Mr. Speaker, since September 11, 2001, in particular, the United Nations Security Council and the UN General Assembly have been concerned about international terrorism activities, including nuclear terrorism. Members of the UN Security Council and the UN National Assembly passed resolutions that led to the development of treaties on nuclear terrorism so that member states would adopt legislation and policies in sync with the ever-changing threat of terrorism.
Canada has been co-operating with other countries to address this issue at the international level for a long time now. Canada ratified the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities, which encourages the development of measures related to the prevention, detection and punishment of offences relating to nuclear material.
In 2005, this convention was amended to improve the physical protection of nuclear material and facilities. The amendments made in 2005 increased the convention's scope in order to cover peaceful nuclear facilities and the use, storage and transportation of nuclear materials within the countries.
Also in 2005, Canada signed the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, but we have yet to ratify it. The convention calls upon state parties to create new criminal offences for acts of nuclear terrorism.
It is important to remember that a treaty cannot be ratified unless changes are made to national laws. That is the purpose of Bill S-9, which amends Canadian laws to make them consistent with the two conventions I just mentioned. After this bill is passed, Canada will be in a position to keep its commitment to ratify these international conventions. We will thus be able to fulfill our obligations.
The NDP supports multilateral approaches that promote co-operation among the state parties. Such co-operation is important in areas that go beyond our borders. Terrorism is this type of threat, and it is only through co-operation between the state parties that we can protect ourselves against such threats. We support working with the countries that ratified these conventions, and that is why we are going to support this bill. We also want to be able to examine it more thoroughly in committee.
This bill was introduced in the Senate in March 2012. It includes 10 clauses that create four new offences in the Criminal Code. Adding these new offences makes 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.
It also makes it illegal 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.
I would like to call attention to this restriction. It is very important, because the very purpose of terrorism is to force a government or an organization to do, or to refrain from doing, a specific thing. How many attacks or kidnapings have been committed by terrorist organizations in order to discourage western countries from taking part in wars in Afghanistan or Iraq? Terrorist groups use threats and retribution to force governments to give in to their demands.
The bill also makes it illegal to commit an indictable offence under federal law for the purpose of obtaining nuclear or radioactive material, a nuclear or radioactive device, or access or control of a nuclear facility, as well as to threaten to commit any of the other three offences.
This bill makes other important amendments to the Criminal Code, for instance, to introduce definitions for the terms used for these new offences. The bill also adds a new section in the Criminal Code to ensure that individuals who commit or attempt to commit any of these offences overseas can be prosecuted in Canada. This provision must meet certain criteria. The offence must be committed on a vessel flying the flag of or an aircraft registered to Canada by a Canadian citizen or by someone who is present in Canada following the commission of the act.
This bill will amend the Criminal Code provisions on electronic surveillance and the taking of bodily substances. The Anti-Terrorism Act amended the code provisions on electronic surveillance. Therefore, the four new offences were added to section 183 of the code to justify the use of electronic surveillance for these offences.
This provision, which deals with the primary designated offence, was included to allow peace officers to apply for a warrant for the seizure of bodily substances when they are investigating individuals for these offences. Therefore, it also makes it mandatory to collect bodily substances from those convicted of these offences.
These tools are important for our front-line public safety officers, but these provisions will have to be used in accordance with the Canadian legislation and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. When new powers are granted, limits must be set to prevent any abuse on the part of our public safety officers who, I would like to stress, have my full confidence.
Finally, the bill amends the Canadian rule regarding double jeopardy. That rule does not apply if a trial abroad does not meet certain basic Canadian legal standards. In this case, a Canadian court may retrial the person for the same crime for which he was convicted abroad.
This Senate bill enables the government to meet its international obligations by creating new offences, but that is just one side of the coin. The other side, which is just as important, has to do with prevention and security. Mr. Jamieson, from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, made a presentation before the Senate committee on June 4. He gave a brief outline of the prevention provisions adopted by the commission over the years.
He explained that the requirements relating to physical protection are gradual and reflect the level of risk and its consequences. He presented a non-exhaustive list of security measures in nuclear facilities. The requirements range from controlling access to sites to providing an on-site response force. Employees and supervisors must meet awareness and training requirements relating to security protocols, and they must undergo background checks.
Licensees must develop and maintain contingency plans as well as practice regular emergency drills. The transport of nuclear materials requires a licence. In order to obtain it, the licensee must submit a detailed security plan including a threat assessment, the proposed security measures, the route and other arrangements along the route. Security plans are required for all shipments including those in transit through Canada.
Canada is a model for the world when it comes to nuclear safety, but the government must continue to invest the necessary amount for maximizing the safety of Canadians, while minimizing the likelihood of a crime or a terrorist attack being committed in Canada or elsewhere in the world.
The International Atomic Energy Agency documented nearly 2,000 incidents related to the unauthorized use, transport or possession of nuclear and radioactive materials between 1993 and 2011. Government agencies with anti-terrorism responsibilities must work in an integrated manner in order for these organizations to be able to properly protect Canadians.
It is not just a matter of creating indictable terrorist offences. It is also a question of investing the necessary funds to allow these organizations and their front-line officers to accomplish their mission and carry out the mandate assigned to them, namely to ensure the safety of Canadians.