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 / 5:20 p.m.
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NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if this is an amendment per se to the bill, but if the intention is to enhance nuclear safety, it might be useful to ask whether our responders are adequately trained to respond when there are threats to nuclear safety.

As a military officer, I received basic training on how to respond to a nuclear threat, but it was only basic training.

It is worth raising the issue even though it would not result in an amendment per se. Perhaps the adoption of this bill, or discussion thereof in committee, will give rise to questions, such as whether our military personnel, police forces and others are sufficiently trained to respond when nuclear material has been stolen or tampered with. Canada is a big country, and if we only have one specialized team, a response on the ground may take some time.

Should we, therefore, be giving more training to our police officers, firefighters, and other front line responders, including medical staff?

I am an intensive care emergency room nurse, and in my hospital, nurses have no training whatsoever to treat patients who have been exposed to nuclear material. Perhaps rapid intervention by qualified medical staff who are trained to know what to do would be more appropriate.

That is a matter that should be raised in committee. I would really like to have the opportunity to discuss it. That is why the committee has to take as much time as it needs to study this bill.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

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

Francine Raynault NDP Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech and all her work.

New Democrats are determined to promote multilateral diplomacy and international co-operation, especially in areas of common concern, such as nuclear terrorism.

Why must we work with the other countries that are in the process of ratifying these treaties?

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

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

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, when talking about international diplomacy, the example that comes to my mind concerns the use of nuclear materials by the military.

Often, when there is the possibility of a conflict between two armed forces, neither will preclude the use of these weapons as long as the other side does not. This requires diplomacy. There are discussions and one side will say that it is prepared to stop using these materials as long as the other side is also willing to do so. Through diplomacy, these people can stop resorting to these materials, or stop having them in their possession.

Diplomacy and co-operation among countries results in the measured reduction of available nuclear materials that can be stolen and possibly be made into bombs that will be used to threaten us.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

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

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today. We are dealing with a fairly difficult issue that concerns all Canadians and people throughout the entire world. As my colleague mentioned, this issue concerns everyone and is a worry for everyone. The NDP supports this bill. It is important that I start my speech by saying that we will work with the government.

However, I am wondering why it took the government five years to decide to talk about terrorism and nuclear weapons. And, why did this bill originate in the Senate? I do not wish to belittle the work of the senators who worked hard on this bill, but I do not understand why the government did not take the initiative to introduce it. Why, after years of discussion, did the Senate introduce this bill, when the government had numerous opportunities to do so?

Of course, the Conservative members will say that they were a minority government at the time, but that is no excuse since everyone was in favour of drafting and passing a bill to ratify two conventions—the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

I would like to ask the government the following questions. Why did it wait five years before debating this subject in the House? Why did it wait for the Senate to introduce such a bill? Why did the government not take the initiative? The government used nuclear issues and terrorism to its advantage whenever it pleased but, when it came to taking action, we had to wait five years for this topic to be discussed in the House.

To add insult to injury, today while we are examining this bill in the House, the Conservative members are not asking any questions and are not trying to debate this issue. They are letting the Senate do all the work and, when it is time to debate and to ask the government what it wants, the government just lets things happen and lets the opposition debate the issue alone. Who is going to answer my questions? I wonder. The government is once again refusing to debate bills designed to ensure the safety of Canadians.

We have seen this not only with regard to nuclear issues but also with regard to food safety. As we have seen over the past two weeks, food safety is not really a priority for the government.

I would now like to talk about Bill S-9 and give a little background information. In order for a convention to be ratified and apply in Canada, an implementation act must be passed. That is what Bill S-9 does. The NDP would never oppose the fact that Canada must respect its international obligations. The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material has already been ratified, but no bill has been passed to implement it. The Conservatives have finally decided to implement the convention. It would great if the government would do the same for all of the conventions it has ratified, particularly the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which, I seem to recall, Canada did sign.

I would like to take this opportunity to reach out to the government and tell it that we in the NDP are determined to use multilateral diplomacy, to promote multilateralism and international co-operation, especially in areas that concern not only Canadians, but everyone on the planet.

