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

October 15th, 2012 / 4:25 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, what my colleague from Lac-Saint-Louis had to say was very interesting. I would like to ask him a question about a statement by Senator Dallaire, for whom I have a great deal of admiration. On the subject of Bill S-9, the senator said:

...this legislation does not necessarily give us the warm fuzzy feeling that, with regard to the movement of nuclear-related devices, material or their ability to enter this country, we have covered all the gaps in any of the areas where some of this stuff might be able to sneak in under the radar.

Does the member agree with Senator Dallaire?

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, if I have understood correctly, Senator Dallaire is saying that it is well and good to have laws and legislative provisions that prohibit this or that, but that the resources must be provided, either by the Department of National Defence or by the Canada Border Services Agency. The resources must be on the ground in order to intercept the movement of dangerous devices and materials.

It is one thing to have laws. But in order for them to be effective, they must be accompanied by the necessary resources. We cannot sit on our laurels once the law is passed and forget about it.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 4:30 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I feel fortunate because it is now my turn. I am tempted to pick up where the previous speakers left, namely the members for Toronto—Danforth and for Lac-Saint-Louis. The latter told the former that he should resort to political rants. I almost feel like doing just that because I see a problem. It is not the first time, because several justice bills are brought forward. You are aware of that because at one point you were our justice critic. Now, we are faced with the same scenario. A parliamentary secretary introduces a bill and then we hear nothing more from the government side.

We lack information regarding bills. Indeed, the bill is all we have. Again, all hon. members should read it, because it is fascinating. For some, this may be a relaxing exercise that will help them get to sleep, given how dry the document is. This legislation is not easy reading stuff. It is not what the member for Lac-Saint-Louis called a bill that is introduced following a big news story. It is not always easy to understand.

If these stages are followed in the House—and you know that Mr. Speaker, because you have been here a long time, probably longer than many of us—it is because they are all important. There is the first reading stage, when the minister introduces his bill. That is usually done quickly. This is followed by the second reading, which begins with a speech in which the government must explain its intentions. We ask some questions, but we do not always get answers. Then it is over, because there is nothing but silence from the other side, when we could already have an idea of where the government is headed with its legislation, what it is contemplating and whether it has considered all the issues. As the member for Toronto—Danforth pointed out, when listening to the parliamentary secretary, we got the impression that, maybe, something had been omitted. I am not imputing motives to her, but it is as though the government does not realize that it has been amended in the Senate. A rather important substantive amendment was made, but the government has not said much about it.

When we asked why it took the Conservative government so long to introduce Bill S-9, which does not present any problem—and we asked that question a number of times—we were told that it was part of our international commitments. And to quote the member for Toronto—Danforth, it may not even go far enough. We will see at committee stage. I am not sure I share this opinion. In any case we will see in committee, “but why five years”? Is it because, as the member for Lac-Saint-Louis suggested, the government thinks this legislation is not sexy enough—if I may use that expression—because it does not make headlines, because it will not be mentioned on the 11 p.m. news bulletin? I agree, but these are extremely important measures which seriously affect people's safety, and that is again the case here.

What is Bill S-9? This legislation was introduced in the Senate on March 27, 2012. If hon. members listened to my speech this morning on Bill S-7—at the beginning of the debate at second reading—they know that I am absolutely, and always will be, opposed to the introduction of a bill in the Senate first. In this House, we have elected members who represent the population. If a government wants to propose measures, it should introduce them in the House first. I realize that, sometimes, it may be practical because it seems that the other place has time to conduct studies. However, since we will have to do those studies in any case, I have a serious problem with that. Is that problem serious enough to prevent me from supporting the bill? It has to do more with the form. I am making a substantive criticism of the form, but Bill S-9 must fundamentally be approved by this House so that it can at least be referred to a committee.

We have various concerns regarding Bill S-9. The member for Toronto—Danforth presented a number of those concerns but I want to go back to some of them.

Bill S-9 amends the Criminal Code to implement the criminal law requirements contained in two international treaties to combat terrorism, namely the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, the CPPNM, which was amended in 2005, and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, the ICSANT, signed in 2005.

As one can see, that is not necessarily an easy process. That is basically what the bill does. It simply allows us to join these treaties.

The bill on nuclear terrorism includes 10 clauses that create four new offences under part II of the Criminal Code.

