House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was park.


Criminal Code
Government Orders

11 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Criminal Code
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11 a.m.

Some hon. members


Criminal Code
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11 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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11 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

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11 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Accordingly the vote stands deferred.

Crimes Against Humanity And War Crimes Act
Government Orders

June 13th, 2000 / 11 a.m.



Raymond Chan for the Minister of Foreign Affairs

moved that Bill C-19, an act respecting genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and to implement the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, on December 10, 1999, Human Rights Day, our Minister of Foreign Affairs tabled Bill C-19, the crimes against humanity and war crimes act.

This legislation will implement in Canada the Rome statute of the international criminal court and strengthen the foundation for criminal prosecutions in Canada.

The bill is now in its final stages. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the very important work done by members of the standing committee and the many witnesses who contributed to the examination of this bill.

Bill C-19 brings Canadian law into line with the Rome statute which was adopted by delegates of the Rome Diplomatic Conference in July 1998. Once 60 countries have ratified this treaty, a permanent international criminal court will be created in the Hague which will try individuals accused of committing the most heinous crimes known to humanity.

There are already 97 countries which are signatories to the statute, 12 of which have already ratified. The 12 ratifications represent a doubling in number since the introduction of this bill in the House.

This progress is excellent, and It is especially encouraging to note that the most recent country to ratify was France, which did so last Friday. France's ratification is of particular significance as its government was initially quite opposed to the international criminal court. This demonstrates the momentum that is occurring worldwide for this initiative.

The creation of the court is a revolutionary progression in the struggle for universal peace. Many individual Canadians have fought diligently at every step to ensure that the ICC would become a reality. In particular, I would like to highlight the contribution made by Ambassador Philippe Kirsch who chaired the negotiations in Rome and was assisted by a committed team of Canadian officials. They have demonstrated tremendous leadership in bringing the nations of the world together on an extremely complex issue. In this same spirit, many other Canadians have acted as leaders at the non-governmental level to ensure that every individual in the global community is able to live in an environment of peace and security.

The opportunity for Canadians to be leaders in ensuring that the international criminal court is made a reality has not, however, ended. Rather, Canadians must remain vigilant and demonstrate resolve in our efforts to make the ICC a success at every stage.

For the moment, we as parliamentarians must play our part in the implementation of the Rome statute. The importance of Canada ratifying the Rome statute cannot be overstated. A common theme that echoes throughout parliamentary committee hearings came from NGO representatives who stressed that it was of importance not only to Canadians but to the global community that Canada ratify the Rome statute as soon as possible.

There are two reasons why Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Rights and Democracy, Women's Caucus for Gender Justice and other esteemed organizations continuously stressed the need for Canada to quickly act.

The first reason is that most countries prefer to follow rather than lead. Many countries are hesitant to ratify the statute because many countries that normally take the lead on such issues have themselves not yet ratified. Our ratification of the statute will place Canada in its familiar role of leadership in the national arena. We must demonstrate this leadership as atrocities continue to be committed throughout the world. It is incumbent that we exert every effort to bring the ICC into being as soon as possible.

The human rights NGOs also stated that it was imperative that Canada ratify the statute because the proposed crimes against humanity and war crimes act is the first comprehensive implementing legislation to be developed by any country. The Canadian legislation has been heralded by NGOs as model legislation that will be studied and borrowed from by other countries throughout the world.

I would now like to focus for a moment on the committee stage which, under the direction of the hon. member for Toronto Centre—Rosedale, the chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, was thorough and comprehensive. The enlightened debate that took place at the committee meetings between parliamentarians and witnesses representing a wide variety of interests, has ensured that Bill C-19 is well crafted and that it meets the needs of all Canadians.

Many amendments have been made to Bill C-19 as a result of the suggestions that were put forward by NGOs and committee members. I would now like to highlight some of these amendments.

The crimes against humanity and war crimes act has been amended to ensure that Canada will be able to fully prosecute individuals who commit mass murder, rape, torture or any other similar heinous crimes against humanity. The customary international law definitions of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes will now be recognized inside Canada.

Canada's ability to assert universal jurisdiction for these crimes has also been streamlined and simplified. Now, as long as the person accused of the crime is found in Canada, they will fall under our jurisdiction, regardless of when or where the crime took place. This change ensures that those who have committed or who commit in the future the most egregious crimes will not find a safe haven in Canada.

I would also like to ensure that one issue raised by some NGOs at committee stage is fully clarified. Much trouble has been caused by the words direct and indirect which appear in the Rome statute but not in the corresponding article in the Geneva Conventions section on transfers of population. I want to reassure the House that the preparatory commission in New York has resolved the problem, agreeable to all, by adding a footnote which essentially reaffirms that the provision has the same effect as the corresponding offence in the Geneva Conventions, ratified by Canada and implemented by parliament twice.

The fundamental importance of the ICC is that it will ensure that individuals who persist in committing shocking violations against the global community will be held accountable for their actions.

It is sad that humanity can make so many advances in knowledge, in the sciences, in technology and in so many other areas, yet peace has always eluded the world. The world has never known a period when war did not rage somewhere.

The 20th century in fact, despite our progress, has been the bloodiest century known to humanity. The violence that we have known this century has been so unparalleled that the word genocide itself had to be created to denote the level of violence that had previously been unknown.

In this century we have seen far too many peoples targeted and murdered en masse simply because of who they were. All too often those who perpetrated the violence have escaped justice. The ICC will ensure that the Stalins, the Hitlers and the Pol Pots of the world will never again be able to act with such impunity. The ICC will be the permanent, independent institution which will serve humanity blindly and ensure that the 21st century will be one in which universal accountability is demanded and protected.

