Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill S-9, an act to amend the Criminal Code, otherwise called the nuclear terrorism act. I also want to note that I will be sharing my time with the member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert.
It is interesting that the legislation comes forward on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war, and I will be speaking about that later. However, first, let me provide some background information about the proposed legislation.
Introduced in the Senate on March 27, 2012, Bill S-9 would amend the Criminal Code in order to implement the criminal law requirements of two international counterterrorism treaties: the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, CPPNM, as amended in 2005; and the 2005 International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, or ICSANT.
The nuclear terrorism act is a 10-clause bill that would introduce four indictable offences into part II of the Criminal Code. The bill 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. It would also make 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. It would also make 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. Finally, it would make it illegal to threaten to commit any of the other three offences.
The bill would fulfill Canada's treaty obligations under the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. This would include extending international measures beyond protecting against the proliferation of nuclear materials to now include protection of nuclear facilities. It would also reinforce Canada's obligation under the UN Security Council Resolution 1540, in 2004, to take and enforce effective measures to prevent the proliferation of nuclear materials, as well as chemical and biological weapons.
In a case where the implementation of a treaty would require amendments to Canadian legislation, the treaty would be ratified only when such amendments or new legislation have been passed. To date, Canada has not ratified either the ICSANT or the CPPNM amendment. This is because Canada does not yet have the legislation in place to criminalize the offences outlined in the ICSANT or some of the offences outlined in the CPPNM amendment.
The amendments in Bill S-9 that would be introduced into the code represent Canada's efforts to align its domestic legislation with what is required by both conventions. If these amendments become law, Canada would presumably be in a position to ratify both the ICSANT and the CPPNM amendment, something Canada, as well as other countries, committed to work toward at both the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington, D.C., and the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit held in Seoul, Korea.
A number of experts have spoken out on this important topic. I would like to introduce some of their comments for the record.
Sabine Nolke, the director general of non-proliferation and security threat reduction at DFAIT, said:
Furthering nuclear security, enhancing the physical protection of facilities, installing radiation detection equipment, especially at border crossings, reducing the use of weapons-usable materials, is one of the key tools to prevent these materials from falling into the wrong hands.
Miles Pomper, a senior research associate with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, had this to say. Mr. Pomper said:
—I want to point out generally how important it is to global security that Canada ratify these treaties. As you know, Canada and other countries, at the 2010 and 2012 Nuclear Security Summits, committed to ratifying these conventions. At the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, just held a few months ago in Seoul, states also made a particular commitment to have the 2005 CPPNM amendment enter into force by the time of the next nuclear summit in 2014. For this to happen, two thirds of the 145 parties to the original CPPNM, or 97 states, need to ratify the treaty. To this date only 56 have done so. In ratifying this treaty, therefore, Canada will not only bring us one step closer to the magic number needed for entry into force. Canada is deeply respected in the international community for its leadership on nuclear issues and its commitment to multilateral diplomacy. Its ratification will encourage other countries to move forward with their own ratifications and improve global security.
Finally I would like to add what Matthew Bunn, associate professor of public policy at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, had to say. He said:
At the moment, unfortunately, the mechanisms for global governance of nuclear security remain very weak. No global rules specify how secure a nuclear weapon or the material needed to make one should be. No mechanisms are in place to verify that countries are securing these stockpiles responsibly. Fukushima made clear that action is needed to strengthen both the global safety and security regimes because terrorists could do on purpose what a tsunami did by accident. A central goal leading up to the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit must be to find ways to work together to strengthen the global framework for nuclear security and continue high-level attention on this topic after nuclear security summits stop taking place. Ratifying the conventions that are under consideration now is important, but it is only the beginning.
I would like to comment about Fukushima. It is timely. Coming from the west coast and also being the west coast deputy Fisheries and Oceans critic, I find that this event is very relevant and relates to this topic. Last week, for example, the Japanese government announced a $1 million grant to support the cleanup of tsunami debris washing up on Canada's west coast. B.C.'s coastline is approximately 26,000 kilometres long. It is estimated that 1.5 million tonnes of debris will wash up on B.C.'s shores following the 2011 Japanese tsunami. That is half the amount of garbage generated by metro-Vancouver in the year 2010. That is a lot of debris floating toward west coast shores.
The funds provided by the Japanese government will go toward cleanup of this debris, planning for the cleanup of future debris and addressing the increased threat of invasive species turning up on our shore. Two years ago, in March 2011, the world witnessed one of the most catastrophic events in recent times. The 9.0 magnitude earthquake and consequent tsunami and nuclear disaster killed approximately 16,000 people, with over 2,500 individuals still considered missing. It caused an estimated $235 billion in damage.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. The fear of what could have been created worldwide panic and generated a shift in societal attitudes toward nuclear power. In Canada, many considered the potential threats to our domestic nuclear facilities located in Ontario. The Fukushima disaster also reminded us of the importance of multilateral diplomacy and international co-operation in areas of great common concern.
I mentioned the Iraq war in my opening remarks and I want to make mention of it here. It was indeed 10 years ago that the Canadian government supported the Iraq war. I would add that this illegal invasion was supposedly based on Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction or nuclear weapons.
It is critical that Canada and indeed the world participate in developing the appropriate protocols to deal with nuclear terrorism. Canada needs to live up to the international conventions and obligations that call for human safety, peace and security.
I would like to conclude my remarks by outlining what it is that Canada's New Democrats are looking for. We are committed to multilateral diplomacy and international co-operation, especially in areas of great common concern, such as nuclear terrorism. We need to work with other leading countries that are moving toward ratifying these conventions.
Canada has also agreed to be legally bound by these conventions. It is important to fulfill our international obligations. Canada cannot officially ratify these conventions until the domestic implementation is complete.