It will make it illegal to: possess, use or dispose of nuclear or radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device, or commit an act against a nuclear facility or its operations, with the intent to cause death, serious bodily harm or substantial damage to property or the environment; use or alter nuclear or radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device, or commit an act against a nuclear facility or its operation, with the intent to compel a person, government or international organization to do or refrain from doing anything; commit an indictable offence under federal law for the purpose of obtaining nuclear or radioactive material, a nuclear or radioactive device, or access or control of a nuclear facility; and threaten to commit any of the other three offences.

The bill seeks to introduce into the Criminal Code other amendments that are incidental to these four offences, but are nonetheless significant.

The bill also introduces definitions of certain terms used in the description of the new offences including, as the parliamentary secretary indicated, a definition of “environment,” “nuclear facility,” “nuclear material,” “radioactive material and device,” and the amendment to the definition of “terrorist activity.”

It will not be easy. The committee that will examine this bill will have to carry out several studies in order for everybody to properly understand the scope of the amendments being introduced.

The bill would also introduce a new section in the Criminal Code in order to ensure that individuals who commit or attempt to commit one of these offences while abroad can be prosecuted in Canada.

I am sure that members of the House have already heard about the concept of double jeopardy, which means being accused a second time for a crime for which the individual has already been found guilty or innocent.

A clause has been added under which it would be impossible to prevent the Canadian government from filing an indictment against a person found guilty abroad when that person is on Canadian soil.

The bill has a number of implications that will certainly need to be reviewed in committee.

The bill also amends the provisions in the Criminal Code—and this too is extremely important—concerning wiretapping so that it applies to the new offences. The bill will also amend the Criminal Code in order that the four new offences be considered primary designated offences for the purposes of DNA warrants and collection orders. It would also modify the Canadian rule concerning double jeopardy, as I stated earlier.

I should add, as background, so that people understand—because it is not always clear—that the bill meets Canada's international obligations under the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. In my opinion, this is the cornerstone of the bill.

Concerns have been raised, but before speaking about this, it is important to remind members that Canada has not ratified either the CPPNM or the amended version of the ICSANT. This is explained by the fact that no legislation is in place criminalizing the offences contained in the CPPNM or those presented in the amended version of the ICSANT.

Canada will not be a party to the international treaties until Bill S-9 has been adopted. I think that this is extremely important. This is probably why all the parties in the House will support Bill S-9 so that it can be sent to committee as quickly as possible.

Here are some concerns raised during the review of the bill by the Senate committee. First, there was the issue of excessive scope. The intention of the Department of Justice was to adhere as closely as possible to the convention's provisions. The member for Toronto—Danforth made the point very well. Some of the new Criminal Code offences are even broader in scope than the offences included in the international agreements. Therefore, we will have to ensure that the excessive scope of these new clauses is not going to trigger undue criminalization and does not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

There is also the issue of sentences. I was very pleased to see, at last, the Conservatives introduce a bill that does not include minimum sentences. This means we can take a serious look at their legislation without having a problem from the outset, even when we agree with all the rest. However, the maximum sentences that may be imposed for one of the four new offences are heavy. Three of the four offences may result in a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. This meets the requirements of the ICSANT and of the CPPNM, which provide that member countries must impose sentences in line with the serious nature of these offences.

The Senate brought an amendment regarding the development of a nuclear or radioactive device, which is prohibited by the ICSANT, but which was not in the original proposed amendments to the Criminal Code. I am very pleased that the Senate amended this part of the bill and that the amendment was unanimously adopted. It was an oversight. However, because of this kind of oversight, when I see that a bill—which has gone through so many stages at the justice department, through so many supposedly experts and which was approved by the minister before being introduced—contains such a glaring error, I worry about other oversights in this legislation. It is the lawyer in me that always makes me worry about that.

It goes without saying that we will take a close look at this bill in committee. We are not going to give the Conservatives a blank cheque because if they made such a serious mistake, they may have made other ones. We will see about that during the committee stage of Bill S-9.

It is important to understand some facts and numbers. The term “nuclear” usually sounds scary to people. Between 1993 and 2011, the International Atomic Energy Agency identified close to 2,000 incidents related to the use, transportation and unauthorized possession of nuclear and radioactive material. That information was provided by the director general, Non-Proliferation and Security Threat Reduction, at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

Canada ratified the CPPNM in 1980. That convention promotes the development of measures related to prevention, detection and the imposition of penalties for crimes related to nuclear material. The CPPNM was adopted under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA. There are many acronyms here.

