Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to follow the hon. member for Manicouagan, who is sitting beside me, but who will likely have to leave the House to attend to business. I wish him a happy Easter weekend.
Before I begin, I would like to indicate that I will be sharing the time I have been given to speak about Bill S-9.
I am trained as an archivist and historian, and I have been interested in history and international issues for a long time now. To put Bill S-9 into context, it is important to understand that, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, we moved fairly quickly from a very polarized world to one that was more fractured. Previously, the world was relatively simple to understand and keep in balance. The two major powers that divided the world were making extraordinary efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. They had the means to use them, but they also had to deal with the related security issues.
Now we live in a more fractured world. Among the sovereign states, there are states whose sovereignty is more or less assured, as well as states that are completely disorganized. What is more, there are groups throughout the world in possession of nuclear weapons. Their ability to act is difficult to assess, but they are scattered throughout the world.
This fractured world has created additional hazards, security hazards related to the possession, handling and use of nuclear material. As a result, it is particularly appropriate and vital—I would even go as far as to say urgent—to consider a bill such as Bill S-9, which makes it possible to take measures related in part to Criminal Code amendments.
I would like to talk about some of these measures. A number of my colleagues have already spoken very eloquently on the subject. Nevertheless, I am going to spend much of my time talking about the methods used and the impact, since those are the most important factors. In fact, this was my pet topic when I had the honour of being a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. It was a wonderful opportunity to talk about, understand and learn more about how Canada's Criminal Code works.
We fulfill our responsibility for implementing effective and comprehensive measures through bills. Yet that is far from the only method that can be used. In fact, as I have said before, when you come right down to it, a bill alone is nothing more than a marketing ploy that gives the appearance of solving all the problems, if there is no way of implementing it. In reality, a law without the means to act, without the means to be implemented, can be completely powerless.
Our legislative system is one of the pillars of our society, of our democracy, but it is not the only one. That is why the judicial system is completely independent. This system acts with the legislative system to enforce legislation. The judicial system obviously cannot be effective and productive without police forces, without the tool society has developed to investigate and understand what goes on in society. We obviously need courts to try people who are accused of planning or committing crimes that threaten our society.
As my colleagues and I have said, our responsibility is greater because the bill is associated with a multilateral treaty.
As a country that is rich and advanced and has an excellent international reputation on nuclear issues, Canada has a much bigger responsibility to implement nuclear measures. We must also act as a leader. We must at least reach out to help less fortunate or less advanced countries that have a nuclear liability or legacy meaningfully and effectively address the situation.
This situation is far from benign. A fractured world has given rise to more opportunities. The circle of nations that are developing nuclear weapons or that have nuclear facilities—either for energy production or research—has expanded a lot in the past 20 or 30 years. The so-called threat has expanded, and we have to pay attention because it remains a reality.
Canada has pulled out of the multilateral anti-drought convention. The government sent a rather strange message. It would be funny if it were a joke, but this message is just bad. This could cause our allies, the world community, to lose trust in us, even if we pass Bill S-9.
I cannot help but speak to the economic consequences of implementing Bill S-9. As a member of the Standing Committee on Finance, I will not hide the fact that I am concerned by the current dynamic. The government has no qualms about blindly cutting left, right and centre.
I am very concerned about the fact that this may well be a useful bill that would give us the potential means to deal with a threat of nuclear terrorism. Unfortunately, it will be practically unenforceable because the government will not have taken the measures to secure sites and draft protocols.
I am also concerned about management and planning. Management is not necessarily the government's strong suit, as it has amply demonstrated over the past seven years. I have no idea how the urban legend about the Conservatives being good managers came to be.
A tree is known by its fruit. Up to now, that fruit has been mostly rotten tomatoes, which Canadians do not find very appealing. The Conservatives do not have a very good record. I have often felt sick to my stomach because of some of the decisions this government has made.
I jest to lighten the mood, but that does not change the fact that it is essential that the government give research institutions, universities, existing and even private facilities the means to truly ensure that we can prevent theft or any type of nuclear threat in our society.
We also need to be able to arrest people who could use a nuclear threat to terrorize the public or to retaliate on behalf of a cause. Certain causes may be fundamentally just, but with the world the way it is, even just causes can be perversely and deviously manipulated and threaten lives.