House of Commons Hansard #223 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-55.

Topics

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The question is on the Motion No. 1. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

In my opinion the nays have it. I declare Motion No. 1 defeated. Therefore, I also declare Motions Nos. 3 and 5 defeated.

(Motions Nos. 1, 3 and 5 negatived)

The next question is on Motion No. 4. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

In my opinion the nays have it. I declare Motion No. 4 defeated. Therefore, I also declare Motion No. 6 defeated.

(Motion Nos. 4 and 6 negatived)

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

(Motion agreed to)

Response to the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Tse ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway, International Trade; the hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, National Defence; the hon. member for Malpeque, International Trade.

The House resumed from March 7 consideration of the motion that Bill S-9, an act to amend the Criminal Code, be read the third time and passed.

Nuclear Terrorism ActRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

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.

Nuclear Terrorism ActRoutine Proceedings

5 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's comments, especially at the end, about what the opposition is looking for in order to support the bill. It would be prudent to remind him of what some of the key new offences are under the debate of the bill, including possessing or trafficking nuclear or radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device or committing an act against a nuclear facility or its operations with the intent to cause death, serious bodily harm or substantive damage to property or the environment, et cetera. There are about four key provisions that greatly increase the capacity of the Criminal Code of Canada to deal with these types of threats.

I was just hoping he could comment on his party's position on some of these key changes, which are really in the best interests of Canadian security. Regarding some of the other things he talked about in his speech, I would like to hear a clear commitment on the support of the bill, as well as some of the important issues that he talked about in his speech, which are actually met in the outline of the bill right now.

Nuclear Terrorism ActRoutine Proceedings

March 18th, 2013 / 5 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, in fact, Canada's New Democrats are supporting the bill. We are pleased to see it move forward. However, there are some concerns, which some of the experts pointed out. I just wanted to highlight a couple of those points.

Why was the making of a nuclear or radioactive device not included in Bill S-9 when introduced to the Senate, resulting in a Senate amendment? If this was in fact an oversight, does this not give rise to concerns about the lack of care in the process of determining how these two treaties would be implemented? Also, why has it taken the government so long to introduce the legislation? It has taken over five years for this to become a serious priority.

These are some of the concerns that we have, but as I say, we are supportive of this moving forward.

Nuclear Terrorism ActRoutine Proceedings

5 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to Sabine Nolke, between 1993 and 2011, the International Atomic Energy Agency identified close to 2,000 incidents related to the use, transportation and unauthorized possession of nuclear and radioactive material.

Does the member not think that we need to move forward on this and that it is more important that Canada ratify this treaty, since it has been dragging its feet on this file?

Nuclear Terrorism ActRoutine Proceedings

5 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member is quite correct. Over the last 20 years, there have been over 2,000 incidents in Canada. This is obviously a concern. It could easily be stated that this is unacceptable. It highlights the importance of Canada being a part of this and moving forward on the signing of these treaties, and of the government making it a higher priority than has been demonstrated so far.

I am sure that the government will hear the opposition's comments and move forward as quickly as possible to really focus on this important issue of keeping our country safe from nuclear accidents and materials that could enter our atmosphere or the country.

Nuclear Terrorism ActRoutine Proceedings

5 p.m.

NDP

Djaouida Sellah NDP Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill S-9, Nuclear Terrorism Act, amends the Criminal Code to implement the criminal law requirements contained in two international treaties to combat terrorism, namely the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, which was amended in 2005, and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, signed in 2005.

Like my NDP colleagues, I believe that we must seriously address the issue of nuclear security and comply with our international obligations in order to better co-operate with other countries on counterterrorism strategies.

For the past 10 to 12 years, the United Nations and its members have been concerned about terrorism, including nuclear terrorism. They have adopted resolutions and played a key role in developing treaties and agreements, so that member states can give themselves the necessary tools in terms of legislation and policy to be able to keep up with the ever-changing terrorist threat. My speech here today will summarize some of the main resolutions and conventions that have been adopted or drafted, as well as Canada's efforts to respect its obligations in that regard.

