Nuclear Terrorism Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to create four new offences relating to nuclear terrorism in order to implement the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

Elsewhere

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.

Votes

May 21, 2013 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2012 / 12:30 p.m.
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NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will refer back to the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit and some key facts. There is an urgency around the matter, as the member for Timmins—James Bay pointed out.

There were 11 areas of priority importance in nuclear security and a call for action on a number of key critical areas, including strengthening the physical protection of nuclear facilities and enhancing emergency response capabilities in the case of radiological accidents while comprehensively addressing nuclear security and nuclear safety concerns, strengthening the management of spent nuclear fuels and radioactive wastes, and strengthening the protection of nuclear materials and radioactive sources in transport. Moreover, there was a call for encouraging the establishment of a system to effectively manage and track such materials on a national level, including preventing the illicit trafficking of nuclear materials, and building nuclear forensics capacity to identify the source of illicitly trafficked nuclear materials. Finally, there was a call for strengthening the nuclear security culture, including encouraging the participation of industry, academia, the media, NGOs and other civil actors in the discussions on nuclear security.

There are other points of action, but from this nuclear summit where some 53 countries were involved, it is clear that some urgent action is needed in the world. One would hope that Canada would become a leader rather than a laggard.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2012 / 12:30 p.m.
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NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou, who usually shares his thoughts and comments with me. This time, I will be the one sharing my time with him.

I am pleased to speak to Bill S-9, the Nuclear Terrorism Act, which would amend the Criminal Code in order to make it consistent with the requirements stipulated in two international conventions that we signed in 2005: the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

I will begin by making a remark that some of my colleagues have already made. This bill was introduced by the Senate. According to Canada's parliamentary process, it should be introduced by elected parliamentarians and not by senators. The NDP would prefer that most bills follow the parliamentary process and be introduced by elected members, in other words by the House of Commons and not by the Senate.

I do not want to repeat what most of my colleagues have already said. I will simply say that everything to do with nuclear weapons and the spread of fissile materials on the planet is cause for great concern not just for Canadians, but for everyone else living on this planet. I may be stating the obvious, but it bears repeating from time to time.

As far as this bill in particular is concerned, it begs a legitimate question. The hon. member for Beaches—East York spoke about this a few minutes ago. These conventions emphasize that urgent action is needed when it comes to the protection of fissile materials and nuclear weapons; it is a constant in these conventions. Nonetheless, the global perception of Canada's position is that Canada wants to wait seven years, not five, to take action. Indeed, we signed these conventions in 2005 and it is now 2012. We will not be able to ratify these conventions before 2013. When the word “urgent” is used so many times in these conventions, why wait so long to introduce bills that should be given priority?

One of the consequences is that Canada is losing international credibility and giving the impression that it does not take these issues seriously, which is not the case. Every time we meet our constituents in our ridings or elsewhere, we can see that people are very concerned about global security in general and nuclear security in particular. The public is concerned about the fact that terrorists can get access to nuclear materials to create bombs.

The parliamentary secretary's main argument when she introduced Bill S-9 was that the government has a majority. It has been in power since February 2006, but it had a minority. As far as I know, and based on what we have been hearing since the bill has been before the House of Commons, there is a general consensus: we have no choice but to ratify these conventions.

If we do not, it would go against Canada's long-held policy and philosophy.

This argument has not convinced me. We have to wonder why the government waited so long to introduce a bill that is so important at the international level.

If we look at the list of countries that have already ratified, we can see that internationally, globally, we come across as a bad student in terms of promoting nuclear security, when that is not the case and that is not the perception among members of the public.

There is another thing. If Canada had been a good student, if it had been proactive and had ratified these two conventions within a reasonable time frame, and if it had amended the Criminal Code to be able to ratify these conventions, the other countries would have believed that Canada is an international leader and that these concerns are important to it.

Each time Canada has the opportunity to show the world that it wants to be proactive and that it takes these things seriously, I think it is important to speed up the process.

