House of Commons Hansard #251 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was terrorism.

Topics

Question No. 1273Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

With respect to the Employment Insurance Stewardship Pilot (Pilot) and information on ineligible Employment Insurance (EI) payments referred to by the government in relation to the Pilot: (a) how many regular and self-employed EI claimants have been reviewed under this Pilot, broken down by geographic location and EI region; (b) how were each of the claimants in (a) selected for inclusion in the Pilot; (c) how many of the EI claimants were in receipt of Special Benefits, broken down by type of Special Benefit; (d) how many of the claims belonging to claimants identified in (a) were withheld or halted as a result of reviews conducted at phase one of the Pilot, broken down by region, namely (i) Newfoundland and Labrador, (ii) Nova Scotia, (iii) Prince Edward Island, (iv) New Brunswick, (v) Quebec, (vi) Ontario, (vii) Manitoba, (viii) Saskatchewan, (ix) Alberta, (x) British Colombia, (xi) Yukon, (xii) Northwest Territories, (xiii) Nunavut; (e) how many of the claims belonging to claimants identified in (a) were withheld or halted as a result of reviews conducted at phase two of the Pilot, broken down by region, namely (i) Newfoundland and Labrador, (ii) Nova Scotia, (iii) Prince Edward Island, (iv) New Brunswick, (v) Quebec, (vi) Ontario, (vii) Manitoba, (viii) Saskatchewan, (ix) Alberta, (x) British Colombia, (xi) Yukon, (xii) Northwest Territories, (xiii) Nunavut; (f) how many of the claims belonging to the claimants identified in (a) were withheld or halted as a result of reviews conducted at phase three of the Pilot, broken down by region, namely (i) Newfoundland and Labrador, (ii) Nova Scotia, (iii) Prince Edward Island, (iv) New Brunswick, (v) Quebec, (vi) Ontario, (vii) Manitoba, (viii) Saskatchewan, (ix) Alberta, (x) British Colombia, (xi) Yukon, (xii) Northwest Territories, (xiii) Nunavut; (g) how many of the claims belonging to the claimants identified in (a) were withheld or halted as a result of reviews conducted at phase four of the Pilot, broken down by region, namely (i) Newfoundland and Labrador, (ii) Nova Scotia, (iii) Prince Edward Island, (iv) New Brunswick, (v) Quebec, (vi) Ontario, (vii) Manitoba, (viii) Saskatchewan, (ix) Alberta, (x) British Colombia, (xi) Yukon, (xii) Northwest Territories, (xiii) Nunavut; (h) what techniques and tools are Integrity Service Officers allowed to use in client interviews conducted under this Pilot; (i) were any techniques and tools, other than those identified in existing ISB Policy and Procedures, authorized for use in this Pilot and, if so, what were those techniques and the rationale for their use; (j) how many Direction to Report notices were provided by Integrity Service Investigators under this Pilot, broken down by (i) the date each notice was served, (ii) the time between the serving of said notice and the date of the scheduled in-person interview with the claimant, (iii) the region each notice was served in; (k) how many Reports of Investigation were prepared and sent to the Processing and Payment Services Branch; (l) what were the results and findings of the StreetSweeper Review regarding the Pilot; (m) what documents, tools, manuals, instructions, presentations, and other materials were used to conduct orientation and training for all persons employed by the federal government who have or are currently taking part in the Employment Insurance Service Review (EISR) pilot; (n) did the EISR pilot Business Expertise Consultant receive any questions or observations from those working on the pilot and, if so, what were these questions and observations; (o) what are the details of (i) EISR Working Group meeting and conference call agendas and minutes, (ii) EISR Working Group project discussion and findings, including anomalies, problems encountered during the project, additional techniques and situations encountered, potential weaknesses in investigative tools, or any other factors of concern expressed regarding the Pilot; (p) in how many cases were unannounced home visits performed by investigators in the course of the Pilot; (q) what was the rationale for unannounced home visits; (r) in how many of the cases was fraud or wrongdoing suspected prior to unannounced home visits; (s) are unannounced home visits to EI recipients