The international community must show resolve in continuing to push countries to ratify the Rome statute. The situation in Sierra Leone is an unfortunate illustration of the immediate need for the ICC. It is also useful as serving as an example of how the ICC will serve the interests of Canadians in doing our part in promoting the values which we hold dear to our hearts.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has done tremendous work in the promotion of human security. Human security puts the needs of people first, and the situation in Sierra Leone illustrates how the ICC can promote the rights of individuals throughout the world.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has been making great efforts to promote awareness on the issue of war affected children. Many of us have seen the images of small children wielding weapons that were bigger than they were. Children as young as nine in some conflicts are routinely drugged and sent out as cannon fodder to benefit and protect cowardly warlords.

To take advantage of children in this manner is beyond unconscionable. It is outrageous and it cannot be tolerated by individuals who consider themselves to be civilized. The ICC, once established, will provide the global community with the mechanism to go after the individuals who turn children into killers by providing within the Rome statute that it is a crime against humanity to employ children in warfare.

Sadly the image of children brandishing guns is not the most horrific to emerge from Sierra Leone. Instead it is the image of children as well as those of countless men and women who have had their limbs hacked off that is more enduring. It is perhaps this image of small children with stumps where their hands once were that best exemplifies why the world needs a permanent court to hold the individuals who perpetrate these acts accountable before the world.

The ICC will ensure that the climate of impunity that has been tolerated for centuries will be replaced by a culture of accountability. The court's creation will send a strong signal to all corners of the world that the international community will no longer stand idly by while innocent persons are massacred. Criminals will no longer be able to stand behind borders safe from prosecution. They will instead answer for their crimes.

The act and the ICC will also ensure that those who aid in committing these crimes or who profit from these crimes will have to likewise answer for their actions.

The situation in Sierra Leone, for example, has been financed by the trade in diamonds. Without the trade in diamonds there would be no guns. Canadian diamond companies have acted responsibly in Sierra Leone. Yet there are companies from other countries operating in Sierra Leone that have provided the people who hack off children's hands with the money to commit these crimes. Legislation such as this act will help ensure that these companies, like the perpetrators themselves, will be held accountable for their actions.

It is also important that it be made clear the ICC will be a neutral, non-politicized court whose prosecutors and judges will meet the highest professional standards and will be elected by an assembly of state parties. It is worth citing the excellent work done by Madam Louise Arbour who served as the chief prosecutor on the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Madam Arbour, who now serves Canadians as a supreme court justice, demonstrated the level of professionalism, integrity and commitment to justice that we can expect to see from those who will perform similar functions for the international criminal court.

Canadians have long demonstrated the intellectual and moral courage to play a leadership role in promoting peace and security for all of humanity. I praise those Canadians who have ceaselessly contributed to ensuring that the rule of law is extended throughout the world to all persons irrespective of who they are. I hope we as parliamentarians, as representatives of the Canadian people, can continue to demonstrate the commitment of Canadians to ensuring that mass murderers, rapists, those who mutilate children and all war criminals will never again escape justice.

Crimes Against Humanity And War Crimes Act
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11:15 a.m.


Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the statement by the secretary of state with interest. Now I rise on behalf of the Canadian Alliance as the official opposition chief critic for foreign affairs to deliver our final answer to the government's proposed Bill C-19 that will fulfil Canada's obligations in the establishment of the international criminal court. In my 40 minute speech in early April I highlighted our position. This bill and the code will deal with cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Canadians support this effort. We want the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to be brought to justice. We support the codification of the crimes that this legislation formally creates. We understand that no nation stands alone in the global arena. We must work with other countries in assisting and ensuring that criminals, those monsters who have blood on their hands, are held responsible and accountable for their crimes and that justice is served. This is a very important justice issue. Criminals must be brought to account.

On behalf of the official opposition I extend an hearty thanks and acknowledgement for the hard work done by everyone, including members of the foreign affairs committee and particularly the witnesses appearing before it. I acknowledge the work of the clerk of the committee, the legislative counsel assisting us with the amendments to the bill, and the government's lawyers who are to be congratulated for working very diligently under short time constraints and succeeding in terms of helping the government with the bill.

I also extend my thanks to my legislative assistant, Dan Wallace; the staff of the Canadian Alliance; and the member of parliament for Saanich—Gulf Islands who during my absence on a trip to China helped the committee to proceed with the bill's amendments.

The Canadian Alliance and many of the witnesses appearing before the committee hearings on Bill C-19 went to great lengths to hold the flashlight for the Liberals in order to help them do a good job. It is unfortunate that the government's treatment of the bill cannot be helped. The Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs have proceeded with this legislation in a perfunctory manner. By that I mean there are many outstanding issues in the international community concerning the international criminal code. The Liberals know this but still they have gone ahead with this legislation.

The bill was substantially amended by the foreign affairs committee. Even so, many unanswered questions remain concerning the effects of Canada fulfilling our obligations under the ICC.

The international community is currently negotiating many of these concerns as we speak. In their haste the Liberals have placed the cart before the horse by having parliament pass legislation before definitions, procedures and other details have been decided. All Canadians want the interests of the victims of these crimes to be addressed and justice to be done with respect to heinous crimes that too often go unpunished. This is a step in the right direction, the creating of an international judicial system which declares that no one including the heads of state is above the law.

An amendment of the Canadian Alliance was put forward at committee to make sure that the Liberals would include prosecuting heads of state. That was not clear in the original bill, Bill C-19, that was introduced before the committee hearings.

The ICC rules of procedure and evidence, including the definition of terms such as aggression, conditions of imprisonment, judicial protocol and many others need to be clearly defined. In addition we are concerned about the proliferation of the United Nations bureaucracy when temporary ad hoc human rights tribunals such as the international tribunals for Bosnia and Rwanda will suffice to deal with these crimes on a case by case basis.