The message I want to share with the House is this: we believe that we need to take a serious look at nuclear safety and that we need to meet our international obligations in order to co-operate better with other countries as regards strategies used to fight nuclear terrorism. There is no question about that.

I used to ask, again and again, why we were talking about five years. But I get the impression the Prime Minister really felt some pressure during his recent trips abroad: action was needed because relatively few countries have ratified the treaties.

In that context, since Canada usually enjoys a rather enviable reputation worldwide, if we can finally meet our international treaty obligations and pass a bill that makes sense, it may encourage other countries to do the same. At least, I hope it will.

Finally, we fully intend to foster multilateral diplomacy and international co-operation, obviously, especially in areas where we share common concerns, including nuclear terrorism. We must work with the leading countries that are in the process of ratifying these treaties. Since we have agreed to be legally bound by the treaties, it is important that we fulfill our international obligations. We cannot officially ratify the treaties until we have implemented national legislation. As we believe in co-operation and in the importance of this bill, we will support it at second reading so the committee can review it more thoroughly.

When it comes to nuclear issues, we have to be careful. Using less uranium would probably reduce risks. At committee, we will have a chance to bring forward some points about new technologies used to create isotopes. Members of the House will remember the isotope crisis. We have to be careful when we talk about burying nuclear waste. Will transporting nuclear waste be considered an act of terrorism? We also need to be careful when it comes to the methods used to bury nuclear waste.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 4:45 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. I thank the member for Joliette, who has paid careful attention to the entire debate, which started this afternoon.

I do not know whether the government is capable of finding cases in which Bill S-9 goes beyond what is required by the amendment to ICSANT and the CPPNM. The question was asked of the parliamentary secretary, but there was no answer. It would have been a good opportunity to tell us whether the government was capable of finding an answer.

Is it because there is no answer? Or rather that there is an answer but the government does not necessarily want to give us the information?

Earlier, members spoke of a lack of transparency, which after a while becomes a little irritating. Although we want to work co-operatively, it is sometimes extremely difficult to do so. We are never sure whether the unstated objective is simply to have us vote against legislation and then turn around and make ridiculous accusations afterward, or whether it is simply because the Conservatives themselves do not know.

A select few in the Prime Minister's Office, along with a number of ministers, have their lips tightly sealed. That is why we do not get any answers to our questions when we ask others, or even when we ask the people concerned.

I do not know whether they have answers to these questions, but we are certainly going to ask them again when the bill is referred to committee.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 4:50 p.m.
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NDP

Craig Scott NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Gatineau, the justice critic for the official opposition, spoke extremely persuasively about the problem of Canada's reputation abroad and alluded to the fact that the government seems to have a different opinion of its reputation. I am just wondering if, along the lines of the rather acute analysis by the member of Parliament for Lac-Saint-Louis, if she could comment on what might be the impact on our reputation of the fact that we have taken so long to bring in domestic legislation to ratify a treaty that we could have ratified five, six, seven years ago.

That said, there may possibly be no problem with Canada's reputation abroad. After all, the Prime Minister just received the World Statesman of the Year award from an organization so important that he skipped speaking to the UN, even though he was in the same city. The award was presented by a famous humanitarian named Henry Kissinger. Surely, all is right with the government's reputation in the world.

I wonder if the member can sustain her point that Canada's reputation is suffering.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 4:50 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

As I said, we still have a good reputation. When we speak to people, when we travel, we find that people from other countries still hold Canadians in high regard. Is the same true of governments? That is something else entirely. I was speaking more about how the citizens, not the governments, of the countries in question see Canada. I am sure foreign governments must be somewhat surprised to see how Canada has changed its style.

Allow me to make an aside. On the weekend, people in my region were asking questions. It seems that the government is getting ready to change the name of a museum in Canada. They want to change the name of the Canadian Museum of Civilization and call it the Canadian History Museum.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 4:50 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

I hope that it is rubbish, Mr. Speaker. However, it was a respected journalist who wrote an article on this, which caused a lot of concern among people.

I would like to comment on something, if I may. It is easy to see how panic can quickly set in. Why does this happen? I am not panicking, because I am waiting to see the facts. Panic sets in quickly because this government has set the tone through its previous actions.

