House of Commons Hansard #221 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environment.


Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.


Ted McWhinney Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in support of my colleague, the distinguished member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, in support of this bill.

It is a subject that has occupied the world community, as a general subject, since The Hague conventions of 1899 and 1907. In fact one of the most significant acts of international law making was the act referred to by my colleague, the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, the Geneva protocol of 1925. The protocol prohibited the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases and of bacteriological methods of warfare.

The Geneva protocol reflected the spirit of its time. You dealt in general prohibitions. You established the legal norms. There was not the same attention that, by bitter experience, we have given in recent years to the machinery for concrete implementation of general principles. This is one of the significant features of Bill C-87. It is not merely the prohibition of chemical weapons, it is prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling as well as use and it includes measures for destruction.

It follows on the experiences that we derived most recently from the INF treaty of 1987, the Reagan-Gorbachev treaty on the destruction of intermediate and shorter range nuclear weapons, that general principles without supporting implementing machinery and sanctions are like tinkling cymbals. They are noble but they do not bring us down to concrete reality. I welcome this measure.

I also welcome it as another step in the process of development on a pragmatic, empirical, problem oriented, step by step basis of general universal disarmament. The Sermon on the Mount in the large, general treaties is too often ignored. It is the poetry of international law. It is not the material substance of it.

If you follow through the period when the cold war was giving way to detente and eventually ended, it was by this step by step progression: the banning of nuclear tests above the ground and in the atmosphere in the Moscow test ban treaty on through the non-proliferation treaty, on through various treaties on banning of placement of weapons on the seabed, eventually culminating in the INF treaty of 1987. It is a process and this particular treaty is a very distinctive and very happy part of that whole process. Congratulations to all the officers who have been involved.

My colleague, the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce referred to the issue of ratification. This is one of the problems with international treaties. There is an attrition rate. Perhaps 100 countries sign a treaty but then when the officials go back home perhaps half of those only will proceed to ratify or ratify in a timely fashion. If the treaty is non-self-implementing, even fewer countries will introduce legislation to adopt it. We have signed, we have ratified and we are implementing. Thus attrition is avoided.

In terms of the treaty becoming general international law, some would argue as to what sanctions, what controls should there be. If I may, I will cite the general opinion of doctrinal authorities, of legal text writers. It is part of general international law as it now stands that the use of chemical weapons is against international law. This is the view expressed, as based on the evolution of customary international law through a number of international acts.

I have referred to The Hague conventions. I have referred also to the Geneva protocol. The view was advanced by the late President of the World Court, President Nagendra Singh and myself in a joint work on general disarmament we published in 1989 that the use of chemical weapons in warfare is against international law. In the gap between the signing of the treaty and ratification in good faith and implementation by individual countries like Canada, and the treaty finally becoming general law because of the necessary minimum number of state ratifications, that principle of international law applies.

Canada, in communicating its ratification of the treaty and implementation for other countries, might draw attention to the fact that it is not necessary to wait for the ratification by the minimum number of states joined by the treaty to have recognized the principle of the use of chemical weapons in warfare being banned.

The treaty itself goes well beyond that. It follows in the spirit of the INF treaty. It is part of this step by step progression toward a system of general international law and humanizing warfare-the oxymoron that is there-temperamenta belli is what it is called, reducing the agonies of war if it has to be conducted but moving toward a general system of interdiction of armaments.

The issue has been raised with this treaty, as with other treaties, of whether it is missing some of the major problems. One of the most serious problems today is the resumption of nuclear weapons tests. It may interest the House to know that in the same volume in which we suggested chemical warfare is already outlawed under international law, the same learned authors expressed the opinion that nuclear weapons tests, as such, are against international law today.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.


Philippe Paré Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the bills tabled in this House, whether they are government bills or private members' bill, do not always have the same impact. Some legislation is merely technical, without any reference to principles or values.

From time to time, however, bills do affect us personally because they reflect our values and are for us an opportunity to contribute to the progress of human kind and strengthen our solidarity with the rest of the world.

Consequently, I welcome this opportunity today to speak to 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. The bill before the House today is a response to Canada's obligations to implement, at the national level, international commitments made by the Canadian government.

