Mr. Speaker, I was just going through my notes for a moment and I was trying to listen to the conversation at the same time and some of the back and forth on what was happening. In my eight years of being here a lot of the legislation comes from treaties, as signatories to significant treaties, whether from the United Nations, or the Council of Europe or the European Union. With these technical amendments, we find ourselves in line with all these treaties for all the right reasons.
Some of the colleagues pointed out that Bill S-9 came from the Senate. I will not dwell on that too much as to why this came from the Senate as opposed to the House of Commons. It has been somewhat of a pattern, but nonetheless it has been some time. This is a fallout from the 9/11 terrorism attacks in the United States. As a result, through international forum, we have come up with what we feel is a way to protect our societies from nuclear terrorism and also to look at how we can codify this within our specific legislation. That could be from each and every member state from the United Nations.
In our case, we find ourselves in a situation where we now have to codify what we set out to do. We are signatories as we signed the first treaty in 2007 and, as a result, we now have to codify this. We saw this recently with copyright legislation as well as other types of legislation. Following this could be things like human trafficking and the like.
In the meantime Bill S-9 is an act to amend the criminal code, or the nuclear terrorism act. Certainly in this situation, it is time for us to have a look at this and to debate it in full, which we are doing on this side of the House. We are looking at the new types of offences. If we look at how this is worded, in a big way we are now coming to terms with the situation that exists internationally. If we look at things like cybercrime in relation to this, the one common factor among all of this is we can no longer contain it to a particular boundary. We now find ourselves fighting crime not just within our country but throughout many countries, whether it is nuclear terrorism, cybercrime, human trafficking or impediments toward environmental disasters. These things are obviously a trend that we are now falling into and the genesis is from our international treaty, and rightly so.
This does not happen right away, as we now know. There were signatories from 2004, ratified in 2007 and here we are in 2012. We went through the same motions when we talked about copyright, but members will get the idea.
The purpose of the bill is stated as:
An Act to amend the Criminal Code...is a 10-clause bill that introduces four new indictable offences into Part II of the Criminal Code,1 which deals with offences against public order. Adding these new offences, with respect to certain activities in relation to nuclear or radioactive material...nuclear facilities, makes it illegal to....
There are four points, which are outlined from the Library of Parliament, for which I would like to thank Jennifer Bird who works at legal and legislative affairs for doing this wonderful summary.
By amending part II, it would make it illegal to “...possess, use or dispose of nuclear or radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device, or commit an act against a nuclear facility or its operations, with the intent to cause death, serious bodily harm or substantial damage to property or the environment...”. The key word there is “the environment”, the first part of that.
The second offence would be to “...use or alter nuclear or radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device, or commit an act against a nuclear facility or its operation, with the intent to compel a person, government or international organization to do or refrain from doing anything...”.
There is the exploitation matter. In this particular situation there would be certain cells or groups that would take advantage of nuclear facilities and use them against the state, in our case against Canada, or any other international jurisdiction. I will get to the international part of it in a moment because that is different as well. It goes beyond our boundaries when it speaks of indictable offences.
The third is to commit an indictable offence under federal law for the purpose of obtaining nuclear or radioactive material, or a nuclear or radioactive device.
Finally, the last offence is to threaten to commit any of the other three offences. The intent is what is measured there, the threat to do this that exists within society. As we know with this type of material, whether high-grade uranium or plutonium, if someone comes in contact with it or near it, it can be used as a major threat. Therefore, society has to assemble itself in response to that threat, which is incredibly costly and needless to say dangerous. Of course that part is obvious considering the fact that we are dealing with nuclear material.
Bill S-9 also amends the definition of “terrorist activity”. This is found in section 83.01 of the Criminal Code. The revised definition ensures that the commission of the new offences introduced by the bill, as well as attempts to commit them and any conspiracies, counselling or acting as accessories after the fact in relation to them, constitute “terrorist activity”. A lot of people might think that is a mundane thing to do, but terrorist activity could encapsulate many things across many boundaries, not just in nuclear technology but also when it comes to things like cybercrime and the environment.
My colleagues earlier were talking about how it took a while for this to get to the House and whether we fault a particular group or party in the House for wasting too much time on the issue, which we do a lot around here. It is time to look at this issue right now and debate it in full because it brings us to a new level when it comes to the Criminal Code.
To put it into context, certainly for the past 10 to 12 years we have had numerous conferences on how to deal with nuclear terrorism. In many cases we passed resolutions instrumental to developing new treaties. Some key resolutions and conventions are outlined throughout the United Nations and other international fora. Recently we discussed the last two major meetings of countries that talked about this: Washington, D.C., in 2010 and Seoul, South Korea in 2012.
As a result of all this and the work we have done dating from 2001, the United Nations developed, debated and voted on the United Nations Security Council resolution 1373. By doing that the members of the United Nations were to adopt certain anti-terrorism legislation and policies within 90 days in order to, among many other things, prevent and repress the financing of terrorist acts, criminalize the wilful collection of provision of funds to be used to carry out terrorist acts, prohibit the making available of funds, and suppress the recruitment of terrorist groups and the supply of weapons for these purposes.
The one theme going through all this is the international aspect, which is to say that the funding, the supplying of weapons and the people involved in terrorism are no longer contained within one country. We pretty much find ourselves around the world in order to address what must be done to assess the level of terrorism that is happening and the planning that must take place to stop the act before it actually gets off the ground.
That is the financing aspect. That is resolution 1373. It was very important in its day. On December 12, 2001, the Government of Canada reported to the United Nations Security Council's counter-terrorism committee on the steps it had taken to implement resolution 1373. Among the measures at that time were the Anti-terrorism Act and the amendments to the Criminal Code. All that leads to the offences that were newly classified as terrorist activity, which is a term that many nations have been grappling with for quite some time.