Everyone, all nation states, are concerned about terrorism, which affects everyone around the globe. We all know how important this is. The NDP fully supports the criminal offences created by Bill S-9.

We need to work with other major countries that have begun a similar ratification process. For instance, in front of the UN General Assembly, the Minister of Foreign Affairs criticized the very organization that had invited him to speak, one that merely acts on the recommendations of its member states. Criticizing the UN is tantamount to criticizing the 191 member states, and our own allies. Why not use diplomacy and our influence instead?

I have a feeling that this government has forgotten that Canada has a great deal of influence on the international stage. Unfortunately, this influence has diminished considerably since the Conservatives came to power in 2006. As an extra little dig at my colleagues opposite, I would remind the House that Canada lost its seat on the UN Security Council for the first time.

This bill is a good opportunity for this government to realize the influence and the importance of the role it can play in the fight against terrorism and nuclear threats.

It is important to understand what the UN is. The minister does not seem to understand what it is for. The UN is a forum for discussion among states, to ensure that problems are resolved through dialogue whenever possible. The NDP does not think we should wait for a problem to arise before taking action, whether we are talking about terrorism, nuclear threat, criminal justice or food safety. We must prevent a problem, conflict, food safety crisis or crime. We must not take action after the fact.

That is why we have such an important role in diplomacy and at the UN. We must use our influence to ensure all the states ratify these two conventions, apply them and adopt them, as we will do in the coming weeks, when Bill S-9 is passed. These conventions must be implemented immediately and not after five years, as the Conservative government is doing. There is a problem now and we are talking about it now.

We can use the UN forum to ensure that all states benefit from Canada's policies. Instead of withdrawing from talks, why not step forward and offer our assistance? Why not use our influence to help other countries adopt the same kind of bill? Why not?

Canada has always supported multilateralism. It should make more of an effort in this regard. Even the United States, which had abandoned multilateralism under George Bush, has understood the mistake it made.

We cannot criticize the UN if member states refuse to take action on a given situation or are divided on how to respond to a crisis. The UN never had a mandate to make decisions on its own. The member states, including Canada, give it the mandate to take action in response to a given situation.

When the Minister of Foreign Affairs decides to criticize the UN and withdraw Canada from work that he called fruitless, he is giving up on improving any situation and preventing conflict, on improving how the UN works. This also jeopardizes the resolution of future conflicts, for example, in Syria.

The government must work together with the opposition today to create multilateral institutions and to create a strong Canada that can use its influence in the interest not only of every Canadian, but of every human being. We have to improve the current situation to resolve problems, to be proactive and not reactive.

To have a foreign policy that is worthy of Canada is to do things that show the entire world the values that we are defending today in the House. Through the policies we adopt and the speeches we make here, like the ones we are making this evening, we can show that Canada is a leader that defends the values of democracy, human rights, peace and justice.

That is why the NDP will vote in favour of this bill. Mostly, the NDP will be voting in favour of multilateral diplomacy and international co-operation, which might benefit everyone. We know that terrorism is of concern to everyone. For example, as my colleague was saying, we all know where we were on September 11. I remember where I was. It was my first week of high school. It was a defining moment for someone entering adolescence. I remember very clearly that all my classes were cancelled because something significant was happening.

Why has it taken so long to talk about this? I was 12 when that happened. Today, I sit in the House of Commons and I am asking the government: why did it take so long? Why did it wait for the Senate to introduce such a bill instead of taking the lead internationally, as it so often forgets to do? The government could have taken concrete action on a problem that all Canadians and all human beings on Earth are dealing with today.

The bill reinforces Canada's obligations under resolution 1540 of the UN Security Council that was adopted in 2004. Today, as far as I know, it is 2012. That is a big time span. The government can blame others; it can point fingers at the other side of the House, but it was the government's responsibility. It had a choice and it chose to wait for the Senate to introduce the bill.

