September 21, 2017

LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

Hon. Geoff Regan (Speaker of the House of Commons, Lib.)

I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the Privacy Commissioner on the application of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Privacy Act. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h), this report is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Privacy Commissioner
Permalink
LIB

Matt DeCourcey

Liberal

Mr. Matt DeCourcey (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the treaty entitled Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007, done at Nairobi on May 18, 2007. An explanatory memorandum is included with this treaty.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
Permalink
NDP

Don Davies

New Democratic Party

Mr. Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition signed by concerned citizens across the country concerned about Canadian citizen and academic Hassan Diab, who was extradited to France in 2014 in a case widely viewed as a wrongful conviction in the making. He has been detained since then in France for questioning based on anonymous intelligence allegations, possibly gleaned from torture. In 2016, a French judge found consistent evidence supporting Hassan's innocence, concluding that he could not have been present in France at the time of the crime, and in May and again in October 2016, the judge ordered Hassan's release on bail, finding no grounds for his further detention. Yet he has been jail or on electronic monitoring for over eight years.

These citizens are calling on the government to do everything it can to obtain Hassan's release and return to Canada, and to intervene with the French authorities to act as soon as possible.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
Permalink
LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

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

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
Permalink
LIB
?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
Permalink
LIB

Mélanie Joly

Liberal

Hon. Mélanie Joly

moved that Bill C-47, An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
LIB

Matt DeCourcey

Liberal

Mr. Matt DeCourcey (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, our government believes that regulating the international arms trade is essential for the protection of people and human rights. This is especially true for control and regulation that aim to prevent the illicit trade of arms.

The Arms Trade Treaty is about protecting people. It ensures countries effectively regulate the international trade of arms so that they are not used to support terrorism, international organized crime, gender-based violence, human rights abuses, or violations of international humanitarian law. Our government is committed to advancing export controls as a means of reducing the risks that come from the illicit trade in conventional arms. Joining the ATT, which calls on all of its state parties to set up effective export controls, is the next important step in advancing these export controls and reducing these risks.

Joining the Arms Trade Treaty will put Canada back on the same page as its closest partners and allies. Canada is the only NATO ally and the only G7 partner that has not signed or ratified the ATT.

The Arms Trade Treaty was negotiated in response to growing international concern about the direct and indirect consequences of the global arms trade on conflict, human rights, and development.

The goal is to ensure that all states take responsibility and rigorously assess arms exports. States must also regulate the legal arms trade and use transparent measures to combat illicit trade.

We recognize that unregulated or illicit arms transfers intensify and prolong conflict, lead to regional instability, contribute to violations of international humanitarian law and humans rights abuses, and hinder social and economic development.

Indeed, the proliferation of weapons, and particularly of small arms and light weapons, is one of the greatest security challenges faced by the international community. Armed conflicts affect civilians. Women and children are too frequently targeted or are innocent victims.

The consequences of illicit or irresponsible flows of conventional arms also go beyond the immediate threat of death, injury, or violence. Proliferation and illicit weapons trade contribute to a climate of persistent fear and insecurity, which undermines socio-economic growth and stability.

The Arms Trade Treaty has an important role to play in addressing these issues. Canada must be a leader in this effort, and we must lead by example.

The ATT represents the first time that the international community has agreed to a legally binding and global commitment to control exports of conventional arms. It sets a high common standard for export of arms, and seeks to eliminate illicit trade and diversion of conventional arms.

States acceding to the ATT must assess the risk that an export might be used negatively, including for human rights abuses or to contribute to organized crime. This is not always black and white. It requires looking not only at the state as a whole but also at who will take possession of the weapon, their track record, the risk that the weapon could be diverted from the purpose intended when it was exported, and other similar factors.

The ATT also requires states to consider mitigation measures to address identified risks. This treaty is very clear. If there is no way to ensure that a given export will not pose a serious threat to human rights or be used to violate international humanitarian laws or perpetrate international terrorism or crime, it must be forbidden.