department policy when there is no suspicion of fraud or wrongdoing, (i) if so when did it take effect, (ii) if not, is it anticipated to become policy; (t) how many unannounced home visits were conducted by investigators to EI claimants who were not suspected of any fraud or wrongdoing in fiscal years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013; (u) was a legal opinion sought prior to the implementation of the EI Stewardship Pilot regarding interview techniques with EI claimants who were not suspected of fraud or wrongdoing and, if so, what were the legal concerns and problem issues raised by the opinion; (v) under what legislative authority did investigators conduct unannounced home visits to EI claimants under no suspicion of fraud or wrongdoing; (w) was a legal opinion sought to determine by what authority investigators could conduct unannounced home visits to EI claimants under no suspicion of fraud or wrongdoing (i) if so, did the opinion present concerns, (ii) if so what were they; (x) on what other issues other than those raised in (u) and (w) did the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development seek a legal opinion on and why; (y) what was the cost of the EI Stewardship Pilot project; (z) what was the cost per home visit and the total cost for all home visits; (aa) what are the details of each type of ineligible EI payment that is tracked by the government; (bb) for fiscal years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, what is the breakdown of ineligible EI payments by (i) number of cases, (ii) amount, (iii) EI economic region, (iv) province; (cc) in how many cases was the ineligible payment the result of a government error, (i) what is the dollar value of these types of errors for fiscal years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013; (dd) for fiscal years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, what was the amount of (i) total EI benefits paid to EI claimants, (ii) original EI fraud loss, (iii) amount of EI fraud recovered to date, (iv) amount of EI fraud expected to be recovered in future years, (v) amount of EI fraud not expected to be recovered, (vi) amount of EI fraud recovered and expected to be recovered as a percentage of EI benefits paid and (vii) amount of EI fraud not expected to be recovered as a percentage of EI benefits paid; (ee) is the automation of EI processing leading to ineligible payments by incorrectly processing a claim and, if so, how many cases of this problem were found during fiscal years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 and what was the dollar amount for each case; (ff) if the answer in (ee) is yes, what studies has the government undertaken to examine this, specifying the (i) name, (ii) date completed, (iii) document reference number; (gg) how does the EI system calculate Direct EI saving and Indirect EI saving for each type of ineligible EI payment; (hh) how many cases resulted in Direct EI saving and Indirect EI saving for each type of ineligible EI payment, broken down by fiscal year for fiscal years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, and what is the dollar value for each case; (ii) what was the ratio of Direct EI Savings to Indirect EI Savings for fiscal years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 and what are the reasons for any variance in the ratio throughout this period; (jj) what was the indirect EI savings and the number of cases of EI claim disentitlements for fiscal years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013; (kk) of the claim disentitlements referred to in question (jj), in how many cases was the disentitlement (i) subsequently rescinded, (ii) rescinded within thirty days of the original disentitlement for fiscal years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013; (ll) what were the reasons for claim disentitlements referred to in question (kk) being subsequently rescinded; (mm) are the indirect EI savings that are calculated form a claim disentitlement subsequently reduced if the disentitlement is rescinded and if not, why not; and (nn) for claim disentitlements that were subsequently rescinded as referred to in question (kk), what was the expected indirect EI savings that was expected to not be realized as a result for fiscal years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 1290Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