What would have happened if the Senate had decided not to introduce Bill S-9? Would the government have acted? I would like to know. Would the government have waited another 10 or 20 years, or would it have waited for a major conflict before passing Bill C-9 and not Bill S-9? None of this diminishes the Senators' excellent work on the bill. I know they work very hard.

As I said, what we want is for Canada to abide by its international obligations. That is a principle that Canada has always advocated. However, since the Conservatives have been in power, we have veered more toward unilateralism and bilateralism and away from multilateralism. Why? Here again, the government could clarify the matter for us. But what does it decide to do? It rejects all debate and leaves the opposition to try to improve bills and work with the government to adopt good laws that protect the safety of Canadians.

It has to be said that, try as they might to generate political capital over the safety of Canadians, when the time comes to act, I really wonder where the Conservatives stand.

We have to take a serious look at the issue of nuclear security. We must use not just the UN, but also every other international institution and organization, to dialogue with other governments in order to prevent these kinds of acts from occurring. Terrorism is clearly a terrible thing. I did not mention it at the start of my speech, but our hearts go out to all the victims and families who have suffered the loss of a loved one. It is truly terrible to lose someone.

Every measure taken to protect people's lives is worth debating and presenting before this House. I would like to see some active participation on the government's part. As I said, I was 12 years old when it happened; now I am 23. We have been talking about combating terrorism for 11 years. Why have we waited all this time to implement treaties whose purpose is precisely to criminalize and eradicate terrorist acts?

It would be good for the government to lead the debate and to explain to us what it wants today. Unfortunately, it has not yet managed to pursue that course. We know the government is an ardent advocate of democracy around the world, except in Canada, of course. Everything is done very quickly; bills are passed very quickly. The New Democratic Party is asking that this bill be carefully studied in committee, that we take the necessary time and hear from witnesses so that we can pass a good bill that will criminalize acts of nuclear terrorism and obtain justice for the victims.

The New Democratic Party supports the victims of nuclear terrorism and asks the government to take the necessary time to properly discuss this bill, to study it so that we can say at last that we are taking measures to eradicate nuclear terrorism.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 5:40 p.m.
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NDP

Craig Scott NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for such an impassioned speech, which led me to make some connections that I had not been making in preparing my own speech. By that I mean what we have to do with these treaties and this implementing act to protect nuclear materials, radioactive materials, nuclear facilities, and prevent radioactive devices from perhaps being made with some of that material that might be stolen or otherwise diverted.

However, the big piece that seems to be missing in how we think about prevention is that the reason we have so much radioactive nuclear material, and nuclear facilities making such material or contributing to it, includes the fact that nuclear weapons are still such a huge scourge in our world today, that we still have countries with stockpiles of nuclear weapons that could obliterate us hundreds of times over.

How would you ask us to think about the connection between the existence of nuclear weapons, the material that is needed to feed them and the preventive goals of these treaties?

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 5:40 p.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is truly interesting. States definitely make frequent use of nuclear weapons during a cold war, which is a struggle for power between states. Nuclear weapons are used as a form of intimidation. We need to criminalize the possession, use and disposal of nuclear or radioactive devices and the commission of acts against a nuclear facility or the operation thereof, in order to make it illegal to use nuclear weapons as a form of intimidation. If acts like these are considered crimes and the conventions are enforced in all states, including those that possess nuclear weapons, the use of this form of coercion will be reduced. If these actions are criminalized, states will no longer be able to use nuclear weapons as a form of pressure or diplomacy. Enforcing these conventions would diminish the importance of these weapons and reduce cold wars between states.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 5:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite referred a number of times to the use of nuclear weapons. I want to ensure that Canadians know that Canada only uses nuclear technology for peaceful reasons.

Is the member opposite aware of the key role Canada has played in nuclear non-proliferation? She referred to the cold war. When Canada and the United States were reducing the number of missiles, the technology at Chalk River Laboratories near Deep River actually took the uranium from nuclear warheads from Russia and made it more valuable by turning it into a fuel. That is the sort of thing Canadians are doing to make the whole world safe.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 5:45 p.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, to begin with, yes, I am very much aware of the role Canada played. In my statement, I said that it was important not to forget the role that Canada had played. And it must continue to play that role because, unfortunately, under the Conservatives—I illustrated this clearly in my comments—there has been no dialogue or diplomacy with a view to non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, as my colleague, among others, mentioned.

