House of Commons Hansard #202 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was producers.


Canada Post Corporation ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-326, an act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act (membership of board of management).

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is simply to ensure that, in the future, Canada Post Corporation will consider regional development in fulfilling its mandate. We realized that this corporation was very focused on production and did not necessarily take into account the development of each part of the country.

Changing the membership of the board of management would ensure representation from every province and territory in Canada. This would also prevent the concentration that may occur when the people sitting on Canada Post's board of management look after their own interests instead of those of people from the various provinces. That is the purpose of this bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I move that the second report of the Standing Committee on Industry presented to the House on Tuesday, October 18, 1994 be concurred in.

It is with considerable pleasure that I rise to debate this motion. The committee had a very successful time in debating various parts of the access to capital for small business. Many of the things we talked about had to do with the lending institutions, in particular the chartered banks, trust companies, credit unions and groups of that sort.

The committee came up with 22 distinct recommendations. This is what we are talking about. The recommendations that the committee came forth with are the ones that ought to be concurred in. It is a pleasure for me to say that the banks have already moved in some of those directions.

Take for example recommendation No. 3. The committee recommends that the joint Industry Canada committee in consultation with the Canadian Bankers Association draft a code of conduct. It would explain to customers in plain language the information a loan applicant must disclose. There would be a clear explanation of reasons for refusing a loan, a commitment to guide customers to alternative sources of financing, and a commitment to provide an internal complaints handling mechanism.

The Canadian Bankers Association met with the committee in the earlier part of this year. It indicated clearly to us that it had established that kind of code of conduct. At first the association said it would be very difficult if not impossible to bring about some kind of standard of behaviour as far as treating the customers and the banks were concerned.

A lot of information is available now. It has been exchanged among the various branches of the banks. In addition to that, what is called an ADR which is a dispute resolution mechanism has been brought into being. It is an alternate dispute resolution mechanism that has been brought into being.

The committee also suggested that perhaps this was not good enough. It thought that probably there ought to be an independent ombudsman established. Recommendation No. 5 reads as follows:

The committee recommends that the government establish an independent office of the bank ombudsman to investigate complaints of breach of duty or maladministration by the banks. As in the United Kingdom, the ombudsman should have the power to require banks to pay compensation to complainants for financial loss, inconvenience and stress.

The experience of the banks in Britain where this independent ombudsman has been operating for a number of years has been very salutary. It has helped small business people. It has helped various other people in the business world to deal with their

banks more successfully. It has also made the banks a little more humane in the way they deal with their customers.

When we brought this to the attention of the Canadian Bankers Association, it thought that perhaps there should not be an independent ombudsman who is outside the banking community but rather it should appoint its own ombudsman.

The Toronto-Dominion Bank has one of those people who was the leader in the Canadian chartered banking industry to do just that. It is apparently working very well.

It is interesting to note that the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce now has this kind of person on a full salary at the senior vice-president level. This person deals with complaints that various business people have with regard to their loans or other operations with regard to the bank.

There are other recommendations from the committee as well. We need to recognize that the committee proposes to continue monitoring small business access to capital by calling one or more banks as witnesses every quarter to review their performance in lending to small businesses. That process has begun.

The banks have indicated that indeed their performance with regard to lending money to small businesses has improved. At least they are prepared to tell the committee what exactly their operation is with regard to these activities.

We go beyond that. We have asked the superintendent of financial institutions together with Statistics Canada and the Bank of Canada to develop a new format for the collection, compilation and publication of statistics on bank lending to small business. These statistics should be based not only on the size and type of loan but also on the nature of the borrower, including gender, employment, sales, major sector of operations and municipality. These statistics should be reported quarterly.

It was very interesting to watch the reaction of the banks to this recommendation. They first said: "That is impossible. We cannot give you those kinds of numbers. We do not have those kinds of numbers. It would be a horrendous expenditure in order to give you these kinds of numbers. It cannot be done".

It is a great pleasure for me to report that in the quarterly review at the end of April the banks not only said they have the information, they are prepared to give it to the office of the superintendent of financial institutions and to the committee. That is a great move forward. It shows the kind of concurrence that we see in the industry which the committee had in mind in the first place.

It is not so much what the government does, it is what industry does which makes business run better. In the final analysis business makes this country run. Government provides the opportunity, the environment and the parameters within which business can operate more easily, more fluidly, more efficiently, more effectively and more successfully.

We need to recognize it is not government that creates employment, it is not government that makes the economy grow, it is business that makes the economy grow. In particular, it is small business that makes the economy grow. In the last five years 85 per cent of new jobs created in Canada were created by small business. Let us recognize the significance that small business has in the Canadian economy.

The committee goes on to suggest leasing should be encouraged. It urges the government to ensure that tax measures and other programs do not discriminate against this method of financing. There are situations in which the government through its income tax policy has discouraged this form of financing small business.

Often small businesses do not have the capital resources to expend huge amounts of money for the financing of capital expenditures. Very often, if they can lease the equipment, it is far more salutary and allows them to get on with their business. The money would be available for the operation, rather than having it tied up in capital expenditures or equity.

The committee goes on to recommend that the federal government establish a limited working capital guarantee for small and medium sized business exporters. Such a program should be self-financing and priced in a manner that is commensurate with the risk. Too often it seems to have been the philosophy or the modus operandi of governments that in order to help business they should give them something.

The committee does not agree that is what should happen. The government should create the environment which we talked about a moment ago and allow them to finance their businesses. If businesses need seed capital, that should be returned at a rate of interest which is commensurate with the risk involved in that particular situation.

We also need to recognize that the reference is to exporters, particularly small business exporters. Today most exports are by a very small number of businesses. I believe that approximately 100 businesses control 85 per cent of the export market. In other words, small business has not had as large a portion of the export market as it should have. If it did it would help the Canadian economy to grow. It would increase the global participation and competition of Canadian business in the world marketplace.

The report goes on to suggest that the government review the Small Businesses Loans Act. To the credit of the government, that is exactly what it has done. It ought to be commended for that. It has begun to concur with the recommendations of the report. If I remember correctly, the Small Businesses Loans Act ceiling was moved from $3 billion to $12 billion. The only difficulty is that in the past the government has had to write off about $100 million in bad loans. Does that mean that with a ceiling of $12 billion the bad loans will increase to four times that amount?

There have been, from the small business associations and also from the bankers, some concern that some of the provisions of the new small loans act amendments create an additional charge which may discourage some of the small businesses from taking advantage of the provisions of the small loans act as it has been amended.

Therefore we need to be very careful that when one moves to concur in these kinds of recommendations that one not move in such a way that the operation of implementing that recommendation mitigates against the purpose, intent and spirit of that recommendation.

The committee recommends further that the mandate of the Federal Business Development Bank be confirmed and refocused as a complementary lender to small and medium sized businesses and that it be authorized to use new financial instruments to fulfil its mandate.

I am sure members of the House noticed that yesterday the Minister of Industry introduced Bill C-91. The effect of that bill is to do precisely what this recommendation suggests be done. That makes a committee feel its work is very significant and has not been ignored. The government has recognized the hard work of the committee.

We need to recognize in detail exactly how the business development bank, under the new name of the business development bank of Canada, will operate. Will the operations of that bank become an extension of the Canadian federal treasury or, as the minister implied yesterday, will the capital used for loans come from private sources of one kind or another.

The new sources of capital that the Business Development Bank of Canada needs to look at is that money that exists in the private sector today and money that can be patient, particularly for new, innovative ventures. It should also include the high tech areas where the science and technology involved in those businesses is very far reaching, very expensive and does not create an immediate return. It requires a lot of seed capital for the intellectual background, the experimentation, the building of prototypes and things of that sort before it actually goes into active and profitable production.

The Federal Business Development Bank, or under the new name of the business development bank of Canada, could form and fill a particular niche in our economy.

The difficulty we need to guard against is it not becoming another crown corporation that is a drain on the taxpayer. It should be a self-sufficient, self-financing organization. To date, the operation of the Federal Business Development Bank has been a profitable venture and that needs to be continued in the future. I hope that the kinds of things that Bill C-91 envisages will indeed take place in that regard.

However, we are not done yet. This committee did a lot of very hard work. It dealt not only with the chartered banks which it said are doing a reasonably good job. It could do a lot better in some places but is that not true of all of us? We can all improve. We would like to get the banks to take their responsibilities and carry out their mandates a little bit better.

I now want to move outside the banks and into the trust and loan companies. The committee recommends that the trust and loan companies act be amended to remove the arbitrary capital requirements for the establishment of a trust company and the acquisition of full commercial lending powers. The superintendent of financial institutions should instead establish guidelines setting out conditions for the establishment of new federally chartered trust companies and for the acquisition of full commercial lending powers. Institutions meeting these guidelines would be able to operate in Canada and make commercial loans using the prudent portfolio approach.