This convention, signed in Paris in January 1993 by more than 160 countries, was the result of 20 years of negotiations. In fact, I want to take this opportunity to note the leadership role played by Canada in the negotiations leading up to this convention.

Unfortunately, by January 1995, only five countries had ratified the convention, and today, only 28 countries have proceeded with ratification. At least 65 signatures are needed for the convention to come into force. The Bloc Quebecois is therefore pleased to support the Canadian government on the passage of legislation to implement the convention so that it can come into force as soon as possible.

To explain our position, I would like to provide a little background information on the use of chemical weapons in warfare throughout the ages and their capacity for massive destruction.

First of all, we must realize that the use of chemical weapons is not exclusive to the twentieth century. In antiquity, certain forms of chemical and biological weapons were already in use, although on a very limited scale. I am thinking for instance, of the custom of poisoning the wells of cities under siege or throwing plague corpses into the enemy camp.

However World War I marked the tragic advent of the science and technology of chemical warfare. On April 22, 1915, at Ypres in Belgium, the Germans used chlorine gas for the first time as a lethal weapon.

The result was horrible: 15,000 soldiers out of commission, including 5,000 dead. Sadly notorious, this gas now bears the name of the town where the slaughter took place and is still widely used.

Once this new weapon had been developed, there was a rush to improve it and make it even more deadly. At the time, since the wind, which was the main vector of the gas, could suddenly shift and turn against the user, science went on to develop projectiles that provided a better guarantee of hitting enemy targets. Bombs and mortar shells were used to accomplish this deadly task. Developments in aviation further increased the threat to civilian populations and the military. Meanwhile, science also tried to overcome the protection afforded by the gas masks in use since 1915. From now on, toxic gases were to become an increasingly devastating weapon on a massive scale.

During the Second World War, chemical and biological technology became even more sophisticated. Worse still, as increasingly toxic products were discovered, it also became possible to manufacture them on an industrial scale. The gas chambers and the thousands of Chinese gassed by the Japanese are examples of the horrifying consequences of this new deadly technology. After 1945, not only was the development of chemical weapons unprecedented, their low cost and ease of manufacturing also made them readily available.

Effective and deadly, chemical weapons soon became the poor man's atom bomb. In recent years, the use of chemical weapons has been most widespread in developing countries. Industrialized countries had already decided that chemical weapons no longer had any use strategically or as a deterrent because they had the necessary detection and protection technology. In addition, the two most developed blocks struck a

balance of terror at the beginning of the 1950s with the stockpiling of nuclear weapons.

The tragedy is that the have-not countries which use chemical weapons do not have access to the same kind of protection as industrialized countries. Since poor countries are unable to acquire the hydrogen bomb, they are using chemical weapons as a means to deter and to threaten. The balance of terror below the tropic of Cancer depends on mustard gas, which is dubbed the poor man's atom bomb.

The most recent demonstration of this was the Gulf war, which was an immense laboratory to fine tune chemical weapons. People all over the world were able to see on television the innocent victims of chemical warfare. On March 16, 1988, within a few seconds, 5,000 people from the Kurdish town of Halabjah died after neurotoxins were dropped on it. Unfortunately, Saddam Hussein did not stop there. In June 1988, he bombed the Iranian Majnoun islands with mustard gas and phosgene, killing between 10,000 and 15,000 people. Some 40,000 Iranians are still suffering from the after-effects of the many chemical attacks made by Iraq. In addition, according to a report issued by the Senate of the United States, tens of thousands of allied soldiers who fought in the Gulf war were exposed to Iraqi chemical weapons and now are showing pathological symptoms, referred to as the Gulf war syndrome.

Do not forget that this terrifying arsenal was built with the help of industrialized countries who, up until yesterday, continued to export large amounts of products which can be used to create chemical weapons. One of the reasons for the spread of chemical weapons is the fact that industrialized countries produce some of the substances used, certain pesticides for example, for civilian uses.

As I stressed earlier, western countries stopped using certain chemical substances for military purposes some time ago and continued producing them uniquely for civilian uses. I would like to remind you that Canada has already destroyed its chemical weapons factories.

This tacit abetment and lack of care in exporting toxic substances on the part of western countries have helped certain third world countries to amass a huge arsenal.

Libya is one of the countries that traded with the West in order to build up a supply and then began exporting this deadly technology.