This delay in implementing the legislative changes reminds me that, in October 2010, Canada withdrew its bid for a seat on the UN Security Council. While there may not be a direct link, one cannot help but regret that decision. Once again, this gives the impression that Canada is backing away from its international commitments. In reality, the ratification of these two conventions is not merely a possibility; it is our moral obligation towards our international partners.

I would like to come back to a very interesting speech on this matter given by the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth. This is not meant to denigrate other speeches, but given that the member for Toronto—Danforth knows international treaties so well, his perspective was a little different from that of others.

He talked about a number of issues, particularly the fact that, under the current process, there is a real risk of going further than just taking the measures needed for ratification, for two reasons: this could lead to amending the Criminal Code in a way that is too restrictive; and the government could anticipate future amendments to these conventions to prevent us from ending up in the situation we are in at present, which is having to wait five, six or seven years before ratifying treaties.

Under these circumstances, there is a risk in wanting to do more than the bare minimum. It is important to avoid speculating about what these conventions could become and to avoid adding any provisions that are not strictly necessary to the ratification of these two international conventions. That will be the committee's job.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2012 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Saint-Jean said that the government could have introduced this bill much sooner and that the parliamentary secretary's explanation for this was that the Conservatives did not have a majority government at the time. Those are excuses. There were times when the NDP held the balance of power under the minority governments.

If a similar bill to ratify these conventions had been introduced earlier by the government, would the NDP have supported it, thereby allowing this bill to be passed a long time ago?

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2012 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue is absolutely right.

The NDP's position is clear: we are in favour of having a better discussion and better integration with the international community, and we are in favour of combating every threat to international peace.

As stated in United Nations Security Council resolution 1570, the conventions are one aspect. The NDP would never have gotten in the way of passing this bill.

As my colleague said, it makes absolutely no sense that it took this long for this bill to be introduced.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2012 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Saint-Jean for his speech.

He addressed some important issues. Again this boils down to the government's inaction with regard to introducing this bill, which in the end was introduced in the Senate. That is not necessarily all bad considering some very specific technical aspects.

However, let us not forget that a convention was agreed to and negotiated before this government came to power. This convention was negotiated multilaterally. I was a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade, where the government's modus operandi is to sign bilateral treaties.

Considering the success that was achieved before the government came to power and how much time this government has taken since then to legislate and ratify this convention, does my colleague believe that Canada could conclude other similar multilateral negotiations on other subjects?

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2012 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Beauport—Limoilou raises a very interesting point, namely that we cannot tell what the future holds because of the rather unpredictable nature of the Conservative government.

Having said that, it is an excellent idea for us to always participate in the negotiation of all international conventions and in all discussions. But it is unfortunate that we are not more proactive. That is what is rather sad and disappointing about Bill S-9. It is an example of Canada's failure to be proactive. This follows on the heels of our failure to win a seat on the Security Council. Not being proactive has consequences for our international commitments and our reputation abroad.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2012 / 12:45 p.m.
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NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Saint-Jean for sharing his time with me so that I am able to speak to this bill, which I will have the honour to study with my colleagues on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, failing unforeseen circumstances. I truly appreciate this privilege because this bill is actually very important for a number of reasons.

I will begin by examining a practical aspect that directly affects us almost daily. We must not forget that we live in a world where nuclear and radioactive materials are very present.

Bill S-9 talks a lot about nuclear materials and civilian or military applications. These very specific applications are not under the direct control of mere individuals. The bill also covers radioactive substances that have civilian applications in our day-to-day life, such as medical applications or other civilian applications, where radioactive materials are used in measuring devices. Members will recall that some models of smoke detectors once used substances that emitted radiation, which was banned for obvious safety reasons.