With regard to federal tax expenditures from 2006-2012: (a) what is the government’s estimate of the annual forgone revenue for the sectors of oil and gas, mining, and where applicable, clean energy, attributed to the following federal tax expenditures, (i) accelerated capital cost allowance for oil sands, (ii) transitional arrangement for the Alberta royalty tax credit, (iii) reclassification of expenses under flow-through shares, (iv) flow-through share deductions, (v) earned depletion, (vi) net impact of resource allowance, (vii) deductibility of contributions to a qualifying environmental trust, (viii) accelerated capital cost allowance for mining, (ix) canadian exploration expense, (x) canadian development expense for oil sands resource properties; and (b) if the Department of Finance is unable to provide estimates for any of the above tax expenditures, (i) what is the reason for the data gap, (ii) what steps does the Department of Finance plans on taking in future years to close the data gap?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, be read the third time and passed.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of rising once again to speak to Bill S-9, which aims to implement two international treaties to fight terrorism, namely, the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

I spoke to the bill at second reading, at which time I supported the bill in principle. Essentially, the bill was not amended in committee and several witnesses reminded us of the importance of its swift passage.

Before quoting some very enlightening testimony heard at committee, I would like to remind the House what Bill S-9 is all about. Quite simply, it amends the Criminal Code to create new offences allowing us to better foil certain activities related to nuclear terrorism.

Among other things, the bill makes it illegal to possess, use or dispose of nuclear or radioactive material 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; to use or alter 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; to commit an indictable offence under federal law for the purpose of obtaining nuclear or radioactive material, or access to a nuclear facility; and to threaten to commit any of the other three offences.

The bill also has a prevention component to it. As Terry Jamieson, vice-president of the Technical Support Branch of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, told the committee:

...if Bill S-9 is enacted and Canada ratifies the CPPNM as well as the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, there is no additional work necessary to implement the physical protection measures among Canada's nuclear facility operators. These measures in fact have already been in place for years.

This bill is vital to Canada's credibility in the fight against terrorism. Professor Matthew Bunn, from Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said the following in committee:

Since the September 11 attacks in the United States, both [Canada and the United States] 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.

It is time to walk the walk. Canada cannot just pay lip service to this issue. We must put our words into action and deliver a clear message to the international community. Speaking of sending a clear message, our neighbours to the south have yet to approve similar legislation. Hopefully, between now and nuclear safety week in 2014, they will be inspired by our example to ratify the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, the CPPNM amendment and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

Although Bill S-9 and those conventions seem to have limited content, they at least promote international consistency. Again, according to Matthew Bunn:

I think the domestic steps, such as passing this legislation, are crucial to being able to build this global framework. The reality is that we won't get everybody participating in this global framework. You're not going to see North Korea ratifying these treaties any time soon.

On the other hand, I think that through the international cooperation that we have managed to achieve...we've managed to get many countries where radioactive materials or even nuclear materials were quite vulnerable to take action by improving the security of those items or by getting rid of them entirely from particular places. I think that has reduced the risk to all of us.

That being said, it is essential that Canada recognize nuclear terrorism as a real threat to security and live up to its responsibilities to the international community.

Again, I am quoting Professor Matthew Bunn, on the current dangers of nuclear terrorism:

Government studies in the United States and in other countries have concluded that if terrorists manage to get enough highly enriched uranium or plutonium, they might very well be able to make a crude nuclear bomb capable of incinerating the heart of a major city. In the case of highly enriched uranium, making such a bomb is basically a matter of slamming two pieces together at high speed. The amounts required are small, and smuggling them is frighteningly easy.

The core of al Qaeda is, as President Obama mentioned the other night, a shadow of its former self, but regional affiliates are metastasizing and some of the key nuclear operatives of al Qaeda remain free today. With at least two terrorist groups having pursued nuclear weapons seriously in the last 20 years, we cannot expect that they will be the last. Moreover, some terrorists have seriously considered sabotaging nuclear power plants, perhaps causing something like what we saw at Fukushima in Japan, or dispersing highly radioactive materials in a so-called “dirty bomb”.

It is vital to keep in mind that Canada is a major uranium producer and has a number of nuclear reactors. What is more, nuclear substances are delivered in Canada hundreds of times daily. An example that springs to mind is the medical isotopes delivered to Canadian hospitals.

These facts remind us that we must be vigilant. It is important to know, for example, that a person was successfully prosecuted in 2010 for trying to send Iran dual-use nuclear devices, which might have been used for uranium enrichment.

To have an idea of the extent of these realities at the international level, we must remember that the International Atomic Energy Agency official responsible for non-proliferation and risk reduction reported 2000 incidents relating to the unauthorized possession and transportation of nuclear and radioactive material between 1993 and 2011.

Furthermore, as I pointed out in my speech at second reading, the Conservative government should also recognize that Canada will not be able to reduce nuclear terrorism threats unless it implements an action framework that it conceived and endowed with sufficient resources to support the implementation of these conventions.

We in the NDP are determined to promote multilateral diplomacy and international cooperation, particularly in areas of shared concern, such as nuclear terrorism.

I look forward to my colleagues' questions.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to thank my colleague and congratulate her on her excellent speech.

My question is very brief. I liked her comments, because they throw light on a particularly important issue, especially given the modern context in which we now live.

