Mr. Speaker, I want to speak in support of Motion No. 466, which requests the Government of Canada to engage in the international anti-doping movement and to encourage other countries to ratify the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport which was adopted on October 19, 2005.
Canada played a significant role in negotiating that convention. It was one of the main drafters of the language and the second nation to ratify the convention.
The convention promotes the prevention of and the fight against doping in sport with a view to its elimination, but most important, it puts in place a legal framework to this process that is binding and universal. It sets clear recommendations for international cooperation between nations for harmonization of anti-doping standards and best practices. It clearly lists the prohibited substances that are considered to be doping and exemptions allowable where the athlete may need those substances for personal medical reasons.
Although in 1988 the IOC had developed tools and tests to ensure that athletes did not use prohibited substances to enhance their performance, the 2004 Athens Olympics showed that a record number of athletes had defied the rules.
Doping refers to the use of substances solely to enhance athletic performance. Doping is unethical, but it is also detrimental to the health of athletes. More important, given the hero status that many athletes enjoy, it sends a wrong message to youth. That is one of the reasons we are against it as well. In fact in 2005 alone, 25% of amateur athletes used substances to boost their performance.
If we pass this motion, Parliament will have directed the Government of Canada to continue to support the international convention but more important, it will tell the Government of Canada that it must continue to support its own domestic actions toward that convention. In 2004, federal, provincial and territorial ministers of sport came together to create a national anti-doping convention here in Canada.
That policy sets out clear rules. It speaks about public education and warning citizens. It speaks about giving training, education and support to our own athletes, coaches, trainers and medical personnel. It speaks about taking responsibility to ensure proper conduct, the principle of fair play and the protection and health of those who participate in sport. It speaks about working locally, nationally and with NGOs and organizations to give them the information and tools they need to achieve the elimination of doping in sport. It speaks about promoting research in detection, prevention and understanding of the use of substances that enhance athletic performance and sharing that research internationally. It speaks about contributing financially to assist countries that are unable to afford to undertake the domestic actions and tools they need for contributing to the international convention.
While this policy is important domestically, the convention requires that Canada play a strong role against trafficking in these substances and cooperating in testing athletes.
I support the motion because it would ensure that Canada acted at home and internationally to facilitate anti-doping in sport. I find this supportable in that the motion asks the government to play an active role in implementing the elements of this action plan of the UNESCO convention and to take a leadership role in getting other governments to do so. We have seen that sometimes the Conservative government has tended to walk away from things that we had committed to internationally at the United Nations and often has decided that it would no longer continue them.
I am pleased that this motion calls on Canada once again to resume its place as an ethical international leader in setting standards and putting forward not only the principles of global cooperation, but the advocacy and financial instruments to achieve them.