This type of substance is much more common than people think. As a result, it is very important to go beyond the existing provisions of the Criminal Code that already impose sanctions for the improper or criminal use of this type of substance and extend them to cover terrorist activities. These activities go well beyond the simple desire to harm an individual or group of people. They are used to pressure and terrorize in order to force a country or group of people to basically change their behaviour and be subject to a regime that is completely unacceptable for a democratic state.

In addition to this first clarification, another concept that the NDP supports and wants to implement if and when we take office is respect for and the implementation of key international agreements governing various activities. I even asked a question in this regard. Long gone are the days when Canada demonstrated leadership, when Canada successfully adopted and implemented a treaty to prohibit landmines.

The example of the landmines treaty is important in that, even if a convention of this type is adopted, it can still be limited in terms of what it can accomplish by the non-compliance of some states in the world that prefer to avoid restricting their potential for action.

And so, beyond the perfectly valid amendments to the Criminal Code, we must ask the government this question and hope that it goes much further and truly demonstrates an ability to act to convince—if not compel—the community of nations to ratify the nuclear terrorism treaty so that it has the force of law not only within each of the different countries, but so that the countries co-operate to prevent things from getting out of control and to prevent the occurrence of any terrorist activity that we are seeking to prohibit through amendments to the Criminal Code.

I repeat that I am very honoured to be able to debate this bill today and to discuss the amendments proposed in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. We must ask ourselves a number of questions on the proposed amendments and their scope. When the bill was introduced in the Senate, a serious flaw was pointed out related to the creation of a device using nuclear and radioactive materials, which can be harmful to people. This omission is very serious. Nuclear terrorism experts are concerned that a traditional nuclear bomb could be built, even if it is quite beyond the scope of terrorist organizations. They especially worry that an explosive device or radiological dispersion device could be built, as it is much simpler to build and would be harmful to a number of people.

I am very pleased that this is now included in Bill S-9. It is good to widen the scope, but my colleague from Toronto—Danforth wondered about the multiplier effect of the crimes targeted by this bill. We will have to look into the individual effect and the scope of these actions, and whether the amendments made to the Criminal Code are in line with the constraints imposed by our society to preclude the arbitrary power of the state.

In the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, I had to examine some bills that were not charter-proof, in whole or in part. That is very disappointing; aside from the waste of time they represent, it is a serious problem for all Canadians. They could be unwitting victims of harsher laws, which do not fully achieve the desired objective and could potentially invalidate certain sections. There could be some very unfortunate consequences.

During our review in committee, my colleagues and I will ensure that the proposed changes are not invalidated by the Criminal Code because they are too broad in scope, or because they do not provide enough safeguards regarding the charter, which would result in Canada no longer being able to fully implement the requirements of the international treaties to which it is a signatory.

One issue raised in the Senate is the case of a protest taking place at the electrical generating facilities of a nuclear plant. It could be a protest organized by environmentalists to prevent employees from entering the facilities to keep the plant operating at full capacity. Under the proposed sections, could these people be charged with carrying out a terrorist activity? We are talking about a peaceful protest whose objective may be highly questionable, but still legitimate from a freedom of expression and a freedom of mobility point of view.

So, I am going to review the bill with 11 of my colleagues to ensure that we do not find ourselves in the totally unacceptable situation of the law being invalidated because it goes too far.

There is a major concern. The changes to the Criminal Code are perfectly legitimate and they are an important first step. However, once we review them, we will have to ensure that all the preventive and concrete measures taken by Canada in the future, because of its place on the international stage, will restrict the proliferation of nuclear weapons, which is another issue dealt with in these treaties.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2012 / 12:55 p.m.
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NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, one thing I noticed about the bill is it is in reference to some acts of the United Nations, which, as a signatory, Canada is required to change its laws to finally be in compliance with these United Nations resolutions. There is a bunch of initials for the two of them, which I will not try to repeat.