The advantage of an ad hoc tribunal is that it can be dismantled when its work is done and no permanent bureaucracy is created. Until the international community reaches agreement on these kinds of ICC related details we believe this is a superior option.

The Canadian Alliance supports the principles and the idea behind the Rome statute providing the means for prosecution of war crimes. The Rome statute is a document that initiates the ICC. Canada's ratification of the Rome statute is the genesis of Bill C-19. Our ratification of the Rome statute is not due until December 2000.

There are certain questions which still remain unanswered. Why has the government insisted on passing the bill this week when the House is recessing? Why not wait until the important meetings concerning the ICC have been held by the international community when we will have more information available to decide on? Why not wait until the definitions and rules of the ICC have been decided by the international community? When we know the rules of the game it will be easier to play the game, but when the rules of the game have not been decided how can we think of going into the field and playing?

Yesterday the United Nations began three weeks of meetings concerning the ICC, but today the House will have finished debate on this matter. The matter will be closed after today. This is a travesty of democracy. Bill C-19 requires Canadians to support something that is still under negotiation by the international community. It is premature.

The Liberal government is extremely negligent in failing to seek approval for Canada's position from parliament. Instead parliament is being treated as a rubber stamp for negotiations carried out with input from unelected lobby groups but with no input from elected representatives of Canadians. Canadians are forced to watch from the sidelines as the Liberals sign and implement yet another international agreement. We have seen this pattern too often. It was quite evident when we went to the Kyoto, Rio, Cairo and Beijing conventions.

The Liberals are used to going to conventions without doing their homework and in the back seat of the bus writing the policy, the terms and the conditions of their position. Then they present us with a fait accompli. This is a disgrace to Canada's democratic institutions and the spirit of openness and accountability which Canadians deserve.

The legislation remains unfinished business. Whether or not the government passes it, it will remain unfinished business. I wonder sometimes if the Prime Minister is forcing his own political agenda on Canadians and our international allies. Is he causing the premature passage of this bill so that he is free to call an election in the fall without worrying whether Canada has ratified the creation of the ICC by December 1? That would be irresponsible and negligent. It is a very important bill, a very important treaty and we need to scrutinize it carefully.

Witness after witness who appeared before the foreign affairs committee on this bill warned the Liberals that they should not be passing such an important bill with such serious ramifications for the free world unless it was foolproof and ironclad. This bill is full of holes and it is largely undefined. Everyone knows that this is not a secret.

The committee heard witness after witness testify to a litany of problems with the bill, yet the Prime Minister is forcing the country to take the risks of passing legislation that may see our own Canadian forces personnel prosecuted and punished because the government passed legislation before it knew what the law was about.

However, I do not believe that. I feel that we will be here next September until probably December, and that is when this work should have been done. This bill needed to wait until at least September in order for elected representatives in the House to take into consideration the most recent possible developments in the international negotiations concerning the ICC.

If necessary, the new Canadian Alliance government would have passed this bill before the December deadline. In fact, I would recommend that an alliance government would repeal Bill C-19 so that the work that needs to be done actually gets done.

The ramifications of the bill are not going to disappear for some time. There is work to be done once the decisions concerning procedures, evidence and the definitions are finalized by the international community. That is when this bill should come before the House.

The Canadian Alliance delivered 20 amendments to the bill at committee stage. I would like to highlight a few of those amendments so that members of the House, as well as viewers, can see it from our perspective.

We proposed an amendment calling for the Rome statute to be appended to the bill. That is the practice parliament followed with the Geneva Convention on the Laws of War and Protocols I and II to the conventions. That is also the practice parliament followed with the North American Free Trade Agreement. Why does it not want to do that in this case?

We also proposed to amend the interpretation clause of the bill by adding a clause declaring “notwithstanding anything this act, Canada's national sovereignty is to be protected”.

In another amendment, we proposed adding two lines ensuring “international law is not to be permitted to supersede Canadian law”.

These amendments were needed because it was not even clear in the bill that Canada's sovereignty would be protected and that Canadian law would remain supreme.

The Canadian Alliance also received numerous representations from Canadians who maintained that it violated the rule of law to create retroactivity. This would have the effect of convicting an individual in an uncontested manner. We proposed an amendment that said “nothing in this act should cause Canadian courts to treat crimes allegedly committed outside of Canada retroactively”.

We tried to help the government with its bill. We proposed adding the contents of subsection 21(2) of the criminal code to the bill. This useful section of the criminal code should be Bill C-19.

Subsection 21(2) reads:

Where two or more persons form an intention in common to carry out an unlawful purpose and to assist each other therein and any one of them, in carrying out the common purpose, commits an offence, each of them who knew or ought to have known that the commission of the offence would be a probable consequence of carrying out the common purpose is a party to that offence.

In the committee's discussions with the lawyers we were assured that the Criminal Code of Canada would be applied if need be.

The bill had two definitions of war crimes and crimes against humanity: one definition, if the crimes are committed in Canada; and the other, if the crimes are committed abroad. We proposed one definition: no matter where the crimes are committed. How can we have two definitions of crime whether it is committed in Canada or abroad? It is a matter of common sense. The government had its own amendment which took care of that.

Another amendment ensured that the accused had to intend inhumanity and know that the act was inhumane without using the word inhumane. The bill needs to state what the mental element is for the crimes. There is such a statement in the Rome statute, article 30. The problem Cory J. posed in Finta said that an accused had to intend inhumanity, that the trial judge was right in saying that the accused must know that his act was inhumane, is not addressed.

Mr. Justice Cory in the case of R v Finta said:

It seems that the (war crimes) section was passed to bring to trial those who inflicted death and cruel suffering in a knowing, pre-meditated, calculated way. The essential quality of a war crime or a crime against humanity is that the accused must be aware of or wilfully blind to the fact that he or she is inflicting untold misery on his victims. The requisite mental element of a war crime or a crime against humanity should be based on a subjective test.

