Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill S-9, the nuclear terrorism act, which would amend the Criminal Code to implement Canada's obligations pursuant to 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 as the “amendment”.
The suppression convention is a multilateral treaty, as has been described. It is intended to harmonize the criminalization of acts related to nuclear terrorism across all state parties. Regrettably, Canada has still not ratified this convention, though we originally signed it in 2005. I appreciate that we are finally getting to the point where we can now move to ratify it, but I regret the delay in this regard.
The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, which Canada signed in 1980, established legally binding undertakings on state parties in the area of the physical protection of nuclear material and also established measures relating to the prevention, detection and punishment of related criminal offences.
In 2005, Canada, along with 87 other state parties to the original convention, convened to amend and strengthen its provisions. At this conference, the amendment was adopted by consensus, and it will soon begin to enter into force, though it is yet to be ratified by a sufficient number of signatories, including Canada. We need to move forward in that regard.
Both the suppression convention and the amendment are fundamental components of the international community's approach to the prevention and detection of acts related to nuclear terrorism. Consequently, Bill S-9 would constitute necessary implementing legislation for the suppression convention and the amendment, thereby strengthening this international regime. The bill has been thoroughly debated in the House, studied extensively at committee and thoroughly debated in the other chamber. It represents a positive step forward in this regard.
Moreover, the safeguarding of nuclear material and facilities exists within the domestic implementing legislation, and it must never be forgotten that it exists within the context of the overall threat of expanding nuclear proliferation, as represented by the proliferation activities with respect to Iran and North Korea, and the ultimate imperative, therefore, of achieving nuclear disarmament, for which Canada must be at the forefront.
Because members in this place are by now quite familiar with this bill, and reference was made to it by the parliamentary secretary, as well, in his remarks, I will briefly describe its contents and significance.
Indeed, the prevention of nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation will require an internationally coordinated response. Canada must continue to take a leadership role in this regard.
Following preliminary discussion of the contents of the bill, I will then address what has just been raised in this House as the particular issue posed by the proliferation threat of Iran, which also has to been seen in the context of its overall, four-fold threat. It was the subject of an exchange between a previous speaker and the parliamentary secretary. I will address that issue, as well.
Let me very quickly move us to the contents of the bill.
First, Bill S-9 would make it an indictable offence to make a device or to possess, use, transfer, export, import, alter or dispose of nuclear material or 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.
Second, Bill S-9 would make it an indictable offence to do any of these acts with the intent to compel a person, government or international organization to do or refrain from doing something.
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.
All three of the offences are punishable by a maximum of life in prison.
Fourth, Bill S-9 would make it an indictable offence to threaten to commit any of the aforementioned offences, which is punishable by a maximum of 14 years in prison.
Moreover, the bill would classify these new offences as terrorist activities, pursuant to section 83.01 of the Criminal Code, such that the commission of these offences would trigger other provisions of the Criminal Code relating, for example, to electronic surveillance and DNA collection.
It will also implement extraterritorial jurisdiction in relation to these new offences, such that Canadian courts will have jurisdiction over individuals prosecuted for the violation of these offences, even where the particular offence did not occur within Canadian territory. These are relevant steps, as they represent an internationally coordinated approach to the problem of nuclear terrorism.
Indeed, based on the debate that has occurred already, both in this House and in the other chamber, the bill appears to enjoy widespread support in both chambers.
The members in this place all recognize the importance of criminal law enforcement and the international harmonization of the criminalization of acts related to nuclear terrorism. It is precisely for this reason that the absence of any action on this matter for the last eight years, since the conventions were signed in 2005, is particularly regrettable.
In February, just one month ago, my colleague from St. Paul's had the opportunity to ask the Minister of Justice about the reasons for this delay when he testified at the justice and human rights committee. Indeed, the minister's explanation warrants referencing here. It is a lesson about the government's generally inverted approach to the setting of legislative priorities.
My colleague from St. Paul's asked the minister a very direct question to this effect: Since everybody seems to be in favour of this legislation, why did it take so long for the government to introduce the necessary domestic implementing legislation that is now finally being done eight years later?
Indeed, the minister answered that he was dissuaded from pursuing the bill because of what he described as the threat of filibuster in this House in matters relating to the criminal justice agenda. In particular, characterizing the debate on these bills as being a filibuster by the opposition, the minister stated at the justice committee:
...it was very difficult...to try to get any legislation through in the criminal justice area. ...dozens of bills...introduced into the House...opposed by one of the three parties, there was a desire many times by the opposition parties to talk about them incessantly, to go on and on....
The minister's explanation is itself objectionable insofar as it appears to imply that there is something wrong with the opposition parties seeking to address legislation before them, particularly important legislation in the matter of the criminal justice agenda, and particularly when that agenda of more crime and punishment emerges as a priority in the government's legislative agenda as a whole.
It is both wrong and, indeed in this instance, diversionary to equate thorough discussion and debate on the government's criminal law agenda to filibustering and use that as a reason that he did not introduce domestic implementing legislation regarding Bill S-9. I submit that, on both of these counts, the government has it upside down, as I said.
Number one, in the matter of the government's legislative agenda, members of this House have a responsibility to address this legislation, to vet this legislation. It is part of our responsibility of public oversight, as we sought to do whether it was to get costs of Bill C-10 or address an omnibus bill. In fact we could not even filibuster, because in most of these pieces of legislation, we had time allocation introduced in any case.
Leaving that aside, what relationship does the debate on the government's crime and punishment agenda have to do with a delay of eight years before we move to introduce domestic implementing legislation? I suggest that this cannot and should not have accounted for the delay in the introduction of this legislation.