Why does the hon. member think it has taken the government seven years, after signing these things, to actually come forward to change the laws of Canada to outlaw nuclear terrorism? It is not a big bill. It is only nine pages. Why does the member suppose the Conservative government, which has been place almost all of those seven years, has taken so long to do this?

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2012 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his very relevant question.

Indeed, that is somewhat disturbing. I hope this is not related to some form of excessive control. I am inclined to think that the government had little interest in following up on the treaty that was signed. The negotiation and the conclusion of that treaty took place before this government took office.

I do not want to impute motives to government members, but given the Conservative government's general attitude, we know that when an idea is not its own, it can often drag its heels and even actively oppose such an initiative.

I salute the government for taking action and finally introducing this bill. Better late than never. However, in this case, it is really late.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2012 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I come from a medical background. I am a nurse by training. We recently had a shortage of radioactive isotopes used in medicine. Therefore, I can understand why people working in nuclear medicine are worried and want to know whether the process will make the transportation of these materials and their accessibility more complex.

My colleague sits on the committee that will review this bill after the next vote. Will he pay particular attention to the transportation and accessibility of nuclear materials used in medicine, to ensure that the bill does not make access to these materials more complicated and that patients receive the medical care they need?

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2012 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. This is a very legitimate concern. In his testimony, the Minister of Justice said that his department made sure that, regarding all the uses for civilian purposes, the handling, use and transportation of radioactive substances will not have harmful effects. Still, we will verify this aspect.

Since the Criminal Code is going to be amended, will there be changes to the regulations and standards that will make operations much more difficult? For the time being, we do not really have an answer. As the Minister of Justice pointed out, in addition to the Criminal Code amendments, the government has taken some regulatory measures to ensure greater safety.

Unfortunately, there are other activities in the country about which the government has been negligent and which have created deplorable and even dangerous situations for people. I certainly do not want to see that happen here. I thank the hon. member for raising this issue.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2012 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill S-9, the nuclear terrorism act, which would amend the Criminal Code to implement obligations imposed on state parties to two international conventions: the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, which I will refer to as the “suppression convention”; and the amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, which I will refer to simply as “the amendment”.

My remarks this morning will be divided into three parts: first, a discussion of the convention and the amendment; second, a discussion of Bill S-9 and how it relates to these international obligations; and third, a discussion of the contemporary context in which this debate occurs, namely, the climate of increasing nuclear proliferation in which we find ourselves.

To begin with, the suppression convention and the amendment contribute to the development and harmonization of national laws aimed at securing nuclear materials and combatting the threat of nuclear terror. In particular, Bill S-9 would add four new offences to the Criminal Code thereby prohibiting acts in relation to the possession, use and transfer of radioactive or nuclear devices or related materials as well as the protection of nuclear facilities.

Bill S-9 would also classify the commission of these new offences as “terrorist activity” and empower Canadian courts to exercise jurisdiction in cases concerning the commission of these offences extraterritorially such that the particular offence would not need to have occurred inside Canada for Canada to invoke Canadian prosecutorial initiatives.

In particular, the passage of Bill S-9 would enable Canada to ratify these conventions, a goal to which the government recently committed at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.

Members of the House may remember the political environment in which the summit occurred, back in March, with the launch by North Korea of a satellite that threatened South Korean airspace. It is in this context that the Minister of Foreign Affairs correctly observed that:

What's going on in North Korea, and frankly what could be going on in Iran, causes us all concern but I think that's an inspiration and a motive for us to see that nuclear materials that already exist are secured or even destroyed....

What the minister observed then is no less true now.

Bill S-9 is of critical importance. Indeed, the need for the legislation has long been known. In fact, the 2005 government of Prime Minister Paul Martin, under which I served, signed the suppression convention at the time. While the subsequent election precluded our legislative efforts to fully ratify and implement its obligations, I am pleased that the current government has taken up this task.