It is precisely on the last phrase "using the prudent portfolio approach" that I wish to spend a few moments. In the last number of years we have seen the collapse of some very major financial institutions, one of which was Confederation Life, that probably everyone in the House remembers only too well.

I remember the appearance before the committee of the superintendent of financial institutions and the questions the committee members asked this individual. How was it possible that a major financial institution like this could collapse in Canada? It is very serious when such an institution collapses.

The superintendent of financial institutions has come under the scrutiny of the auditor general. On Friday of this week he was reported as saying in the Financial Post : ``The auditor general and Ottawa's financial institutions watchdog are at odds''. We have the auditor general on the one hand and the superintendent of financial institutions on the other at odds over when federal regulators should intervene to deal with troubled Canadian trust and insurance companies.

The superintendent of financial institutions has been given the responsibility by Parliament on behalf of the people of

Canada to assure the financial soundness of banking institutions, insurance companies, credit unions and various other financial institutions.

The auditor general has been given the responsibility to investigate how successfully the office of the superintendent is doing its job. The superintendent specifically says: "I and the auditor general do not agree what my job is". Who is going to do the job, the auditor general or the superintendent of financial institutions?

The article goes on to explain what some of the issues might be. For example, the auditor general portrayed OSFI as sometimes being too slow to intervene with financial companies in trouble. The superintendent of financial institutions, John Palmer, who assumed the post last September, disputed the regulatory approach and said: "Your officials appear to favour a more mechanical system in which specific regulatory intervention would be required when specific numerical thresholds are violated. In our view it is essential to preserve the role of judgment in determining how and when to intervene".

If the Superintendent of Financial Institutions is to exercise judgment without looking at the numbers, there is no question that can put us into a lot of potential difficulty. This is a good example of where an individual needs a very hard head to understand the numbers and to make sure that the balance statements, the equity position and the financial situation of financial institutions are sound.

However, he needs to show a compassion that recognizes when situations have developed, when conditions have changed. He needs to be somewhat kind and give them some time to balance the sheet again if there is an indication a change can take place and the institution can become financially solvent if he had a little patience. It should never be done without a very hard headed look at the dollars and cents and to make sure the institution is sound and that management is capable of turning the institution around.

In the last little while we have seen financial institutions which were on the brink of bankruptcy long before anything was done to call them to account.

It is to the credit of some of the other people who are coming back now and saying that the confederation life policy holders are to get back 70 cents on the dollar and that perhaps in some cases they will get back substantially more. It is absolutely tremendous that this can happen in Canada. The critical situation is that this should never have been be allowed to happen in the first place. That is why we need to concur in the recommendations this committee has brought forward.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.


Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague for a point of clarification regarding his reference to FBDB.

Many times in the House we hear discussions with regard to regional development grants from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, FORD-Quebec, and western economic diversification. What is his feeling about the role of these regional economic development agencies and that of FBDB? Could they be rolled into one or is there a role for each in this country?

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

The whole concept behind regional development has evolved to some degree. We need to recognize that the implementation of the regional economic development agencies has subsidized businesses that could not make it on their own. It has created artificial competition between businesses that were in existence and new ones created across the street so that neither of them could succeed profitably. It has given industries an artificial cushion, because it has not required that the money that was given to them be paid back.

If we are to have regional development it should be done in a fair and open marketplace with competition. It ought to be done in manner such that all businesses know what is going on and they are all on a level playing field and competing fairly with one another and whatever money is given ought to be paid back with a reasonable rate of return.

These are precisely the kinds of things the Federal Business Development Bank was supposed to be doing in the past when it was the lender of last resort. If that kind of thing continues, if regional development agencies develop a flat playing field, create competition, and require the money to be paid back, then there is no reason they could not be rolled into one. The bankers' criteria of lending money could be applied and the whole business would run a lot better than it does at the present time. I suppose the end result of that statement is they could be rolled into one, but under certain conditions.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.


Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Okanagan Centre for his concern about small business and for bringing this to the attention of the House, despite the fact that we thought the government would be bringing forward debate on Bill C-88, a bill that would deal with internal trade barriers and hopefully remove some of those.

I wonder if the member would expound on whether the report deals with the harm caused to small business because of the trade barriers we have in Canada between provinces. It has been

determined that these trade barriers cost our country $6 billion to $8 billion every year, and I suspect the brunt of that cost is borne by small business.

I would like the hon. member to relate to the House what the harm of these trade barriers is to small business and whether the report does make any recommendations, and also whether Bill C-88 does go far enough in bringing an end to these trade barriers, which are so harmful to Canadians.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member certainly knows how to ask complicated questions, but they are very significant questions.

The important thing is that one of the greatest hindrances to small businesses developing is the existence of trade barriers across Canada. They are a multitude in number. I believe at the last count there were somewhere between 500 and 750 of these trade barriers.

Estimates vary as to how much they actually cost. In some cases people argue that it is about $5 billion a year to the Canadian economy, in other cases they will say that it is $7 billion, depending on which set of figures is used. That means the average family in Canada spends $1,000 or $3,500 per year more than it would pay for the same goods and services if the trade barriers did not exist.

One of the embarrassing things for us as Canadians and parliamentarians is that it is often easier to trade with other countries, in particular our neighbour to the south, than it is to trade across Canada. How do we bring these kinds of things together? It seems so stupid to tell someone it is easier to trade, for example, between Vancouver and Spokane. It is wide open. There is an organization called Cascadia, which promotes this kind of economic development. It is so easy to do, because the trade barriers between Canada and the United States have virtually been eliminated. And now with NAFTA that goes all over the place.

There was a principle announced in the red book that states that Canada should be unified. By not dealing with the internal trade barriers we are in fact disunifying Canada and creating a situation where trade is now north and south but not east and west.

That is one of the great barriers for small business. We would like to be strong at home first before we go abroad, but that is not an opportunity today. We have to become strong internationally and then we can perhaps afford to go over these trade barriers within Canada. It is a reverse, backwards kind of thing. It hurts our feelings of patriotism. It frustrates our feelings of economic unity as well as political unity. It is those kinds of things that we have to tear down so that we can help each other and feel important as Canadians-as important in Nova Scotia as we are in British Columbia, as we are in Ontario, as we are in Quebec, as we are in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and so on across Canada.

The hon. member asked a very good question with regard to those things. Does the federal trade agreement that is now before the House and is supposed to be implemented through Bill C-88 do that? It does not.

We will hear from various members on this side of the House who will say clearly where this trade agreement falls short. It does not deal with the very basic issues.

The idea is a very good one. Let us recognize this right off the top. Recognizing that internal trade barriers in Canada are a significant problem is very important. All our premiers have now recognized that is a problem. The issue, however, is that although they have recognized there is a problem they have not solved the problem. When we get to the dispute resolution mechanism, what do we get? We get the opportunity that if they cannot resolve the conflict then they can retaliate. That is exactly where we are today. What have we achieved?

The agreement has to have some teeth in it. I submit that it does not have those teeth.

In answer to my hon. colleague's question of whether the trade agreement does those things, it moves in the right direction but it does not go anywhere near far enough. Does it help build the unity of Canada? No, it does not. Does it hurt small business? Yes, it does. It is an embarrassment to many of us because we can trade more easily north and south than we can east and west.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am very sorry that the Reform Party has decided to waste the time of this House with a debate on a motion for concurrence in a committee report.

It is a real waste of time, since a bill to continue the Federal Business Development Bank under the name of Business Development Bank of Canada is already listed in the Order Paper . We may pass this bill this afternoon without wasting the time of the House, as was the case this morning.

I am sorry the Reform Party feels it has to take up time debating a report that was tabled in this House last October when there are bills waiting to be passed that could deal with the issue.

To avoid any further waste of the House's time and cost to the Canadian taxpayers, I move:

That the House do now proceed to Orders of the Day.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Some hon. members


Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Some hon. members


Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Some hon. members


Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

Some hon. members


Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:20 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to.)

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:20 a.m.


Joe Comuzzi Liberal Thunder Bay—Nipigon, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I apologize to the Chair for being late but had I been here I would have voted with the government.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick


Fernand Robichaud Liberalfor Minister of Foreign Affairs)

moved that Bill C-87, an act to implement the convention on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and on their destruction, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Jesse Flis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs I am pleased to initiate the debate on Bill C-87, an act to implement the convention on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and on their destruction.

This draft legislation represents the achievement of what has been for successive Canadian governments one of our most important priorities in the arms control and disarmament field, a multilateral agreement on a global and comprehensive ban on chemical weapons.

