwe and down into Angola.

These diamonds are mined under conditions of absolute slavery. People get a few dollars for them. The diamonds are taken into a murky world. They flow into the diamond marketing areas of Antwerp and Tel Aviv where they are mixed with legal diamonds and sold in return for weapons and other illicit contraband. In fact, diamonds as well as other resources such as timber, semi-precious stones, and coltan, the material we use in our computers, are used to fuel conflicts in most of Africa.

The irony of the continent of Africa is that while it is the poorest continent in the world, it is also the richest in terms of resources. However these resources have been taken and used by brutal, evil people like Charles Taylor, Robert Mugabe and others to fuel their own conflicts, line their own pockets, and murder innocent civilians.

Perhaps the most egregious example is what happened in Sierra Leone involving rebels under the leadership of a man by the name of Foday Sanko, the head of a group called RUF. Rebels is really not the word we should use. We should call them thugs. They would go into an area where there were diamonds, and any people who were there would be lined up and given the choice of right or left, meaning did they want their right or left arm chopped off. With children, they would make arbitrary decisions, chopping off legs or limbs. Why? They would do this to scare those people out of the region or to force them to mine the diamonds, the same diamonds that people wear here at home on their rings. Perhaps half of the diamonds that are worn on people's hands in our country and in the west are blood diamonds that came from these bloody origins, where innocent people had their limbs chopped off so that we could enjoy these diamonds.

The key is to separate the diamonds that are from countries like Botswana and South Africa from illegally mined diamonds, and to enable countries that are in conflict to use the diamonds and the resources they have for the people in their countries as a tool for prosperity, not as a tool for death and destruction. This process would start a way for us to ensure those diamonds would be tracked. We can sell good diamonds that are going to help people in these impoverished countries while not allowing illegal diamonds on the market.

These illegal diamonds, coltan, semi-precious stones, timber and other resources are used to fuel the conflicts we see primarily in Africa. Perhaps conflict is not the right word to use. There is no war going on. It is basic thuggery and banditry by groups that call themselves rebel groups but who secure areas that are rich in resources. That is what the RUF did in Sierra Leone, supported by the evil Charles Taylor who is the head of Liberia and who garners money from this process. He is a thug and a murderer.

It is also happening in Zimbabwe. President Robert Mugabe took his army into the Congo, not for any strategic reasons but so that he could control diamond mines. He extracts these diamonds and pays off his military supporters and cronies. These diamonds then go into Antwerp, Tel Aviv and the Ukraine in exchange for funds to pad his pockets and also to buy weapons that enable his army to secure control and abuse his people. That is what is going on right now in that country. Zimbabwe was in the Congo, not for any strategic purpose other than to secure the resources in the eastern Congo for Mugabe's own benefit.

What happened to the people of the Congo? Two million people have died in the Congo in the last two years. More people die in the Congo every single day than died in the twin towers in New York on September 11 a little over a year ago. They die every day and no one is saying anything about this.

Similarly, in Angola, a country that has oil resources that are equivalent to that in the North Sea, people are dying despite the United Nations feeding program centres. They are starving to death in a land of plenty. That is the irony of the situation. I cannot believe the lack of engagement and the complete lack of congruence in our foreign policy.

The amount of aid we throw at a problem is not equivalent to addressing and dealing with the problem. Most of the countries in Africa under conflict that are the poorest countries in the world, ironically are some of the richest in the world in terms of resources in diamonds, semi-precious stones, timber, hydro power, et cetera.

The reason why these countries are under threat and the people are so poor and dying of starvation in the midst of plenty is that their leaders are corrupt, venal, evil people who use their power to line their pockets and those of their cronies who keep them in power. The people die, are tortured and subjected to slavery, and what do we do? Nothing.

It puts into disrepute the international organizations that we are a member of, be it the Commonwealth or the United Nations. The pillars of the treaties that we use to support those organizations are not worth the paper they are printed on because we do not have the will to live up to those treaties. Treaties are only as good as the will of the international community.

The United Nations and the Commonwealth are paper tigers because they will not act in the face of holocausts. For example, there is a holocaust taking place right now in southern Africa. Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe is using food as a weapon. He is taking food and preventing his people from eating, putting at risk six million lives. Six million people will potentially die in his country over the next six months, and what are we doing about it? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

Every year we commemorate the Holocaust and say never again. We say that if the same situation were taking place as it did in eastern Europe in the 1930s and 1940s we would stand up and intervene and do something about it. The fact of the matter is, we do not. Whether we look at the former Yugoslavia; Zimbabwe right now; Angola, where two million people have died; the Democratic Republic of Congo, where two million have died; Sierra Leone; Guinea; or wherever we choose where millions of people have died, what do we do? We do nothing, which puts into disrepute the instruments and treaties that we worked so hard to put together.

If the government and the Prime Minister want to have an African agenda, not only would they have to actively pursue the Kimberley Process, but they would have to address the three main c's of why Africa is not developing. Africa is not developing because of corruption, conflict and a lack of capacitance.

Corruption, a lack of good governance and a lack of judicial structures prevent the people from investing in their own countries and prevent international investors from enabling development to take place sustainably in these countries. The harbingers of conflict are there for months, if not years in advance, and yet we choose to do nothing about it. Penalties are paid in horrible ways by the innocent civilians who live there, as we have heard today, by the chopping off of limbs and other egregious things.

Millions die and we do nothing about it. Primary health and education is where we should be putting our money on the sharp edge.

HIV-AIDS is tied to capacitance. In many of these countries 25% to 50% of the population is HIV positive. One-quarter to half the people in these countries will die, destroying the economic backbone of these countries. What are we doing about it? Not a lot.

The Kimberley Process is good but it has to take place in conjunction with other issues; the trafficking of weapons and what is going on in the diamond centres in Antwerp and Tel Aviv.

We must make a greater effort to put our own house in order because these countries would not be under conflict if we did not economically support these conflicts by wilfully and knowingly buy these products that are attached to the murder of innocent civilians.

I compliment the member for Nepean--Carleton on what he has done. The House should support the bill, perhaps with a few minor amendments to make it stronger. I look forward to the ratification process that would ensure that more than 50 countries in the world would ratify this treaty so we can bring it into force.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2002 / 12:45 p.m.
See context


David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the very kind comments of the hon. member, but I can assure him that there are significant differences between Bill C-14 and my bill. I think Bill C-14 is better, more practical legislation, even though I put the idea forward last year in terms of Canada bringing itself into compliance with the Kimberley process. The Kimberley process had not been completed at that time, so obviously it was something I wanted Canadians to become familiar with in terms of the general issue.