However, it is regrettable that seven years have passed in the interim. Certainly, the minister's current support for the promotion of an international framework to govern the prevention of nuclear terrorism is to be applauded. Yet, it remains as inexplicable as it is somewhat irresponsible for the government to have delayed this long, particularly on such a compelling international commitment of the first order.

Before us today is not the convention but rather Bill S-9, legislation introduced in the other place to implement principles embodied in these two international conventions agreed to, as I mentioned, by the Liberal government in 2005. Just as the Liberal government supported the promotion of a global framework for the protection of nuclear material and the prevention of nuclear terrorism then, we continue our support of this effort now. I would urge all colleagues to send the bill to committee for appropriate study and review.

I will support Bill S-9 at second reading as it implements Canada's international policy commitments in this regard. To echo the words of Senator Roméo Dallaire, nuclear weapons constitute, as he put it, “the most extreme massive violation of human rights imaginable” and serve as a violation of our human right to peace and security in the world.

The consequences of fissionable material falling into the hands of a rogue state or non-state terrorist organization are as dangerous as they are prospectively unimaginable. Bill S-9 reflects this imperative to ensure the security of nuclear materials and facilities in this regard. By amending the Criminal Code, and particularly by implementing extraterritorial jurisdiction, the bill would provide the Attorney General with the necessary enforcement tools. These tools find expression in four new criminal offences created by Bill S-9.

First, Bill S-9 would make it an indictable offence to make a device or possess, use, transfer, export, import, alter or dispose of nuclear or radioactive material or a device with the intent to cause death, serious bodily harm or substantial damage to property or the environment. It would also criminalize the commission of an act against a nuclear facility or an act that causes serious interference or disruption of a nuclear facility's operation.

A second offence makes it an indictable offence to do any of these same acts with the specific intent to compel a person, government or international organization to do or refrain from doing something. In other words, where the first offence speaks of intent to cause death, this offence speaks to coercion and threats with a nuclear connection.

Third, Bill S-9 would make it a separate indictable offence to commit any indictable offence with the intent to obtain nuclear or radioactive material, or to obtain access to a nuclear facility.

Fourth, the legislation makes it an indictable offence to threaten to commit any of the aforementioned new offences.

Moreover, Bill S-9 would include these four new offences within the definition of “terrorist activity” in section 83.01 of the Criminal Code. As such, the commission of these offences would trigger other provisions of the code in respect of related offences, such as electronic surveillance and DNA collection.

Bill S-9 has benefited from an extensive debate in the Senate and I trust that members of the House will agree to send it for further study by the committee in our House, where more of the technical details would be scrutinized.

I will now turn my attention to the context in which the debate occurs, namely the question of nuclear proliferation and disarmament and Canada's role in this regard.

Indeed, as important as it is, Bill S-9 simply standing alone would not be enough. Despite our best efforts, nuclear materials and facilities will always be vulnerable. Indeed the protection of these stockpiles is only necessary as long as they actually do exist. As long as nuclear weapons and highly enriched uranium are developed by states and pursued by terrorist organizations, they will pose a threat to human security. It is in this regard that the government's leadership has been lacking.

Indeed, as members of this place may recall, the Canadian delegation in Seoul was subject to heavy criticism by both the U.S. and the EU for having not lived up to earlier undertakings to begin the phasing out of the use of highly enriched uranium in the production of medical isotopes. Simply put, Canada should be at the forefront of the move toward arms control and international nuclear disarmament. Measures such as those in Bill S-9 must be viewed as preliminary measures, as part of a larger and developing framework of non-proliferation.

Indeed, I am concerned that perhaps the government's modus operandi when it comes to domestic criminal justice is slightly orienting its approach to foreign policy and that it may be presuming that the mere criminalization of a behaviour is enough to combat it. We know that complex and multifaceted problems such as proliferation require so much more than this.