The government has really done away with the possibilities that existed. For example, by criticizing the UN and withdrawing from multilateralism, it is doing away with all our former international influence.

I would just like to remind the government that it should not forget this influence and that it should use it to our advantage to protect not only Canadians, but all human beings on this planet.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 5:45 p.m.
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NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I really appreciated the comments made by the Conservative member regarding Chalk River. I am from the region and so is she. In the Outaouais, the dumping of waste in the Ottawa River, sometimes in Chalk River, is always a source of concern. It is a constant reminder of how we need to be very careful with this material. What I really like about Chalk River and the work being done there is that they are always trying to find new technologies.

The hon. member is right to point out how Canada is a leader in technological development and works very hard to try to stay away from that material which, as everyone will agree, is dangerous. That is why we are trying to pass Bill S-9. I know that the member who just spoke talked at length about the fact that we have been waiting a long time for this bill and that if we want to comply with our treaties, we should have already passed it.

Is she sending to the committee the message that we should act more quickly, or should we still take the time to properly review this bill, notwithstanding this five year delay by the Conservatives?

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 5:45 p.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I may have seemed very passionate in my comments when I said it is important to work with the government to adopt Bill S-9. However, the fact remains that this is a highly technical issue that concerns everyone's security.

So yes, we should adopt this bill and we should try to do so quickly, but not without a debate or a review. That is why we are here today. The idea is to study and to work. This is a very sensitive issue. It is urgent to act, but we must never forget that a bill rammed through Parliament is never a good piece of legislation, because we forget things and leave gaps, as my colleague knows. It is important to work properly on a bill, particularly when it deals with an issue as important as nuclear terrorism. If we had discussed it earlier, there would not have been any problem, because we would have had ample time.

The Conservatives will probably tell us the situation is so urgent that we must adopt the bill now, without discussing it, but they should have assumed their responsibilities earlier and deal with it sooner.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 5:45 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandrine Latendresse NDP Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île for her very enlightening speech. We know that she has a good handle on her files and the issues before us.

I would like to come back to a particular point she made a few times in her speech. I would like her to speak more about the message the government is sending Canadians by having the Senate introduce this bill. An unelected body is introducing this crucial bill. The member explained this.

What kind of message is the government sending by not having the House of Commons, the MPs, the elected body of this Parliament, introduce this bill? I would like her to comment a bit more on that.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 5:50 p.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was saying that several Senate bills have been introduced in the House of Commons. I do not wish to belittle the work of our senators, but I would like to know why the government is letting the Senate do the government's job. Is it because it values the opinion of unelected people more than the opinion of the people Canadians elected? Does it not value Canadians' opinions or is it just trying to score political points on certain important issues? When the time comes to take action, the government lets the Senate take the lead.

If the Senate had not introduced Bill S-9, would the government have moved on it? Would we have Bill C-9 instead of Bill S-9? I truly doubt it. I agree with my colleague. We are elected to work on behalf of Canadians, and the Senate should not be doing the work of elected members.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 5:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I was just going through my notes for a moment and I was trying to listen to the conversation at the same time and some of the back and forth on what was happening. In my eight years of being here a lot of the legislation comes from treaties, as signatories to significant treaties, whether from the United Nations, or the Council of Europe or the European Union. With these technical amendments, we find ourselves in line with all these treaties for all the right reasons.

Some of the colleagues pointed out that Bill S-9 came from the Senate. I will not dwell on that too much as to why this came from the Senate as opposed to the House of Commons. It has been somewhat of a pattern, but nonetheless it has been some time. This is a fallout from the 9/11 terrorism attacks in the United States. As a result, through international forum, we have come up with what we feel is a way to protect our societies from nuclear terrorism and also to look at how we can codify this within our specific legislation. That could be from each and every member state from the United Nations.

