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.