Therefore, Bill C-47 would further strengthen Canada's existing processes in relation to the global movement of arms. Our changes, including those to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty, will make Canada's export control system even more robust, and will ensure a continued high standard for addressing the pressing issue of arms proliferation around the globe.

Canada’s existing export control system complies with 26 of the 28 provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty. In that sense, some changes are needed to bring Canada into full compliance with the two articles of the treaty where we fall short, namely, article 7, export and export assessment, and article 10, brokering.

One of the things the bill before us does is introduce the necessary legislative changes to ensure that we meet our ATT obligations.

Article 7 of the Arms Trade Treaty establishes common, clear, and rigorous standards regarding the factors that states must take into account before authorizing the export of any items subject to the ATT. These factors include an assessment of the potential that Canadian exports could be used to commit serious violations of human rights law or international humanitarian law, as well as the potential that the exports could fall into the hands of criminals or terrorists.

The ATT is the first arms control treaty that focuses specifically on the issue of gender-based violence and violence against women and children, issues that are very important to our government. These criteria are designed to ensure that Canada assesses the risks associated with the export of a given product or piece of technology regarding the intended end use and end user.

Bill C-47 will also ensure that Canada can fulfill the stipulations of article 10 of the ATT, which requires that every state regulate brokering. Brokering captures the transfer of arms without an export permit. The provisions of the bill ensure that Canadians who arrange the transfer of arms between a second and a third country follow the same rules as those who export arms outside Canada.

Regulating brokering activities will give our government the ability to monitor the activities of individuals and organizations that serve as intermediaries between arms dealers and the end users of military goods.

Moreover, these brokering permit requirements would also apply extraterritorially, meaning they would apply to Canadians engaged in brokering activities abroad. This additional capability will allow us to have a better idea of the types of brokering control list transfers involving Canadians that occur globally and to bring a greater level of visibility on potentially high-risk transactions brokered by Canadians.

Our government intends to go beyond the standards set by the Arms Trade Treaty and ensure that brokering regulations cover not only the conventional weapons covered by the ATT but also military articles and dual-use items that are likely destined to a weapon of mass destruction end use.

Requiring permits for brokering would ensure that comparable levels of scrutiny would also be applied to brokering activities. As a result, Canadian export permit authorities can better assess the risks of potential arms transfers before they occur to determine their suitability, and to deny a permit for such transfers where there is an overriding risk of the negative consequences of one of the export permit criteria, including the risk of serious violation of international human rights law or international humanitarian law.

I would like to point out that there is a legitimate role for brokers who arrange or facilitate sales for reputable arms manufacturers. Unfortunately, there are also those who do not act responsibly and who choose instead to profit from the sales of arms, even though they know that they will fall into the wrong hands.

Internationally, there are far too many cases where unscrupulous arms dealers put profits ahead of human life. Transactions facilitated by those dealers have given rise to the transfer of firearms to conflict zones, in direct violation of United Nations firearms embargoes, and to terrorist or criminal groups. This legislation will make it possible for responsible Canadian dealers to hold permits and conduct legal activities. It will ensure that those who choose to act unethically will also end up acting illegally.

Beyond the changes required by the ATT, the bill will enhance Canada's export and import controls by addressing the issue of penalties imposed on individuals who try to circumvent Canadian law and regulations. The bill will increase the maximum fine for a summary conviction offence from $25,000 to $250,000 for any offence under the Export and Import Permits Act. Increasing the maximum penalty underscores the seriousness of these offences that contribute directly to destabilizing accumulations of weapons and technologies in conflict zones around the world.

Let me reiterate that these new measures would ensure that our government will be better able to pursue bad-faith actors and hold them to account. At the same time, Canada would be in a better position to review bona fide arms transfers to legitimate end-users. Canada would also be able to effectively penalize those who would try to circumvent these processes.

I would like to make it clear that Canada's accession to the Arms Trade Treaty does not and would not affect domestic ownership of firearms or Canada's domestic firearms laws and policies. The ATT would govern the import and export of conventional arms, not the trade in sporting and hunting firearms owned and used by law-abiding Canadian citizens.