The hon. member is quite right in referencing the incredible difficulties that would be attached to export permits or export controls from a place like the Democratic Republic of Congo. Right now a number of countries are in the Congo actively engaged in diamond mining and illicitly benefiting from that diamond mining. In many people's judgment, this has been one of the principal causes of the problems in the Congo right now.

Once the Kimberley process gets up and running, though, I think we will find that many people who are engaged in the trade in rough diamonds will have a considerable amount of difficulty in marketing those diamonds. In the past the diamonds have flowed to places like Antwerp and London through the Diamond High Council in Antwerp and the Central Selling Organization in London. Rough diamonds that were illicitly mined have been mixed in with legitimate diamonds from other countries like, for instance, the mines of Botswana and South Africa, et cetera. Once the Kimberley process gets up and running that will not occur. I am confident that will not occur, certainly to the extent that it has in the past. I think that is one of the benefits of this process.

I see my time is running out, but if any other hon. members have questions I would be pleased to respond.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2002 / 12:15 p.m.
See context


David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-14, the title of which is an act providing for controls on the export, import or transit across Canada of rough diamonds and for a certification scheme for the export of rough diamonds in order to meet Canada's obligations under the Kimberley process.

Periodically there are times when the House has to deal with a big issue. As far as I am concerned this is one of those times because this is a big issue. It affects the international community and issues of international peace and security in very substantive ways. The adoption of the Kimberley process internationally, hopefully by the end of the year, will spell a new era for the international community in dealing with the causes of conflict.

The Kimberley process in which the international community has been involved is as significant as the Anti-Personnel Land Mines Treaty agreed to several years back which dealt with the results of conflict. The Kimberley process deals with the causes of conflict and from that standpoint it is a very critical component of the international community's agenda on peace and security.

A number of people and organizations deserve a lot of credit with respect to having Bill C-14 before the House at this time. First and foremost, I offer my thanks to the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and several other ministers who played a key role in this process. Ministers who come to mind include the Solicitor General, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Minister of Finance.

Some individual officials need to be identified and thanked for their roles. I think of Mr. David Viveash, Jennifer Moher and Jennifer Daubeney, all from the Department of Foreign Affairs, and Don Law-West from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

Some of my colleagues alluded to the NGO Partnership Africa Canada which is based in Ottawa. Its executive director is a fellow named Bernard Taylor. This organization in particular has played an absolutely critical role in moving the issue forward. It deserves the thanks and gratitude not just of Canadians but of the international community as a whole.

There are a number of other individuals I would like to identify, in particular, Mr. Ian Smillie, Mr. Ralph Hazleton and Lansana Gberie, all from Partnership Africa Canada. These three individuals have been responsible for a considerable amount of work in relation to the whole issue of diamonds and human security.

I draw the attention of the House to some of the work they have done. One project, The Heart of the Matter, dealt with diamonds and arms in Sierra Leone. It was very important in moving the issue forward internationally.

The group has done work in terms of Guinea. It has worked in the area of diamonds in South Africa. It has examined the benefits of protection and regulation in the Canadian diamond industry as well. This group knows the issue inside out and has been very critical from the standpoint of an NGO working in this area. It has been recognized internationally.

I draw the attention of the House to the fact, and this did not receive much in the way of publicity earlier this year, that Partnership Africa Canada has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. That in itself speaks volumes about the incredible contribution it has made to this issue.

I would be remiss if I did not draw attention to the role one of our previous ambassadors to the United Nations played. This was alluded to by other members. Mr. Bob Fowler was absolutely critical in terms of moving the issue of diamonds and weapons in Angola forward. He had some help in that respect. One of his officials, David Angell, was very important in the work that was done at the United Nations to raise the consciousness of the entire international community to this critical issue.

One of the results that occurred from the publication of the Partnership Africa Canada report was the expert panel on diamonds and arms in Sierra Leone. It consisted of a number of individuals selected for their expertise in relation to particular aspects of the diamond, small arms and weapons issues relating to Sierra Leone. It just so happens that Ian Smillie was the Canadian representative on that expert panel. In my view, its report ratcheted up the pressure on the international community and the UN Security Council from that standpoint in terms of the recognition that this was an issue that absolutely had to be dealt with. It was not long after the release of the report “The Heart of the Matter”, in December 1999 I believe, that the Kimberley process got under way in May 2000. There was reference to that earlier in the debate.

The Kimberley process was a rather remarkable exercise from the standpoint of international diplomacy. It involved NGOs, such as Partnership Africa Canada, Amnesty International and Global Witness with individual governments as well as the diamond industry, which as a whole recognized very clearly and in the early stages of this process that the problem of conflict diamonds was one that absolutely had to be addressed. The diamond industry, the NGOs, the governments pulled together in quite an unprecedented way in order to move the process forward.

There were issues. There are always issues when the international community comes together. Individual countries have their particular perspectives on how an international agreement should work. We saw it time after time at various meetings in the Kimberley process in London, Moscow, and Gaborone, Botswana and the last major meeting which was here in Ottawa.

Some of the issues touched on monitoring, how the process would be monitored and how to ensure that governments lived up to their obligations under the process. There was also the issue of statistics which was referenced earlier. The Russians in particular were very concerned about the statistics issue. There was an issue with the administration of the agreement and whether, for instance, it was necessary to set up a secretariat to ensure the compliance of individual countries. There were other issues as well related to the possible restraint of trade in diamonds that were dealt with under the WTO rules.

It was an extremely complicated process involving many countries with their own perspectives on the issue. In terms of the meetings that I attended in Ottawa and Gaborone, there was a real understanding of the gravity of the situation and of the need to move forward on it as quickly as possible.

One of the members across the way mentioned that the bill has been presented to the House late in the day. I can tell the hon. member and any other members that are concerned about it that in my view the officials have been working overtime to try to get the stand-alone legislation which we have in Bill C-14 prepared and make sure it reflects the agreements that have been arrived at to this point.

Is there more work to be done in relation to the Kimberley process in terms of the monitoring of the agreement and how it works in the future in individual situations, perhaps as mentioned in places like Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone? Of course there is a lot more work that has to be done to ensure that the system works well.

From what I have seen and heard thus far, certainly in terms of the certification system that exists in Sierra Leone right now, that certification system has been a huge improvement in terms of controlling the illicit diamond mining trade in Sierra Leone.

