Mr. Speaker, there is a real risk. I appreciate the question from the member for Churchill, especially the comparison to the fur boycott because this is something very real and it is something that could happen again. It happened for no good reason the first time when many countries in the world decided to boycott the fur industry. It was absolutely devastating to our northern communities and to communities throughout the country. It was not just northern Canada that participated, and still participates, in the fur trade. It was rural Canada from sea to sea to sea.
A number of the issues alluded to by the member were brought up at the meetings held with the NGOs in Ottawa on March 18 and March 20. Three of them were outstanding. Given the Kimberley process, and we are all in agreement that it is needed, there are still a number of things that need to be followed up on.
The group, which was headed up by Amnesty International, came up with a number of questions. One of them was on how the statistics would be kept and essentially who would produce the quarterly trade statistics and semi-annual production statistics even when they are supposed to be available within two months of the reference period. Countries will use their own arrangements and will endeavour to ensure that these relate to the international harmonized system or so-called HS codes. Statistics will be collated centrally. It was agreed that an existing intergovernmental body with the capacity for this should be approached. The IMF and the World Bank were two parties that were mentioned.
Certainly this is a significant and important step. First of all, we have to have real statistics, we have to be able to collate them and the body needs to be at arm's length. Right now the bodies will simply be the diamond-producing countries. There are some political and commercial concerns which were expressed at the meeting.
The other thing that seems to be a problem is the secretariat itself. It seems perfectly logical that the Kimberley process will need a secretariat to coordinate its many functions, but it is not clear to all the participants who will sit on the secretariat, who they will represent and how the chairs will work. There are some very important details to be worked out.
The other issue which was already alluded to in the discussions is that of monitoring. The NGOs feel that they failed when it came to monitoring. I will read their own words:
We have insisted from the beginning that independent, impartial, external, regular monitoring of all national control systems must be a part of the final system. Without this, the system will have no credibility, and it will provide a wide range of loopholes in the system.
There are concerns about the Kimberley process with regard to monitoring, on how the statistics are held and on how the secretariat is formed.
Yes, this is a great piece of legislation. It ties up a lot of the loose ends affecting the trade of so-called blood or conflict diamonds and will help to prevent the flow and trade and sale of conflict diamonds around the world. Is it a perfect piece of legislation? I am questioning that. Should we support it? Absolutely. It is better than what we have now.
Worse than that, this has the potential to shut down a diamond industry that is in existence in Canada. If the UN ratifies the agreement on December 31 and we have not ratified it, we cannot export the diamonds coming out of a great industry in northern Canada. I would say we had best get on the ball and do exactly that.