Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill S-215 and I am very pleased to hear that the hon. member from the NDP will support it as well.
The bill proposes to specifically include suicide bombing in the definition of terrorist activity in the Criminal Code. The bill would add a “for greater certainty” clause after subsection 83.01(1.1) of the Criminal Code, which would specify that suicide bombing would come within paragraphs (a) and (b) of the definition of terrorist activity when committed in the context of a terrorist activity.
The bill has a lengthy history. It was originally introduced as Bill S-43 on September 28, 2005, reintroduced as Bill S-206 on April 5, 2006, reintroduced yet again as Bill S-210 on October 17, 2007, and reintroduced a fourth time as Bill S-205 on November 20, 2008.
Previous versions of the bill all died on the order paper. The present version was introduced on March 24. It was reviewed by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, reported without amendment and passed without amendment.
I recognize that the current definition of terrorist activity contained in the Criminal Code already implicitly encompasses suicide bombing when committed in the context of terrorism. If we look at the definition of terrorist activity in section 83.01(1) of the code, we see that it incorporates criminal conduct as envisaged by the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, one of the United Nations' counterterrorism conventions, while the second part of the definition includes terrorist activity, which intentionally causes death or serious bodily harm or endangers a person's life.
It is also true, however, that the words suicide bombing are not expressly mentioned in the present definition of terrorist activity, and there is considerable support for the specific criminalization of suicide bombing as part of the terrorist activity definition in the code.
Canadians Against Suicide Bombing, a Toronto-based group led by a former judge, has been particularly supportive of the objectives behind Bill S-215 and it established an online petition in support of the bill. Many prominent Canadians from all walks of life have also signed an open letter of support.
In my view, this bill merits support. The bill would come into force on the day to be fixed by order of the Governor-in-Council, thereby providing an opportunity for any needed preparation time to facilitate its implementation.
No other country is known to refer specifically to suicide bombing in its definition of terrorism and terrorist activity. Therefore, Canada would be the first to signal its abhorrence of these cowardly acts by adopting such a reference in its legislative definition of terrorist activity. Suicide attacks are intended to kill and maim innocent people and inflict extensive property damage. As the hon. member who spoke just before me said, it is the innocent people for whom we are most concerned, the innocent lives of men, women and particularly children who are affected.
Attackers are often prepared to die in the process. We all know about the attacks of September 11, 2001, that killed nearly 3,000 people in the World Trade Center in New York City. We also remember the July 7, 2007 London bombings and the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India. Anyone who reads a newspaper, listens to the radio or watches television knows that suicide bombings occur on an alarmingly regular basis.
Bill S-215 gives Canada the opportunity to show international leadership by specifically denouncing suicide bombing and expressly prescribing suicide bombing as a type of criminal activity.
I invite all members in the House to support this bill.