From the standpoint of government revenues, it will make a huge difference in terms of allowing the people in Sierra Leone to benefit from the development of their own diamond resources.

I will speak briefly to the whole issue of how this process that we have been through affects Sierra Leone in particular. As some hon. members may know, I served as the special envoy to our Minister of Foreign Affairs, both former Minister Axworthy and the current minister, to go to Sierra Leone and see what was happening on the ground with respect to the conflict in that country.

One of the things that struck me the most in the very early stages of my investigations in Sierra Leone was the fact that this was not a conflict that had anything to do with the issue of tribalism or religion. Many religions exist in Sierra Leone, such as Muslims, Christians and animists, but religion had nothing to do with the conflict. It largely had to do with who would benefit from the diamond trade. The Revolutionary United Front, which is a name with which many Canadians may not be familiar, was at the forefront of the illegal exploitation of diamonds, supported in large measure by the government of Liberia under its current dictator, Charles Taylor.

I made my first trip to Sierra Leone in March 1999 in relation to my duties as special envoy. If hon. members will recall, that was a time when the Kosovo situation was heating up. The NATO allies in late March 1999 were just in the process of starting the bombing of Kosovo. The world's attention was focused, certainly not on Africa but on the former Yugoslavia.

What I saw in Sierra Leone touched me very deeply in terms of the human suffering. To go to Freetown, a place that had been attacked by the rebels in January 1999, and see the devastation there was quite unlike anything I had seen before. In the eastern portion of the city approximately 75% to 80% of the dwellings, businesses and houses had been completely destroyed. Literally 100,000 refugees were in Freetown at the time. People came from various rural parts of Sierra Leone and rushed into the city, hoping and expecting that there would be humanitarian assistance for them there.

One sight that had an huge impact on me was the amputees, the people who had their hands, arms, feet and legs amputated by the rebels. This was a terror tactic used by the rebels to create widespread panic throughout the country.

I will never forget what I saw in one camp in particular. I saw a husband and wife with their small child and each one of them had a portion of their arm chopped off by the rebels. The little girl of no more than two or three years of age had her left arm amputated very close to the shoulder by the rebel forces. That sort of thing played itself out time and time again over the course of the conflict in Sierra Leone. This was a crime on such a massive scale that it almost defies the human imagination to believe that there could be people that evil in the world.

I toured a hospital as well where I saw a man with absolutely no hope in his eyes, both of his hands had been amputated. I saw a little girl, about seven or eight years of age, with a portion of her leg amputated just above the knee. This was the sort of thing that Sierra Leone had to deal with and all of it caused by the illicit diamond trade.

This was something the international community came to understand over time. However at that time their attention was focused on other issues related to the Balkans, an equally depressing area in terms of human suffering. In large measure the people of Sierra Leone were forgotten by the international community. Bill C-14 is an indication that Sierra Leone has not been forgotten. It is an indication that the international community has come together to deal with the terrible issue of conflict diamonds.

Sierra Leone is slowly getting back on its feet after a terrible conflict. The special court in Sierra Leone will soon begin its work. It will look at who in large measure was responsible for the conflict. I anticipate we will perhaps see some individual heads of state in the region named as being responsible. We also will probably see some arms traders, who brought in weapons in exchange for diamonds, being held responsible. I fervently hope the international community follows this very closely.

In my last report on Sierra Leone I identified Leonid Minin, a well-known individual in the international community.The expert panel on diamonds and arms in Sierra Leone identified this individual. In terms of my report I did a bit more research that uncovered certain aspects of the ownership of a plane he used to ferry weapons in and out of West Africa.

I do not think we can talk about the diamond and the conflict diamond issue without talking about the arms trade as well because the two virtually go hand in hand. Certain governments, especially eastern European governments and, in particular, the government of the Ukraine, have not exercised full control over some of their own nationals in terms of the weapons trade going into places like Sierra Leone and other parts of Africa.

Now that we seem to be in the process of addressing the conflict diamond issue, I hope the international communities will focus their attention very clearly on the arms trade. As far as the conflict in Africa is concerned that is absolutely essential.

Work must be done, whether it is through the United Nations or through individual NGOs, not just to name and shame, as has been done in the past by various UN reports, but to prosecute people responsible for the arms trade in Africa.This is why I think the case of Leonid Minin who was picked up July 2001 is critical. If Minin were to be successfully prosecuted by the Italians, it would send a very significant message to the rest of the international community and to people who engage in the weapons trade.

Bill C-14 is obviously very critical for the Canadian diamond industry. We do not want to see the Canadian diamond industry negatively affected in any way by the taint of conflict diamonds, which is a danger as long as the international community does not deal with the issue. I am confident that Canada, along with many other countries, will be successful in getting legislation through. The future of the diamond industry in Canada is a very bright one as has been alluded to by other members of the House in terms of the various areas of exploration.

I would strongly suggest to every member of the House to support the legislation. It is absolutely critical in terms of moving forward a very critical aspect of the international community's agenda on peace and security.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2002 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-14, an act on the export and import of rough diamonds. There has been a fair amount of discussion on the bill so far but not a lot of debate. There are a number of issues in the legislation that are relevant to the debate and certainly should be open for discussion.

The bill has been a long time in the waiting. Unfortunately it has taken the government until the last hour of the last day to bring forward the bill and now it has to be ratified by December 31, 2002. Of course the government likes to say that date is actually January 1, 2003, so it is a different year, but my point is that there is a real urgency here. We need to look at the bill immediately, we need to debate it and we need to have it go through committee. We need to have it ratified by December 31, which as far as I am concerned as an opposition member of Parliament, is too little too late. We should have had this before us last spring. We knew it was up and coming. We could have had our committee studies done and a lot of groundwork could have been covered already.

Certainly we all know the story of diamonds. To many people they symbolize love, happiness and wealth, yet for many they mean conflict, misery and poverty. In African countries such as Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone, the profits from the unregulated diamond trade are used to obtain weapons and fund armed conflict. As a result, tens of thousands of civilians have been killed, raped, mutilated or abducted.

The rebel forces in these conflicts use so-called conflict diamonds to finance arms purchases and other illegal activities. Neighbouring and other countries can be used as trading and transit grounds. The transit grounds are for the trade and travel of illicit diamonds. Once diamonds are brought to the market their origin is difficult to trace. Once polished, they are even more difficult to identify. This is why it is very important that Canada is brought into line with the other almost 50 countries to stamp out the international trade in illicit rough diamonds.