The Canadian Alliance proposed another amendment making it clear that non-state actors and heads of state can be prosecuted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is not clear in the bill. We proposed an amendment to add the contents of section 21(2) of the criminal code to the bill.

The current criminal code provision 7(3.77) was not to be found in the bill. We called for it to be included, but I will not go into the details.

We proposed many other amendments. The Canadian Alliance forced these issues to be dealt with by the government. We proposed an amendment preventing pardon without trial. We proposed an amendment that would exclude the defence of superior orders. This could not be done as it was already provided for under Canadian law.

We also proposed an amendment that would have the effect of establishing that the judge should decide whether the order was manifestly unlawful.

Finally, we proposed another amendment obliging the government to table documents concerning the negotiations taking place to decide rules of evidence and certain definitions for the ICC.

Surprisingly, Liberal backbenchers also offered amendments to Bill C-19. Everyone tried to fix this bill but it is still broken. It could have been divided into two: One bill for the ICC and the other for the codification of the crimes. This would have helped. It at least was going in the right direction.

This bill is full of holes and may threaten our national security. The United States of America is adopting strong legislation to deal with suspected war criminals and perpetrators of these crimes. This may cause suspected criminals to use Canada as their hideout.

We are concerned that these suspects will try to join with organized crime and people smuggler brethren already in Canada. Those undesirables are already here because of the Liberal government's lax money laundering and illicit drug laws, and its flawed and broken immigration and refugee system.

By the time the international community has completed work on the ICC, the Liberals will have long forgotten about it. The Liberals will think they have washed their hands of it.

At the report stage last Friday, the House was forced to consider nine amendments from the Bloc Quebecois, which was a waste of the government's time. The Liberals were surprised to see those amendments. The submission of the amendments was a denial of the work by the foreign affairs committee. By the time the report stage arrived, everyone knew that as many changes as possible were completed. There was no more work to be done on Bill C-19 and its state of incompletion could not be corrected.

Until more developments take place in terms of the international community's work on the bill, where negotiations are taking place, everyone knows that the government has moved as far it is going to move. That was about three hours of wasted time at report stage.

In conclusion, on behalf of right thinking Canadians who believe in getting the job done, doing a good job and doing things right, I will work to save taxpayers' money. I will not waste any more of the House's time on this bill because the taxpayers are paying for this.

The Canadian public expected the government to do a good job in satisfying Canadian obligations under an international criminal court. They trusted this government to properly enact the crimes against humanity, genocide and other war crimes, but it has not done that. It has again disappointed Canadians, like so many other badly managed federal government responsibilities, such as tax relief, criminal justice, youth criminal justice system, health care, HRDC, gas prices, brain drain, and the list goes on. This is work that has not been done or done badly.

The Canadian Alliance supports Canada withholding our full acceptance until parliament has ratified the rules of procedure and evidence for the ICC. These rules will not be ready for some months. The government should have waited before proceeding with Bill C-19.

Canadian negotiators met with the foreign affairs committee approximately one week before their departure to Rome. Upon cross-examination at committee, the officials said that they did not know what the details of the agreement might be. They did not know what it might cost. They did not think that any major offending countries would sign it. They did not think the Americans would sign it. They could not answer questions about the make-up of the court at that time. Above all, they would sign the agreement without knowing all these things. This is what has happened. It is not new. They have done it again and again, and that is wrong.

The Canadian Alliance will hold the Liberals responsible by voting against Bill C-19. It is too bad. I hope there will be an election soon.

Crimes Against Humanity And War Crimes Act
Government Orders

11:40 a.m.


Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise here this morning to speak to third reading of Bill C-19. The full title of this bill is an act respecting genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and to implement the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

The short title of this bill is Crimes Against Humanity Act. I was looking for the bill's title at report stage, because I wanted to point out the spirit of the committee's deliberations. It transcended partisan divisions.

I would therefore point out that thanks to a Bloc Quebecois amendment, the short title reads Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act. It is our understanding that genocide is a crime against humanity.

Although we would have liked the bill to be even more progressive and to give Canadian courts broader international jurisdiction, we will vote for it with enthusiasm.

This bill is the stone Canada is adding to the international edifice that will be the international criminal court once 60 countries have ratified the statute of Rome. What point have we reached today? I believe that 12 countries have ratified it so far. So we need another 48 to make the 60.

I know that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Canada and senior public servants, who worked with international officials to draft the statute of Rome first and then Bill C-19, were in a hurry, just like the NGOs that came before us to say how it was urgent for Canada to pass this bill.

Despite this context, we wanted the committee to work as responsibly as possible. I have to say that it did and that we reached an honourable conclusion, even though it is not quite as we would like it.

Canada is therefore adding its stone. As soon as the bill is passed by the Senate, Canada will become the 13th, 14th or 15th signatory. I must point out that we are still far from having 60 countries. All those who support this initiative are hoping that it will not take years, as is the case with some conventions, before getting the required number of countries for the Rome Statute to reach its full potential with the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

Bill C-19 does not only seek to have this international court in place some day, with the powers provided under the Rome Statute. It also means that, until then, Canada will have the authority to try criminals who committed crimes under the definition provided in the Rome statute, not the letter but the spirit of that statute.

After consultation—and we agreed with that proposal—we ensured that the definitions would be exactly the same for the implementation of the Rome statute and for trying criminals in Canada under the criminal code.

I will read these definitions because they give the exact measure of what the Canadian courts will deal with when they have the mandate to do so, and what the international criminal court will tackle.