Such an agreement is of special importance for Canadians. It was almost 80 years ago that Canadian soldiers were among the victims of the first gas attack in Ypres Salient in April 1915. There are still alive today Canadians who remember with horror the effect of such weapons on their friends and comrades, their husbands, brothers and fathers.

Having let this horrendous genie out of the bottle, the international community has ever since sought ways to control and suppress it. The Geneva protocol of 1925 was the first such attempt but its scope was effectively limited to a ban on the first use of chemical weapons and many states, Canada included, felt obliged to develop and stockpile such weapons against the possibility that they might be necessary to retaliate against future attacks with chemical weapons.

The hon. member for Hamilton-Wentworth, who will be speaking after me, has done a lot of research in that area. Hon. members may wish to consult with him for more information.

While our troops in subsequent wars were spared the horrors of further chemical attacks, neither the Geneva protocol nor mounting international condemnation of these weapons prevented other states from using them in other wars, most recently in the Iran-Iraq war. Even more monstrous, some have gone so far as to use chemical weapons against defenceless civilians. Who can ever forget the shocking pictures of the Iranian and Kurdish victims of Iraqi chemical weapons or the terror inflicted on Israeli citizens by Saddam Hussein's threats during the gulf war to rain chemical weapons down on Israel.

Spurred on by such barbarities, negotiators at the conference on disarmament in Geneva redoubled their efforts to conclude a multilateral agreement on chemical weapons which would forever remove this scourge. Canada is proud to have made a major contribution to these efforts, from the days in 1983 when a Canadian, Ambassador Donald McPhail, chaired the committee that developed the first outline of such a treaty to the successful conclusion of negotiations in 1992 when Canada was in the first rank of those pressing most strongly for a truly effective ban.

The chemical weapons convention resulting from these negotiations which opened for signature in January 1993 represents a major multilateral success. For the first time a whole category of what are known as weapons of mass destruction is to be eliminated. All stock piles of chemical weapons are to be destroyed under international supervision, along with the facilities which produced them. A verification regime which is global, comprehensive and effective is to be set up to ensure such weapons will never be developed again.

The convention is unique in a number of respects. Not only does it oblige states parties to destroy all existing stocks of chemical weapons and the facilities which produced them within a set time frame and under close international supervision, it also establishes a system of verification and inspection which is by far the most rigorous ever developed in a multilateral agreement.

Moreover, it does not just ban any future development of chemical weapons but seeks to safeguard against clandestine chemical weapon production through international monitoring and inspection of all facilities which might be used for such activity. Again uniquely, it extends this regime into the global civilian chemical industry. The basis of this verification regime of civilian industry is set out in three schedules or lists of toxic chemicals which either have been used as chemical weapons or are chemical weapon precursors.

Facilities working with such chemicals will annually report on their activities to their governments and through them to the international monitoring and inspection organization being set up in The Hague, the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons, or OPCW. If their activities exceed certain thresholds they will be liable to inspection by international inspectors.

The convention's overview of industry extends even further because certain facilities which produce what are called unscheduled discrete organic chemicals, particularly those which contain phosphorus, sulphur or fluorine, can be adapted to produce chemical weapons.

The convention also requires these facilities to report on their production activities and provides for the future development of a system of random inspections of such facilities. Thus the scope of the convention extends beyond chemical and pharmaceutical industries and covers facilities producing pesticides, fertilizers, paints and coatings, textiles and lubricants.

Given the confidential nature of some of the information being reported by industry, the convention has its own provisions for protecting such information and requires states parties to abide by those provisions. The convention also requires states parties to institute restrictions on the export and import of schedule chemicals with states not party to the convention.

Perhaps the most novel element of the convention is the provision allowing for states parties to have the right to demand short notice or no right of refusal inspections called challenge inspections of any place, whether government or civilian, where they believe activities are being carried out incompatible with the obligations and goals of the convention.

In another departure from general practice the convention obligates states parties to pass penal legislation that not only encompasses activities on their own territory but also prohibits their citizens from undertaking forbidden activities outside their territory.

The convention has its own sanctions regime, although it also recognizes the pre-eminent authority of the United Nations security council regarding mandatory sanctions in the case of serious violations of the convention.

In view of the breadth and complexity of the convention, the Canadian government, like many other signatories, has given very close consideration to how its obligations shall be implemented in Canada.

Fortunately whereas the convention is 160-odd pages long, the draft legislation resulting from that consideration now before us is barely more than one-tenth that length and yet encompasses all the obligations that arise out of the convention relevant for Canada.

As Canada does not possess chemical weapons or chemical weapon production facilities, the related provisions of the convention do not pertain to Canada. Instead, the main impact on Canada arises from those provisions concerned with industry activities. The act's central provision is to ban completely anyone's activity relating to anything with chemical weapons in exactly the same terms as are used in the convention.

Also, as provided in the convention, these provisions ban the use of riot control agents as a method of warfare. Operationally speaking, as required by the convention, the draft legislation authorizes the Minister of Foreign Affairs to designate officials to act as Canada's national authority which will serve as the national focal point for liaison with the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons, OPCW, and other states parties, collect the required information for the affected industries and transmit it to the OPCW and facilitate international inspections of Canadian facilities.

The draft legislation then spells out clearly the conditions under which the required information will be obtained; the right of the international inspection teams to conduct inspections in Canada in accordance with the provisions of the convention, and the roles and responsibilities of the national authority in facilitating such inspections. Because of the need to protect confidential information, it contains appropriate provisions to do so. It extends existing controls on chemicals by specifying all the chemicals on the convention's three schedules will be subject to the authority of the Export and Import Permits Act.

It institutes penal provisions and applies those to both activities on Canadian territory and activities by Canadian citizens outside of Canada. It further makes clear the enforcement of the proposed act will be conducted under the Criminal Code.

It provides for appropriate regulations to be prepared concerning inter alia the collection of the required data and the procedures under which the national authority will carry out its assigned responsibilities.

In considering this draft legislation, the government's first concern has been to ensure all of its obligations under the convention have been fully met. At the same time, however, the government has also paid very close attention to the convention's impact on the affected Canadian industries and has sought to achieve maximum effectiveness with the minimum amount of interference in the legitimate activities of those industries.

Fortunately in this regard the government has benefited from several years of close consultations with the most affected industries both during the course of the negotiation of the convention and in the preparations for the convention's implementation in Canada.

Throughout, the response from industry has always been positive and constructive. It was the Canadian Chemical Producers' Association which produced one of the first papers submitted to the conference on disarmament concerning the issue of confidentiality.

In 1990, thanks to the co-operation of the Canadian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association and Merck Frosst, government officials were able to conduct a trial inspection of the Merck Frosst facility near Montreal to test the verification provisions of the convention. Both associations provided representatives to participate in annual industry consultations with negotiators in Geneva.

In our preparations to implement the convention in Canada, we have continued to consult closely with industry on the impact of the convention by distributing information brochures, briefing industry associations and contributing articles for industry publications, conveying information seminars and sending questionnaires and information material to some 2,100 companies across Canada to help determine which companies will be affected by the convention.

Almost without exception the response from industry has continued to be very constructive and encouraging. We confidently expect that as we proceed with this draft legislation and its associated regulations, this high level of co-operation with industry will continue.

The government believes the draft legislation before us is not only appropriate and necessary but represents the most balanced and cost effective means of implementing the convention obligations in Canada.

We all recoiled with horror some two months ago when in an unprecedented act of senseless barbarity, madmen unleashed chemical weapons on unsuspecting Tokyo commuters one early spring morning. We may not be able to prevent individuals from committing such unspeakable acts, but with the successful passage of the proposed legislation we can at least hope to control and deny them access to the materials for such weapons. This morning I was very pleased to read in the news that the police in Japan arrested those responsible for the nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subway.

With all party co-operation, which we will be getting in consulting with the official opposition and the third party, all three parties would like to get this legislation through as quickly as possible. When we do, hopefully the convention and the legislation will prevent the production, stockpiling and use of the kind of substance used on the Tokyo subways.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.


Nic Leblanc Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House today on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois to speak on Bill C-87, an act to implement the convention on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and on their destruction.

We appreciate that the convention is the result of a long and complex negotiation process that took nearly 20 years.

For more than 100 years, the international community has been seeking to outlaw these weapons, or at least their use, because they are inhumane and of rather limited military value.

We should also rejoice over the fact that the convention is the first multilateral disarmament agreement prohibiting an entire class of mass destruction weapons. Under this convention, it is illegal not only to produce, but also to acquire, stockpile, transfer, use or engage in military preparations to use chemical weapons or assist anyone in any activity prohibited under the convention.