However, the ATT does not limit the number or type of arms a country can sell. The ATT simply requires states to establish rigorous export controls of the kind that Canada already has in place to ensure that exports are not put to unforeseen harmful use.

The ATT is not a one-size-fits-all system. It recognizes that states' export control systems must meet their national needs. It does not prevent states from including expedited processes in their export control systems, as Canada does for close allies, such as the United States.

The government will ensure that exports are assessed in accordance with the criteria set out in the ATT and that they do not violate the prohibitions in the treaty.

Turning now to the Export and Import Permits Act and to the Criminal Code, we have indicated to Canadians that our government is committed to strengthening Canada's export controls with respect to military and strategic goods and technology. This bill and our commitment to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty are part of our promise to increase the rigour of Canada's export-control system. As members are aware, Canada already has a robust export control system. We are a key member of a number of export control and non-proliferation regimes that allow us to exchange information on trends in arms movement and on best practices with our allies.

In addition, Canada has a strong sanctions regime that includes sanctions related to the export or sale of arms. Canadian sanctions are part of a multilateral action. They reflect the work we do in concert with our allies. Sanctions are implemented in Canada through the United Nations Act or the Special Economic Measures Act.

Canada has its own financial intelligence unit with respect to illicit financing of arms. The mandate of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada is to facilitate the detection, prevention, and deterrence of money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities. Our government is taking steps to ensure that these new obligations do not unduly hinder or restrict legitimate transfers of military, dual-use, and other strategic items that are aligned with our national interests and do not pose undue risk.

It is the government's intention to apply the ATT assessment criteria not only to those goods specifically outlined in the ATT, but also to all dual-use, military, and strategic goods. Our government will also apply the ATT assessment criteria to both export and brokering permit applications. We will thus exceed the standards set by the ATT, and strengthen our export control system at the same time. Indeed, our government intends to see Canada establish a particularly high standard when it comes to gender-based violence and violence against women and children. The fact that this issue was included in the treaty is a clear sign of the power of advocacy by states like Canada who are determined to address gender-based violence.

While this is given less attention and consideration in the ATT than other criteria, Canada intends to propose including gender-based violence in the regulations, applying a higher standard, and assessing the risks related to gender-based violence to a broader set of exports than those defined within the ATT. These new measures would ensure that our government is better able to pursue bad-faith actors and hold them to account. Canada would also be better able to effectively penalize those who would try to circumvent these processes.

Canadian businesses would still be able to conduct legitimate transactions in pursuit of Canadian strategic and defence interests and the strategic interests of our allies.

Finally, these changes would allow Canada to meet its international obligations and accede to the ATT. I encourage all my colleagues here today to seek to advance this bill rapidly so that Canada can once again take its rightful place with its international partners as a state party to the Arms Trade Treaty.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
CPC

Candice Bergen

Conservative

Hon. Candice Bergen (Portage—Lisgar, CPC)

Madam Speaker, when the Conservatives were in government, this agreement was something that came before us. I was the parliamentary secretary for public safety, and I did a lot of work prior to that on behalf of law-abiding gun owners. In Canada, we have seen situations in which law-abiding firearms owners have been erroneously and unfairly attacked by previous governments. We worked really hard to ensure that law-abiding gun owners who follow the rules, are licensed, and are using their guns for legitimate purposes are not made into criminals.

We have a problem with this treaty because there is no language in it that protects law-abiding gun owners, specifically here in Canada. I did not hear my colleague talk about that. He talked about how they would like to protect law-abiding gun owners and that it does not affect legitimate gun owners, but the language in the treaty does not address this.

Why are the Liberals ready to ratify an agreement that has the potential to hurt millions of Canadians using firearms for legitimate purposes and who could be targeted if Canada does ratify this agreement?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
LIB

Matt DeCourcey

Liberal

Mr. Matt DeCourcey

Madam Speaker, if we go back and listen to the speech I just gave, we will see in the blues a specific reference to the question raised by my colleague across the way. I will repeat it in case she missed it.