These definitions are as follows:

“crime against humanity” means murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence, persecution or any other inhumane act or omission that is committed against any civilian population or any identifiable group and that, at the time and in the place of its commission, constitutes a crime against humanity according to customary international law or conventional international law or by virtue of its being criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations, whether or not it constitutes a contravention of the law in force at the time and in the place of its commission.

“war crime” means an act...committed during an armed conflict that, at the time and in the place of its commission, constitutes a war crime according to customary international law or conventional international law applicable to armed conflicts, whether of not it constitutes a contravention of the law in force at the time and in the place of its commission.

A country could not use the argument that a person accused and prosecuted under the applicable conventional international law had the right to say “But that is not the law of my country”. This is why there is international law and an international criminal court.

In the definitions given in the bill we read the following:

“genocide” means an act or omission committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, an identifiable group of persons, as such, that, at the time and in the place of its commission, constitutes genocide according to customary international law or conventional international law or by virtue of its being criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations, whether or not it constitutes a contravention of the law in force at the time and in the place of its commission.

For Canada, implementation of the Rome Statute marks the beginning of the realization of a dream. That dream is one of justice that cannot be less than international, because it is a justice that cannot be blocked by the rank, the power or the wealth of those who it is felt must be prosecuted under customary international law by this International Criminal Court.

The Rome Statute marks the realization of a dream. The definitive realization of that dream will be ratification of the Rome Statute, or almost so, for there are still some obstacles to that realization.

Until now, the acts or omissions covered by the three definitions were viewed, with amazement, horror or sometimes admiration, within the country concerned or elsewhere, as the expression of a relationship of power within humankind, whose cruelty seems to know no limits. Consequently, the only thing that could be used against that force was another force, either the force of numbers, in the case of democracy, or the force of arms against another country, and this would mean war.

This marks a turning point in world history, a desire to break with relationships of force alone, both within and between countries. Obstacles lie ahead however. The Rome statute must be ratified by 60 countries, and we hope that we will have those signatures soon. But there will be other obstacles.

Naturally, the court does not have jurisdiction over non-member countries, although, through the UN Security Council, the court's investigator is empowered to investigate anywhere at all and to lay charges.

But there will understandably be wrestling matches with a number of countries. We know that we have not reached the end of the road yet. But at least we have the emergence of a tool that could, to a certain degree, ensure that justice is done.

Our troubles are not over yet, however, because once a highly placed criminal is brought before the criminal court, evidence and witnesses will still have to be produced. The case of the international court established for Rwanda shows only too clearly how difficult it is, when charges are laid against the leader of a country or a member of a victorious organization, to come up with witnesses, because they might find themselves in situations beyond the control of the court or of other countries should they return to their own country.

That is all I will say for now about the many obstacles we face. I am not going to dwell either on the scepticism some feel about this court, and who have said “Will the existence of this court not cause dictators to do all they can to remain in power as long as possible or to create some pretence of justice or an international court in their own countries?”

I will avoid this scepticism in order to point out just how much, like other major international movements in support of human rights, which have enabled the international community to create mechanisms that, unfortunately, often go unheeded, because they are not used enough or because it is tempting, in certain circumstances, to forget or ignore them.

However, this great desire for international justice will begin to take shape in each of the member countries and, we hope, in every country, with a little pressure.

This means of course that each of these countries is a democracy. We know that the record of these countries is less than great and that the trends we are seeing now in the former Soviet Union, in many African countries and even in South America, and in other major countries as well, cause us some concern.

I note—I am not making a direct link between the two, although sometimes I wonder—that the United States' desire to be exempt from the application of decisions by the international criminal court does not please many countries. The fact that the United States did not want any criminal to be tried without Security Council concurrence, which means a veto by the U.S. and other countries, did not please democrats and those wishing to see justice throughout the world.

In other words, Bill C-19 is but the first step in a lengthy process, which must be built not only on justice but also on democracy. This will be a lengthy process, because democracy cannot take root in countries where hunger is rampant and there is governmental corruption because it is so easy to be corrupt. I know many share my concern about this.

Bill C-19 is also going to transform the landscape of Canadian justice in a way. In future, the courts will no longer be unable to follow up on their jurisdiction, as some felt had occurred in the Finta case. From now on, Canada and Canadian courts will be able to prosecute criminals accused of crimes against humanity, genocide or war crimes.

What we find regrettable is that the accused will have to either be Canadians or have perpetrated their crimes against Canadians. This universal jurisdiction Canada assumes is not, therefore, the broader universal jurisdiction which we would have liked to have seen and which other countries, such as Belgium, and Spain, have assumed. This is regretful. We do, however, take note that the witnesses before the committee have said that Canada could, at a later date, extend that jurisdiction.

While there is general support for the bill, we felt it would be appropriate to submit these amendments, not to delay the proceedings, but to say before the House and to put it on record that there is still work to be done. It may be that, at some future stage, surely because of the pressure by NGOs—certain events may occur—that position will become mandatory for Canada.

Until then, I have another regret, namely the fact that the whole Rome Statute is not included in a schedule to the bill, to the act. Why? Because if the Rome Statute had been included in a schedule to the act, it would have been easy for all those involved in Quebec and in Canada to provide training on the International Criminal Court.

Of course, we are told that it is easy to find this statute on the Internet. That is true, but I hope that we are not about to be told “No need to give you a hard copy of the bill, you can access it on the Internet”. If it is desirable to have the bill on paper, it is also desirable to have the Rome Statute in a schedule to the bill.

We also regret that the Rome Statute was not submitted to the House of Commons, and we say that of every treaty or convention.

I just came out of a committee meeting on globalization. Witnesses told us that one of the great dangers facing us right now in the process of globalization is the lapse of democracy. This lapse concerns not just parliament and parliamentarians, but also means that the executive branches of countries will increasingly find themselves exercising responsibilities far broader than those they had when there were not as many international agreements affecting our daily existence.