The prohibition applies not only to chemical agents but also to their vectors and any equipment intended for use in relation to chemical weapons.

We are pretty happy with the wording of the convention, which strikes a balance in a mix of areas, such as the protection of sensitive activities and ready access for inspection teams.

The convention provides for a challenge inspection mechanism while at the same time protecting sensitive and legitimate activities by putting time limits on the inspections, and by providing for restricted access and measures to deter abuse.

A balance was also struck between the need to maintain control over exports to suspect states and the will to liberalize the chemical products trade. Members of the Australian group, which includes Canada, and which monitors the proliferation of chemical weapons and defines the guidelines for controlling exports to countries deemed to have chemical weapons, pledged to review their policy and eliminate controls in the case of those states which fully comply with the convention.

Another balance was struck between the requirement to destroy chemical weapons within prescribed time frames and the need to take economic implications into account. All those states which own chemical weapons will have ten years to destroy both the weapons and the production facilities. However, the convention allows for an extension of up to ten years, under more stringent controls which are tantamount to turning over the weapons and facilities to the international community.

The destruction of a chemical weapons production facility costs ten times more than its construction. Consequently, we are concerned about the financial implications, for some states, of this requirement. The problem is very real, even though the convention provides for the temporary conversion of some production facilities into destruction facilities, where this is

feasible and cost effective, thus making it possible to declare such production facilities as having been converted.

Indeed, one of the problems related to the implementation of the convention will be the destruction of arsenals, which is a complex and extremely costly operation. The cost of destroying the American arsenal of these weapons is estimated at $8 billion. Russia, which does not have the funds, has 40,000 to 60,000 tonnes of substances to destroy, which is quite the task and will undoubtedly take over 10 years and then again, only if western countries lend a hand.

By the way, we are not entirely satisfied with the verification system. However, we realize that they are the fruit of several years of negotiation and that they strike a balance between the need to have an efficient means of checking whether countries are respecting the convention and the legitimate need to maintain secrecy in defence and industrial matters which are not related to the prohibited chemical weapons.

We would have nevertheless preferred much stricter controls. The current convention is perhaps the best agreement possible under the circumstances. Regardless, we must admit that the Convention does contain the most rigorous controls ever included in a multilateral agreement. They permit the organization to confirm that substances and chemical weapons factories have actually been destroyed, to monitor very closely all operations authorized to produce certain toxic chemical products, to keep a database on the world chemical industry and, at the request of the signing states, to make inspections.

In addition, the on-site challenge inspection will in fact permit any signing state to request a universal inspection of a suspicious operation in another country by the secretariat of the organization and a multilateral inspection team.

We have concluded that the text of the convention is to be criticized for lacking coherence and logic in certain areas. In some cases, for example facilities used to stockpile or to manufacture chemical weapons, it goes into the greatest descriptive detail, and in others, for example the clauses prohibiting the development of chemical weapons, it fails to go into enough detail.

Furthermore, the verification system for declared facilities seems unnecessarily cumbersome and costly, while the so-called challenge inspection system has far less clout.

A major drawback is that paradoxically, enforcement mechanisms will not be in place when the convention comes into force. The director general will still have to be appointed, inspectors confirmed and the list of inspection equipment approved. In other words, each state party to the convention will have the right to request and obtain a challenge inspection, but there will be no one to carry it out. This is only one of the problems the preliminary commission will have to consider very carefully.

Surely it would have been more reasonable to wait until the organization is in a position to fully exercise its mandate before the main obligations set forth in the convention come into force?

It is also unfortunate that the sanctions provided under the convention are not more specific. Article XII authorizes the organization to ask a state party to the convention that does not fully comply with it to take corrective action. If the incriminated country refuses, the organization can then apply a certain number of sanctions and recommend to states parties a number of corrective measures in accordance with international law.

However, the convention remains silent on the kind of sanctions that can be applied. Furthermore, in recognition of the ultimate responsibility of the UN Security Council for international peace and security, very serious cases may be referred to this body for possible further action, in accordance with the UN Charter.

I would like to take a few moments to consider the consequences for the chemical industry in Quebec and Canada. The convention would not appear to have a major impact. Since the second world war, Canada has not produced chemical weapons and has even destroyed its stockpiles. Under the convention, the chemical industry in Quebec and Canada will, however, be subject to regular monitoring. The national authority, an agency to be designated in each state party to the convention, will provide the link with the organization.

The signatory states are required to submit statements to the organization concerning specifically the possession of chemical weapons or the manufacture or export of designated chemicals. These statements will subsequently be used in on-site inspections.

As Canada has neither chemical weapons nor facilities for their manufacture, it would appear that the effect of the convention will be limited in its case to trade.

We believe that Canada should assume some leadership with respect to this convention. There is good reason to ask, in fact, what role Canada intends to play in encouraging its partners to ratify the convention as quickly as possible. Canada should assume some leadership in this regard.

Until now, nothing has indicated this to be the government's intention. If it intends to be consistent, it should announce a series of initiatives in this regard in the coming weeks. After all, only 28 countries have ratified the convention up to now, and there should be 65. Need I mention that neither the United States

nor Russia has signed yet? Furthermore, other important states that have yet to sign include Iraq, Libya and North Korea.

In the case of Russia, we realize that the costs of complying with this convention will be significant. However, without Russia and the United States, the convention will not entirely fulfill its role, since Russia and the United States have the biggest stockpiles of chemical weapons. Whatever the case, we believe that, if we support this bill, Canada will soon carve out a prime niche for itself within the various institutions of this new international organization.

In our opinion, the convention on chemical weapons constitutes a fine opportunity to eliminate the threat of chemical weapons. The other option would be to continue to take measures in isolation, an approach that would have neither the generality nor the global legitimacy of the convention. The convention gives traditional arms control a universal scope, with the added possibility of responding vigorously to non-compliance. It also calls for widespread support to determine who complies and who does not as well as what political action is appropriate.

We are therefore happy to support this bill, making Canada one of the first to sign the convention. In our view, this is far from an ideal document. The Bloc Quebecois appreciates however that it is the result of complex and comprehensive negotiations, during which several countries had to make concessions on issues they considered extremely important because they could not get the support of other countries.

Canada is probably one of the countries which had to make the most concessions in order to come up with this document, because it was strongly in favour of an efficient, comprehensive and global inspection scheme that would help build confidence. The Bloc Quebecois fully agrees with the position taken by Canada in the past. In fact, we still consider being able to request an inspection anywhere, anytime, and seeing this inspection carried out immediately without restrictions being imposed on inspectors as the best way of ensuring safety.

While, at present, few countries recognize possessing chemical weapons, notably the United States, Russia and Iraq, we know that many more have the means to use such weapons. We were all distressed by the pictures of Iranians and Kurds killed by Iraqi chemical weapons in the Gulf War. We also feared that chemical weapons could be used against not only troops, but civilian populations. We hope that the implementation of the convention will speed up the peace process.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure and an honour to speak today on Bill C-87.

It is a very poignant moment to do so, given the fact that a little more than a week ago we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day all across the world.

Today we are moving toward enacting a bill to implement the convention on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. The saying goes that all is fair in love and war, but there are conventions which dictate to us as human beings a minimum level of behaviour even in the horrors of war.

This basic level of human behaviour is an obligation of those who engage in war. The use of chemical weapons contravenes that in a most heinous fashion. Terrible acts have been committed on fellow human beings. Chemical weapons are one example of what has happened.

Chemical weapons are weapons of mass destruction. The chemical weapons convention was signed by over 130 countries in January 1993. It is the first multilateral agreement that abhors an entire class of weapons of mass destruction. The act enables an organization to look at chemical weapons production facilities to ensure that they will be destroyed and that the chemical weapons stockpiled by countries will also be destroyed.

All government and industrial facilities will be monitored and the act will be implemented by the countries. It is a powerful act but it is necessary. It is important to realize that it does not impinge on industries to engage in legitimate industrial production of chemicals. It comes down on industries and countries manufacturing chemical weapons for aggressive and warlike purposes.

I reassure industry in Canada that the purpose of the act is not to come down on it but to form a broad framework to be applied not only in this country but in other countries for the collective security of all. I also reassure the industry that its stocks will not be destroyed in any way, shape or form.

There are three categories of schedules in the act. Schedule 1 includes such chemicals we are aware of such as sarin, tabun, soman, and the mustards that were used with widespread and tragic effectiveness in World War I. There are some legitimate uses for these chemicals in pharmaceuticals and in cancer research. Some of the precursors are used. Therefore one would have to obtain permission or a licence in order to use them, and that applies to all 130 signatories.

