Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to give an executive summary of the bill. The bill contains two small administrative changes.
Canada has joined with other countries in the world to stop the use of blood diamonds for dictators and bloody wars. Under the Kimberley convention, we have to make two minor adjustments as it evolves.
One is that Canada cannot give out its statistics. The purpose of having the act is so the certificates and the statistics can be given out and people know what is happening. The other is to put a minimum size on diamonds that would not require certificates, such as tiny powder diamonds which are worthless or valued in cents, otherwise the whole system would bog down.
The Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act provides controls for the export, import or transit across Canada of rough diamonds. It enables the implementation in Canada of the international Kimberley process certification scheme for the trade in rough diamonds.
The international community is still greatly concerned about the link between the illegal rough diamond trade and the financing of armed conflicts, particularly as occurred in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of 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.
With the leadership from Canada, the United Nations has taken several initiatives to address this problem. As far back as 1998, the Security Council imposed sanctions prohibiting the import of rough diamonds from Angola that were not controlled through an official certification scheme.
During its term on the UN Security Council in 1999 and 2000, Canada played a key role as chair of the Angola sanctions committee in pressing for measures to strengthen implementation of these sanctions. These measures laid out the foundation for the adoption of the additional sanctions on Sierra Leone which placed similar restrictions on rough diamond imports from that country.
In December 2000 and again in March 2002, the United Nations General Assembly passed resolutions, of which Canada was one of the sponsors, calling for the creation of an international rough diamond certification program to tighten up measures to control the rough diamond trade and prevent illicit diamonds from getting into legitimate markets.
At the 2002 June Kananaskis summit in Canada, under the G-8 action plan for Africa, G-8 leaders reiterated their support for the international efforts made to identify the link that exists between the development of natural resources and conflicts in Africa, including the monitoring measures developed under the Kimberley process.
The Kimberley process was initiated in May 2000 by several African countries. In addition to responding to growing international pressure to address peace and security concerns, the process protects the national economies of several southern African countries, including Namibia, Botswana and South Africa that are highly dependent on the diamond industry.
Over the course of nine plenary sessions and two ministerial meetings, the process developed detailed proposals for an international certification scheme for rough diamonds.
In March 2002 Canada hosted the meeting of the Kimberley process that achieved consensus on the proposals for the scheme just across the river. I was delighted to be the guest speaker at the conference.
The scheme was seen as taking the form of international political understanding rather than a legally binding international agreement. At the meeting held in Switzerland early in November 2002, participating countries made a commitment to simultaneously implement the scheme at national levels on January 1, 2003.
In order for Canada to follow through on this commitment and implement the Kimberley process certification scheme on a solid legal foundation, the Government of Canada established the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act. The act came into force on January 1, 2003, under the authority of the Minister of Natural Resources.
Canada's Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act provides the authority to verify that natural rough diamonds exported from Canada are non-conflict. It also gives 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 come from a non-conflict source. There also are trade restrictions whereby trading rough diamonds with non-participating countries is prohibited.
The Kimberley process, the principal international initiative established to develop practical approaches to the conflict diamond challenge, remains today. The process now includes 45 participants, including the European Union, which is involved in producing, processing and the marketing of rough diamonds. These participants include 99.8% of the global trade in the production of rough diamonds. They include all of Canada's major diamond trading partners.
The implementation of the Kimberley process has demonstrated significant benefits in curbing illicit trade in rough diamonds. For example, Sierra Leone's certified exports in 2004 were valued at $155 million versus only $10 million in 2000.
Although Canada's status as an important diamond producing country is recent, this industry currently provides an estimated 4,000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada. Mine production in 2004 is estimated to be valued at $2.1 billion Canadian, ranking Canada as the world's third most important diamond producer by value.
This only marks the start of Canada's diamond history as more mines are scheduled to come into production in the coming years, including the Jericho mine in Nunavut in 2006, the Snap Lake mine in the Northwest Territories in 2007 and the Victor mine in Ontario in 2008.
These and other advanced exploration projects located in the same areas and also in Quebec and Saskatchewan ensure prosperous times to come for the economy of many regions. These include aboriginal communities as well as major Canadian cities as hubs for the financial markets, equipment manufacturing companies and other allied industries.
In addition to diamond mining, the small diamond cutting and polishing industry has grown in Yellowknife, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Matane, Quebec. These operations have an important training component which includes a number of aboriginal apprentices.