This is true of trade agreements, which affect individual citizens and provincial jurisdictions in particular, but it is also true of citizens in their dealings with the Government of Canada.

I wish to pay tribute to the efforts of the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry, who introduced a private member's bill designed to ensure that treaties are submitted to the House of Commons. I say to him that the Bloc Quebecois will continue this battle for the democratization of parliament in the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

In conclusion, I hope that the vote will be unanimous. I am certain that there is strong support for this bill in Quebec, to the extent that people are aware of its existence, and I would like to see that support deepen. The momentum created by the first signatories must help take us quickly up to, and hopefully past, the magic number of 60 countries, and still we must not expect miracles.

With international crime increasing in tandem with globalization, and the gap between rich and poor and between rich and poor countries growing wider, neither democracy, peace or justice are better served in the world as we know it today.

The work done on Bill C-19 on the international criminal court is part of a much larger effort which is vital if we are ever to hope that all human beings, regardless of their country of birth, their age or status, may enjoy well-being, security, justice and the fundamental right to make democratic decisions.

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12:05 p.m.


Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate the hon. member for Mercier on her excellent speech on Bill C-19. I am not going to reiterate her criticisms, but I do agree with her suggestions for improving the bill.

This is an important bill. It is an important step forward in the international criminal court file. On behalf of my colleagues in the NDP, I say once again that we support this bill at third reading.

I want to again highlight the important role that was played by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade in improving and strengthening this legislation, Bill C-19. I want to signal the contribution of a number of members of that committee who worked in a truly non-partisan spirit, in particular, the member for Mount Royal, the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry, the member for Vancouver Quadra, the member for Mercier and others who made a good bill a better bill.

Certainly as we now debate this legislation at third reading, on behalf of my colleagues in the federal New Democratic Party who have long supported the international criminal court, we welcome the adoption of this bill at third reading.

The member for Mercier appealed to the House to support this bill unanimously, but unfortunately we heard a speech from the Reform Party representative, the member for Surrey Central, that was quite frankly shocking. Basically he said that if his party were ever to form a government, one of its first acts would be to repeal Bill C-19. It would repeal the bill that sets up an international criminal court. It would repeal a bill which says that the community of nations wants to ensure that those who are responsible for war crimes, for crimes against humanity, for genocide must be brought to justice.

I could not believe my ears when I heard that member speaking for the so-called Canadian Alliance, supposedly a new party, with that kind of destructive approach to human rights globally. “Tear up the bill,” he said. “Forget the international court of human rights being ratified by this parliament. We in the Reform Party, we in the Canadian Alliance do not believe in this bill”.

I fervently hope that the people of this country in the next election will send a clear and powerful message to that party, a message that this kind of intolerance, this kind of contempt for fundamental human rights has no place in a decent and civilized society and members of that party will be turfed out of this parliament.

I want to touch on a couple of concerns with respect to the issue of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. I want to note first of all how profoundly important it is that the resources be in place to properly investigate these crimes and allegations of these crimes.

Earlier this year I was in East Timor. I had the opportunity while there to meet with United Nations representatives who were investigating the absolutely appalling atrocities that took place particularly in the aftermath of the referendum on a free East Timor. They were pleading with the global community to do far more to bring in forensic experts to ensure that indeed we are in a position to investigate and bring to justice those who were responsible for these crimes.

I am very proud of the fact that there were a number of Canadians, in fact Canadians were leading the investigative effort into these terrible crimes that took place. A number of Canadian doctors and others have played a significant role. Frankly, CIDA should be doing far more to support this kind of forensic investigation.

We note as well the recent decision of the court of appeal in Chile to ensure that former President Pinochet is stripped of his immunity and brought to justice. There again we welcome this development in the international community, the recognition that those like Pinochet who are responsible for such terrible atrocities must be brought to justice. We hope that the supreme court in Chile will uphold that historic and landmark decision.

At the same time we must recognize that in other jurisdictions, including Sierra Leone, Rwanda and elsewhere, justice remains to be done and far more must be done.

I mentioned East Timor. I want to recount the story I heard from a woman who witnessed with her own eyes the brutal murder of three Catholic priests in Suai, a village in the southern part of East Timor.

The woman was present when thugs, paramilitaries supporting the Indonesian government, murdered in cold blood a Catholic priest who many Canadians got to know and love when he spent some time here in Windsor and elsewhere recently.

The woman was able to clearly identify the perpetrator of this crime. The tragedy of this situation is that the perpetrator of the crime is in a camp in West Timor with complete impunity. No steps whatsoever have been taken by the Indonesian government to bring him to justice. When we speak of war crimes and crimes against humanity surely we must recognize that this is not acceptable.

I want to touch on two other areas. First, as I noted in the debate at second reading in the context of the discussion on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, the global community must recognize that the impact of years of sanctions on the people of Iraq has been nothing short of genocidal.

UNICEF has documented the death of over half a million children. The infrastructure in that country has been destroyed. The bombing continues today. Innocent civilians are being killed. The impact of depleted uranium particularly in the south remains devastating. In the context of this debate I want once again to appeal to the Government of Canada.

I want to ask our government to respond positively to the unanimous report by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade calling for the immediate lifting of economic sanctions against Iraq.

The foreign affairs committee held hearings on this issue. We heard compelling and moving evidence about the impact of the sanctions on the people of Iraq. I visited that country in January of this year along with a delegation from a group called Voices of Conscience. I met with former UN humanitarian co-ordinator, Hans Van Sponeck. I met with Dennis Halliday, his predecessor. All of them are pleading with the community of nations, with the United Nations, with our government, with Canada, to recognize the appalling and inhumane impact of these sanctions on innocent human people. Saddam Hussein is not being touched by these sanctions but innocent lives are being lost.

