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.