There are several definitions in place. As I mentioned, we came up with two major treaties in this particular situation. The first one was around 2004 and the other was an amendment to an existing one, with the offences as part of the Criminal Code and the enactment of the Anti-terrorism Act. It was added to the code following Canada's ratification in 1986, and this goes back to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. It was not until the Anti-terrorism Act came into force that they constituted terrorist activity. These are the amendments we are looking at when it comes to the CPPNM, which is what it is normally called. I do not want to get too much into acronyms because goodness knows where that will lead.
Following resolution 1373, three years after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 1540. This is what led up to what we have today.
Resolution 1540 specifically deals with the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The resolution focuses on nuclear terrorism requiring member states to take steps to prohibit non-state actors from acquiring nuclear weapons and puts additional measures in place to control nuclear materials and prevent proliferation.
Resolution 1540 calls for member states to take and enforce effective measures to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. In other words, look after their own backyard, as was agreed upon by all the nations and member states.
Secondly, adopt legislation prohibiting the acquisition, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons by both State and non-State actors.
Also extend such criminal legislation to apply to citizens extra-territorially and to embrace universal jurisdiction over any such acts regardless of nationality or location of the act.
That is very important, because now we are going beyond our own jurisdiction to find criminal intent, even after the fact, to find people in this particular situation because, as we know, these terrorist cells, potential or not, exist all over the world. They operate from many bases, not just from one particular country or from one particular region. Now with the advent of technology, with the Internet and the way technology is flowing around the world instantaneously, we have to behave in this manner in order to find these criminals, to find any act that is about to be committed, so that we can stop it before something serious actually happens.
Resolution 1540 from 2004 also established a committee of the United Nations Security Council tasked with overseeing the implementation of that particular resolution. This resolution came down to this agreement known as the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.
Bill S-9, the bill we are dealing with today, comes from these particular treaties. As I mentioned earlier, in order for these treaties to have any effect, despite any good intentions, if the home country chooses not to fix its own home legislation in order to make the purpose of these treaties come to fruition, then obviously it has to make the right laws. In this particular situation we are talking about fixing the Criminal Code, certainly Part II, and amending it as such.
The ICSANT, or as I will call it, the treaty, talked about certain things within this treaty that were very important for each member state to adopt: unlawful and intentional possession of radioactive material; unlawful and intentional use of radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device that makes a credible threat to unlawfully and intentionally do the acts described in Article 2(1)(b); unlawful and intentional demanding of radioactive material, a nuclear or radioactive device with intent to commit the possession and use offences outlined in the article; and finally, participating as an accomplice in, organizing or directing others to commit or contributing as a member of an organized group. It is not merely saying one is guilty by association, but that the intent is there in this particular situation.
I will call it the ICSANT for now in this particular situation. I do not have a nickname for it.
I talked earlier about the extraterritorial aspect of the ICSANT that is in article 9. To me, that is a very important part. Article 9 permits states to establish jurisdiction over offences occurring outside their territories when the offence is committed against a national, a person of that state; the offence is committed against a state or a government facility of that state; the offence is committed by a stateless person who habitually resides in that state; the offence is committed to compel a state to do or abstain from doing something, from article 9(2); or the offence is committed aboard an aircraft operated by the government of that particular state.
What is happening here is that we are fixing our own legislation in order for it to comply with the intentions set out by the United Nations. In this particular situation, the two treaties that we discussed, which we ratified in 2007 and struck in 2004, bring us into what the reality is around this globe. To me, article 9 of that particular treaty illustrates that by saying we need to go beyond our own territory to take the action necessary to stop potential terrorist activity.
As I mentioned earlier, two major conventions in the past few years, 2010 in Washington, D.C., and 2012 in Seoul, South Korea, also put the pressure on us to make this so. I find it odd that this came from the Senate.
Subclause 2(2) of Bill S-9, in this particular situation, adds four new defined terms to section 2 of the code to encompass the intention of doing a lot of harm to a lot of people and to use this as a particular threat for whatever means or intentions they have. They are “environment”, “nuclear facility”, “nuclear material” and “radioactive material”.
Obviously this is the type of language we have to use in this particular situation. We are dealing with dangerous material. We are dealing with terrorist groups that are not just confined to one particular area. They are global in perspective and therefore our legislation has to be changed to reflect this harsh reality.
In addition, subclause 2(1) of Bill S-9 amends the definition of “Attorney General” found in section 2 of the code. That is also a reflection of what we are trying to do here.
There are many aspects of this that could be improved upon. In this particular situation I think that perhaps the bill in and of itself is a little bit introspective, meaning that the legislation could also encompass something that is a little more international in scope. The intention is there. The intention is good, as was argued and debated in the Senate. Now we bring it here.
However, some of this needs to be looked at thoroughly. Are we living up to the international obligations that we have signed on to when it comes to nuclear proliferation? That has to be assessed in committee. Certainly I would want to see it sent, as it already is in the Senate, to the standing committee of the House of Commons in order to have a look at that. I think that is very important for all of us to consider. If we have waited this long, we might as well do it right. My grandfather used to say that.
The committee must look at this in a particular light. I look forward to advancing this and seeing whether or not the changes we are making to the Criminal Code fulfill the spirit of the agreements we have signed on to, agreements dating back to 2004, including the ICSANT that I mentioned earlier.
The intent is to root out the evil in these terrorism cells around the world and to have the right tools to do that, including extraterritoriality in order for us to go beyond our own boundaries and find out who is involved and how we can best protect our society.