Schedule 2 includes such chemicals as amiton, which are key precursors for schedule 1 chemical weapons. The individuals and companies that make them will be subjected to scrutiny if they make over a certain amount.

Schedule 3 is the least powerful, the least destructive of all, as they are often used in industry but can in large enough quantities

be used as chemical weapons. We have such chemical weapons as hydrogen cyanide and phosgene that have been used before. Companies that manufacture these chemicals will be eligible for occasional checks and balances as time goes on.

In the act is the establishment of national authorities responsible for collecting information that they will give to an organization that has been set up called the Organization for the Prohibition of Conventional Weapons or the OPCW.

All signatories are essentially responsible for checking within their countries all the industries that will be manufacturing any of the chemicals in the three schedules I mentioned.

The information will then be given to the OPCW which will then decide if it is necessary to take further action. The national authorities in conjunction with the OPCW will facilitate the inspection. They will also control the export and import of chemicals where necessary. The country of origin is responsible for enacting Criminal Code legislation that will provide penalties, fines and imprisonment if individuals or companies are engaging in the production of chemicals for aggressive warlike use in the future. Again, we must make the distinction that the convention is not to be used against companies engaging in the production of chemicals for medicinal or industrial purposes.

I caution the government that the cost should not be excessive. We must do this within our fiscal constraints. We want to ensure that the agency that will be set up will not be onerous or develop a morass of bureaucracy in the future. We do not have the money to do that, as we all know.

Some may argue why this convention is necessary; did chemical weapons not go out with the first world war? The reality is unfortunately they did not. We have seen more recently in Japan the release of chemical weapons that had tragic effects. Sarin was released on a civilian population, killing hundreds of individuals. Stockpiles have been found in Japan. More recently the Iraqis have used chemical weapons for aggressive purposes to commit genocide within their own country against Kurdish individuals. That is a hot spot which will affect us in the future.

The convention was designed to keep good countries in check and to come down hard on those countries that would seek to use these weapons from Hades in a fashion that is aggressive and would cause destabilizing effects.

The UN will be the ultimate body that will receive information from the OPCW. That brings a larger question, which we ought to examine, which is the ability of the United Nations to act quickly and effectively in the face of threats to regional and international security. We have seen Rwanda, Burundi, the former Yugoslavia, Angola, Sierra Leone, and the list goes on. In fact there were over 40 major conflicts in the world last year. That number is not decreasing; rather, it is increasing. In the future we will see countries such as Nigeria, the Sudan, possibly Kenya, Kashmir, and a host of other countries blowing up-not to belittle those already on the front pages of newspapers, showing on a daily basis the tragedies civilians are enduring in places like Bosnia, Croatia, Burundi, Rwanda, East Timor. The list goes on and on. We have learned nothing in over 50 years. We ought to remember that.

The OPCW is an example of what is considered to be conflict prevention. Even though this is a small but very important act, there are many lessons that can be learned as conflicts loom ahead. In fact there are many things we can do to prevent future conflicts. The United Nations must set in place a list of transgressions that are completely unacceptable to the international community. It must set a list of transgressions down that are threats to regional and international security, behaviours that are considered to be patently unacceptable such as genocide and gross human rights abuses.

I also mention countries engaging in self-destructive behaviours. I bring to the attention of the House the expenditures occurring in military hardware. Many people believe that in the post-cold war era we live in a safer place. We are far from it. The world as we know it now is a much more dangerous place.

While there was a decrease in global arms spending from 1987 to 1990 of some $240 billion, military spending in many parts of the world has actually increased. It is interesting to note which countries are increasing their expenditures. Curiously enough, it is particularly in the poorest areas of the world. Sub-Saharan Africa and east Asia did not have a decline in their military expenditures; rather, they were increased.

In general when we see violent conflicts occurring the military expenditures are increasing also, which means that they are taking away from the expenditures necessary in providing basic human needs.

According to the UNDP, in 1990-91 all developing countries spent the equivalent of 60 per cent of their combined expenditures for education and health on military expenditure, compared with 33 per cent in industrialized countries.

Let us take a look at who spends the most on military hardware. It is very telling. In 1990-91: Somalia, 200 per cent military spending compared with health and education spending; Ethiopia, 190 per cent; Angola, 208 per cent; Yemen, 197 per cent; Pakistan, 125 per cent; India, 138 per cent; Myanmar, 222 per cent; Iraq, 271 per cent; Sri Lanka, 107 per cent; Syria, 373 per cent of its spending for education and health was spent

on military expenditures. Clearly these countries are not among the richest of the world; rather, they are among the poorest.

Along with this list of transgressions we also need to draw up a list of responses from the international community. For example, early diplomatic initiatives can be employed, along with positive propaganda. The former Yugoslavia and Rwanda are interesting examples. When the conflicts were first beginning, the people who started to stir up and fan the flames of ethnic discontent were in part using negative, hateful propaganda. The people who were on the ground, NGOs and representatives from other countries, saw this and were helpless to do anything about it.

A lot could be done if a system were set in place by the United Nations to immediately put positive propaganda into the theatre when negative and hateful propaganda is being spewed forth by individuals who are trying to fuel the flames of ethnic discontent and trying to stimulate conflict. I think it would do a lot to dampen down the hatred and ethnic conflict as it starts. It is an interesting area for us to try to convince the United Nations to engage in.

Another aspect, which is particularly appropriate given the fact that the G-7 summit is occurring in Halifax in June, is the use of the international financial institutions as non-military and inexpensive levers on countries that are engaging in these transgressions I mentioned before. It has not really been looked at very carefully.

We were in Washington not too long ago and I spoke to Mr. Fauver, Mr. Clinton's sherpa for the G-7 summit. I asked him if we could use the international financial institutions to exert pressure on countries or groups who were trying to stimulate a conflict by trying to pit one person against the other. He said it could be done but that it was difficult. I think this might be an inexpensive but effective and eloquent way of trying to defuse conflicts before they occur.

Something that could be done is not renegotiating the loans of countries. They need money to fight a war; if they do not have the money then they cannot fight a war. We can decrease non-humanitarian aid to countries that are engaging in this behaviour. The removal of preferential trade status is another example of what can be done. These countries should be penalized and brought to task. The international community should let these countries or groups know that their behaviour is completely unacceptable for this to occur.

We can then go ahead and do the traditional form of diplomatic initiatives. Something the government has put forth, which I think is a very good move, is the construction of a rapid deployment force. We are not talking about a standing army but rather a force that would be comprised of individual countries that would contribute arms, equipment, or people to go in on short notice to areas of conflict in order to dampen down a conflict or prevent a conflict from happening. This might be another issue that could be brought up at the G-7 summit in Halifax. We are not talking about an army that would stay at one place at one time; they would stay in their countries of origin.

Another useful aspect is that these groups could come together on a periodic basis and train. One of the problems the United Nations has always found is that when they get soldiers and put them into a conflict the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. They do not know the equipment, they do not know the commanders, and they do now know how things work. This would obviate that, by bringing them together every year or so to go through manoeuvres and the motions so that they will understand how to engage in a conflict such as this.

We also have to combine the increased monitoring capability of the United Nations. In the UN there exists a crisis monitoring group, but to date it has been very ineffective in actually informing the United Nations in a timely fashion about conflicts that are occurring. Much can be done in this area also. We need to incorporate NGOs and groups on the ground to form a network of military intelligence that could feed information in an expeditious fashion to the UN crisis group, who could then process it and give it to the United Nations.

What is the rationale for all of this? People will ask why we are getting involved in the affairs of other countries. The rationale is very clear. Contrary to what has happened in the past when armies were killing each other, most casualties that occur in conflicts these days are not army personnel but are innocent civilians. We saw this in Bosnia and in Rwanda time and time again.

In 1993 there were over 40 million displaced people in the world. The United Nations high commission for refugees recognized this as a great tragedy. Where do these refugees go? They move within their own countries but they also emigrate to other parts of the world. No border is completely intact; borders are in fact porous. What happens half a world away will come back to affect us. The United Nations also estimates that while there are presently 40 million refugees, the number is likely to increase to over 100 million by the year 2000.

When conflicts do occur, we see the massive and widespread destruction of a country. All the aid, development, and hard work of decades are washed away in the course of a month or two of conflict. It will take decades to rebuild that. Furthermore, the seeds of hatred are planted, not only in the people subjected to the war but also in the unborn children, because they will be subjected to the same hatred and prejudices their families were

subjected to. This is a cancer that starts very early and grows. It takes generations to go away, if at all.

Also, within our own country when conflicts erupt we are forced to engage in peacekeeping, peacemaking, defence initiatives, aid and development at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Is it not better to put in a few dollars now and save hundreds of millions in the future, rather than wait until everything blows up?