Could she say a little more about the provisions in these treaties that concern transportation and storage of nuclear materials, whether waste materials or some other kind?

In the context of Quebec, if we think of the shutting down of Gentilly-2 or other events of this nature, this issue is of particular interest. I would therefore like to hear a little bit more about this facet of the issue.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, yes, it is a matter that is of concern to Quebeckers and Canadians from all parts of the country. It concerns the health and safety of Canadians throughout the country, and also in Quebec, as my honourable colleague pointed out.

We are asking the Conservative government to be vigilant and allocate the necessary resources to ensure these materials are safely stored. I should also point out that Canada is committed to providing $367 million over five years to the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. It is also committed to taking part in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and the Proliferation Security Initiative.

As I mentioned in my speech, these are praiseworthy initiatives, but we must go further still. I expect the Conservative government to take action in this regard.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her very interesting speech.

I would like to point out that this is not the first time she has spoken on this matter in the House. She has been monitoring the progress of this bill to some extent.

Does she know whether any amendments were made to the bill when it was being studied in committee or in the House?

Before giving her the floor, I would like to say that I found her reminder of how important it is to walk the talk very interesting. For example, as the critic for seniors, I have seen bills introduced in the House without any resources for prevention and intervention, even though these bills were supposed to help combat elder abuse. This often happens in the House.

That is all I have to say, and I will now give her the opportunity to answer my question.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the question from my hon. colleague is most appropriate.

In fact, no amendments to this bill were adopted in committee. Nevertheless, we believe that the bill is commendable. However, the Conservative government ought to come up with some other measures to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands.

I would remind the House that the bill is basically punitive. It increases the length of sentences and the number of criminal offences in the Criminal Code. We therefore expect the Conservative government to provide adequate resources to protect Canadians and ensure that the goals of this bill are achieved.

My colleague raised another interesting point. The parliamentary committees do indeed do essential work. Witnesses and experts therefore need to come and give evidence, something that the Conservatives have refused to allow in other committees.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

May 10th, 2013 / 12:35 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Nuclear Terrorism Act. This bill puts in place legislative measures to comply with the criminal law requirements contained in two international counterterrorism treaties: the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, amended in 2005, and the 2005 International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

The NDP and I myself believe that we must seriously address the issue of nuclear safety and comply with our international obligations, in order to better cooperate with other countries on a nuclear counterterrorism strategy.

The danger remains very real. It is therefore very important that we implement these UN treaties. Even though we normally oppose a government bill that is introduced through the Senate, Bill S-9 is important enough that we can understand that it is worthwhile for the Senate to do the first vetting of legislation that is intended merely to be technical in order to create compliance with international legislation. It is very important for me as a member of the NDP that we comply with our obligations in the international arena. We are determined to promote multilateral diplomacy and international cooperation, particularly in areas of shared concern, such as nuclear terrorism.

Because Canada has already agreed to be legally bound by these conventions, it is important to fulfill our international obligations.

It is good to see that the government is taking action to comply with these international treaties and conventions. We must of course note that the elements in the bill are in response to these 2005 treaties. It is a bit late in the day to be doing this, but we are used to it.

This bill was tabled in the Senate on March 27, and moved very slowly. The government brought it before the House sporadically, and only in order to fill gaps in its program. This is unfortunate.

As I was saying, the intent of Bill S-9 is to comply with Canada’s international obligations, but it is still a breath of fresh air in the House.

I would like to take this opportunity to draw the attention of this House to Canada’s other international responsibilities that are still waiting to be dealt with by this government.

It is very relevant, in fact, given that the United Nations Universal Periodic Review was just tabled in late April 2013. The report points out that the Committee against Torture has urged Canada to incorporate the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in its law, so that its provisions can be invoked directly before a court of law and so that the Convention be given precedence.

Unfortunately, Canada has not been moving on this file. It is nevertheless part of the same process to amend our statutes to fulfill our international responsibilities.

Torturing human beings ought not to be allowed here or anywhere else. Even so, we have not yet ratified the treaty here in the House, despite our international agreements.

Moreover, the Committee Against Torture remains concerned by the fact that Canadian law, particularly subsection 115(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, continues to provide exceptions to the principle of non-refoulement.

