[Member spoke in aboriginal language]
Mr. Speaker, first, I wish to inform you that I will be splitting my time, but I have not yet been told with whom.
I would like to start by saying that we will be supporting this bill at second reading, even though we are not completely satisfied with its contents. There are gaps. In fact, as my colleagues mentioned, there are gaps and serious concerns that we want to raise during this debate and also in committee.
Furthermore, the concerns that this bill raises, at least for our party, are rather important. In fact, it is impossible to determine whether the countries we sell arms to violate the most basic rights, that is, human rights. This is a fundamental concern because respecting these rights is one of our obligations as a country.
Under paragraph 3 of article 1 of the Charter of the United Nations, we have responsibilities and obligations to respect and promote human rights, fundamental rights, and rights and freedoms.
I also invite my colleagues to read articles 55 and 56 of the UN charter to which Canada is bound as a country. It is absolutely essential that we understand this responsibility that we have as a country when we discuss, negotiate, and sign international agreements.
To me, this is the legislative framework in international law that must guide us in this type of discussion, both internationally and domestically. We must always keep these responsibilities in mind.
We have an opportunity to improve the text before us in light of the first two points I mentioned. It is part of our responsibility as elected members. We need to be transparent every time we introduce a bill, including every time we introduce one that will have an impact on human rights. That is the practice in international law. In fact, when we sign international treaties, especially free trade agreements, international law practice is to verify the repercussions of those treaties on human rights. Similarly, some countries verify for the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples. That is a good example that I will come back to. Some countries that sign free trade agreements make sure to consider the consequences of those agreements to the rights of indigenous peoples. It is easy to imagine the same scenario in this discussion on renewing the North American Free Trade Agreement. Let us not forget that every time we sign agreements, there are repercussions on the country's natural resources, for instance.
Even though under our Constitution natural resources fall within provincial jurisdiction, the Supreme Court has already indicated and reaffirmed several times that these jurisdictions are not absolute, particularly when they affect other aspects, such as the constitutional rights of indigenous people, as is the case here. It is important that we keep these things in mind in this discussion.
As I was also saying, one of the major concerns we have on this side of the House with regard to this bill is that it does not include an assessment process prior to authorization of export permits. I find that completely unacceptable. I spent over 20 years on the international stage negotiating one of the most important UN human rights declarations, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Those negotiations, which could not have been more multilateral, took 23 years. Sometimes there were over 1,000 people in the room, all talking, deliberating, and drafting this all-important document, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Prime Minister even mentioned that document before the UN today, as did the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs last year.
It is important to understand that this prior assessment is crucial if we want to play a leadership role on the world stage. I know that, for almost 10 years before this government came to power, that aspect of our responsibility as a state and our role on the world stage were somewhat neglected. I worked with the United Nations for 23 years before the Conservatives came to power in 2006, and during that time, whenever Canada took the floor at an international forum, the world listened.
When we talk about international and foreign affairs here, we must ensure that our decision-making is principled, particularly when it comes to human rights. We must make sure of that if we want to reclaim the status we once enjoyed.
I see that I have just one minute left.