The standing committee on foreign affairs issued a strong and unanimous report calling for the de-linking of economic and military sanctions. Yet to date we have had no response whatsoever from the foreign minister or from the Government of Canada.

I appeal today to the Government of Canada to respond before the House rises positively to that report, to listen to the voices of Canadians from coast to coast to coast who are demanding that our government stand up and be counted in the security council and call for an end to these genocidal and inhumane sanctions. I appeal to our government to respond to that strong, positive and unanimous report of the foreign affairs committee at the earliest possible time.

The final issue I want to touch on in the context of this debate on war crimes and crimes against humanity is the issue of alleged war crimes committed by NATO forces during Operation Allied Force last spring in Kosovo and Serbia, the bombing that took place there. Along with all people who value humanity we strongly condemn the attacks on ethnic Albanians that were taking place there. We urge the community of nations to work together collectively to put a stop to that brutal inhumanity.

I was shocked and appalled to learn recently that our government had decided to extend one of our highest military honours to the United States Supreme Commander in Kosovo, U.S. General Wesley Clark. General Clark was granted by the governor general Canada's meritorious service cross because he “exhibited the highest standard of professional dedication in Operation Allied Force”.

This award should never have been granted. I want to be very clear. This is not in any way a criticism of Her Excellency Governor General Adrienne Clarkson because she has no option. All honours including the Order of Canada and bravery decorations are awarded by the governor general on the advice of duly constituted committees. There is a military advisory committee which recommended to the chief of defence staff that General Clark receive this recognition.

Far from recognizing the military valour of General Clark, we should pay attention to the very eloquent report issued this week by Amnesty International on NATO and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under the heading “Collateral Damage or Unlawful Killings? Violations of the Laws of War by NATO during Operation Allied Force”. This is a devastating indictment of the conduct of NATO under Supreme Commander Wesley Clark during the bombing campaign in Kosovo.

I personally walked through the rubble of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, one of the mistakes of those who could not properly read a map and killed innocent human beings in the Chinese embassy.

I walked through the rubble of the Serbian radio-television headquarters building as well. It was not a mistake. That building was deliberately targeted by NATO. Sixteen innocent people, make-up artists, technicians and journalists, were murdered in cold blood in that building.

As Amnesty International points out, NATO has legal obligations under international laws of war to minimize civilian casualties. In the particular instance of this direct attack on the headquarters of Serbian state radio and television, in the view of Amnesty International it did indeed constitute a war crime. I agree that on the face of it that is exactly what it constituted. As well the Amnesty International report went on to document other attacks such as the attack on the Grdelica railroad bridge.

A passenger train was carrying civilians travelling from one place to another. It was not a military target by any stretch of the imagination, but that passenger train was hit by a NATO bomb. NATO said it was a mistake, that it was aiming for the bridge. Surely the question is: If indeed that was a mistake and it hit that passenger train initially by mistake, why did it then turn around and fire a second time? That was deliberate, and the ultimate author, supreme commander of that attack, is being honoured by Canada.

What about the bombing in broad daylight of a bridge in Varvarin? A little girl, nine years old, cycling on her bicycle was murdered in cold blood because of the violation of the rules of war contained in the Geneva convention of 1949, as updated by the protocol of 1977. NATO showed contempt for its obligations to minimize civilian casualties both through negligence and by deliberately attacking. If the bridge in Varvarin was a legitimate military target, why was it bombed in the middle of the day when people were going to the market? There is no acceptable answer to that question.

There are many other examples of the incompetence of this campaign. NATO bragged about how many tanks, armoured personnel carriers, pieces of artillery and so on it had taken out.

It turns out that after the bombing campaign ended and the Yugoslav armed forces withdrew from Kosovo they took out massive quantities of military supplies. Newsweek reported last month that pentagon officials had suppressed a U.S. air force report that found that the number of Serb targets verified destroyed was a tiny fraction of those claimed by NATO. U.S. air force investigators who spent weeks in Kosovo found that NATO aircraft had destroyed a grand total of 14 tanks, 18 armoured personnel carriers and 20 artillery pieces. That is a pretty incompetent campaign.

There is another example I want to give of this campaign which is being honoured. That is the bombing of army barracks on May 21 at Kosare in western Kosovo, very close to the Albanian border. These army barracks contained KLA fighters. Seven of them were killed and twenty-five were injured. The KLA had captured these army barracks several weeks before NATO attacked them.

We might say that maybe NATO did not know that the Yugoslav army was not there and that it had been captured by the KLA, but in fact the KLA had a very active presence in that area. A number of journalists reported before that facility was bombed that the KLA had captured it. Reporters and television crews had visited the very barracks that were bombed by NATO under KLA escort. They were escorted by the KLA to those barracks. NATO said it did not know.

What an incompetent campaign, and we are honouring those who are responsible not only for this incompetence but for the death through negligence and through deliberate attacks on hundreds of innocent civilians. This is wrong.

I am calling today, as I have called previously, on the government and on the Minister of National Defence to recognize this outrage and to revoke this honour to U.S. General Wesley Clark. Instead, we should be conducting a full inquiry into the NATO campaign including the role that the Canadian armed forces played in it. I was assured by General Hénault that Canadians were not involved in any of the incidents to which I have referred, but Canadians have a right to know precisely what role was played by our armed forces.

As Amnesty International has suggested it is essential that NATO establish a body to investigate these very serious allegations and to ensure that the victims of these violations and their families receive compensation. The victims of those who were murdered at the Chinese embassy have been compensated. The family of that little 9 year old girl who was killed on the bridge at Varvarin and many other civilians have not been compensated to this day. There has been no investigation whatsoever.