There is no need to discuss the humanitarian aspects of those who are involved in the conflicts because they are evident. For those of you who have seen war situations, as I have, it is not a pretty sight. These individuals want nothing more than to live in peace and harmony but are forced to engage in activities or have heinous crimes meted out to them, which they are powerless to deal with.

One mistake made in foreign policy is in the global community we do not have the backbone to deal with individuals who for their own self-interests are stimulating ethnic hatred. When we negotiate with these people it is important to realize they are not necessarily speaking for their entire populace. They may be only be speaking for a very small number of people. Their motivations should be questioned at every turn.

Few countries in the world have the international recognition and capability to form a system to address the pressures and conflict we will have in the coming new world order. Fortunately, Canada is one of the few that can do this. We must persuade our colleagues in the international community to set up a framework and a system of responses from the international community and identify early on the precursors to conflict. In short, we must do what we can, where we can, and when we can, given the fiscal constraints that are put upon us.

The action we have taken with the conventional weapons ban is truly admirable and is a shining example of what Canada can do. People may not understand that Canada is one of the leaders in putting forth this ban. It is something we as a country ought to be very proud of.

While we have managed to put forth a convention on the ban of mines, I suggest Canada take a leadership role in putting forth a convention on banning the production, stockpiling and sale of land mines and anti-personnel devices because their primary target again is civilian.

Once a conflict is over these land mines and anti-personnel devices stay for decades and I will give some examples. It is also important to realize that these weapons are not meant to kill; many of them are meant purely to maim and they maim children.

Many of the anti-personnel devices are showered from helicopters or planes. They are made of plastic and look like little toys. Children pick them up and get their arms or their legs blown off. I have seen this in Mozambique. Teenagers found these things and had body parts blown off. Believe me, it is not fun to spend four hours in a hospital operating room debriding somebody's leg after taking off the other leg.

Worldwide there are over 100 million land mines that have been set. It not only affects what we know about Cambodia but in Afghanistan 400,000 people have been wounded. The UN is now engaging in activities to remove land mines. About 85 hectares a year are done. It will take 4,300 years to clear Afghanistan of mines.

In Croatia over 330,000 hectares are completely uninhabitable and totally useless for industry. It costs Croatia over $230 million a year purely because the area is seeded with land mines.

Chechnya is another example where hundreds of thousands of land mines were sown in a very short period of time. Many areas of Chechnya will not be able to become economically self-sufficient for a long time because of that. When the civilian population tries to plant their fields or go to work, they will continue to be subjected to periodic incidents of having their limbs blown off or of being maimed.

Many of the land mines are plastic, some are metal and many are invisible. They cost between $3 and $30 to manufacture and up to $1000 to get rid of. Every year there are two million land mines seeded and about 85,000 being removed.

There is a land mine called the black widow or the PMW, a 10 centimetre plastic mine with 240 grams of TNT that can rip off a leg at the hip. There are about 20 million of these land mines deployed all over the world. China and the former Soviet Union make them.

There is the Valmara 69, also known as the bouncing betty. This one leaps up one metre and explodes, showering metal fragments for 20 metres. It is made in Italy. It is shocking to see the countries that actually make these, from the United States to many countries in Europe to China and the former Soviet Union.

This is something we need to address and Canada can take a leadership role in this. There is no military use whatsoever for this weapon which again is primarily used to maim civilians. Usually those who are maimed the most are the children and the men and women who work in the fields. We must take a leadership role on this as we have done on chemical weapons.

While we have had the convention on chemical weapons, we also need to consider the aspect of conventional non-nuclear weapons. The proliferation of non-nuclear conventional weapons, particularly small arms, is something that is having a huge destabilizing effect on the world stage.

When I worked on the Mozambique border there were hundreds of thousands of AK-47 assault rifles pouring into South Africa from Mozambique. An AK-47 can be bought for $5 to $20. When you have an AK-47, you have a lot of power. These people are desperately poor. They have no food and are starving and all they can do is sell these weapons. These weapons are ubiquitous in the developing world and there is a huge destabilizing force in that. It also enables people to engage in violent criminal acts which also impedes a country's ability to get on its feet economically.

Whether we are looking at west Africa, southern Africa or east Asia, crime is one of the largest problems confronting the developing world. It is something we need to address.

The G-7 summit is coming up. Over 90 per cent of conventional weapons are made by G-7 nations. It is hypocritical for us to say we are helping countries on the one hand with our aid and development, but on the other hand we are selling them the arms either through private dealers or by government to government sale. We are cutting off our nose to spite our face because in the long run conflicts brew. These are not things to be taken in isolation. They are to be taken collectively in the name of collective security.

Bill C-87 shows that Canada can, as it has in the past, show leadership in foreign policy. One person not so long ago in the celebrations of V-E Day said a poignant and kind thing about the people of this country: "If the Canadian people could look at Canadians the way the people in Holland look at Canadians, then indeed they would learn a lot and indeed they would be proud".

I ask the government to remember that. I ask the Canadian people to remember that in the hope that we can use that esteem and respect we have on the international stage to become more aggressive in addressing these threats to international security, not only for the people who are involved, but also for the people in this country.

Although we may be far away from areas of conflict and think we are immune to it, we are not. People will leave areas of conflict, the have not areas to areas that have. Canada is a have country. It will put stresses on this country that we are not prepared to deal with. It will cost us money that we do not have. Above all else, we should do it for humanitarian reasons. Although we may be different peoples, we are in fact one people on one earth.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-87, an act to implement the chemical weapons convention. It is appropriate at this time to remind the House and all Canadians that Canada has much at stake in this piece of legislation. It touches the very heart of our military history.

I remind the House that on August 15, 1915 Canadian soldiers were the first soldiers to be subjected to a systematic gas attack. Inexperienced Canadian troops occupied the trenches at Ypres in Belgium. At that point in the war there had been a stalemate on the western front. It was very difficult for either side to move forward using conventional weapons.

On that day the Germans released chlorine gas from their trenches. The Canadians held the line immediately in front and on their right were French colonial troops. What the Canadians saw first on that early morning was a white cloud advancing slowly toward them. They were filled with curiosity, wondering what it was. It was like a low lying mist. As it approached and reached their trenches they were suddenly seized at the throat. When they breathed they breathed fire and they fell gasping to the ground and into the trenches, writhing and suffering.

The Canadian troops very quickly realized it was poison gas. The French colonial troops on their right broke and ran in a panic, but the Canadian troops, those who survived, climbed out of the trenches and lay on the parapets while the gas passed. Actually, it is a great moment in the annals of Canadian military history. Even though many of those young Canadian troops died, they held the line and resisted the gas attack.

After that first attack, gas became very popular on the western front. The French discovered it was chlorine and responded with their own gas. Then there was an arms race of various types of noxious substances. They went to phosgene gas, hydrogen cyanide and other variations.

One of the most effective gases that was discovered during the first world war came to be known as mustard gas. This gas has been used in very recent times such as on the Kurds in the Iran-Iraq war. When the vapour touches the skin it immediately causes huge blisters. It also causes blindness. When it is breathed in, it blisters the lung and causes death.

As the war progressed it became very common to hear the sound of artillery firing gas shells. Instead of the explosion afterward, there was a popping and hissing noise. Along the western front because both the German troops and our allies were using gas, troops on all sides had rattles. When they heard the gas attack, they spun the rattles.

I would like to read a few lines from a famous poem by British poet Wilfred Owen called "Dulce et Decorum Est". He captures what it was like during these gas attacks in the first world war. He begins:

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! An ecstasy of fumbling, Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time; But someone still was yelling out and stumbling And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime-. Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light, As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

It was that kind of horrific experience which captured the imaginations of all nations during the war and after its conclusion.

One of the results was the 1925 Geneva protocol which outlawed the use of gas. It was a recognition by states worldwide that the use of this weapon actually took the very minimum essence of humanity out of warfare. It reduced warfare to a matter of exterminating the enemy like vermin. This was felt to be, and we still feel it today, unacceptable behaviour on the part of people who would be regarded as human beings.

Therefore the Geneva protocol in 1925 was passed. Like the current chemical warfares convention, it was not ratified by all nations. In fact the United States did not ratify it until 1970. It had an impact. That impact was to give all nations of the world the sense that chemical weapons were an illegal weapon, a weapon that was wrong to use.

Nevertheless by the time we got into the late 1930s, it became very clear that chemical weapons were going to be used again. When the Italians occupied Abyssinia, the former Ethiopia, they attempted to colonize it by conquest. They used poison gas on the helpless civilians as a way of experimenting with chemical weapons in the event of another world war. That had an immediate impact in Canada.