On December 1, 2000, nearly three years ago now, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on the role of diamonds in fueling conflict, seeking to break the link between the illicit transactions in rough diamonds and armed conflict. In taking up this agenda item, the General Assembly recognized that conflict diamonds are a crucial factor in prolonging the brutal wars in parts of Africa and it underscored that legitimate diamonds contribute to prosperity and development elsewhere on the continent.

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

In March 2002, an international agreement was reached on a plan to require a paper trail for diamonds to help throttle the trade in the so-called blood diamonds, blamed for financing the bloody civil wars in Africa, yet we still have no legislation from the federal government. If we look at even part of the chronology, we had the UN resolution on December 1, 2000, and phase one of the Kimberley process, which was completed November 29, 2001, wherein the ministers of participating states at a meeting in Botswana declared their detailed proposals for international certification for rough diamonds. Then we had the March meeting here in Ottawa. In the meantime, the United States government took a very serious look at this problem and proposed legislation. That legislation was proposed and actually sent to Congress in the U.S., with the support of the diamond industry and over 100 non-governmental agencies. Unfortunately the bill stalled in Congress.

The fact that the bill stalled does not reflect at all on the importance and the timeliness of the bill being introduced last spring in the American system rather than late in the fall of 2002 in our system in Canada, again with the December 31 deadline. Certainly there are still a number of problems with the legislation. Beside the fact that we are down to the crunch and that the legislation needs to become law by the end of the year end, a few other points need to be explained and laid out.

By January 1, 2003, to take the government's date, all gem quality diamonds must be certified according to the standards outlined in the Kimberley process or they simply will not be allowed into other countries. In the meantime Canada does not have a diamond regulatory body. Canada Customs does not have a centralized port of entry or ports of entry for diamonds and it does not require proof of the origins of diamonds at this time. Perhaps the legislation will encompass all this, but we will have to see.

Importers simply can declare diamonds to be from their last port of call, such as a processing centre in Antwerp. Therefore we certainly need to have the discussion about ports of entry and exit for rough diamonds. Designated points of entry will put a stop to the smuggling of diamonds in other countries. That is not as great a danger to Canada, but it certainly is a great danger to many other countries on the planet.

Canada now has a vested interest in this. We have a particular interest as a new producer of diamonds, in particular from the Northwest Territories. This country needs to protect its diamond industry by encouraging a strong monitoring system to ensure that consumers can trust the claims about the origins of the diamond.

Bill C-14 is attempting to establish an international certification process to trace uncut stones so that gems mined by driller groups in Sierra Leone, Angola and Liberia do not infiltrate the legitimate diamond markets. We absolutely agree that this is a good step to crack down on the smuggling of rough diamonds. Canadian law in this instance would impose a $500,000 fine or a five year prison term, or both, on anyone attempting to smuggle conflict diamonds into Canada.

The Kimberley process is to address exports and imports in transit and deal only with natural rough diamonds. This process was initiated in South Africa in May 2000 to develop an international certification scheme for rough diamonds to prevent conflict diamonds from entering legitimate markets. We have a vested interest in seeing that this process is approved and that it goes through.

On November 5 of this year, the Kimberley process will meet in Interlaken, Switzerland to confirm the end of 2002 as the date for simultaneous implementation. I would think it would be in the best interests certainly of our country and the fledgling diamond industry in our country that the Minister of Natural Resources attend this very important meeting himself.

In the meantime this is more than just an issue about the import and export of rough diamonds. Now that the government actually has figured out that we have a diamond industry in Canada which has the potential to supply 12% of the world's gem quality diamonds by 2004, which is very important to fledgling economies in northern Canada, and now that we actually are looking at this issue, perhaps the government will also agree to look at the issue in a more serious and broader way and take a broader mandate.

We will deal with the legislation and support it. We will even support it being rushed through the House, but we will not simply turn a blind eye to it. There are concerns and we need to take a very strong look at them. I would like to reiterate once again that my greatest concern is the fact that the government has waited this long to introduce the legislation, and now we are in an all-fired panic to get it through the House.

There are other concerns. Canadian diamond dealers have a concern about the 10% excise tax on diamonds. It is applied against the manufacturers of all jewellery. It needs to be discontinued if Canada's fledgling diamond industry is to compete with diamonds from Botswana, Australia, Russia and South Africa.

The excise tax came into effect in 1919. It is funny how taxes get on the books and are forgotten. It was applied to a range of so-called luxury items to help finance Canada's World War I expenditures. Probably, like most taxes, it was well meaning and brought in for all the right reasons. Over time the excise tax was dropped on a number of items and remains on only a few today. It continues to remain on jewellery. If we add the 10% excise tax, the GST and the various provincial sales taxes, that is 25%.

The diamond industry is on the verge of blossoming and has real potential to fuel the economies of northern Canada and some of our southern cities as well. There is huge potential here and already we are seriously considering putting a tax of up to 25% on the product. If we have a $2 billion industry with the potential to supply 12% of the world's gem quality stones, why are we not taking a serious look at the industry, and not just the import and export of rough stones which curves around the world, and supporting it?

Our only producing diamond mine right now, the Ekati mine, employs 650 people and produces three to four million karats of gem quality rough cut diamonds every year. This is an equivalent to nearly 4% in today's numbers of the world diamond production by weight and 6% by value.

The Diavik mine will begin operation in 2003. Two more projects, one in the Northwest Territories and one in Nunavut, could open by 2007. These four mines would provide direct employment for about 1,600 people and could bring a total annual production of nearly $2 billion.

Many people will benefit from the development, including northern aboriginal groups, at the mine and in industry related activities as well as training and skills in cutting and polishing diamonds. They will receive direct transfers under the impact and benefit agreements negotiated directly with the mining companies. Therefore the diamond industry has been a win-win for our northern communities. It is an exciting time for Canada and especially Canadians in the northern region. This is a time to bring jobs and skills to many people who need to enrich their lives, and these jobs and skills will come from the mining of rough diamonds.

We support the bill at second reading. We hope the government will take the entire industry much more seriously than it has in the past. We recognize the time frame and the restraints and conditions the government is working under. However we should have our legislation in place even if the meeting in Switzerland does not confirm December 31, 2002 as the deadline.

Furthermore, we have a fantastic opportunity and a terrific industry. It is environmentally friendly and safe. It has the potential to put our northern communities on the world map. It has huge potential for the sale of Canadian stones. That little laser etched polar bear on that polished stone at the end of the day may be the greatest trade mark that Canada has ever come up with. This is a fantastic opportunity. We have free trade with the United States and the United States buys 60% of the world's polished stones. The biggest market in the world is next door. There is no way Americans or anyone else on this planet should even consider buying conflict diamonds when they have a guaranteed safe source of stones right in Canada. We have an industry waiting to happen, to cut, polish and export these stones.