In the context of this debate on war crimes, on crimes against humanity and on genocide, I want to say on behalf of my colleagues in the New Democratic Party that we support this bill as an important step forward. Yes, it can be strengthened. Yes, it can be improved. I hope we will have that opportunity. I am pleased that Canada is one of the countries that has led this long campaign to establish the international criminal court.

I want to pay tribute not only to the leadership that was shown by Ambassador Philippe Kirsch but the many NGOs as well that have worked long and hard to make this a reality.

I hope we will work collectively as a community of nations for a planet on which there are no more war crimes, no more crimes against humanity and no more genocide. I hope there will be a rapid reaction force created to head off these things and that collectively we can work for a planet in which there is respect for the human rights of all our citizens; in which there is justice, dignity for all citizens; and in which the crimes of war, genocide and crimes against humanity will never happen again. I hope those who are responsible for those that have occurred will be brought to justice.

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12:25 p.m.


Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Burnaby—Douglas is a veteran member of the House and in talking to him from time to time I have high respect for him.

He is an experienced member, but today he surprised me. He made two comments which were not only inappropriate but they misrepresented my position in my speech. Perhaps it was an oversight on his part.

First, in my speech I said that the Canadian Alliance, myself included, would strongly want those monsters who have blood on their hands, those who have committed crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, brought to justice. They should be held accountable. I said it very clearly. Does that make me intolerant? I do not think so.

The hon. member gave the impression that I and my party are intolerant. I would like the hon. member to look into it again and tell me what part of my speech today or on April 6 when I gave a 40 minute speech on this issue showed me to be intolerant. Judging from his experience and his wisdom, I guess he misunderstood that. I would ask him to make it clear.

The second thing he mentioned was that the Canadian Alliance party does not believe in this legislation. That again is wrong. We strongly support the intent of the bill but we do not want a half finished job. We want it done properly so that those criminals, those monsters who have blood on their hands, are brought to justice and held accountable for their crimes. We do not want the government to rush the legislation through the House. The international community is still negotiating and finalizing the procedures and definitions of the terms mentioned in the bill.

I think that the hon. member is confused or did not understand. I would ask him to stand again and make it clear. If by any chance he made a mistake, let him retract his comments.

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12:30 p.m.


Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. I heard the hon. member when he stood in his place. I have travelled with the hon. member. I have worked on the foreign affairs committee with the hon. member.

I know that the hon. member chose his words carefully. He can rise in his place and correct me if I misunderstood but I believe the hon. member said that a Canadian Alliance government would scrap Bill C-19, that it would repeal Bill C-19. That is exactly what the hon. member stood in his place and said. That is an astonishing statement. He is the official critic for the Canadian Alliance, for the Reform Party.

I see the former critic in the House today. Maybe he has a different position. I hope there will be enough time for the former critic to rise in his place and say, “No, Mr. Speaker, with great respect I disagree with the member for Surrey Central. I would not repeal Bill C-19”. But that is what the member said. The member said that a Canadian Alliance government would throw out Bill C-19, that it would scrap Bill C-19, that it would repeal Bill C-19. He did not say, “We would want to amend Bill C-19. We would want to strengthen Bill C-19. It is a good foundation”. No, in fact he said, “We would repeal Bill C-19”.

I appeal to the member for Red Deer. Perhaps he wants to revise the position of the Canadian Alliance. I see him consulting with the critic now. I appeal to the member for Red Deer to rise in his place and, with great respect to the member for Surrey Central, make it clear that the member is not going to repeal Bill C-19. Have a change of heart. Show some respect for the many NGOs who have spoken with one voice on this issue, those who have worked so long and so hard, the World Federalists of Canada, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, and so many others who are appalled at the possibility that those members would actually repeal, scrap and wipe out this bill.

Those members say they are committed to bringing war criminals to justice. How can they say that when according to their own spokesperson they would get rid of this bill?

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12:35 p.m.


Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, certainly it is my privilege to stand and address the member. I am rather shocked that he would choose to bring in partisan politics to something as serious as this when we are talking about war criminals. He seems to think that he holds all the cards when it comes to compassion and understanding people.

I was in Kosovo and Macedonia last year as well. A grandfather told me they had killed his oldest grandson, then his youngest one, and then they had killed the middle one. He asked, “Mister, how can you ever forgive those people? How can you tell me to not hate anymore?”

That touched me and I will remember that forever, just as much as the member has been touched and is compassionate toward those kind of crimes against humanity. For him to stand and condemn a party or condemn fellow MPs on something like this, I find that rather untenable in this House, particularly from someone with the kind of experience he has. I am sure he has compassion but we also have compassion for those people.

The question is, how do we get at these kinds of people? There are good guys and bad guys. The problem is that all the good guys agree to sign everything and form all kinds of agreements and all kinds of get-togethers where they can talk about what we should do and talk and talk. The real problem is how to deliver. How do we get the bad guys to sign on? How do we get after them?

How will the member get the bad guys? We can list so many. We can go to Sudan and Iraq. We can go to all kinds of places. How does he get those bad guys to sign on to what we good guys know should happen and want to happen?

As far as what the other member said, he has tried to put forward amendments. He has tried to make the bill better. The government is set on ramming the bill through in a hurry. Well, it just will not work. That is why we are opposed to it.

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12:35 p.m.


Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have worked with the member on the foreign affairs committee. Would he just affirm very clearly for the people who are watching this debate, who are concerned about this issue, the statement that was made by the official critic for his party, that a Canadian Alliance government would repeal Bill C-19? Is that the official position of his party, yes or no?

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12:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am afraid the time for questions and comments has expired. Of course, as the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas knows, the questions are on his speech, not on that of the hon. member for Red Deer who may yet speak.

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12:35 p.m.


Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would seek the consent of the House to enable the hon. member to answer the question.