This is how the government in Khartoum ended up using mustard gas against the people in southern Sudan, and how Somalia got hold of neurotoxins. Other countries where there is fighting, such as Afghanistan, Egypt, the former Yugoslavia, Laos and Cambodia are suspected of using these toxic gases, which quickly attack the nervous system causing convulsions, paralysis and suffocation. As states cannot be forced to submit to investigations, they cannot be condemned by any evidence, and international sanctions cannot be used against them.

Many of these countries have yet to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention. Iraq is one of them. For the moment, however, its chemical industry is not functioning, having been destroyed by a commission of the United Nations. Its arsenal of bacteriological weapons, the size of which we now know, did not, unfortunately, suffer the same fate.

In response to the horrors and destruction of chemical warfare, a number of countries in the international community decided to take measures to prevent the manufacture and use of chemical weapons. These countries had already tried to limit the use of biological weapons as early as the middle of the 1970s with a convention on biological weapons. However, as the convention did not establish a verification regime, it was not particularly restrictive and therefore of little use for disarmament purposes.

In 1925, with the Geneva convention, the international community prohibited the use of gas in wartime, but did not prohibit its possession or manufacture. Great thinking, Mr. Speaker. Prior to the 1993 convention, there was nothing in international law to prevent the acquisition and manufacture of chemical weapons.

I would first point out that the 1993 convention will benefit everyone and is in the interest of all developed and third world countries, even though it is in the latter that chemical weapons are most often used, as I mentioned earlier.

Canada, unlike other countries, does not have equipment for its armed forces capable of rapid detection of the dangers caused by chemical or biological weapons. However, Canadian peacekeepers are serving in countries which have or are supposed to have these deadly weapons. It might be more relevant to equip our peacekeeping troops with detection equipment rather than buying four submarines, as the defence minister is planning to do.

The convention is very far-reaching since it sets up a stringent inspection system aimed at discouraging states which might overwise be tempted not to abide by the terms of this international agreement.

In fact, certain provisions allow for the control and monitoring of the destruction of the weapons and civilian chemical industry of the signing parties, anywhere, anytime. Inspections and verifications will be carried out by teams of international inspectors reporting to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, created under the convention.

In this sense the signatories to this multilateral agreement are going beyond wishful thinking. They are equiping themselves with the means to ensure that the terms of the convention are abided by and to facilitate the implementation of the convention.

In brief, the convention prohibits the production, acquisition, stockpiling, transfer and use of chemical weapons. This ban covers not only chemical products manufactured for military

purposes, but also vectors and equipment used in connection with such weapons.

A planning commission has already been set up in The Hague to oversee the creation of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Several panel of experts have been reviewing different instruments and means to implement the convention. This commission is to ensure the transition to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

With Bill C-87, Canada is giving itself the means to meet its obligations under the convention, namely to gather information for the benefit of the organization, by setting up a national authority. Under its terms of reference, that national authority will also have to maintain a direct link with the organization and facilitate international inspections on Canadian territory.

Some information leaflets have already been printed on the subject and distributed to Canadian chemical companies to inform them of their new responsibilities and obligations under the terms of the convention. This shows how important the Canadian government considers the national implementation of the multilateral agreement on chemical armaments.

This commitment also does credit to the mostly pacifist attitude of Canadians in general. Let me explain to the House how much Quebecers are interested in world peace and security. Quebec sovereignists have already included specific commitments to that effect in the Parti Quebecois platform.

In the chapter on international relations, the Parti Quebecois promises to declare Quebec a nuclear weapon free zone and, consequently, not to permit any research, production, testing, stockpiling or deployment of nuclear, chemical or bacteriological weapons, or of any of their vectors, on Quebec territory.

This commitment is totally in line with the intent of the convention on chemical armaments. Also, there is no doubt possible about the intentions of Quebecers who definitely want their country to be party to that convention once Quebec is sovereign. Quebec supports this collective action on the part of the international community, which aims at the complete eradication of weapons of mass destruction.

Therefore, let me reiterate my support, and that of my Party, for Bill C-87 which will allow Canada to ratify the convention on chemical weapons as soon as possible. After all, we must not forget this is the first multilateral disarmament agreement which comes with an effective control plan.

Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

It being 2 p.m. we will now proceed to Statements by Members.

Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


John Bryden Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to add my voice to those imploring the Minister of Canadian Heritage to restore funding for lacrosse, a uniquely Canadian sport.

I would remind my colleagues that lacrosse is central to one of the most famous stories in Canadian history, the capture of Fort Michilimackinac during the Indian uprising of 1763 led by the great Indian chief Pontiac. Members will recall that the Ojibway, allies of the French at the time, played lacrosse just outside the fort, much to the amusement of the British garrison. When the ball was deliberately flung over the palisade, the British made the fatal mistake of opening the gates to allow the Indians to retrieve it.

Thus the balance of power, despite the fall of Quebec, shifted away from the British and toward the French. So it has happened in Canada from time to time ever since.

It would be a great disservice to Canada's founding peoples, aboriginals, francophones and anglophones, to allow lacrosse to perish. It is a vital part of our shared history and culture as Canadians.

Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Jean H. Leroux Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, we were relieved to learn yesterday about the release of the last 26 UN peacekeepers and observers, including 12 Canadians, detained by Bosnian Serbs.

This further hostage-taking incident, which shows incredible defiance, followed three years of ethnic cleansing, mass destruction and carnage by Bosnian Serbs that have claimed more than 200,000 victims.

Although today we salute the release of the Canadian peacekeepers and observers, we must still vigorously condemn the Bosnian Serbs' ruthless behaviour.

We also remain deeply concerned about the fate of some 700 other Canadian peacekeepers deployed in Visoko and Kiseljak, as the Bosnian government forces are mounting a vast offensive against the Bosnian Serbs to break the siege of Sarajevo.

Special Olympics
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Special Olympics organizations all across Canada provide opportunities for the mentally handicapped to develop their physical, social and psychological abilities.

I have been involved with Special Olympics for a number of years now and can attest to the benefits that result from these Special Olympics programs.

On July 16, I will be hosting a fundraising golf tournament in my riding in support of the B.C. chapter of Prince George Special Olympics. I invite all members to come out and support this tournament but if they cannot come out I will be happy to take a donation back to the tournament on their behalf.

I also take the opportunity to urge all members of the House to support local organizations that participate in Special Olympics programs. Let me end my statement with the motto of Special Olympians: "Let me win but if I cannot win, let me be brave in my attempt".

The Late Mr. Justice William Trainor
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Ted McWhinney Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Justice William Trainor of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, who died last Friday, was one of Canada's most distinguished jurists, senior adviser to several federal justice ministers and author of our law governing the legality of wiretaps.

As judge he had extensive and varied experience in the Yukon Territory and on the courts martial appeal court before going to the Supreme Court. He had a deep knowledge of legal history but recognized in his judicial opinions the need to up date old legal doctrines to meet new societal conditions and needs.

Our sympathy goes out to his wife of 50 years standing, Betty, and to his family.

The Late Mr. Justice William Trainor
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Statements By Members

June 19th, 1995 / 1:55 p.m.


John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of welcoming His Excellency, Mr. Andreas Jacovides, the High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus, to our country and to our capital city.

I take this opportunity on behalf of 200,000 Cypriots who to this day find themselves refugees in their own country and on behalf of 1,619 persons who to this day are still missing and unaccounted for to denounce the July 1974 brutal invasion of Cyprus by Turkish forces.

Twenty-one years later and despite various resolutions from the United Nations, the Commonwealth heads of governments and the European community condemning this brutal invasion, the Turkish regime refuses to come to the table and negotiate a peaceful and just solution for the island of Cyprus. Why? Because no solution is the solution for the Turkish regime.

Cyprus is not looking for pity. Cyprus wants what we all want as civilized human beings. Cyprus wants what all progressive institutions are advocating, justice.

Elizabeth Bishop
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Dianne Brushett Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, on June 10 I had the distinct pleasure to attend the outstanding day of celebration for our home made poet, Elizabeth Bishop.

We celebrated the life and work of Pulitzer prize winning poet Bishop in Great Village, Nova Scotia. Bishop was born in New England in 1911 and spent her early childhood in Great Village with her grandparents. Her experiences as a child in rural Nova Scotia influenced, in fact dominated, her prose and poetry with the theme that all people are home made.

