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House of Commons Hansard #116 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.

Topics

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The member for Nepean--Carleton.

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, she is right. We all file election returns and all of the information on which the Elections Canada accusations are predicated came from voluntary disclosures by the Conservative Party and its candidates. Every shred of information that led them to make these false accusations came from us.

Let me summarize. Conservative candidates spent Conservative funds on Conservative advertisements. They got financial assistance and transfers from the national party to do so. Elections Canada found out about it because we told them, and why would we not tell Elections Canada? Those practices are legal and all parties do it.

They singled us out. We took them to court, and one day before they were to be questioned, they interrupted the proceedings, breaking their own rules, and barged into our office with Liberal cameras following behind.

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, historically, Canada has always been proud to be a world leader in advancing peace around the world. This fact was clear on March 1, 1999, when the eyes of the world were on Canada as the Liberal foreign affairs minister, Lloyd Axworthy, hosted and championed the signing of the Ottawa convention banning the manufacture and use of landmines.

However, as we all know, this convention did not include a ban on so-called cluster munitions.

All weapons of war, from the most rudimentary to the most highly sophisticated instruments of destruction, are contrary to any fundamental concept of human dignity. However, the intensely insidious nature of cluster munitions even manages to set them apart from other weapons.

These are horrible weapons that do not differentiate between civilians and military targets. They are used primarily from aircraft and descend in a spiral of destruction that often blanket vast tracks of land indiscriminately. These cluster munitions not only fail to differentiate between civilian and military targets, they often maim and kill civilians long after they have been deployed since many remain unexploded.

Beginning in Oslo, Norway in February 2007 and moving through to Wellington, New Zealand one year later in 2008, the process of developing a cluster munitions convention has often been challenging.

While many across the world looked to Canada to take the lead in promoting this convention, it is with dismay that we instead witnessed Canada, along with several other states, pushing for the inclusion of article 21. This article is viewed by many as a loophole that, while still preventing Canada from producing, stockpiling or directly using cluster munitions, does not prevent this country from conducting military operations with a third party state that has not signed the convention and that may indeed elect to use cluster munitions in the course of a joint combat operation.

In the words of Mr. Paul Hannon of Mines Action Canada, he stated:

In our view, there is only one small stain on the fabric of this fine treaty text, which is the additional article added related to participating in joint operations.

When the history of the process leading to this convention is written, it unfortunately will include reference to the fact that instead of leading the world toward a conclusive and non-negotiable treaty banning cluster munitions, the Government of Canada was attempting to water down its objectives.

While we all celebrate the results of the Dublin meeting and the participation of so many states in the process of banning cluster munitions, our joy is tempered by the fact that instead of leading the way, the Canadian government was, in the eyes of many observers, simply representing the concerns of nations that chose not to sign the convention.

The government must represent the views of the Canadian people and the fundamental values of this nation. While Canada may have signed the convention, we most certainly take little comfort in the role of the government in the process leading up to and including the Dublin meetings.

5:40 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Davenport's question provides me with an opportunity to elaborate on Canada's effort to address the terrible impact on civilians of cluster munitions and other weapons as well.

Like landmines, cluster munitions have had a devastating impact on civilians at the time of use and often for years or even decades after the conflict has ended. Canada has never used cluster munitions and we are in the process of destroying all cluster munitions in the Canadian Forces' arsenal.

Canada has also been heavily engaged in the international effort to strengthen the international humanitarian law with respect to this weapon. Canada is among those countries working hard to get agreement to negotiate a new protocol addressing cluster munitions within the traditional disarmament framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons or CCW.

In addition, Canada has been an active participant in the Oslo process initiated by Norway that seeks to put in place by the end of this year a new stand alone treaty that addresses cluster munitions. A Canadian delegation comprised of officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Department of National Defence was in Oslo when this process was initiated in February 2007.

The same delegation participated in pre-negotiation conferences in Lima in May 2007, in Vienna in December, and in Wellington, New Zealand in February of this year. Canada was also an active participant in the formal negotiation of this new treaty in Dublin from May 19-30.

I am delighted to report that Canada and the 110 other states participating in these negotiations unanimously adopted the final negotiated text for a new legally binding instrument. If it enters into force, this treaty would: ban all cluster munitions, as defined in the convention text; set specific deadlines for the destruction of stockpiles of cluster munitions and clearance of contaminated areas; provide for risk education for vulnerable populations and assistance for victims, their families and communities; obligate states in a position to do so to assist affected states to fulfill their responsibilities under the convention; and allow states to engage effectively in combined military operations with states not party to the convention, in deference to reality.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions will be opened for signature in Oslo in December of this year.

This is a significant achievement in multilateral disarmament diplomacy. This new convention, the culmination of 18 months work between civil society groups and participating states is no small feat. Canada and other states around the world must now consider the convention text carefully to determine whether or not to proceed with formal signature and ratification of this instrument.

Concurrently, Canada, in cooperation with like-minded states, will continue to pursue complementary efforts to address cluster munitions within the traditional framework of the Convention on Conventional Weapons. I am confident our collective efforts will contribute a great deal to the protection of civilians from cluster munitions.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the member for Westlock—St. Paul who has been instrumental in Canada's efforts in this area and has done a lot of work in bringing awareness of this situation.

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Dublin convention is a profoundly important step toward a better world as was the 1999 Ottawa convention. In the latter, Canada took the lead in demonstrating to the world our profound commitment to building a better world where horrific weapons of destruction are relegated to the pages of history where they belong.

In the case of this convention banning cluster munitions, we must take note of the fact that the role of Canada in 2008 was so vastly different than that of 1999. In 1999, Canada's position was consistent with the values of our country and what the world had come to expect from us. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the government's representation of our country in 2008.

Irrespective of these realities, we must all work to promote the ban on cluster munitions as we have done with landmines and in so doing continue to work diligently toward a better world where such weapons have no place.

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canada is deeply concerned about the impact of armed conflict on civilians. Canada remains committed to banning anti-personnel landmines and has been an active participant in efforts to address the humanitarian and development impact of cluster munitions.

I have never dropped a cluster bomb, but I have trained with them and I have trained people on how to deploy them. I am very aware of the impact of cluster munitions and the dangers they pose at the time of use and for a long time after that.

I can assure the hon. member that this party, this government, and this individual are very committed to the elimination of cluster munitions if at all possible and we will work with all of our colleagues and states around the world to advance that cause just as far as absolutely possible.

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted.

The House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 5:49 p.m.)