Mr. Speaker, first, I think it unfortunate that the nuclear terrorism bill has come from the Senate, a chamber where the occupants have not been democratically elected, but, rather, appointed for partisan reasons. Bills should be debated first and foremost in the House of Commons, where the elected representatives sit. That is the very principle of a parliamentary system.
The government was already beating all records for time allocation and closure. Now it is bringing its bills in by the back door, by way of the Senate. It is really sad.
Let us discuss Bill S-9, which will enable Canada to fulfill its commitments under two international conventions. These conventions are intended to go beyond the limits of nuclear non-proliferation and will now include protective measures for nuclear facilities. Bill S-9 would reinforce Canada's obligation under the 2004 UN Security Council Resolution 1540 to take and enforce effective measures to prevent the proliferation of nuclear materials as well as chemical and biological weapons.
According to Matthew Bunn, associate professor of public policy at Harvard University, there have been a number of cases of trafficking in since the 1990s. For example, there have been 20 seizures of highly enriched uranium since 1992. There is also a black market for less radioactive materials. The International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, has reported nearly 2,000 incidents of unauthorized use, transport, and possession of nuclear and other radioactive material between 1993 and 2011.
We must remain watchful and aware of the danger. Canada is one of the world's major producers and exporters of uranium. That means we must stockpile a great deal of radioactive and nuclear waste. That is an enormous problem, especially with the lax enforcement of regulations and prevention seen in the field. It is very difficult to contain this kind of waste. When a potential black market in radioactive material is added to this problem, we must see that the potential for nuclear terrorism is right here in Canada, under our noses.
My hon. colleague the member for Manicouagan told a story the other day here about L. Bélanger Métal, a large scrapyard in Trois-Rivières, that detected a very high level of radiation in certain metal beams it had received in 2012. Tests were done and they were able to determine that the metal came from Gentilly. How did this radioactive metal end up there? It is a very disturbing situation that shows how far-reaching the problem is. The greatest nuclear terrorism threat lies in the waste from Canada's nuclear reactors, which are unprotected from theft or simple negligence.
Nuclear terrorism does not occur in isolation but has an impact on the entire world. New Democrats agree that we must co-operate with our international partners. Historically, Canada has always had a reputation as an international leader. It is sad to see that our reputation has been quite tarnished since 2006, for example, with the new environmental policies. If we want to be serious about preventing nuclear terrorism, the first thing is to strengthen our procedures governing environmental assessment and the way we stockpile nuclear waste.
Still, I hope that Bill S-9 will help build Canada's credibility in the fight against nuclear terrorism. I also hope that, when they see us implementing this legislation here, our international partners will be inspired to follow suit.
The Senate committee provided many interesting comments during the long process the bill went through. First, with the development of new technologies, Canada will no longer need to use nuclear reactors and enriched uranium to produce medical isotopes.
The committee also believes that Canada should be a leader in nuclear safety, by committing to stop the use of highly enriched uranium for civilian purposes as soon as possible.
Second, Canada must show greater care in its safety arrangements. Malicious people are always looking for ways to bypass existing safety features. As a result, we must remain vigilant and move to new methods focused on prevention rather than repression.
Another issue was raised during consideration of the bill. The justice department's intention was to stick as closely as possible to the provisions of the international convention. However, some of the new offences in the Criminal Code have a broader scope than the offences found in the international agreements. We must ensure that the overly broad scope of these new sections will not lead to excessive criminalization and will not violate the charters of rights.
Lastly, Canada is legally bound by these international conventions, which means that we have obligations to fulfill. However, we cannot ratify the conventions until the domestic implementation process is complete. That is why I support Bill S-9, while hoping that it will not turn out to be just something passed to court votes.
We need to do more in terms of securing sites, creating protocols and implementing storage solutions that will not become a burden for future generations.