Are the Conservatives moving this file forward? No. Instead, they are pushing their bits and pieces of legislation through the back door in the form of private member’s bills.

These bills runs completely counter to what the international community is asking of us. By possibly endangering these people—whether by returning them without review, imprisoning and sometimes separating them from their children, or even by making them stateless—this government is once again violating international obligations and its obligations to its own citizens.

Unfortunately, that is not all. The Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that Canada find a constitutional way of providing a comprehensive national legal framework that fully integrates the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its optional protocols.

Once again, we are at a standstill on this matter. All Canadians are very unhappy about it. It is yet another convention left for dead by the people on the other side of the house. Yet, children are our future, and the rights of children need to be protected unconditionally.

On that note, I would also like to point out that the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination strongly urged Canada, in consultation with aboriginal peoples, to consider adopting a national action plan to enforce the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Many allied countries have questioned Canada on this matter, including New Zealand, Australia and Sweden. Unfortunately, as we heard yesterday in the committee of the whole with the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, the Conservatives' approach to aboriginal rights is paternalistic, improvised and partisan.

Owing to the absence of any real consultations with aboriginal communities, to use the language of the minister himself, and of course their cavalier way of handling claims by aboriginal peoples, it is impossible to believe that the Conservatives want a harmonious relationship. They also do not really want to comply with international laws in this area.

The community of Kanesatake, which I represent, is suffering seriously from this lack of vision. Whether because of its lack of openness and consultation, its chronic underfunding of education and other areas, or its abysmal management of land claims, the Conservative government gives the appearance of really working against Kanesatake.

I would like to know whether my government colleagues are aware that the Committee on the Rights of the Child has urged Canada to pass laws that would bring it into compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, and to amend its legislation to ensure that information on the date and place of birth of adopted children and their biological parents is retained.

This is a short list of important actions Canada needs to take with respect to the federal government's international obligations, whether in terms of co-operating with other countries and the UN or developing laws, in order to continue to be a world leader. Only then would we be in a position to leave a legacy.

We saw this already with Bill S-9, on which action was very slow indeed. Action should really have been much faster.

Unfortunately, as I just mentioned, it was introduced in the Senate, but we are going to support it because it is extremely important.

I would nevertheless like to point to the government's lack of motivation to implement international agreements. I would certainly never say that one is less important than the other, but in this instance, the bill on nuclear terrorism was of course chosen.

For many years, the process to eliminate discrimination against aboriginal peoples and to provide genuine assistance for aboriginal women was delayed. That process is stalled now.

To conclude, I would like to reiterate that I will support this bill, which brings in legislative measures to comply with the criminal law requirements in the two international treaties on combatting terrorism.

I sincerely hope that the government will comply with the treaty requirements in those areas I spoke about today.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I really liked the connection that my colleague made with the situation of aboriginal women. In fact, I too would like to make a connection between their situation and the bill that is before us.

My colleague said that she had concerns and expectations but that she still planned to support the bill. This is a good example that shows that, sometimes, we do not agree with all the measures or provisions of a bill but we are still prepared to support that bill because we think that it does not necessarily cause significant damage or because our concerns may not be so serious.

Bill S-2, which deals with the matrimonial rights of women living on reserves, is currently being examined in committee. This is an example of a bill that we are not necessarily prepared to support. Although its objective is very commendable, the way that it is written and the negative impacts it may have could be enough to stop us from supporting it.

The fact that the purpose of a bill is commendable does not mean that we are necessarily going to support it. We must go much further than that before making a decision. My colleague is very involved in women's issues. I commend her for that, and I commend her for her speech.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her question. She is absolutely right.

Bill S-9 implements measures consistent with international commitments that we support. This is therefore very important. Even if we have concerns, it is more important to co-operate at the international level so that we can advance within the international community. Canada is a very important player on the international scene. What we do here with our laws can reflect these agreements, and it is very important to set an example for other countries.

The case of Bill S-2 is completely different. As I mentioned, many countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Sweden, are calling for us to do something for aboriginal women. None of them have told us that Bill S-2 is a step in the right direction, since the bill creates more problems than it solves.

