Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today at the third reading stage of Bill C-14, a bill to provide controls for the export, import or transit across Canada of rough diamonds and to establish a certification scheme for the export of rough diamonds.
By way of background to the bill, it is important to understand the international concern that persists about the link between the illicit international trade in rough diamonds and armed conflict, particularly in places like Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
While conflict diamonds constitute a very small percentage of the international diamond trade, they have had a devastating impact on peace, security and sustainable development in affected countries. Having witnessed the devastation that occurred in Sierra Leone over the past number of years, this concern is not underestimated.
The Kimberley process is the principal international initiative established to develop practical approaches to the conflict diamond challenge. Launched in May 2000, the process was initiated by several South African countries in response to growing international pressure to address peace and security concerns, as well as to protect several national economies in the sub-region, including Namibia, Botswana and South Africa that depend on the diamond industry.
The process, which is chaired by South Africa, now includes 48 countries involved in producing, processing, importing and exporting rough diamonds. These countries account for 98% of the global trade in and production of rough diamonds and they include all of Canada's major diamond trading partners.
Canada has participated in the Kimberley process since its inception. Over the course of nine plenary sessions and three ministerial meetings, the process has developed an international certification scheme for rough diamonds. In March 2002 Canada hosted a meeting of the Kimberley process which achieved consensus on the scheme.
Since the House last debated the bill, the participating countries have met in Switzerland and renewed their commitment to the certification scheme and to the target implementation date of January 1, 2003. The proposed international certification scheme includes the requirement that all shipments of rough diamonds imported to or exported from Canada be certified under the scheme and it bans trade in rough diamonds with countries that do not participate in the scheme.
Bill C-14 would establish the trade regulation regime necessary to participate in the Kimberley process rough diamond certification scheme. The bill would provide the authority to verify that natural rough diamonds exported from Canada are non-conflict diamonds. It also would give the authority to verify that every shipment of natural rough diamonds entering Canada is accompanied by a Kimberley process certificate from the exporting country, again certifying that the diamonds have a non-conflict source.
A number of people in this process deserve thanks. I would like to extend my thanks to the Minister of Natural Resources and his staff, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister for International Trade and their staff. Particular thanks are also in order to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, as well as to the Parliamentary Secretaries to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister for International Trade.
In particular, I would like to thank the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade for its work to improve the bill. The committee has clarified the offence provisions in the bill, improved the sections dealing with disclosure of information, dealing with access to property related to investigators and dealing with the issuance of Canadian certificates for the export of rough diamonds recovered from test samples of rock or concentrate not necessarily mined in Canada.
As well, the committee has strengthened the review and monitoring provisions in the bill. I have been very concerned about the issue of future monitoring and it was included in the provisions of a private member's bill that I introduced on this subject.
Canada will continue to pursue the Kimberley process internationally and domestically and will undertake a review of the provisions and operations of the act after three years. For the review, the Minister of Natural Resources has indicated that he intends to consult with stakeholders in the process, especially the NGOs who have been involved in the Kimberley process from its early stage, such as Partnership Africa Canada and the industry, including diamond exploration and producing companies and cutters and polishers.
The result of the review will be reported back to Parliament. I am sure that from the standpoint of especially NGOs, such as Partnership Africa Canada, they will not only be keeping a close eye on the implementation of the legislation domestically but they will also be keeping a close eye on the situation in places like Africa, the Congo, Sierra Leone and Angola.
Both the mining industry and the diamond cutting and polishing industry are dependent on access to export markets and, therefore, on Canada's participation in the Kimberley process. Passage of Bill C-14 will put in place all of the authorities required for Canada to meet its commitments under the international Kimberley process. The early passage of Bill C-14 will ensure that these authorities are in place by year end when the process is planned for international implementation.
In conclusion, I ask for the support of all members of the House in passing this important bill in order that Canada can be in a position to implement the Kimberley process in concert with our global partners.