At home, when we were young, my mother always said that she knew her daughter might have done such and such, because she knew us very well. For example, if a glass was broken, it might have been me because I was clumsy, but if it was something else, it was more likely someone else. We see the same thing happening with this government. In other words, we often wonder what there is underneath it all. The same is true on the international scene. When I was a child, before coming to the House, we talked about the blue berets and the great tradition of protecting people, of peacekeeping. Now, more often than not, the talk is about terrorism and they say we have to get tough on crime and change this or change that, and I could go on.

When we look at it all, we get the impression that things are changing at the government level. At least it has not yet reached the level of the public, but it will perhaps not take long for that to happen.

We must wonder, however, why it took so long to introduce this bill when we are being told how fundamental and necessary it is, and the reason why it was not introduced for so long while they had a minority government is not related in any way, shape or form to that fact.

That is hogwash, and those answers do not stand up. It always disturbs me, and that is why we are always suspicious when we consider bills like this. The government is never transparent with us and never gives us the straight goods. We have to keep scratching away until we uncover the facts.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 4:55 p.m.
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NDP

Craig Scott NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, everyone in this afternoon's debate has spoken of the need to treat this bill with some dispatch. Obviously, the government has put us in a situation where the bill probably needs to be treated with more dispatch than should have been necessary. This could have been done some time before. If the committee is going to treat this bill responsibly but also with dispatch, what requisite information would the member like government officials to come to the committee with so that we can do exactly that?

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 4:55 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

I agree that this bill has to be passed relatively quickly. Although it is necessary—even long overdue—we cannot set aside our responsibility as legislators by rushing such a bill through. It is a fact that it should have been enacted several years ago. However, the fact that the Conservatives should have introduced it in the House a long time ago does not mean that the committee should have to rush through it. We are going to examine it diligently and intelligently, but no one is going to force me to skip over important testimony that needs to be heard.

Mr. Speaker, I am sending the government this message through you: for goodness’ sake, when the witnesses appear, particularly witnesses from the department who have facts to convey to the committee, let us not play hide and seek, because that will take more time before we can complete our work in committee.

So I urge people to come in with the information. We want everyone to work together in the same direction. On the question of procedural stumbling blocks, it would be stupid to find ourselves five years later in the same kind of situation, just to prevent the speedy passage of this bill. We are going to do our work seriously.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 4:55 p.m.
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NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to be able to speak about Bill S-9, the Nuclear Terrorism Act, which amends the Criminal Code. I would like to point out that this bill comes from the Senate.

The bill was introduced with a view to implementing the requirements of two international treaties signed by Canada, but not yet ratified. For a treaty to be ratified, the laws that apply to it must have come into force.

The purpose of these two international treaties is to combat nuclear terrorism. They are the amended 2005 version of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, or the CPPNM, and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, or ICSANT. Canada signed both of these treaties in 2005.

In Canada, there are several steps involved in signing an international treaty. To begin with, there are negotiations and the signing. Then comes ratification, which is the implementation stage, after which the treaty comes into force. For both treaties, we are still only at the signing stage.

Signing an international treaty is only the first step in the process. Signing means that a country is in principle in agreement with the terms of the treaty and that it intends to comply with them. After signing the treaty, Canada must avoid actions that are contrary to the purpose and intent of the treaty, but it is not officially bound by the treaty until it has been ratified. There is still a long way to go before these treaties come into force in Canada.

To be able to ratify these two treaties, Canada needs to amend some of its statutes. In practice, this means that we need to introduce legislation to criminalize the offences described in both treaties. That, moreover, is the purpose of this bill: to make the required amendments to the Criminal Code in order to be able to ratify the two treaties and move one step closer to having them come into force.

It is therefore important at the outset to ask what these two treaties would like to introduce.

The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, which was ratified by Canada in 1980, was at the time intended to develop measures designed to prevent, detect and punish crimes related to nuclear material. However, the field of application of the CPPMN was limited to “nuclear material used for peaceful purposes while in international nuclear transport”. In 2005, amendments were made to cover nuclear material used for peaceful purposes while in domestic use, storage and transport as well as domestic nuclear facilities. The amendments also introduced changes to foster co-operation between states with respect to the development of measures to recover stolen or smuggled nuclear material, mitigation of the radiological impacts of sabotage and measures to fight crime related to nuclear material.

This amendment clearly affirms that the objective of the convention is to prevent and combat offences involving nuclear material and facilities throughout the world and to facilitate co-operation between states. Canada ratified the 1980 version, but has not yet done so for the 2005 version, which introduced the amendments I have just mentioned.