It is not just about this legislation, which we support. It is also about the excise tax and the situation in which the diamond industry is today. I hope the government is at least listening to this debate. I hope it intends to follow this up and not only regulate the import and export of rough diamonds, not necessarily for Canada but certainly for the conflict regions of the world, but also look at the industry in Canada which supplies 6% of the value of all the gemstones on the planet. It has huge potential not just for the regions of northern Canada, but for the rest of the country as well.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2002 / 11:40 a.m.
See context


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of my colleagues in the New Democratic Party to join with members from all sides of the House in supporting the principle of Bill C-14.

My colleagues and I have long called on the Government of Canada to take the steps that are necessary to ensure Canada's participation in the Kimberley process, which is an international certification scheme that aims to break the link between armed conflict and the trade in rough diamonds. We know all too well that civil wars in Angola, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are currently being fueled by the export of conflict diamonds. Rebel groups in Sierra Leone were also exporting diamonds to finance their military campaigns, although fortunately this conflict now appears to be over.

This morning I do want to pay particular tribute to the member for Nepean—Carleton for the work he has done, the tireless efforts that he has put into making this important legislation possible. I know that he has travelled to Sierra Leone on a number of occasions and has come back to Canada and made his colleagues and the public generally more aware of the concerns in this area. I think all of us owe a debt of gratitude to the member for Nepean—Carleton for the work he has done.

I will not be speaking at length as others have given some of the history of this process. We know that a number of dedicated NGOs have also been very much involved in making this important advance possible. Here I want to single out Partnership Africa Canada, which has really done an outstanding job. As Canadians, I think we should be very proud of the work it has done at the international level to help make this important Kimberley process viable. It has been working since 1996, along with another NGO called Global Witness, to conduct research on the issue and also to come up with an international mechanism to help address the problem. We heard earlier about UN resolution 1173, calling for the embargo of conflict diamonds from Angola. This has really been a partnership of NGOs, the diamond industry itself, political leaders and the United Nations working together to determine how we can actually track and stop the flow of these conflict diamonds and the resources that come from them from funding bloody struggles.

In May 2000, the Government of South Africa initiated the Kimberley process at an international meeting to discuss the establishment of an international system to monitor the trade in diamonds. Later that year in December, it was Canada that co-sponsored UN General Assembly resolution 55/56, which envisioned the creation of an international certification scheme for rough diamonds. This resolution was adopted unanimously by the General Assembly.

Here I want to point to the role that was played by our then ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador Bob Fowler. Members of the House may recall that Bob Fowler made very strong and eloquent speeches on a number of occasions at the UN Security Council, drawing to the attention of members the importance of acting. We should as well recognize that we owe him a great debt of gratitude and that again as Canadians we have played an important role here. Just as our Ambassador Philippe Kirsch played such an important role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court, so too Ambassador Bob Fowler, I believe, deserves a great deal of credit in this area.

Earlier this year in March, the most recent Kimberley process meeting was held here in Canada, in Ottawa. Some 48 countries agreed to enact domestic legislation in order to create a global certification scheme for rough diamonds. That is the purpose of this legislation before the House today: to ensure that Canada plays its role as a member of the Kimberley process. We have heard already how that will work and we are hoping that the first Kimberley process certificates will be issued beginning on January 1 of next year.

Obviously this is an important step, but it is by no means the only step that has to be taken in order to deal with conflicts in areas such as Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone. It is important that there be strong diplomatic action as well and that Canada play an important role there, that Canada work tirelessly to bring about peaceful solutions to these conflicts through diplomacy and, if necessary, through the contribution of peacekeeping forces under UN auspices. Yes, we must work hard on the issue of conflict diamonds, but we must also redouble our diplomatic efforts to deal with the underlying causes of these tragic and often incredibly bloody and violent conflicts.

We know that this will be good for the Canadian diamond industry.

We have heard the comments from the Bloc Quebecois member on this issue. He comes from a riding where there are diamond mines.

In fact, clearly the Canadian diamond industry would benefit from the Kimberley process because our Canadian stones would be certified as conflict free. We know as well that a number of consumers have avoided diamonds altogether because of the risk of supporting conflicts or terrorism. Hopefully now that this process is going to be in place they will call off these boycotts and this will again assist the development of the Canadian mining industry.

There is one important area in which I want to call upon the government to take every possible effort to strengthen the Kimberley process. The gravest weakness in the Kimberley process is the lack of independent, impartial, external, regular monitoring of governments' compliance with the regulations. This is a very important area and it is one which I hope Canada will be working hard on to strengthen in the coming months. Yes, we signed on to the Kimberley process, but it seems to me we also should be listening to those voices from the NGO community in particular, including Partnership Africa Canada, Global Witness, Amnesty International and Oxfam, which have all noted that this absence of independent monitoring may be a fatal flaw in the system. It is essential that we campaign actively to ensure that this problem is addressed.

In March of this year they made an effort at the Ottawa meeting on the Kimberley process, but unfortunately the participating committees were not able to agree to independent monitoring. Russia, for example, objected to external scrutiny of its diamond industry as it considers diamonds a strategic mineral. Other nations objected that such monitoring would be too costly, or they said it might jeopardize commercial interests, but it is essential that we move toward independent monitoring because without it there are simply too many loopholes in the entire certification system.

Conflict diamonds could enter the international marketplace under the guise of legitimacy and supported by the Kimberley process certificates. Now, for example, the Kimberley process only admits so-called review missions which will be established only when there are “credible indications of significant non-compliance”. These missions will only be conducted with the consent of the country concerned, which means they can simply be rejected by the suspect country. They would not be truly independent and impartial and the reviews would not be conducted on a regular and ongoing basis.

One example of this, according to Partnership Africa Canada, is the United Arab Emirates, which produces absolutely no diamonds whatsoever but increased its exports of diamonds to Belgium from $4.2 million in 1998 to $149 million in 2001. This is a country that does not produce any diamonds at all. Clearly if the United Arab Emirates does not join the Kimberley process, its diamonds will be excluded from the global trade.

It is important that we recognize that this is a significant step we are taking. Again I pay tribute to the member for Nepean--Carleton, to Partnership Africa Canada and to Ambassador Bob Fowler for the leading role they have played on this issue internationally, but at the same time I urge them to continue working to significantly strengthen the Kimberley process.