It was at about that time a former chief of staff, General Andrew McNaughton, became the head of the National Research Council, that lovely stone building at 100 Sussex Drive. He felt that as a result of what the Italians were doing there was a good chance that gas would be used again in any outbreak of hostilities.

He initiated research in Canada on protection against the use of gas. We started with the development of gas masks and charcoal containers. That work went forward at the National Research Council.

Then when the war broke out in 1939 we stepped up our activities and research on poison gas, particularly defensive research which is a very Canadian thing to do.

In 1940 with the fall of France, Britain was suddenly desperate. When France collapsed Canadian troops were the only troops who still had their equipment. The British immediately mobilized all their available gas weapons with the expectation of soaking the Germans with gas should they invade. The weapon the British had at the time was principally mustard gas contained in collapsible drums. It was very primitive. They expected to fly over the beaches if the Germans invaded and dump this out of the aircraft and hope it would injure enough troops to deter the attack. The attack did not come, however.

The initiative to develop gas weapons went forward very rapidly. The British were very concerned the Germans were developing the weapons and felt they should as well. Britain is a small country and so the United Kingdom turned to Canada for assistance in the development of poison gas weapons. This led to the opening of the proving grounds at Suffield, very large proving grounds near Medicine Hat, where Canada undertook experiments with various types of poison gas. Canada expanded from mustard gas into research developing out toxins such as ricin. During World War II thousands and thousands of animals were killed at Suffield during tests on various types of poison gas.

One direction of the research was to find a poison gas that was heavy. During the second world war many of the poison gasses were too light and consequently would rise and dissipate. The direction of the research was to find a gas that was very heavy and would flow along the ground and flow into the trenches and would be very deadly.

The United States also accelerated its production of poison gas. Even before the war with Japan, before the end of World War II, the Americans were conscious that gas could be a factor. In typical American style they concentrated on mass production. By about 1942 the Americans had tens of thousands of tonnes of liquid mustard gas and other types of gas and had developed bomb casings to deliver these.

The Canadians tended to specialize in actual research. We did experiments on humans. It was felt that one had to be sure the gas was effective. Many Canadian soldiers volunteered to be subjects for tests of poison gas. Sometimes these tests were very elaborate and I am sorry to say there were injuries to Canadian troops from the poison gas tests at Suffield.

At McGill University Canadians made the biggest breakthrough among the allies in developing poison gas. A team at McGill discovered a nerve gas. It had been doing research on pesticides and made a connection with between pesticides which had caused accidental deaths and developed a nerve gas.

The scientists in Britain and the United States rejected the Canadian development and it never proceeded to production. It is ironic because the Germans were developing gas weapons of their own. They had made a major breakthrough by developing several types of nerve gas, sarin and tabun, which were many times more toxic than the traditional gasses used in the first world war, the mustard gasses. Hitler had an enormous stockpile of these weapons.

Hitler was influenced by the 1925 Geneva protocol. Although he was essentially a mad man in charge of a country who led to hundreds of millions of injuries and deaths across the continent, for some reason he was affected by the 1925 Geneva protocol and did not order the use of gas. Research in German archives discloses that Hitler was very much opposed to the use of gas. That probably has racial overtones. He probably thought it was improper to use it on the British and that kind of thing. We cannot get into Hitler's mind but the Geneva protocol did prevent this dictator from resorting to this ghastly weapon.

The irony is that on the Allied side there was a desire to use the weapons; Winston Churchill wanted to use poison gas on the Germans. Even as we approached Normandy Churchill was very conscious of the fact there would be casualties and he pressed his chiefs of staff to do a study to determine whether it would be effective to use poison gas during the invasion of Normandy.

I will quote from a document of the time. It was written by Churchill to his chiefs of staff on July 6, 1944:

I want you to think very seriously over this question of using poison gas. I would not use it unless it be shown that (a) it was life or death for us, or (b) that it would shorten the war by a year. It is absurd to consider morality on this topic when everybody used it in the last war without a word of complaint from the moralists or the church. On the other hand, the bombing of open cities was regarded as forbidden. Now everyone does that as a matter of course. This is simply a question of fashion, changing as she does between long and short skirts for women. I want a cold blooded calculation made as to how it would pay us to use poison gas, by which I mean principally mustard.

The chiefs of staff circumvented Churchill and made sure no order was ever put forward. Churchill's desire was never implemented. They deliberately out foxed the old fox himself. At that time the Germans had enormous stockpiles of nerve gas and if the British had used mustard gas there would have been an incredible retaliation on London and the British would have lost more civilians than the Germans.

Again we return to the 1925 Geneva protocol by which the British chiefs of staff recognized how inappropriate, how wrong and how against civilization it would have been to use poison gas even when the head of state was pressing for its use.

The Americans had an enormous stockpile of mustard gas. They had tens of thousands of tonnes of mustard gas. In 1943 when they attacked the Island of Tarawa in the Pacific, the Japanese resisted so fiercely the Americans marines lost 3,000 and 1,000 were wounded, as against about 4,000 Japanese killed. The lesson the Americans took from that was it was to be very costly to fight the Japanese in an island hopping war.

Therefore the American chemical warfare service proposed to secretly use poison gas to suppress the islands in Japan. However, the Americans felt they needed the concurrence of their allies. They approached Canada, which by that time was in a state of co-operation with the Americans in the development of these terrible weapons. They approached Canadian scientists at the National Research Council and in the military and asked them to do a report confirming that poison gas would be an effective way to suppress the Japanese islands.

What happened is very interesting. There was no doubt mustard gas, at no cost in American casualties, would have suppressed the garrisons on any island in the Pacific. Mustard gas is more effective in the tropics than in temperate climates.

The Canadian scientists, when they were asked for this report, fudged the figures. They put out a false report which actually claimed chemical weapons used in the Pacific theatre would not be any more effective than high explosive weapons. A chemical warfare service was knocked back a step in that it was trying to get the approval of the chiefs of staff and President Roosevelt to use gas. It lost the argument when the Canadians refused to get onside. That is another reason Canadians have a special place in the debate about chemical weapons. During the second world war we very positively prevented the use of those weapons by the Americans.

What is driving this sense of morality is the 1925 Geneva protocol. This brings me to the current chemical weapons convention. This convention is an enormous improvement over the 1925 protocol. It contains various sanctions and rules. No law passed by the United Nations can actually prevent the use of this terrible technology.

The chemical weapons convention is symbolic. It tells countries that if they use these weapons they are renegades and no longer part of civilized humanity. It causes nations to pause when they might be contemplating this action. It gives moral limitations to how nations will react to one another.

This type of moral sanction is vital in this age, when we move into the next century and when we do have wars in which terrible phrases like ethnic cleansing are used. The chemical warfare convention will not prevent terrorists like those in Japan from mixing their own chemical weapons and using them, but it will forever outlaw that type of behaviour and make sure at the very least the use of chemical weapons is not something resorted to by civilized states.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Jesse Flis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Hamilton-Wentworth for his contribution. I know he gave up part of his life to do in depth research into this whole field.

How did he obtain such detailed information from the U.S., Great Britain and Canada? Is that information wide open now or is some of this information still under wraps? Do we need to do further research?

I am very concerned about the stockpiles of mustard gas in 1943 which the hon. member mentioned. What happened to those stockpiles? How did countries get rid of these stockpiles?

There may be a lot of work to be done yet but at least this bill will go a long way in preventing horror stories in the future.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

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

Most of the documentation I used for my studies on the subject came from the archives here in Canada but only by chance. The majority of the original documents had been deliberately destroyed around 1970 or thereabouts by persons unknown. I was fortunate, however, to find microfilm taken of these documents and hidden away in a dusty corner of the archives by a civil servant we will never know. That led me to do the study.

Unfortunately even the documents I had were incomplete and consequently I could not determine for sure whether in the post-war period Canada did dispose of its considerable stockpiles of chemical weapons. We had a mustard gas plant at Cornwall, Ontario, which at the end of the war had 2,800 tonnes of mustard gas. Most of it was dumped at sea, which raises some very serious environmental questions.

A few years ago the Department of National Defence made a concerted effort to get rid of any stockpiles we had. I am confident we no longer have them in Canada.

One of the problems is verifying what countries have in terms of their compliance with legislation. With a chemical warfare convention such as this one we rely very heavily on the sincerity and the good motivation of countries. There are ways of hiding these things. That was why I was saying in my remarks that the symbolic part of the chemical warfare convention is just as important as its actual practical measures.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.


Jean H. Leroux Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am eager to participate in today's debate on Bill C-87, an act to implement the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.

Today, when they look at the world around them, people in Quebec and Canada are concerned. We are concerned because we do not know what awaits us in the future. We are worried about the nuclear weapons that are still around, about the biological and chemical weapons scattered throughout the world.