Certainly, Bill S-9 would contribute to the prevention of nuclear terrorism by enabling law enforcement to prosecute terrorists before they achieve their intended death and destruction. Given that a single nuclear attack under any circumstance is simply not acceptable and that the risk of nuclear terrorism will never reach zero as long as weapons and devices exist and can be accessed by such terrorists and non-state actors, the bill would be inherently limited as an instrument of prevention and must be viewed as just the first step.

Let me be clear. I unequivocally support the creation of these new offences and recognize the important role of domestic criminal law enforcement in combatting the problem of nuclear weapons. Also, as I have stated elsewhere, I support sending the legislation to committee. My purpose here is only to emphasize the importance of international collaboration and international legal regimes in pursuit of non-proliferation and the ultimate goal of disarmament, which must be the end objective here.

As Senator Dallaire put it during debate in the other place, “we [should] discuss how this legislation fits into the broader stance Canada has taken and needs to take against nuclear weapons”. Simply put, we must be steadfast in our insistence that dangerous and genocidal regimes can never be trusted with nuclear weapons under any circumstances.

Diplomatic and legal institutions exist that must underpin Canadian policy in this regard. For instance, Canada should take a leading role in the push for a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention that would require countries with nuclear weapons to gradually destroy them and remove all fissile material to UN control. We should be supporting the United Nations Secretary-General's comprehensive set of proposals with respect to nuclear disarmament.

Moreover, we must pursue international legal remedies against regimes that engage in genocidal threats, particularly those that underpin those threats with nuclear weaponization.

We must view nuclear weapons for the use to which they could perhaps be dangerously put in support of these regimes' genocidal intent. We must insist that they be kept out of the hands of those states that flagrantly disregard international law, threaten the peace and security of the international community, and threaten the rights of their citizens. Indeed, as has been observed, states that violate, and massively violate, the rights of their own citizens are most likely to violate the rights of others.

The prime example of this threat in the modern context is that of Khameini's Iran. I use that term to distinguish it from the people and public of Iran who are otherwise the targets of mass domestic repression. In Khameini's Iran the steady progression toward nuclear capabilities demonstrates the importance both of domestic criminal law enforcement, as we have been discussing, as well as multilateralism and international legal regimes.

Bill S-9 deals with the domestic problem. With regard to the Iranian nuclear threat, however, we must continue to engage internationally as well.

I have described the Iranian threat in terms of a fourfold threat: the nuclear threat, the incitement threat, the terrorism threat, and massive domestic repression. Let there be no mistake about it that Iran is in standing violation of international legal prohibitions respecting its nuclear weaponization program. Iran has already committed, as an all-party committee of the foreign affairs committee in this House determined, the crime of incitement to genocide prohibited under the genocide convention itself.

Iran has been characterized as a leading state sponsor of international terrorism, and indeed its terrorism in 2012 alone, spanning five continents and some 22 terrorist acts with Iranian footprints, has served to further affirm that proposition. Finally, as I mentioned, Iran is engaged in such massive domestic repression that the latter effectively constitute crimes against humanity against its own people.

This brings me to the particular issue of the manner in which Canada must address the whole question of nuclear proliferation with regard to Iran. Here the international context and our role in that context becomes particularly important.

I would like to suggest that Canada support the prospective P5-plus-1 negotiations with Iran, with whatever diplomatic strategy may develop in the context of those negotiations, and put forward the following requirements with respect to combatting nuclear proliferation in general, but in particular with regard to Iran's nuclear weaponization program.

First, Iran must as a threshold requirement verifiably suspend its uranium enrichment program, allowing the international community to counter the Iranian strategy, the three Ds of delay, denial and deception, used by Iran to accelerate it nuclear weaponization program rather than, in fact, move toward disarmament.

Second, Iran must ship its supply of enriched uranium out of the country, where it can be reprocessed and then made available to Iran under appropriate inspection and monitoring for use in civil nuclear programs.

Third, Iran must verifiably close and dismantle its nuclear enrichment plant at Fordow, embedded in a mountain near Qom, which Iranians initially denied even existed but where a zone of impenetrability will soon develop unless that facility is in fact dismantled.