Countries around the world are trying to help us and encourage us to prevent violence and racial discrimination against aboriginal women, and it is sad that our government has been ignoring these issues because it wants to play petty politics. Unfortunately, that is what the Conservatives are doing.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel for her excellent speech on something that is not always an easy subject.

I have to say that bills amending the Criminal Code or dealing with nuclear terrorism, like Bill S-9, are not the best topic of conversation around the dinner table.

The member was able to highlight the important role Canada plays with respect to the international treaties we have signed. I would like to quote Matthew Bunn, an associate professor of public policy at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. He said:

At the moment, unfortunately, the mechanisms for global governance of nuclear security remain weak. No global rules specify how secure a nuclear weapon...ought to be. There are no mechanisms in place to verify that every country that has these materials is securing them responsibly.

Does my colleague agree that this is a step towards complying with our international conventions, but that we cannot stop there?

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, the member for Gatineau, for the excellent job she does on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. As justice critic, she lends a voice of reason in the House. I agree and I want to share something else that Matthew Bunn said in committee:

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...

We cannot stop there, however. As with any international agreement, this is only the first step. This is something we must do as a member of the international community, and we must move forward.

Nuclear Terrorism ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank all my colleagues who participated in the debate on Bill S-9 before us today. This bill is about a very important issue on which all parties in the House agree.

Recently we have seen many examples of the dangers of terrorism throughout the world and even close to home. These incidents remind us that the world is much smaller that it used to be, and that we cannot ensure our security by retreating behind our own borders. To truly protect ourselves in today's world, we have to be engaged citizens of the planet, reach out and work with other countries in order to find solutions and help one another.

We, the New Democrats, have always favoured multilateral diplomacy and international co-operation, especially in common areas of great concern, like nuclear terrorism. I have worked in international law for my entire adult life and at the United Nations with people from all over the world. This has allowed me to see for myself what can be achieved through international co-operation. I saw this when, in 2007, after 23 years of negotiations, we finalized the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

I often put a great deal of emphasis on the importance of international co-operation because it is one of the pillars—I would even say the cornerstone—of international law with respect to relations among countries. In fact, it is a principle and an obligation that is set out in article 1 of the United Nations charter. Nothing can be achieved without international co-operation.

Canada has a history of being a force for good in the world when we take a multilateral approach, but, sadly, over time we have seen the Conservative government go in a different direction most of the time. However, Bill S-9 is an exception to that trend.

Bill S-9 would amend the Criminal Code to implement criminal law requirements found in two international counterterrorism treaties: the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. By passing the bill, Canada will fulfill its international obligations under these treaties and will be legally bound by them. Passing the bill will allow Canada to finally ratify these conventions, putting us in line with our international partners. We need to be working with other leading countries that are moving toward ratifying these conventions, and passing Bill S-9 will go a long way in doing that.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development for the past years, I have had a front-row seat to witness the Conservatives' view of the world and how they choose to deal with other countries. They have taken an abrasive approach to diplomacy, while calling it “principled”, but act more like a confused bull in a fine China shop than diplomats or simply fellow citizens of the earth.

We have seen the Conservatives pull out of the UN's desertification conventions for reasons, to be polite, that were questionable.

We have seen them send out ministers of the Crown to berate one of the UN's special rapporteurs for pointing out the fact that we have a food security problem in many parts of our country.

We then saw the Minister of Foreign Affairs ignore multiple requests from three other UN special rapporteurs for 15 months before finally answering while presenting at the UN's Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights. I am sure that the timing of that announcement was the purest of pure coincidences.

Then, for the final coup de grâce, we heard from the Minister of Foreign Affairs that Canada would not even attempt to win a seat on the UN Security Council because our defeat was so certain. To put that into perspective, under the Conservative government we have gone from never losing an election for a Security Council seat to not even trying because we are so sure to lose that election.

This is a serious decline in our international standing in a very short period of time. We need to ask ourselves why this is happening, because this is not the Canada I knew.

That is not the Canada I knew, a Canada that had a definite role and definite influence on the international scene. That is not the Canada we have now under the Conservatives.

The Conservatives will try to tell us that none of that really matters and that their approach will not have any serious consequences. I challenge the Conservative members who serve on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to go to Montreal and meet the thousands of people who work at the International Civil Aviation Organization and whose jobs are threatened because of the Conservatives' lack of diplomacy.