To reiterate, I would like to make it clear that Canada's accession to the Arms Trade Treaty does not and would not affect domestic ownership of firearms or Canada's domestic firearms laws and policies. The ATT governs the import and export of conventional arms, not the trade in sporting and hunting firearms owned and used by law-abiding Canadian Citizens.

This party stands up for law-abiding Canadian citizens. This party committed to acceding to this treaty. This government understands that this treaty will in no way affect domestic ownership of firearms.

This red herring, this phony argument made by the opposition, will not stand with this government. Canadians want us to take international leadership while at the same time standing up for the rights of law-abiding Canadian citizens.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
NDP

Richard Cannings

New Democratic Party

Mr. Richard Cannings (South Okanagan—West Kootenay, NDP)

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member whether Bill C-47 brings all U.S. destination military goods included in section 2 of the Arms Trade Treaty within the Export and Import Permits Act as required by the ATT, and if not, why not?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
LIB

Matt DeCourcey

Liberal

Mr. Matt DeCourcey

Madam Speaker, what is important about the ATT is that it recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all system that countries who accede to it need to adopt. It meets the needs of all states and allows for the use of expedited procedures for low-risk countries, similar to the system we have in place between Canada and the U.S. As well, it recognizes that we have a deeply integrated military procurement and production system, and that where there are low-risk countries and there is not a one-size-fits-all system, countries can accede to this treaty and meet the standard.

I reiterate that in this standard we are going to exceed in many ways the standards set by the ATT while continuing to be productive and allow industry to meet Canadian interests, and the interests of our close and trusted allies.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
CPC

Blaine Calkins

Conservative

Mr. Blaine Calkins (Red Deer—Lacombe, CPC)

Madam Speaker, after listening to the parliamentary secretary's speech, my question, although not congruent with what is written in the bill, is the following. Does he understand that the requirement for exporters or importers to retain records in a specific electronic file is for a period of up to six years, and that it must be made available to the ministry upon its request at any point in time to create an automatic firearms registry? The information has to contain all of the particulars pertaining to the sale, the import, and the export of any firearm. As well, it is more onerous than dealing with the firearm alone. It would also include all scopes, optical sights, and anything that would be associated with the sale of the firearm, including all hunting rifles, and so on. This is an onerous burden that will be placed on the backs and shoulders of businesses selling firearms in Canada. There is only one firearm manufacturer in Canada, which means that every other firearm that a hunter or a sports shooter uses comes from outside Canada. If it becomes so burdensome that these businesses no long wish to import these firearms, or if our one domestic firearms' creator is so burdened by this that it is not willing to export any more, it will have a detrimental impact on the hunting and sports shooting communities, and on the farmers I represent who use these firearms as tools in their daily business.

Can the parliamentary secretary clarify his remarks, and be consistent with what the bill actually says?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
LIB

Matt DeCourcey

Liberal

Mr. Matt DeCourcey

Madam Speaker, I have been consistent twice now. The Conservatives have demonstrated that they want to raise this phony argument and to fearmonger about our accession to this treaty.

Let me make it clear that accession to the Arms Trade Treaty will in no way affect domestic gun ownership in this country. It will in no way put any restrictions on law-abiding Canadian citizens. It does not deal in the trade of sporting and hunting firearms.

We expect to get this sort of rhetoric from the other side. However, we have committed to acceding to the Arms Trade Treaty and know that it is in the best interests of Canadians. We will continue to work to ensure that Canadian industrial interests are met and will work with our allies around the world to regulate the international trade in arms.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I wonder if my colleague could expand on what we believe Canadians expect the government to do on this very important issue. As the Conservatives obviously are trying to attempt to mislead Canadians, what is important here is Canadians' desire for this government provide strong leadership. Why is it so important for Canada to play this leadership role?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
LIB

Matt DeCourcey

Liberal

Mr. Matt DeCourcey

Madam Speaker, for 10 long years Canada had a policy of isolation and exclusion from the rest of the world. Canada has endeavoured, since this government has come into power, to reassert its leadership role in the world, to espouse Canadian values, to be a good partner in areas where we can aid in development, to aid in governance around the world, and also to work with our allies to ensure that we have a just, peaceful, and secure world.