Fourth, Iran must suspend its heavy water production facilities at Arak. It is sometimes forgotten that an essential component for producing plutonium could also be water, which is a nuclear component that North Korea uses for its own nuclear weapons. Simply put, the path to nuclear weaponization need not be travelled by uranium enrichment alone. The suspension of uranium enrichment, however necessary, will not alone ensure that Iran is verifiably abandoning its nuclear weaponization program.

Fifth, Iran must allow the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors immediate and unfettered access to any suspected nuclear site, as Iran is a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Iran is thereby bound by its obligations not to pursue nuclear weapons but also to open its nuclear sites and installations.

Sixth, Iranian authorities need to grant the IAEA access to the parts and military complex near Tehran, where it has been reported that Iran has conducted high explosives testing, possibly in conjunction with the development of a nuclear weapon.

Finally, Iran needs to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to install devices on centrifuges to monitor Iran's uranium enrichment levels.

These are the kinds of threshold approaches that Canada can assist in framing and thereby assist in combating proliferation. As I said, a foreign affairs committee of the House has determined that Iran engages in state sanctioned incitement to genocide. The convergence of the two makes the threat even more dangerous than it might otherwise be.

There are a number of remedies that Canada could engage in that it has not yet done, both to combat the nuclear proliferation dimension and genocidal incitement. In other words, there are juridical remedies that we have not sufficiently explored.

First, we could simply ask the United Nations Secretary General to refer this to the UN Security Council for deliberation and accountability as a matter that “threatens international peace and security”, which is under the jurisdiction of the UN Secretary General.

Second, any state party to the genocide convention, including Canada, could initiate tomorrow an interstate complaint against Iran, a state party to that genocide convention, before the International Court of Justice.

Third, Canada, or any other country, could ask the UN Security Council to refer the matter of Iran's state sanctioned incitement to genocide, underpinned by its nuclear weaponization program, to the UN Security Council for purposes of inquiring into individual criminal liability. There are other remedies, but I will limit it in this regard.

Finally, before I conclude my remarks, I would like to return to one specific technicality relating to Bill S-9 and to link it to the problem of Iranian nuclear weaponization. As members of this place may know, despite making reference to the matter, the government has failed to take any action to list the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization under the Criminal Code. Simply put, the IRGC has emerged as the epicentre of the Iranian four-fold threat to which I referred, and has played a central role in Iran's domestic repression, international terrorism, incitement to genocide and nuclear proliferation.

The United States has already labelled it a terrorist group, while the UN and the European Union have imposed various sanctions against the IRGC and its leaders. It is regrettable that Canada has yet to take the step of listing it as a terrorist entity here in the Criminal Code, a step that would combat the nuclear proliferation, genocidal incitement, as well as the international terrorism. Indeed, the IRGC, acting through Hezbollah and the terrorist proxies of Iran, was implicated in the attempted assassination of the Saudi ambassador in Washington, and in July's terrorist attack targeting Israeli tourists in Bulgaria that resulted in seven deaths, as well as a series of international terrorist attacks during 2012.

Of course, the international juridical remedies I outlined must be pursued against the IRGC and its individual members and leaders. Indeed, I have long called for the listing of the IRGC as a terrorist organization, and I mention it now in relation to Bill S-9 to highlight one particular aspect of the bill that needs to be more closely studied at committee with related amendments as may be moved in this regard.

Another important feature of the bill is its military exclusionary clause, which would ensure that none of the newly created offences would apply to “activities undertaken by military forces of a state in the exercise of their official duties, to the extent that those activities are governed by other rules of international law”.

My concern is that activities by or in relation to the IRGC could be argued to fall into this category insofar as the IRGC could be characterized as a military force of a state and not as a terrorist organization. Clearly, the actions of the IRGC can be demonstrated to be in violation of international law, thus precluding protection under this clause. Still, so long as they are not expressly designated as a terrorist organization under the Criminal Code, this legal loophole will still loom over our discussions.