With that, once again, on behalf of my New Democrat colleagues, we join with members on all sides of the House in commending this important step forward. We will do whatever we can to work to strengthen it and make it a more effective scheme to ensure that conflict diamonds do not in any way fund the wars taking place at the present time.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2002 / 11:30 a.m.
See context


Ghislain Fournier Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak in connection with Bill C-14, an act providing for controls on the export, import or transit across Canada of rough diamonds and for a certification scheme for the export of rough diamonds in order to meet Canada's obligations under the Kimberley process.

In order to meet its international commitments, Canada had to create a document for implementation of the Kimberley process within its territory. This will help it assume its role on the international scene, as both leader and stakeholder.

The need for the Kimberley process has been demonstrated. It was high time, as far as I am concerned, for steps to be taken, if for no other reason than humanitarian imperatives. The far too numerous victims of the crimes perpetrated with the proceeds of trade in conflict diamonds may not be able to rejoice, but at least this is a step in the right direction.

Predators will now find it more difficult to use diamonds as currency. We must not let down our guard, however, for attenuation of symptoms does not mean that the causes of the problems, such as poverty and political instability, have been eliminated.

It is necessary, therefore, for the federal government to make a firm and resolute commitment to developmental aid. It must waste no time in injecting the necessary funds to help overcome the sufferings of the populations experiencing the problems which have made the Kimberley process necessary.

In certain cases, particularly Liberia and Sierra Leone, there needs to be funding provided to track diamonds from their source to prevent people from thwarting the procedures and embargos decreed by the UN.

Keep in mind that Liberia, a country that produces very few diamonds, trades in them and uses the proceeds to purchase arms and to help rebel military factions in Sierra Leone.

In providing the money needed to track diamonds to their source, the government wins on two fronts: first, by meeting the objectives of the Kimberley process, which are to protect human rights in the countries involved and protect the diamond industry; and second, by improving its performance when it comes to its contributions to international assistance.

Let us not forget that Canada contributes well below the standard set by the United Nations, which is 0.7% of gross domestic product. Our contribution was only 0.23% for 2001. Are we less capable than Denmark, for example, which contributes more than 1% of GDP to foreign aid, or Norway, or the Netherlands, to name but a few? We rank 18th in the world. Given our resources, this is nothing to be proud of.

However, we know quite well that when it comes to this issue, it has been economic considerations that have sparked research for economic solutions. Indeed, once the role of diamonds in the conflicts, along with the underlying reasons, were identified—for the most part by non-governmental organizations—the diamond industry could no longer ignore the problem, nor could it shirk its responsibilities. The industry itself also had to come up with a sustainable solution for the international community.

However, we acknowledge that the measures that were taken, given the context, were appropriate, since the diamond industry is a very important economic lever for developing countries, as well as here at home.

Quebec is one of the top mining producers in the world. There remains much land to be explored and there is a great deal of hope in terms of the prospects: new occurrences of gold, diamonds and other metals are discovered every year.

In terms of diamonds, to mention but a few of the possibilities identified by renowned geologists, northwestern Abitibi is a region where kimberlite is likely to be found, as is the Témiscamingue region; Quebec's near north also has a significant kimberlite potential over large areas; and the environment in the western part of New Quebec is very conducive to the presence of kimberlite.

Just last Friday, October 18, the American firm Diamond Discoveries announced it had discovered numerous kimberlite dykes north of Schefferville. I have here a newspaper clipping to that effect. Schefferville is in my riding, some 450 kilometres north of Sept-Îles, which goes to show how large my riding is.

Let me read to the House this short article recently published in Le Nord-Est Plus , a newspaper from my riding which has a large readership and is very informative.

The headline reads “Mineral Discoveries North of Schefferville”. The article reads as follows:

Months after acquiring permits for the exploration of 50,000 acres—this is a huge area—of property in the Torngat Mountain region, northeast of Schefferville, the American company Diamond Discoveries just announced the discovery of numerous kimberlite dykes.

In August, this American company teamed up with Toronto-based Tandem Resources; the latter acquired a 40% interest in an investment of several millions in Lac Castignon. Diamond Discoveries had previously acquired the above-mentioned area following preliminary work that yielded results encouraging enough to warrant a further expansion of the area to explore.

On this new property, Prospecting Geophysics, which is in charge of the exploration program, has already detected diamond indicators. Specimens totalling 450 pounds were shipped to the lab in Val-d'Or for further examination.

A magnetic survey is being performed by a team of eight with two senior geologists.

All this to say that it is looks very good. Even in my riding, in the North, we have incomparable resources.

As we can see, mineral prospecting and exploration open up some extremely interesting possibilities and hold out a promising future. Hence the need to address immediately all processes and problems that may tarnish the long-term reputation of the diamond industry in Canada.

This involves the economic future of many regions and communities, not to mention the stone cutting and polishing industries, which are beginning to flourish in Quebec. If we want Montreal to be a world diamond capital, we need to first make sure that the diamond industry will last.

As for Bill C-14 per se, we have a few questions regarding clause 17 on in-transit diamonds. Clause 17(1) states that “An investigator may seize in-transit rough diamonds if they are not accompanied by a Kimberley Process Certificate—”.

What happens to diamonds that are not seized? We understand that seizure is a direct prevention and implementation measure under the process to stop unauthorized exporters and more specifically, exporters dealing in blood diamonds. If they are not seized, these diamonds will remain in the system and will continue on their way without any problems.

As a result, the objective of the process is out of reach.

As a transit country in this type of situation, what is Canada's position? How does this affect our image and credibility in the context of the process?

In closing, the Bloc Quebecois supports the bill for the following reasons: the numerous atrocities perpetrated with blood diamond money are very well documented.

We must act in order to put a stop to this. Without such a process, countries that purchase diamonds, including Canada, fund the crimes that take place in these countries.

Canada's social and moral responsibilities require that we move ahead with this bill. This is what I would consider a quite modest step to deal with the terrible situation in the countries in question, which I mentioned earlier. Canada must be consistent and increase its development assistance and its support to help Africa and its more fragile countries.

Such action will also protect the diamond industry from the terrible fallout from the inappropriate use of revenues generated by the industry.

We await an answer to our questions regarding clause 17 of the bill. This may be but a small flaw, but it is a flaw nonetheless.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2002 / 11:15 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, it actually gives me pleasure to rise today to discuss Bill C-14, the government's answer to the Kimberley process.