In our case, we find ourselves in a situation where we now have to codify what we set out to do. We are signatories as we signed the first treaty in 2007 and, as a result, we now have to codify this. We saw this recently with copyright legislation as well as other types of legislation. Following this could be things like human trafficking and the like.

In the meantime Bill S-9 is an act to amend the criminal code, or the nuclear terrorism act. Certainly in this situation, it is time for us to have a look at this and to debate it in full, which we are doing on this side of the House. We are looking at the new types of offences. If we look at how this is worded, in a big way we are now coming to terms with the situation that exists internationally. If we look at things like cybercrime in relation to this, the one common factor among all of this is we can no longer contain it to a particular boundary. We now find ourselves fighting crime not just within our country but throughout many countries, whether it is nuclear terrorism, cybercrime, human trafficking or impediments toward environmental disasters. These things are obviously a trend that we are now falling into and the genesis is from our international treaty, and rightly so.

This does not happen right away, as we now know. There were signatories from 2004, ratified in 2007 and here we are in 2012. We went through the same motions when we talked about copyright, but members will get the idea.

The purpose of the bill is stated as:

An Act to amend the Criminal Code...is a 10-clause bill that introduces four new indictable offences into Part II of the Criminal Code,1 which deals with offences against public order. Adding these new offences, with respect to certain activities in relation to nuclear or radioactive material...nuclear facilities, makes it illegal to....

There are four points, which are outlined from the Library of Parliament, for which I would like to thank Jennifer Bird who works at legal and legislative affairs for doing this wonderful summary.

By amending part II, it would 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...”. The key word there is “the environment”, the first part of that.

The second offence would be to “...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...”.

There is the exploitation matter. In this particular situation there would be certain cells or groups that would take advantage of nuclear facilities and use them against the state, in our case against Canada, or any other international jurisdiction. I will get to the international part of it in a moment because that is different as well. It goes beyond our boundaries when it speaks of indictable offences.

The third is to commit an indictable offence under federal law for the purpose of obtaining nuclear or radioactive material, or a nuclear or radioactive device.

Finally, the last offence is to threaten to commit any of the other three offences. The intent is what is measured there, the threat to do this that exists within society. As we know with this type of material, whether high-grade uranium or plutonium, if someone comes in contact with it or near it, it can be used as a major threat. Therefore, society has to assemble itself in response to that threat, which is incredibly costly and needless to say dangerous. Of course that part is obvious considering the fact that we are dealing with nuclear material.

Bill S-9 also amends the definition of “terrorist activity”. This is found in section 83.01 of the Criminal Code. The revised definition ensures that the commission of the new offences introduced by the bill, as well as attempts to commit them and any conspiracies, counselling or acting as accessories after the fact in relation to them, constitute “terrorist activity”. A lot of people might think that is a mundane thing to do, but terrorist activity could encapsulate many things across many boundaries, not just in nuclear technology but also when it comes to things like cybercrime and the environment.

My colleagues earlier were talking about how it took a while for this to get to the House and whether we fault a particular group or party in the House for wasting too much time on the issue, which we do a lot around here. It is time to look at this issue right now and debate it in full because it brings us to a new level when it comes to the Criminal Code.

To put it into context, certainly for the past 10 to 12 years we have had numerous conferences on how to deal with nuclear terrorism. In many cases we passed resolutions instrumental to developing new treaties. Some key resolutions and conventions are outlined throughout the United Nations and other international fora. Recently we discussed the last two major meetings of countries that talked about this: Washington, D.C., in 2010 and Seoul, South Korea in 2012.

As a result of all this and the work we have done dating from 2001, the United Nations developed, debated and voted on the United Nations Security Council resolution 1373. By doing that the members of the United Nations were to adopt certain anti-terrorism legislation and policies within 90 days in order to, among many other things, prevent and repress the financing of terrorist acts, criminalize the wilful collection of provision of funds to be used to carry out terrorist acts, prohibit the making available of funds, and suppress the recruitment of terrorist groups and the supply of weapons for these purposes.

