Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to rise in the House to indicate my support and that of my Bloc Quebecois colleagues for Bill C-52, specifically the Senate amendment moving that lines 6 to 10, paragraph 27.1, on page 13 of the bill be replaced by the following:
Tabling of report
The Minister of Foreign Affairs shall cause a copy of the report to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the Minister receives the report.
I am particularly proud that this amendment was the result of a Bloc Quebecois initiative. The Bloc Quebecois has always taken a keen interest in transparency and correspondingly in increasing the involvement of members of this House in the implementation of a treaty such as the one before us today, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.
Furthermore, the Australian parliament has already approved a provision very similar to that in the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Implementation Act. Thus, the report the person designated as the national authority has prepared and submitted to the minister will be tabled in that parliament.
Although this is another step in the direction of more democratic practices in our parliament, it would be a very good idea in future for this practice to become more widespread here in the House in Ottawa. Parliament should approve treaties before the government signs and ratifies them.
My colleague for Beauharnois—Salaberry, who is also the foreign affairs critic, has called upon the minister to submit this matter to the foreign affairs committee, in order to bring our treaty process in line with that of other Commonwealth countries, where a far more democratic process is in place.
The minister said he was open to examining this matter and the Bloc Quebecois will keep after him until he responds.
Now, returning to the contents of the bill, the Bloc Quebecois supports it for the values of peace and international security which it puts forward. It is an essential tool for attaining complete nuclear disarmament. For us in the Bloc Quebecois and for all parties here in this House it is important to promote, without a moment's hesitation, any legislative measure focused on those values of peace and security.
By implementing the comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty, Canada will now be able to contribute to the ultimate objective of the total eradication of nuclear arms. In this way we shall be helping to solve a problem caused by using energy contrary to the interests of humanity itself, abusing of a resource the peaceful applications of which have contributed, and will continue to contribute, to the greater well-being of humankind.
The enactment relates to the implementation of Canada's obligations under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. The parties signing the treaty undertake not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion, to prohibit and prevent any such nuclear explosion at any place under their jurisdiction or control and to refrain from causing, encouraging or participating in the carrying out of any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion.
Another important feature is the international monitoring system put in place under the treaty. The purpose of this system is to detect, locate and classify nuclear explosions. In addition, on-site inspections may be carried out under the treaty to clarify the situation following a nuclear incident.
Already the treaty has reaped positive results. A number of nuclear nations like France and the United Kingdom have made it clear that, in signing the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, they agreed to discontinue nuclear testing. Other nuclear weapons states, such as China, the United States and Russia, have suggested that they too would discontinue nuclear testing.
That said, we cannot claim victory yet. The nuclear threat still hangs over us. We need only look at India and Pakistan, which recently conducted nuclear tests, and at some other nations with nuclear capabilities, including Israel and South Korea, two countries whose intentions are still cause for concern. These nations have yet to confirm their willingness to stop conducting nuclear tests and to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.
The Bloc Quebecois, the other political parties represented in this House, as well as the people of Quebec and Canada agree that it is essential that we rid the world once and for all of all nuclear weapons and nuclear tests. It is a matter of getting our priorities in order.
As the critic for international co-operation, I see shocking statistics on human misery every day. More than 1.3 billion people are living in abject poverty, living on less than a dollar a day. Every day, 34,000 children die from malnutrition and disease. Every year, 17 million people die of infectious and parasitic diseases.
The priorities of the world and of our governments must focus on basic human needs.
Everybody on this planet has the right to proper food, shelter, care and education. Yet, since 1945, it is estimated that the world has spent a whopping $8 trillion on nuclear weapons.
Members should try to imagine what could have been done with all that money in poor countries. Even now, the gap between the rich and the poor is constantly growing wider. The time has come to put a stop to this waste and to invest where it really matters.
As a medium size military power with no nuclear weapons, how can Canada help further and promote in a tangible way the comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty? Canada, through its Department of Foreign Affairs, has displayed great leadership in its crusade to ban land mines. The Bloc Quebecois wants to acknowledge the work done by the minister on this issue.
Even if Canada does not have nuclear weapons, and even if it is officially opposed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, can it claim that it has done nothing wrong?
We can think of China, to which Canada sold Candu nuclear reactors. There is also the fact that our country allows nuclear bombers to enter its airspace and use its low level flight ranges for pilot training.
Canada is on the right track, and we are very aware of the fact, but we are also aware of the fact that it could do even more. We in the Bloc Quebecois want Canada to go even further. Does this government have the real political will to be innovative in nuclear disarmament?
This challenge concerns the international community as a whole, and Canada has a duty to take concrete action and especially not to accept the status quo. On the contrary, it must be proactive and thus help the heads of nuclear countries translate the will of the people into decisive action.
At the dawn of the 21st century, the middle powers must make these heads of state take this opportunity in the name of humanity and the planet.
The Bloc Quebecois is acutely aware of the challenge nuclear disarmament represents. We will continue in our desire to build an international community where nuclear weapons exist only in history books, so that future generations may realize the dangers of nuclear arms.
I can tell you that a sovereign Quebec will not hesitate as a new country to sign the comprehensive nuclear-test ban treaty and to ensure its implementation both nationally and internationally.
With the approach of the new millennium, it is time to put an end to the scourge of nuclear weapons. This is our duty to future generations. Let us do so, to give all children on the planet the opportunity to enjoy life without the threat of nuclear arms.