Bill C-14 is an act providing for controls on the export, import or transit across Canada of rough diamonds and for a certification scheme for the export of rough diamonds in order to meet Canada's obligations under the Kimberley process.

A number of people might ask why Canada needs the legislation. Those who are unaware, Canada is now heavily involved in the diamond mining industry. Why Canada requires legislation along these lines is that without legislation Canada is not in a legal position to meet all the requirements of the Kimberley process certification scheme.

Under the legislation the Minister of Natural Resources will have the authority to do the following: issue a Kimberley process certificate, KPC, for exports; verify the information in an exporter's application for a certificate for participating in an import shipment, including the important KPC documents; delegate the above administration practices to any person; make regulations prescribed in the records to be retained and presented by exporters and importers; the form and containment of the KPC and KPC application and the requirements of a tamper resistance container; and designate enforcement officers and establish that they process the KPC applications.

The Kimberley process was originally initiated and developed by South Africa in May 2000. It is an international certification scheme for rough diamonds to prevent conflict diamonds or, as some of us know them, blood diamonds, from entering legitimate markets. It was chaired by the government of South Africa. The process brought together 48 countries, including Canada and the United States, along with a number of other countries such as Central African Republic, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, India, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. There are many countries that have the same concern that we do in regard to these diamonds.

What exactly is the Kimberley process? The Kimberley process was internationally established to break the link between the trade in rough diamonds or blood diamonds and armed conflict, particularly in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

We may wonder whether the trade in conflict diamonds is large. No, it is not really right now because conflict diamonds constitute only a small percentage of the diamond trade. However they still have a very devastating impact on peace, security and sustainable development in the affected countries. Has the trade in conflict diamonds not been eliminated? As I said, there is much less trade today but it still affects several African countries.

Why has Canada's position on the issue of conflict diamonds been international? As I said, we are now finding diamonds in Canada and we will be part of this process. We have been a leader in instituting some control in this.

The government's answer to our concern is Bill C-14. It is not an extensive bill but it answers a lot of the questions. As we go through the summary of the bill, it is the government's response to efforts among diamond importing and exporting nations to certify that rough diamonds on the move are sealed in tamper proof containers and certified as not being used to finance conflict, or so-called blood diamonds. Although such diamonds are supposedly decreasing in number, the threat to the marketing image of gem quality diamonds as well as the economics of several African nations remains serious.

Time constraints are tight due to the target of this November for all 48 to 50 participating nations to commit to national implementation and December 31 for simultaneous implementation world wide.

Bill C-14 is accepted by BHP Billiton Diamonds Inc. which operates the Ekati Diamond Mine 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife. It also is endorsed by the mining association. The mine employs 650 people and has offices in Kelowna and Vancouver, British Columbia; Yellowknife, as well as Antwerp; Belgium; and London, England.

Other companies expect their mines in the territories to be operational by 2007 with the annual production forecast at $1.6 billion and direct payrolls of 1,600 people plus 3,200 indirect jobs. Additional diamond exploration in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador has not yet yielded economically viable sites but exploration is still ongoing.

What we are talking about today impacts a large working force here in Canada with the potential for it to go a lot higher. I only refer to this to show the justification for Canada becoming involved in the Kimberley process. Some of the cutting and polishing is centred at Yellowknife and Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula. Training programs, especially for aboriginal workers, are still in process with resulting job skills being among the benefits to northern residents. This is an industry that was very much needed in the northern parts because unemployment was very high up there.

All Canadian diamonds are first exported to London and Antwerp for sorting. We also import diamonds from 44 countries, including Israel, India, the United States, Belgium and the U.K.. In terms of value of our diamond imports, the top five are those countries.

The multiple stages of handling from international mining through sorting, polishing, cutting et cetera are major reasons for the Kimberley process agreement to ship these valuable products in tamper proof containers with a certificate attached to prevent inclusion of blood diamonds.

Each certificate should bear the title, Kimberley process certificate. It should also include the Kimberley process logo and the following statement “the rough diamonds in the shipment have been handled in accordance with the provisions of the Kimberley process international certification scheme for rough diamonds”.

The country of origin should also be included on the certificate for shipment of parcels of unmixed. The certificate may be issued in any language provided that an English translation is incorporated. Also included would be unique numbering with the alpha 2 country code according to ISO 3166-1. It should indicate that the package is tamper and forgery resistant; the date of issuance; the date of expiry; the issuing authority; identification of exporter and importer; the carat, the weight and the mass; the value in U.S. dollars; the number of parcels in the shipment; relevant harmonized commodity description and coding system; and validation of the certificate by exporting authority.

There are also some optional elements with regard to the certificate. It may also include characteristics of a certificate, for example, as to form and security elements; and quality characteristics of the rough diamonds in the shipment. The recommended import information should also have the following elements: country of designation; identification of importer; and authentication by approving authority. Rough diamonds may be shipped in transparent security bags. The unique certificate number may be replicated on the container.

The weakest link in Bill C-14 and the process that Canada is taking in answering the Kimberley process remains the initial certification, especially when performed by officials and countries widely reputed to suffer from an epidemic of corruption, notably some of the African countries. No independent, international agency will verify or even spot check the certification. This becomes another problem. It should be incorporated into the bill.

Bill C-14 requires that Canadians ensure the certificate provides accurate information to company officials and that individual directors are liable.

We come to a point that I hope can be addressed in committee along with a couple of other concerns. There is no liability under clause 24 of the bill for investigators who enter on private property. We in North America have strong feelings toward private property and what we own.

Clause 24 reads:

When exercising their enforcement powers, investigators may enter on and pass through or over private property without being liable for damage to property or infringement of rights relating to property.

The clause raises some concern with me, particularly with regard to no liability if the company and the people who are under investigation are proven innocent and damage is done to the property. Surely with our environmental codes and standards there has to be some liability. If a property was disrupted the company would be on the hook 100 per cent. I think that clause has to be looked at very closely.

Another point is that prosecutions under Bill C-14 can only be instituted within three years from the time the complaint arose.

I am tougher on this point. Due to the significant degree of international cooperation that is likely to be involved and the fact that human lives are at risk with the trade in blood diamonds, I would suggest that a time limit of seven years is not unreasonable. I say that because the lines of communication when dealing with other countries and ourselves can be a hindrance. A company's reputation will already be damaged by the laying of charges. The best way to minimize such impact would be to obtain convictions and not allow the guilty parties get away with the crimes due to paperwork technicalities that are bound to arise when dealing between countries.