Again, we must situate Bill S-9 within the larger context of nuclear proliferation and the Iranian nuclear threat in particular, and thereby scrutinize the bill to ensure that it could have the intended effect of preventing nuclear terror. Accordingly, I reaffirm my request for the government to list the IRGC as a terrorist organization. I further suggest that the effect of the military exclusionary clause be more closely considered in committee to ensure that Bill S-9 would not be precluded from achieving effective prevention.

Canada has a tradition and reputation for taking the lead in multilateral efforts of this kind. Our nation is rich in effective soft power resources, and under previous governments we have demonstrated that multilateral leadership can achieve solutions to the seemingly most intractable problems of international co-operation and the pursuit of human security. I remind the House of our nation's leading role in the negotiation of the 1997 Ottawa treaty banning the use of anti-personnel landmines, where Canada mobilized governments and non-governmental organizations to achieve the signing of that landmark global treaty. We should also recall that Canadian leadership was effective then in changing the behaviour of governments and militaries, ultimately proving that disarmament is an achievable goal. Canada should be pursuing that goal today with respect to the overall context of proliferation, particularly as it relates to Iran.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2012 / 1:25 p.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague. Certainly the issue of the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East is of grave concern to all of us in the House.

The concern we have is that Canada has historically played a major role in multilateral negotiations to ensure that we maintain some manner of security with regard to nuclear weapons.

In regard to the current situation in Iran, we have a government that has decided to shut down our embassy, leaving us very much on the outside because we are not one of the large players but a smaller player. Therefore, our ability to have influence has been somewhat compromised.

What does my hon. colleague think of the decision by the present Conservative government to shut down the embassy at a time when we really need to ensure that we have as many people on the ground as we can to influence decisions because this issue is so serious?

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2012 / 1:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are several responses to that question.

On the matter of the closing of the embassy, as I said and wrote at the time, I supported the four considerations that led the government to consider closing the embassy, namely the question of the nuclear weaponization program, the incitement to genocide, the terrorist character, and the massive domestic repression.

As to the specific issue of the closing of the embassy, it is quite interesting and timely that yesterday evening I attended the annual meeting of the International Center for Human Rights in Iran, a Canadian-based NGO composed largely of Canadian Iranians. The predominant view last night was that while it may cause a certain inconvenience to Canadian Iranians in regard to certain consular activities, on the whole they supported the decision because of their great concern that the Iranians were using their Iranian embassy here in Canada for illegal activities to intimidate Iranian Canadians here as well as their families back in Iran. As well, the Italian government, which has been given the representative capacity of pursuing Canadian concerns, can do that, which the Canadian embassy in Iran was effectively being precluded from doing with any kind of effective diplomatic engagement.

Having said that, none of that affects our need and responsibility to engage in the whole framework of multilateral negotiations. Therefore, whatever position one takes on the closing of the embassy, that should not deflect us away from or preclude our appreciation of the fact that Canada can play a role with respect to the multilateral negotiations to combat the nuclear weaponization program in Iran, which underpins as well its state-sanctioned incitement to genocide and leverages its massive domestic repression and terrorism. It can do so through the framework I outlined earlier with regard to the eight points that Canada can play a role in.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

November 5th, 2012 / 1:30 p.m.
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NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague to my left who identified some potential failings with this bill that need to be addressed in committee. In particular, I would like his comments on the apparent failing of this bill to identify as terrorists state organizations acting as the military, which may in fact be performing roles that we in Canada would define as terrorism and, in the case of Iran, may be terrorizing an entire region of the planet. This bill would appear to exempt those kinds of state-sponsored terrorism from any actions that Canadians could take in our own Criminal Code and actions to deal with those state-sponsored terrorists in other nations.

I would ask the member to comment.