The one theme going through all this is the international aspect, which is to say that the funding, the supplying of weapons and the people involved in terrorism are no longer contained within one country. We pretty much find ourselves around the world in order to address what must be done to assess the level of terrorism that is happening and the planning that must take place to stop the act before it actually gets off the ground.

That is the financing aspect. That is resolution 1373. It was very important in its day. On December 12, 2001, the Government of Canada reported to the United Nations Security Council's counter-terrorism committee on the steps it had taken to implement resolution 1373. Among the measures at that time were the Anti-terrorism Act and the amendments to the Criminal Code. All that leads to the offences that were newly classified as terrorist activity, which is a term that many nations have been grappling with for quite some time.

There are several definitions in place. As I mentioned, we came up with two major treaties in this particular situation. The first one was around 2004 and the other was an amendment to an existing one, with the offences as part of the Criminal Code and the enactment of the Anti-terrorism Act. It was added to the code following Canada's ratification in 1986, and this goes back to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. It was not until the Anti-terrorism Act came into force that they constituted terrorist activity. These are the amendments we are looking at when it comes to the CPPNM, which is what it is normally called. I do not want to get too much into acronyms because goodness knows where that will lead.

Following resolution 1373, three years after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 1540. This is what led up to what we have today.

Resolution 1540 specifically deals with the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The resolution focuses on nuclear terrorism requiring member states to take steps to prohibit non-state actors from acquiring nuclear weapons and puts additional measures in place to control nuclear materials and prevent proliferation.

Resolution 1540 calls for member states to take and enforce effective measures to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. In other words, look after their own backyard, as was agreed upon by all the nations and member states.

Secondly, adopt legislation prohibiting the acquisition, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons by both State and non-State actors.

Also extend such criminal legislation to apply to citizens extra-territorially and to embrace universal jurisdiction over any such acts regardless of nationality or location of the act.

That is very important, because now we are going beyond our own jurisdiction to find criminal intent, even after the fact, to find people in this particular situation because, as we know, these terrorist cells, potential or not, exist all over the world. They operate from many bases, not just from one particular country or from one particular region. Now with the advent of technology, with the Internet and the way technology is flowing around the world instantaneously, we have to behave in this manner in order to find these criminals, to find any act that is about to be committed, so that we can stop it before something serious actually happens.

Resolution 1540 from 2004 also established a committee of the United Nations Security Council tasked with overseeing the implementation of that particular resolution. This resolution came down to this agreement known as the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

Bill S-9, the bill we are dealing with today, comes from these particular treaties. As I mentioned earlier, in order for these treaties to have any effect, despite any good intentions, if the home country chooses not to fix its own home legislation in order to make the purpose of these treaties come to fruition, then obviously it has to make the right laws. In this particular situation we are talking about fixing the Criminal Code, certainly Part II, and amending it as such.

The ICSANT, or as I will call it, the treaty, talked about certain things within this treaty that were very important for each member state to adopt: unlawful and intentional possession of radioactive material; unlawful and intentional use of radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device that makes a credible threat to unlawfully and intentionally do the acts described in Article 2(1)(b); unlawful and intentional demanding of radioactive material, a nuclear or radioactive device with intent to commit the possession and use offences outlined in the article; and finally, participating as an accomplice in, organizing or directing others to commit or contributing as a member of an organized group. It is not merely saying one is guilty by association, but that the intent is there in this particular situation.

I will call it the ICSANT for now in this particular situation. I do not have a nickname for it.

I talked earlier about the extraterritorial aspect of the ICSANT that is in article 9. To me, that is a very important part. Article 9 permits states to establish jurisdiction over offences occurring outside their territories when the offence is committed against a national, a person of that state; the offence is committed against a state or a government facility of that state; the offence is committed by a stateless person who habitually resides in that state; the offence is committed to compel a state to do or abstain from doing something, from article 9(2); or the offence is committed aboard an aircraft operated by the government of that particular state.