The purpose of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism was to provide for new criminal offences for acts of nuclear terrorism and to impose the obligation to “extradite or prosecute” in the event of acts of nuclear terrorism.

The bill that was introduced creates various clauses to implement the provisions contained in these two conventions. It is important to take a few moments to understand why I support this bill as a member of the NDP and why the NDP in general has chosen to support it.

We all agree that nuclear terrorism is a major threat to international security. It is one of the most significant threats in the world because the consequences—as we have already seen, unfortunately—can be devastating. Currently, we know that it does not take much to cause significant damage. People here in Canada and around the world are quite concerned about nuclear terrorism and are very concerned when they hear there is a possibility that some countries have nuclear programs. This is something that is very important to people not only on a national level—to Canadians—but also on an international level.

I also want to note that we are committed to diplomacy and international co-operation. Ratifying treaties to ensure the co-operation of countries when it comes to terrorism and nuclear terrorism seems like common sense to me. When it comes to such worrisome situations as this for security, we cannot bury our heads in the sand. We have no choice but to co-operate with every democratic body in order to obtain results and ensure the security of every citizen not only of our country, but of all countries.

There is one reason, among others, that I want to support this bill. In the NDP, we are proud of our international reputation, even though it has been tarnished a bit by the Conservative government many times over the past few years. Taking one step closer to ratifying these treaties shows that we have not forgotten our international commitments and would allow us to get back on the right track with regard to the image Canada wants to project on the world stage.

As several witnesses testified during consideration of the bill in the Senate, one of the main ways to prevent terrorists from getting their hands on radioactive material is to beef up nuclear security and, whenever possible, to limit military applications of radioactive materials. It is simple logic. By limiting the use of nuclear materials as much as possible, such materials will become more scarce and terrorists will have a much harder time stealing them and using them to harm our society. It is a first step. The military is increasingly moving away from nuclear weapons. This should spare us quite a few problems in the future.

I would like to highlight something that Matthew Bunn, Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard, told the Senate committee:

At scores of sites around the world, dramatically improved nuclear security has been put in place, and, at scores of other sites, the weapons-usable nuclear material has been removed entirely, reducing the threat of nuclear theft at those sites to zero. More than 20 countries have eliminated all of the weapons-usable nuclear material on their soil. These successes represent, in a real sense, bombs that will never go off.

The five last words of that quote are worth repeating: “...bombs that will never go off.” This goes to show that if we can limit or eliminate the use of such material, there will be fewer bombs hanging over our heads, and more bombs that will never go off.

To that end, Canada must take concrete steps to support nuclear safety throughout the world, and I think that this bill is a step in the right direction. Although it applies to Canada's laws, it is based on a worldwide effort.

Canada is only one of the countries that signed these treaties, and since this is an international effort to reach a common goal, it is important to ensure that every country does its part to reduce the risk to our fellow Canadians. This bill involves international co-operation among various entities.

In the past, Canada was known on the world stage as a country that values co-operation. We must continue to do our fair share and follow through on our international commitments. If Canada wants to once again play a leading role in diplomacy and international co-operation and if it wants to convince other countries to adopt a responsible approach to reducing the risk of terrorism and the theft of nuclear material and weapons, then we have to set an example and take responsible measures immediately.

Canada's ratification of these treaties will also encourage other countries to take measures to ratify the treaties and thereby help us to take one more step in improving global security.

I would like to digress for a moment. Although I am emphasizing the importance of adopting these measures, the fact remains that nuclear safety is a fairly complex issue. Everyone agrees on that. However, the desire to ratify and implement measures fairly quickly does not mean that we should avoid doing the work in committee. What is important here is taking the time to carefully examine the issues so that we only have to do the work once and so that we do not have to make changes later. Although there is a somewhat urgent need to act, we must take the time to do things right because the safety of our fellow Canadians is at stake. I would like to point out that the Conservatives have been in power for a long time and that they could have introduced this type of bill a long time ago.

As soon as it is ratified by Canada, the treaty will become the legal basis for Canada's collaboration with the other parties to the treaty in areas such as criminal investigations, mutual legal assistance and extradition. This will quite clearly strengthen international co-operation and contribute to the fight against the nuclear threat.

The bill must be seen as a way to give effect to the treaty provisions on an international scale. To that end, however, the committee will have to undertake an in-depth study of the bill and review its technical aspects.