I cannot even imagine the impact these kinds of activities would have on the people affected. We need only consider the repercussions of past nuclear incidents, like Hiroshima, Chernobyl or even Fukushima one year ago, to understand that it would be extremely damaging and powerful. The effects on health would be felt for decades, even on people who would not be directly affected.

Nuclear terrorism is a difficult concept to grasp. We do not have any concrete examples, aside from what we see in certain catastrophic Hollywood films. However, since the International Atomic Energy Agency has counted close to 2,000 incidents related to the use, transport and unauthorized possession of nuclear and radioactive material between 1993 and 2011, we must remain cautious and, above all, aware of the danger. In this sense, Canada must participate in the multilateral efforts internationally to ensure that the phenomenon remains confined to Hollywood movies.

The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism was passed by the United Nations. It is the first international convention on terrorism to be signed since the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001. It is an extension of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings.

The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism was signed by Canada in 2005 and came into effect in 2007. However, since the treaty requires amendments to legislation, Canada has not yet ratified it. In Canadian law, it is not enough to simply have a treaty signed by a Canadian representative for it to automatically take effect or be implemented. The signature is simply Canada's agreement in principle. If amendments to Canadian legislation are required for a treaty to be implemented, the treaty is ratified only once the amendments are made or new legislation is passed.

In this case, several amendments to the Criminal Code would be required. It is unfortunate that this government did not decide to introduce this bill until this past year.

The government decided that ratifying the convention was not a priority. And here we are today.

Bill S-9, on nuclear terrorism, is a 10-clause bill that introduces four new offences to part II of the Criminal Code, which deals with offences against public order.

Adding these new offences, with respect to certain activities in relation to nuclear or radioactive material, nuclear or radioactive devices, or nuclear facilities, 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 operations, with the intent to compel a person, government or international organization to do or refrain from doing anything.

It also makes it illegal to commit an indictable offence under federal law for the purpose of obtaining nuclear or radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device, or access to or control of a nuclear facility, and to threaten to commit any of the other three offences.

In addition, Bill S-9 introduces into the Criminal Code other amendments that are incidental to these four offences, but that are nonetheless significant. The bill provides definitions of certain terms used in the four offences outlined above, such as “environment”, “nuclear facility”, “nuclear material”, “radioactive material” and “device”. It also amends the definition of “terrorist activity”.

A new section is added to the Criminal Code to ensure that individuals who commit or who attempt to commit these offences, even if abroad, can be prosecuted in Canada.

The bill also amends the wiretap provisions found in the code to ensure that they apply to the new offences and amends the code so that these new offences are considered primary designated offences for the purposes of DNA warrants and collection orders.

There is also the amendment of the Canadian rule on double jeopardy, so that if an individual is tried for or convicted of these four new offences abroad, the double jeopardy rule, in other words, being convicted of and tried for the same crimes, does not apply if the trial abroad does not meet certain basic Canadian legal standards. In that case, a Canadian court can try that person again for the same crimes of which that person has already been convicted in a foreign court.

I am quite comfortable with these objectives.

I will conclude my remarks with a quote from Matthew Bunn, an associate professor of public policy at Harvard University, who made this comment during his testimony before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which I think should convince the members of the House and Canadians of the importance of passing this bill.

Since the September 11 attacks in the United States, both countries have improved security for their own nuclear materials, helped others to do the same, helped to strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency's efforts, and worked to strengthen other elements of the global response. But if the United States and Canada are to succeed in convincing other countries to take a responsible approach to reducing the risks of nuclear theft and terrorism at the Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands in 2014 and beyond, then our two countries have to take the lead in taking responsible action ourselves.

Hence, it is important for both of our countries to ratify the main conventions in this area: the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, the amendment to that convention, and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

To conclude, I will do my part by voting in favour of the bill.