What is happening here is that we are fixing our own legislation in order for it to comply with the intentions set out by the United Nations. In this particular situation, the two treaties that we discussed, which we ratified in 2007 and struck in 2004, bring us into what the reality is around this globe. To me, article 9 of that particular treaty illustrates that by saying we need to go beyond our own territory to take the action necessary to stop potential terrorist activity.

As I mentioned earlier, two major conventions in the past few years, 2010 in Washington, D.C., and 2012 in Seoul, South Korea, also put the pressure on us to make this so. I find it odd that this came from the Senate.

Subclause 2(2) of Bill S-9, in this particular situation, adds four new defined terms to section 2 of the code to encompass the intention of doing a lot of harm to a lot of people and to use this as a particular threat for whatever means or intentions they have. They are “environment”, “nuclear facility”, “nuclear material” and “radioactive material”.

Obviously this is the type of language we have to use in this particular situation. We are dealing with dangerous material. We are dealing with terrorist groups that are not just confined to one particular area. They are global in perspective and therefore our legislation has to be changed to reflect this harsh reality.

In addition, subclause 2(1) of Bill S-9 amends the definition of “Attorney General” found in section 2 of the code. That is also a reflection of what we are trying to do here.

There are many aspects of this that could be improved upon. In this particular situation I think that perhaps the bill in and of itself is a little bit introspective, meaning that the legislation could also encompass something that is a little more international in scope. The intention is there. The intention is good, as was argued and debated in the Senate. Now we bring it here.

However, some of this needs to be looked at thoroughly. Are we living up to the international obligations that we have signed on to when it comes to nuclear proliferation? That has to be assessed in committee. Certainly I would want to see it sent, as it already is in the Senate, to the standing committee of the House of Commons in order to have a look at that. I think that is very important for all of us to consider. If we have waited this long, we might as well do it right. My grandfather used to say that.

The committee must look at this in a particular light. I look forward to advancing this and seeing whether or not the changes we are making to the Criminal Code fulfill the spirit of the agreements we have signed on to, agreements dating back to 2004, including the ICSANT that I mentioned earlier.

The intent is to root out the evil in these terrorism cells around the world and to have the right tools to do that, including extraterritoriality in order for us to go beyond our own boundaries and find out who is involved and how we can best protect our society.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Sylvain Chicoine NDP Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, since September 11, 2001, in particular, the United Nations Security Council and the UN General Assembly have been concerned about international terrorism activities, including nuclear terrorism. Members of the UN Security Council and the UN National Assembly passed resolutions that led to the development of treaties on nuclear terrorism so that member states would adopt legislation and policies in sync with the ever-changing threat of terrorism.

Canada has been co-operating with other countries to address this issue at the international level for a long time now. Canada ratified the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities, which encourages the development of measures related to the prevention, detection and punishment of offences relating to nuclear material.

In 2005, this convention was amended to improve the physical protection of nuclear material and facilities. The amendments made in 2005 increased the convention's scope in order to cover peaceful nuclear facilities and the use, storage and transportation of nuclear materials within the countries.

Also in 2005, Canada signed the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, but we have yet to ratify it. The convention calls upon state parties to create new criminal offences for acts of nuclear terrorism.

It is important to remember that a treaty cannot be ratified unless changes are made to national laws. That is the purpose of Bill S-9, which amends Canadian laws to make them consistent with the two conventions I just mentioned. After this bill is passed, Canada will be in a position to keep its commitment to ratify these international conventions. We will thus be able to fulfill our obligations.

The NDP supports multilateral approaches that promote co-operation among the state parties. Such co-operation is important in areas that go beyond our borders. Terrorism is this type of threat, and it is only through co-operation between the state parties that we can protect ourselves against such threats. We support working with the countries that ratified these conventions, and that is why we are going to support this bill. We also want to be able to examine it more thoroughly in committee.

This bill was introduced in the Senate in March 2012. It includes 10 clauses that create four new offences in the Criminal Code. Adding these new offences makes 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.