By passing this bill, the Canadian government will be among the first 65 countries to ratify the convention on chemical weapons out of the roughly 135-there are perhaps 132 at this time-nations that have signed it. The convention will take effect 180 days after the 65th state to ratify this agreement tables it. Along with my party, the Bloc Quebecois, I wholeheartedly support this convention on chemical weapons, which follows the debate on arms control and disarmament.

The convention on chemical weapons is the result of more than 20 years of negotiations at the conference on disarmament and the forums that preceded it.

For the first time, we have an instrument that really resulted from an actual multilateral negotiation process. The signing parties undertake to refrain from various activities in relation to chemical weapons, to co-operate in a number of ways so as to facilitate the implementation of the convention and to ensure that persons also refrain from those activities and provide the necessary co-operation.

Since the Second World War, the issue of the arms race has come up every time the prospects for enduring peace or the possibility of war is discussed. Most observers felt that the arms race was intrinsically dangerous and ultimately destabilizing. Western countries thus found themselves facing a paradox: on the one hand, they believed that force deters aggression; on the other hand, they were convinced that the arms race alone could provoke a global war.

The latter shook up our certainty that deterrence is the best form of insurance against potential aggression. We could not avoid the disturbing realization that the very measures taken to ensure our security could bring about our downfall and lead to a global conflict.

The debate on arms control is largely based on the preconceived notion that any arms race is, by definition, a chain reaction which tends to trigger an escalation of the conflict. The responses of warring states to the stockpiling of conventional, nuclear, chemical and bacteriological weapons, as well as the attempts made by each side to gain the upper hand lead to destabilization and greater international tension.

It is claimed that, if there is another world war, it will be by accident, in the sense that it will result from a climate of suspicion and crucial errors of judgment made regarding a regional conflict. This is why it is essential, for international stability, to control the arms race.

However, military experts contend that arms control merely regulates the arms race, instead of limiting it. Many issues remain very timely, even though the cold war is over and these issues are no longer related to an east versus west situation. There is a new phenomenon on the international scene: regional

armed conflicts resulting from the emergence of new nations and the fact that others are trying to increase their influence.

Since most of the objectives of the superpowers' traditional arms control program have now been reached, the international community is turning its attention to measures designed to prevent a wider proliferation of nuclear, bacteriological and chemical weapons. That goal is now part of an effort to face today's geopolitical realities. Indeed, the time has come to carefully reassess existing monitoring mechanisms.

Following a resolution passed by the UN general assembly in December 1993, it was announced, in March of this year, that the delegates at the conference on disarmament had reached a consensus on a proposal to set up a special committee to negotiate a reduction of fissionable material production for nuclear arms. Conference delegates also discussed, among numerous other issues, chemical weapons, in the hope of developing a convention on such weapons.

That was not an easy task, since the participants did not agree on the monitoring procedures. The 1990 U.S.-Soviet bilateral agreements on the sharing of information and the destruction of weapon stockpiles helped further multilateral talks on this issue. In June 1992, the conference on disarmament submitted a draft treaty to prohibit the development, production and stockpiling of chemical weapons. Monitoring activities were delegated to an international organization responsible for the prohibition of chemical weapons, based in the Netherlands.

The long-awaited treaty on chemical weapons was finally signed in Paris, on January 13, 1993. The signature and the coming into effect of that agreement is undoubtedly an historical event. As I see it, this instrument is important for three major reasons. First of all, it represents a real step forward for international security. Second, it is truly universal in scope, since it reflects a number of fundamental balances. Finally, we should also consider what the situation would be like if it did not exist. The convention is the first multinational disarmament agreement that prohibits an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.

It prohibits producing and also acquiring, stockpiling, transferring, using or engaging in military preparations to use a chemical weapon or assisting anyone to engage in any activities prohibited by the convention. The prohibition on chemicals covers chemical products as such, their vectors and any equipment designed for the use of chemical weapons.

Furthermore, any state party to this convention would be obliged to destroy all chemical weapons within its territory, those it abandoned outside that territory and facilities for the production of chemical weapons. This is very important. It means this is a truly comprehensive prohibition that affects all chemical weapons in the world.

The convention constitutes an effective deterrent to developing clandestine chemical weapons production systems because of its unique inspection system. By setting a common standard and giving the international community the means to enforce its application, the convention provides the impetus for joint action to eradicate weapons of massive destruction.

Furthermore, all countries that have chemical weapons will have to destroy these, with their facilities for the production of chemical weapons, within ten years. Consideration was also given to the technical and financial problems that may arise when a country must destroy its arsenal of chemical weapons.

The convention provides for certain adjustments, including an extension of the ten-year deadline, which would, however, involve stricter monitoring procedures, tantamount to being under the supervision of the international community. The same applies to exceptional cases where facilities for the manufacture of chemical weapons are converted to civilian use.

In the case of chemical weapons abandoned by one state within the territory of another state, the convention obliges each state to destroy the chemical weapons within its territory while at the same time assigning responsibility for destruction to the state that abandoned weapons within the territory of another state.

State parties to this agreement are responsible for meeting their commitments at the national level, but how they meet those commitments is monitored by the international organization. This applies to the destruction of weapons and the facilities to manufacture them.

If the convention had not been adopted, this would have been a signal to those responsible for the proliferation of these weapons to continue the production. The security of all countries would have been at risk, especially countries in the southern hemisphere. The result would have been to reinforce unilateral non-proliferation policies which would have increased barriers to trade and technology transfers while in addition penalizing developing countries that respect their commitments.

The chemical weapons convention serves the interests of all signatory countries and all countries that will sign in the future. Contrary to what was said in some quarters, it is not designed to serve the sole interests of industrialized countries. On the contrary, it is developing countries that will benefit from the convention. Indeed, in the past few years, unfortunately, it has been the developing countries which have used chemical weapons in their conflicts, while industrialized countries have found them of no interest strategically or as a deterrent.

And understandably, come whatever may, industrialized countries will always be better equipped to detect and to protect

against chemical weapons than most developing countries, which do not have ready access to such equipment. We have only to think of what went on in Japan.

Japan is, nonetheless, better equipped to deal with such situations while the same would be more difficult for third world countries, where there would probably be more deaths. In fact, it is the industrialized countries which will take on the better part of the task of industry monitoring by virtue of the fact that their chemical industries are more highly developed.

However because of the extension of the definition of industries considered capable of producing chemical weapons, all countries will be affected by monitoring in one way or another.

Likewise, it is only natural that countries which are willing to be monitored and which respect the commitments made under the convention will feel that the current restrictions imposed under the current non-proliferation agreements are eased up.

It is worth noting that the cost of destroying a chemical weapons factory is ten times that of building it.

Having said this, you will understand our concern with the financial burden that the obligation to destroy chemical weapons will place on certain states lacking the necessary financial means to do so.

The convention's provision that some factories may be temporarily converted into disposal facilities when this is possible and cost-effective, so that they can be considered converted, will not relieve such countries of this problem.

I would like to add in closing that the convention is an historical first, which the conference on disarmament can add to its list of accomplishments.

This convention proves that, when the conditions are favourable, the conference does have the required competence and skill to draft agreements which are as politically sensitive as they are technically complex, and which contribute to the well-being of our respective populations.

The question arises as to the role the Government of Canada intends to play in encouraging its partners to ratify the chemical weapons convention as quickly as possible.

To my mind, Canada must play a strong leadership role in this regard. To date, we have seen no hint of such an intention. If the government wants to act consistently, it should announce a series of initiatives in this regard in the coming weeks. After all, only 28 countries have ratified the convention up to now.

I should perhaps point out that neither the United States nor Russia has signed yet. We realize that it will cost Russia significantly to comply with the convention.

What will the federal government do to help Russia get rid of its chemical weapons stockpiles? In my opinion, Canada should take a creative approach. For example, should the federal government not consider providing technical assistance to Russia, as it has in the past? It could, for example, set up a task force of technical experts.

We know very well that there are competent people in Quebec and in the rest of Canada to do this type of work, whose main thrust would be the evaluation of how Russia, for example, could destroy its manufacturing facilities and its chemical weapons at minimal cost.

Clearly, signatures and ratification mean little. Accordingly, in addition to de facto intentions, the federal government must ensure the organization has the intention and the resources to make the monitoring system a reality.

As you know, both Russia and the United States must participate in this convention, if it is to fulfil its role, since they have the biggest stockpiles of chemical weapons. As I said earlier, neither has yet signed.

We in the Bloc Quebecois believe that our support for this bill will mean that Quebec and Canada will be able to quickly carve a choice niche within the various institutions of this new international organization.