Moving on to the issue of the nuclear threat and now moving to the question of the Iranian situation, which I said I would take up and is a part of the questions and answers, let me just say what we find with regard to what we are witnessing in Khamenei's Iran today—and I use that term because I want to distinguish it from the people and public of Iran, who are otherwise the object of massive domestic repression.
What we are finding in Khamenei's, Iran is really a fourfold threat, but a fourfold threat that is interrelated.
There is the nuclear threat; there is the genocidal incitement threat; there is the international terrorism threat, where the Iranian footprints are replete and evidence has come forward with respect to some 22 terrorist attacks in 2012 alone, spanning five continents with the Iranian Hezbollah connection in that regard; and finally, there is the massive domestic repression, which frankly will be leveraged if Iran should become a nuclear power. There is an interrelationship with all of these matters, because should Iran become a nuclear power, this will enhance the international terrorist threat. It will also leverage its domestic repression activity, let alone the problem of the incitement threat that underpins nuclear proliferation as a whole.
Let me move to the particular role Canada could play with regard to the Iranian fourfold threat. I am speaking about the P5-plus-1 negotiations that have just concluded in Almaty but will be re-engaged again. I want to commend the government's position in this regard, as stated most recently by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
I want to put forth in particular a number of requirements that should underpin the negotiating position of the P5-plus-1 and, because of our chairperson role at the International Atomic Energy Agency as well as our linkage in that regard to the P5-plus-1 negotiations, how we can help frame the negotiations and combat what our own Minister of Foreign Affairs has referred to as the Iranian position of deception, denial and delay and using negotiations as a basis for delay and the period in between the negotiations not only as a pretext for delaying what has to be done, but where the acceleration of the nuclear weaponization program actually takes place in the context of the delay between negotiations, sometimes within the negotiation period itself.
Since I last spoke to Bill S-9 in the House, there has been, as the International Atomic Energy Agency reported, an acceleration of the nuclear capabilities in the Iran program in the installation of advanced centrifuges. All of this has been set out in the IAEA report, so I will not go further in that regard, but will only say that the intensification of the nuclear capability with respect to Iran is bringing us closer to Iran's becoming a nuclear power, with less capacity on our part to not only prevent it but even to detect it happening.
Let me close by making reference to what particular approach we should have to the P5-plus-1 negotiations.
First, Iran must, as a threshold requirement, verifiably suspend its uranium enrichment program, therefore allowing the international community to combat the three Ds of delay, denial and deception, which as I said, Iran has used to accelerate its nuclear weaponization program rather than, in fact, move toward disarmament.
Second, Iran must ship its supply of enriched uranium, and there is more enriched uranium at a higher level, 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. We have no objection to the Iranian civil nuclear program. Iran has the right like any other state with respect to civil nuclear program, medical isotopes use of uranium and the like. The objection we have here is to the weaponization program.
Third, Iran must therefore 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. Iran has delayed any inspection of those facilities, let alone its dismantling as a whole.
Fourth, Iran must suspend its heavy water production facilities at Arak, because it is sometimes forgotten that an essential component for producing plutonium involved in nuclear programs 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, as it is not, International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors immediate and unfettered access to any suspected nuclear site, as is required, as Iran is a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Iran is thereby bound by its obligations not only 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, and I am referring to the Parchin complex, possibly in conjunction with the development of a nuclear weapon.
Finally, Iran needs to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency—and again I mention Canada's particular role with respect to IAEA, our chairmanship now—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 and help to underpin the P5-plus-1 negotiations, which are about to be re-engaged next month.
I also want to mention the question of the incitement threat, because the state-sanctioned incitement to genocide is inextricably bound up with the nuclear proliferation program. In fact, an all-party committee of the foreign affairs committee in the House determined already in 2010, and I am really citing from that committee's report, that Iran has already committed the crime of incitement to genocide prohibited under the genocide convention. That all-party committee thereby recommended that state parties to the genocide convention have an obligation—not a policy option, but an obligation—to undertake the mandated legal remedies under the genocide convention to bring Iran to account.
Regrettably, as I speak in the chamber, not one state party to the genocide convention—not our country, not the United States, not any of the European countries—has undertaken any of these mandated legal remedies, which I will briefly summarize in my final remarks. Again, I remind everyone that this comes out of an all-party report.
First, Canada could be among the countries that could seek to simply refer the matter of this state-sanctioned incitement to genocide, the standing prohibition of the genocide convention I mentioned, to the UN Security Council for deliberation and accountability. It is a modest initiative. Certainly we should be able to do that.
Second, Canada could initiate tomorrow an interstate complaint before the International Court of Justice against Iran, which is also a state party to the genocide convention, for its violations of its own undertakings.
Third, Canada could ask the UN Security Council to refer the matter of the state-sanctioned incitement to genocide to the International Criminal Court for prospective investigation and prosecution of Iranian leaders engaged in the violation of this treaty.
Finally, I want to mention the human rights situation. We need to sanction the Iranian leaders not only with respect to the nuclear weaponization program, but we need to sanction Iranian leaders engaged in the massive domestic repression and hold them to account, as well as holding to account those involved in the proliferation of international terrorism.
These four threats, the nuclear threat, the genocidal incitement threat, the human rights violations and the international terrorism threat, are all finding expression in Khamenei's Iran. We need a comprehensive approach to the fourfold threat. The government has identified that fourfold threat. In fact, it referenced the fourfold threat as the basis for closing the Iranian embassy here and ours in Iran. I would like to suggest that the government undertake these particular juridical remedies in the implementation of our international responsibilities.