It also makes it illegal to 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.

I would like to call attention to this restriction. It is very important, because the very purpose of terrorism is to force a government or an organization to do, or to refrain from doing, a specific thing. How many attacks or kidnapings have been committed by terrorist organizations in order to discourage western countries from taking part in wars in Afghanistan or Iraq? Terrorist groups use threats and retribution to force governments to give in to their demands.

The bill also makes it illegal to 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, as well as to threaten to commit any of the other three offences.

This bill makes other important amendments to the Criminal Code, for instance, to introduce definitions for the terms used for these new offences. The bill also adds a new section in the Criminal Code to ensure that individuals who commit or attempt to commit any of these offences overseas can be prosecuted in Canada. This provision must meet certain criteria. The offence must be committed on a vessel flying the flag of or an aircraft registered to Canada by a Canadian citizen or by someone who is present in Canada following the commission of the act.

This bill will amend the Criminal Code provisions on electronic surveillance and the taking of bodily substances. The Anti-Terrorism Act amended the code provisions on electronic surveillance. Therefore, the four new offences were added to section 183 of the code to justify the use of electronic surveillance for these offences.

This provision, which deals with the primary designated offence, was included to allow peace officers to apply for a warrant for the seizure of bodily substances when they are investigating individuals for these offences. Therefore, it also makes it mandatory to collect bodily substances from those convicted of these offences.

These tools are important for our front-line public safety officers, but these provisions will have to be used in accordance with the Canadian legislation and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. When new powers are granted, limits must be set to prevent any abuse on the part of our public safety officers who, I would like to stress, have my full confidence.

Finally, the bill amends the Canadian rule regarding double jeopardy. That rule does not apply if a trial abroad does not meet certain basic Canadian legal standards. In this case, a Canadian court may retrial the person for the same crime for which he was convicted abroad.

This Senate bill enables the government to meet its international obligations by creating new offences, but that is just one side of the coin. The other side, which is just as important, has to do with prevention and security. Mr. Jamieson, from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, made a presentation before the Senate committee on June 4. He gave a brief outline of the prevention provisions adopted by the commission over the years.

He explained that the requirements relating to physical protection are gradual and reflect the level of risk and its consequences. He presented a non-exhaustive list of security measures in nuclear facilities. The requirements range from controlling access to sites to providing an on-site response force. Employees and supervisors must meet awareness and training requirements relating to security protocols, and they must undergo background checks.

Licensees must develop and maintain contingency plans as well as practice regular emergency drills. The transport of nuclear materials requires a licence. In order to obtain it, the licensee must submit a detailed security plan including a threat assessment, the proposed security measures, the route and other arrangements along the route. Security plans are required for all shipments including those in transit through Canada.

Canada is a model for the world when it comes to nuclear safety, but the government must continue to invest the necessary amount for maximizing the safety of Canadians, while minimizing the likelihood of a crime or a terrorist attack being committed in Canada or elsewhere in the world.

The International Atomic Energy Agency documented nearly 2,000 incidents related to the unauthorized use, transport or possession of nuclear and radioactive materials between 1993 and 2011. Government agencies with anti-terrorism responsibilities must work in an integrated manner in order for these organizations to be able to properly protect Canadians.

It is not just a matter of creating indictable terrorist offences. It is also a question of investing the necessary funds to allow these organizations and their front-line officers to accomplish their mission and carry out the mandate assigned to them, namely to ensure the safety of Canadians.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2012 / 6:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Craig Scott NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have had some discussions, up to this point, about the fact that the bill is much delayed in the sense of when it was introduced to the Senate initially and then to the House and that it will now be going to committee with our support.

Because the government put up absolutely no speakers except the parliamentary secretary, I worry that it now seems to be in such a hurry that it is going to ask us not to hear the same witnesses who were heard in the Senate, if we want to hear them.

If the government makes this argument and says we should only hear some witnesses and for the rest we can read the transcript from the Senate, how would my honourable colleague suggest we respond to the government, if it takes that position?