Because the Kimberley process is in its early phase of operation, shortcomings which impede its effectiveness were noted and addressed at the Kimberley process plenary meeting held in Gatineau, Quebec, from October 27 to October 29, 2004. For Canada to be compliant with the Kimberley process, as per the modifications brought forward at that plenary meeting, the following amendments to our act are required.
We have to introduce a provision to enable publication of Canadian process certificate-based import and export statistics collected through the Kimberley process certification scheme.
We have to change the term “rough diamond” as defined in the act to provide ministerial powers to exclude classes of diamonds prescribed by regulation from the scope of the Kimberley process certification scheme.
With respect to the first amendment, under the Kimberley process certification scheme, participants are required to submit trade data to facilitate the identification of their regular trade activity. This is the foundation of the certificate scheme. Most participants submit trade data based on Kimberley process certificates. However Canada currently is one of only a handful of participants that does not submit Kimberley process certificates based trade data as it does not have the authority to do so. Canada submits the official trade statistics published by Statistics Canada because its definitions differ from the Kimberley process statistics.
Statistics Canada rough diamond trade stats are customs-based and measure rough diamonds imported and exported to Canada as a result of a financial transaction. Kimberley process trade certificate statistics, derived from information on the Kimberley process certificates, measure the flow or movement of all rough diamonds entering or leaving the country.
For example, exploration samples, technical evaluations or rough diamonds that are shipped for events such as trade shows are not included in the Statistics Canada trade data because the rough diamonds have not been sold to anyone, that is, no financial transaction has taken place. However, they are included in the Kimberley process certificates based trade data since all rough diamonds entering or leaving the country must be accompanied by Kimberley process certificates.
At the Kimberley process plenary meeting in October 2004, participants recognized that statistics derived from different sources were hindering the comparability and analysis of the trade data and, consequently, the effectiveness of the Kimberley process certification scheme. For this reason, Partnership Africa Canada has been quite vocal in having Canada amend its act to enable a publication of Kimberley process certificates based trade data. Further, as Canada chairs the Kimberley process working group on statistics, it is important that we lead by example.
NRCan has confirmed with Statistics Canada that the latter does not have any problems with Kimberley process certificates based trade statistics being published in addition to its trade data as long as they are appropriately sourced, which they will be.
The second amendment is to change the definition of the term “rough diamond” as defined in the act and to provide ministerial powers to prescribe the classes of diamonds to be excluded from the definition “rough diamond”. It is required to comply with a change adopted by the Kimberley process plenary meeting, which limits the applicability of the Kimberley process certification scheme to diamonds equal to or larger than one millimetre in dimension. This decision was made to remove the unnecessary administrative burden on the Kimberley process certification scheme as the smaller diamonds are too low in value for illicit trade.
As concerns the exclusion of the smaller rough diamonds from application to the Kimberley process, we propose to set the sizing criteria through a regulation. Some concerns have been expressed about addressing this issue through regulation rather than in legislation itself. There are four important reasons as to why this should not be an issue.
First, changes to the Kimberley process certification scheme are adopted by all Kimberley process participants on a consensus basis. Canada has no discretion on whether to implement these changes, if it is to remain a participant of the process, and not disrupt Canadian trade in rough diamonds. Therefore, any regulation will have to conform to the requirements of the international process.
Second, dealing with the Kimberley process guideline through regulation provides additional checks and balances as the regulation development process requires a public consultation as well as review by the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations, which reviews and scrutinizes regulations on the basis of legality and procedural acts. Consultations will take place with all stakeholders, including producers, importers and civil society to ensure that the regulation is practical to implement and that at the same time meets the intent of the Kimberley process guideline.
Third, the regulation is technical in nature and will require input from the industry to ensure that the wording of the regulation meets the intent of the Kimberley process, but at the same time is practical to implement and enforce.
The diamond industry in Canada uses sieves to separate its diamonds into different size fractions. We understand that the sieves currently in commercial use do not result in 100% separation between diamonds one millimetre or longer and those less than one millimetre. Therefore, the wording of the regulation must address this issue.
Finally, should the Kimberley process decide to alter the technical guideline related to the size for any reason, Canada would be in a position to comply without going through a legislative process.
As we know, because the bill is technical in nature, it was first introduced in the Senate on May 19. It was eventually referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources and passed by the Senate without amendments on June 20. Both the mining industry and the diamond cutting and polishing industry are dependent on access to export markets and this access depends on Canada's participation in the Kimberley process.
In conclusion, I am looking for the supports of members for the bill in order to signal to Canadian stakeholders and to the international community that Canada is moving ahead to comply with the evolving requirements of the Kimberley process certification scheme.