Elizabeth Bishop died in 1979. However, her literary works grow and are ever more popular. She is classified in the top five modern poets and is taught in virtually every department of modern literature in universities throughout the world.

The Elizabeth Bishop Society is a rapidly growing international association with memorabilia in Nova Scotia and at Vassar College, Bishop's alma mater.

Today in the Parliament of Canada I salute the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia and the organizers in Great Village for recognizing her literary works.

Federal-Provincial Relations
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Maurice Dumas Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Louise Beaudoin, the Quebec Minister of Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs, took stock of the first nine months of federal-provincial relations since the election of the new government in Quebec. Social program reform, the Canada social transfer and the national forum on health are all examples of centralization and encroachment on Quebec's jurisdiction over education, health and income security.

By closing the military college in Saint-Jean, reducing transfers to Quebec for health and education, restricting access to UI benefits-which has doubled the number of new welfare recipients Quebec must look after-and stubbornly refusing to transfer prime responsibility for job training to Quebec, the federal

government shows how little it cares about Quebecers' interests. That is flexible federalism for you.

Expo 2005
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Jan Brown Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, last Friday we learned that Quebec City lost its bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympics. We all agree Canada lost a tremendous opportunity to showcase its talents to the world when it lost that bid.

However, Canada can still showcase its talents to the world by hosting Expo 2005. Calgary has a volunteer corps that will guarantee Expo is a tremendous success. It has the financial backing of the city and the province and would be a great Canadian showcase for a world's fair.

Let me remind everyone the heritage minister promised to follow the recommendation of the Reid committee, which recommends Calgary as the best choice to host Expo 2005.

Over three months ago the heritage minister promised to make a speedy announcement. The minister's dithering has tainted the selection process and is jeopardizing Canada's chances of winning on the international scene.

I strongly urge the heritage minister to finally keep a promise, to announce Canada will sponsor an Expo bid and to choose Calgary as the city that all of Canada supports to host Expo 2005.

Industrial Research And Development Institute
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Paul Devillers Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, on June 1 the finance minister officially opened the Industrial Research and Development Institute in Midland, Ontario, in my riding of Simcoe North.

The IRDI epitomizes the approach to research and development needed in the new economy and reflects the strategy called for in the red book.

The IRDI is a partnership between the federal, provincial and municipal governments, industry and universities. From the work done at IRDI Canada will derive major benefits that will help make our manufacturers more competitive on the international market.

I congratulate Mr. Robbert Hartog and Mr. Reinhart Weber, two industrialists in Midland whose vision was the genesis of the IRDI concept and whose hard work made it a reality.

Support for Messrs. Hartog and Weber represents an important investment in Canada's future.

Employment Equity
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Barry Campbell St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadian businesses understand that to remain competitive in a global economy and grow stronger at home they will have to use all of our human resources as productively as possible. Employment equity programs are tools designed to help Canadian businesses to do so, not hinder them.

It is heartening to hear many businesses and institutions have realized equitable participation by women, visible minorities, persons with disabilities and aboriginal people enhances the profitability of business.

Employment equity laws provide a minimum standard for employers. They do not constrain innovative leading edge employers who want to tap into existing and emerging markets. The Conference Board of Canada made it quite clear in its recent report that diversity is a bottom line business issue.

Employment equity is not a mystery. It is not a threat and it is not a drag on the economy. Just ask business leaders in Canada who understand Canadian customer demographics.

Halifax G-7
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Mary Clancy Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, last Friday the member for Rimouski-Témiscouata attacked the city of Halifax on the successful G-7.

Halifax has just delivered one of the best summits in recent history in French, English and in other languages as well.

Halifax gave visitors and delegates from every country a warm welcome in their own languages. We in Halifax celebrate what unites us, not what separates us. We in Halifax appreciate Canada in all its cultural diversity.

When the member opposite made her statement she accused the mayor of not having enough pride in Canada to fly the Canadian flag over city hall. The member owes Haligonians an apology and should check her facts before she makes accusations.

As the member made her claim, the Canadian flag was flying high over Halifax city hall. We are a military town. We raise the

flag at dawn and we lower it at sunset. We also raise our flag over business, schools, vacation spots and community meeting places because we are proud of our flag, proud of our country and proud of all our people.