In light of our recent past and the government's failed attempts at international diplomacy, I hope that this bill marks a shift towards genuine, respectful multilateral diplomacy.

Simply passing Bill S-9 will not repair the damage this government has done to our international reputation, but it could be a first step towards regaining our place in the world, which is so important to Canadians.

I sincerely hope that the Conservatives will seize this chance as an opportunity to do just that, because we have a great deal of expertise in the field of nuclear science. Canada has long been a leader in this field, and an engaged Canada on this file can be a large force for good for the world.

We need to remember how the world has changed around us in the past 30 years when it comes to nuclear weapons. During the Cold War, the number of nations with these weapons or the capacity to make them was small, with the United States and Russia by far holding the largest arsenals of these weapons. These two superpowers had strong control over their stockpiles, but after the fall of the Iron Curtain, into the 1990s and beyond, we saw that control weaken in Russia. We also saw more countries gain nuclear facilities, either for energy production or for research.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, the world is a much smaller place today and the ability to move people and items around this planet has increased immensely. These conditions make it all the more important to work with other nations and bring ourselves into compliance with conventions like these.

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. That is a lot, considering the destruction and damage that a single nuclear attack could do.

In light of the danger these materials and weapons pose, we need to ensure that we have the necessary laws in place to stop those who could use them during terrorist attacks. We need to work together with the rest of the world to meet this challenge. We need to work with other countries to protect our safety here, at home, in light of the threat that nuclear materials pose.

We can protect our own safety, but not by barricading ourselves behind our borders and hoping that the problem will go away on its own. It is time to take action. I encourage my colleagues to join us and support this legislation.

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1 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Jacob NDP Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his very thoughtful speech on Bill S-9.

Why does he think the government waited so long? The government was in power for over five years before this issue became a priority for it.

I have some suggestions. Is it because this government has a hidden political agenda, and standing up for the needs of all Canadians is just not a priority?

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1:05 p.m.

NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his very relevant question. I think he touched on something we seem to forget far too often.

Since this government came to power in 2006, our international reputation has suffered greatly because the Conservatives have changed their stance, ideologically speaking.

I remember that, for years, we worked with the government during negotiations for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, since the government had to respect its constitutional obligations. In 2006, the Canadian delegation came to see the aboriginal representatives at the United Nations—I was one of them—to tell them that the government's approach had changed and that it wanted to obstruct the United Nations in its multilateral negotiations.

That is one reason why this is taking longer now.

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1:05 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, obviously this makes sense. Today is practically a day of celebration, since we are all going to vote the same way.

We want to protect ourselves against a possible nuclear terrorist attack, but has my colleague seen anything in the Conservatives' many pieces of legislation that would reduce the number of potential targets in Canada by giving scientists the means to come up with good solutions for the disposal of all the nuclear waste we have been stockpiling for years?

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1:05 p.m.

NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his excellent question. The short answer is no.

He also raised one aspect of this debate that we often seem to forget, because nuclear and other kinds of waste are a concern for our country. They are often found in isolated areas, like in my riding and in many northern ridings.

The Conservatives seem to be saying that the Prime Minister travels to the Arctic every year because that region matters to him, when, really, he shows up for a photo-op. There is absolutely nothing concrete on the ground for the environment or the people who live in the far north.

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1:05 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my esteemed colleague, whose work I admire tremendously.

Since September 11, 2001, the United States, Canada and other countries have joined forces to try to improve security protocols. Furthermore, two countries, the United States and Canada, have not yet ratified the conventions, because they have not passed the kind of legislation were are about to pass.

My question is similar to that of my hon. colleague from Brome—Missisquoi on the delay, but it is a little strange that it is those who were on the front lines in North America who are dragging their feet on signing the treaties in question.

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1:05 p.m.

NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Gatineau for the question.

I am not surprised, and for several reasons. As a keen observer of what is going on internationally and especially regarding international co-operation, I am noticing more and more that we seem to have lost the role and the influence that we once had.

Barack Obama said something interesting regarding this debate, but it also applies to other contexts. He said that we cannot invite others down a path that we are not willing to follow ourselves. That is problem here, in terms of our role on the international scene.