The bill seeks to enact provisions related to those found in the two international treaties. The committee will have the opportunity to go through every clause to make sure the bill achieves its goal, which is to ratify these two treaties signed in 2005.

As I mentioned earlier, we have to understand that several aspects of the issue of nuclear security are highly technical. The committee will need to take the time to study the issue in depth to make sure the bill includes all the necessary provisions and that it goes far enough without going too far. We have to act in a non-partisan fashion to protect the security of our fellow Canadians as well as international security.

Considering the number of Canadian travellers who like to gallivant around the world, even if a nuclear bomb were used by terrorists outside of our borders, this could have a serious impact on Canadians abroad. It is therefore important to create a bill that we can be proud of and can serve as an example to other countries that have not yet ratified the two separate conventions, in terms of what they can do to move forward on nuclear safety.

Quite apart from the technical details of the bill that will be thoroughly examined in committee, I would remind the House that it is extremely important to go ahead with the ratification of these treaties in order to support efforts to ensure global nuclear safety.

Between 2010 and 2012, Canada and several other nations taking part in the nuclear summit agreed to ratify these two conventions. Furthermore, at the 2012 summit in Seoul, participating states agreed to enforce the CPPNM amendments made in 2005 in time for the 2014 summit.

However, for that to happen, two-thirds of the 145 participating states must ratify the treaty. So far, only 56 have done so, when at least 97 ratifications are needed. If Canada were to ratify the treaty, this would be another positive step towards international implementation of this amendment to the convention.

This represents another step forward for the entire population towards enhanced nuclear safety in our country, as well as around the globe.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 5:15 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, who gave an excellent speech on a bill that is not a very easy read. I mentioned that a number of times in my own speech.

I asked the same question of the Liberal member earlier, and I would like to hear what my NDP colleague has to say. During the Senate committee's examination of the bill, Senator Dallaire said:

I wish to concisely come back to the point of all these different bills coming at us. We are covering the bases that are presented to us, but there is no feeling, even within reading the report, the 2010 report, of what the delta of gaps are in the security with regard to terrorism or anti-terrorism. It seems to me that it is fine to go through and do our legislative duty; however, without that framework, it seems to me that, as a committee, we are a bit ill- equipped to get a warm, fuzzy feeling that we are going down the road that we feel maybe should be done expeditiously enough by the department or by the ministries with regard to anti-terrorism.

My colleague works very hard on the national defence files, and I would like to know if she agrees with Senator Dallaire.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 5:15 p.m.
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NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, to know whether a bill will truly promote nuclear safety, we must know the dangers and risks. As the senator pointed out, when we do not know these dangers and risks, it is difficult to know whether we are truly preventing these nuclear materials from being used for terrorism.

There are two different contexts. We want to prevent terrorists from potentially using these materials, but the bill must also allow reasonable access to nuclear materials that will be used for medical purposes, for example.

In terms of nuclear safety, we must be able to balance these two things. If we are truly not aware of the dangers and gaps in the current system, it is really difficult to know whether we are eliminating these dangers.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 5:15 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will continue this dialogue.

I would be tempted to ask my colleague the same question I already asked many other members today, regarding how long it took to introduce Bill S-9. We regularly see Conservative members put on a big show when it comes to terrorism, heavy-handed military measures, and so on.

The fact is, we are not against this bill, and neither are the Liberals, I believe. Why did it take five years, once the treaties were signed, to introduce Bill S-9 in the House?

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 5:15 p.m.
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NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

I, too, was surprised that it took five years for this bill to be introduced in the House of Commons. Nuclear safety is such an important issue that I cannot understand why it has not been discussed earlier. It is my understanding that just about all my colleagues in the House of Commons intend to support this bill. I do not understand, however, why it has taken five years. Clearly, this was not a controversial bill. It has to do with the safety of the Canadians we represent. Yet, for me, it is a little incomprehensible.

When the decision was made to introduce this bill, it opened the door to an analysis of current security threats. This is another very interesting aspect for discussion. Is there currently any danger in Canada? For example, should our military get more training on how to respond to the possibility of a nuclear threat? This bill will give rise to a whole host of questions.

It really surprises me that it has taken five years. I do not suppose that members were waiting for my arrival in the House of Commons, but I still find it passing strange.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 5:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Paulina Ayala NDP Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I know that my colleague has a lot of experience concerning the armed forces; I, myself, do not have much.

I would like to know what improvements she would make to this bill. I know—and we hope—that it will be referred to committee for amendment. I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about this.