When we deal with financial costs, seized diamonds can only be held with the consent of the owner. An improvement would be to authorize holding such diamonds until the case is resolved. That way it would be guaranteed that possible fines would be paid. We know of a number of cases where fines have been levied against companies or individuals but by the time it comes around to collecting the fee the individual or company has disappeared or the finances have all gone up in smoke. Those are areas we have to look at. Is the process needed in Canada? Definitely.

These concerns will have to be addressed in committee to our satisfaction. Overall the legislation is long overdue.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2002 / 11:05 a.m.
See context


Ben Serré Liberal Timiskaming—Cochrane, ON

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for doing that. At the Okinawa summit, in July 2000, the Prime Minister, along with the leaders of the other G-8 countries, stressed that the trade in conflict diamonds is a priority for G-8 members in the prevention of armed conflicts.

On that occasion, G-8 leaders asked that the possibility of formulating an international agreement on the certification of rough diamonds be considered.

At the June 2002 Kananaskis summit, under the G-8 action plan for Africa, the 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 led by South Africa.

My colleague, the hon. member for Nepean—Carleton recognized early on that the illegal diamond trade meant death and suffering for many people on the African continent.

This is an issue that he not only took to heart but acted upon. As Canada's special envoy for Sierra Leone he informed us of the situation in two reports: “The Forgotten Crisis” and “Sierra Leone, Danger and Opportunity in a Regional Conflict”.

One year ago, on October 17, 2001, this hon. member got the attention of the House by introducing Bill C-402, an Act to prohibit the importation of conflict diamonds into Canada. In doing so, the hon. member recognized that such trade had to stop because it was a threat to human rights, political stability, economic development, peace and security in many regions, and also a threat to the legitimate trade in diamonds in countries such as Botswana, South Africa and, of course, Canada. I congratulate the hon. member for his work in this area.

In Canada the diamond industry is a relatively new industry. Our first commercial deposit was discovered in the Northwest Territories in 1991. The diamond mining industry is growing and by 2011 it is expected that Canada will rank third globally, in terms of the value of annual rough diamond production, after Botswana and Russia.

BHP Billiton has been operating the Ekati mine since 1998. This mine is located 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife. Operations at the Diavik mine, which is located near the Ekati mine, should begin in 2003, while two other mines in that region, more specifically in the Northwest Territories and in the western part of Nunavut, could begin operations by 2007. The annual production for these mines could reach $1.6 billion and operations at these sites could create 1,600 direct jobs.

The major exploration activities going on indicate that other mines could begin operating in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Exploration is also going on in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador; these operations could also lead to the opening of diamond mines in these provinces.

In addition to the mining industry, there is a small diamond cutting and polishing industry in Yellowknife and in Quebec's Gaspe region. Other polishing and jewellery making facilities are located in various regions of Canada.

The diamond mining, cutting and polishing industry depends on access to export markets, which in turn depend on Canada's participation in the Kimberly process.

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

The process, which is chaired by South Africa, now includes 48 countries involved in producing, processing, importing and exporting rough diamonds. These countries account for 98% of the global trade in and production of rough diamonds and they include all of Canada's major diamond trading partners. For example, the United States, the European Union, Japan, Russia, Israel and India are all participating in the Kimberley process.

Canada participated in the Kimberley process from the start. Nine full meetings and two ministerial meetings held as part of this process resulted in detailed proposals concerning an international certification scheme for rough diamonds. In March 2002, Canada hosted the latest meeting of the Kimberley process, at which time a consensus was achieved on the proposals for a scheme.

A technical meeting on the implementation of the process was held in September in Pretoria, South Africa. Participating countries demanded that the certification scheme be simultaneously put in place by the end of 2002. Given the tight timeframe, the government made drafting and passing this bill a priority.

At the next ministerial meeting scheduled for November 5, 2002, in Switzerland, participating countries will be asked to examine progress to date, commit to implementing the scheme in their respective countries and setting a specific effective date. The end of 2002 should be maintained as the deadline.

The international certification scheme includes several key commitments, one of which provides for all rough diamonds imported into Canada or exported to other countries to meet the certification scheme criteria. There are also trade restrictions whereby trading rough diamonds with non-participating countries is prohibited.

Implementing the scheme in Canada required developing rough diamond certification procedures and controls on imports and exports. The legislative authorities provided in Bill C-14 must therefore be put in place.

The proposed bill will provide the authority to verify that natural rough diamonds exported from Canada are non-conflict. It also will give the authority to verify that every shipment of natural rough diamonds entering Canada is accompanied by a Kimberley process certificate from the exporting country, again certifying that the diamonds have a non-conflict source.

Consistent with the scheme and other country's processes, the bill is designed to ensure that natural rough diamonds in transit from one country to another across Canadian territory will be limited to trade between Kimberley process participants. Canada will not be a conduit for conflict diamond trade.

Passage of Bill C-14 will put in place all of the authorities required for Canada to meet its commitment under the international Kimberley process. The early passage of Bill C-14 will ensure that these authorities are in place by year end, when the process is planned for international implementation.

To conclude, I seek the support of all members of this House so that Bill C-14 can move forward quickly, to enable Canada to implement the Kimberley process together with its world partners.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 2002 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

Timiskaming—Cochrane Ontario


Ben Serré LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-14, which will make it possible to control the export, import and transit across Canada of rough diamonds and will establish a certification scheme for the export of rough diamonds in compliance with the Kimberley process internationally.

Before discussing the bill itself, I would like to give a brief overview of the steps that have been taken by Canada and the international community in connection with the rough diamond trade. The international community is still greatly concerned about the lilnk between the illegal rough diamond trade and the financing of armed conflicts, particularly in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Although blood diamonds constitute only a small part of the international diamond trade, they do have considerable impact on the peace, security and sustainable development of the countries involved.

With leadership from Canada, the United Nations has taken several initiatives to address this problem. In 1998 the Security Council imposed sanctions prohibiting the import of rough diamonds from Angola that were not controlled through an official certificate of origin 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 the foundation for the adoption of additional sanctions on Sierra Leone which placed similar restrictions on rough diamond imports from that country.

Sanctions were also imposed on Liberia, given its role as a channel for illicit diamonds from Sierra Leone.

The UN has shown an ongoing interest in the blood diamond issue. 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, in order to tighten up measures to control the diamond trade and prevent blood diamonds from getting into legitimate markets.

The G-8 is also keenly interested in this issue. At the July 2000 Okinawa summit, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, along with the leaders of the other G-8 countries--