Canadians expect this government to take a leadership role in ensuring that the highest standards are met in the international trade in arms. That is what this bill and our accession to the Arms Trade Treaty will accomplish. It will ensure that the minister undertakes to review a significant set of criteria before issuing permits. It will increase fines for people who contravene these rules.

Let me reiterate that in no way will it affect domestic firearm ownership in Canada.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
NDP

Hélène Laverdière

New Democratic Party

Ms. Hélène Laverdière (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, NDP)

Madam Speaker, we are delighted that Canada has decided to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty. However, I have talked to a number of experts about the government's bill to implement the treaty, and they all agree that it is a big disappointment. It is nothing but a hollow shell.

I would like to know if the government is open to amendments in committee to really give this bill some teeth so that it respects not only the spirit but also the letter of the treaty.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
LIB

Matt DeCourcey

Liberal

Mr. Matt DeCourcey

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. Our government believes that committees should be independent and manage their own affairs. I look forward to the debate that will be held there if this bill is passed at second reading and referred to committee.

As I mentioned several times in my speech, we believe that, by allowing us to accede to the treaty, this bill will establish high standards that Canada will exceed. I am also sure that we will have a healthy debate about this when the bill is sent to committee.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
CPC

Erin O'Toole

Conservative

Hon. Erin O'Toole (Durham, CPC)

Madam Speaker, it is my honour to rise today to debate Bill C-47, particularly after the speech from the parliamentary secretary, which ended with incorrect information to this place in response to the question from the member for the NDP. Actually, Canada would be worse off than it was before. He said that this would send Canada ahead with respect to the aims of the treaty. That is not only incorrect on the factual review of the treaty itself, but it shows the parliamentary secretary's lack of understanding of our current arms control regime in Canada.

Therefore, for his benefit, and for the benefit of the few of my Liberal friends listening, I will take him through that.

The bill is part of the Liberal's election promise to implement the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, the ATT, which has been debated in the UN, has been brought forward, and signed by some countries but not by others.

My remarks will focus on four key points. Three of those go to the inferior nature of the ATT when compared, side by side, with what Canada does now, and did do under the previous Conservative government, the Liberal government previous to that, and so on, back to the 1940s. I will give three points on how it is inferior and a final point on its inherent unfairness, lack of clarity, and over breadth.

First, this is inferior to what Canada does now under the Export and Import Permits Act and the regulations and orders in council that can be brought forward by government under that legislation. I hope the parliamentary secretary will take notes, because he will need to research this after I go through some of it.

The first point I make is on the Trade Controls Bureau.

We empower a department of the government, and have since the 1940s, to ensure that military equipment sales, issues related to security, crypto logical equipment, and nuclear biological risks are not only governed and tracked but are controlled. We have a bureau already, not in New York, in Ottawa, that has been doing this very effectively for many years. The Trade Controls Bureau has been empowered and does this for each Parliament. I would invite the member to look at the Trade Controls Bureau and see how we specifically address, track, and control trade in military equipment, other items of security, or other interests. All Parliaments have done it. Both Liberal and Conservative governments have done it.

My second point is that we specifically name, from a Canadian point of view, items for export that need to be tracked and controlled. I will review what those are for the member because they are called out specifically.

Military or strategic dual use goods, so some goods that can be used for a military or civilian purpose, are specifically tracked. Other items are nuclear energy materials and technology; missile related technology; chemical or biological goods; and crypto logical equipment and code breaking, particularly in the age of the Internet. Many companies in Canada are world leaders in this technology, like SecureKey and others. We already monitor, control, and, in many cases, restrict export of these technologies.

One problem in the past that we know of was that a previous government, the government of Pierre Trudeau, had some issues when nuclear technology was traded for peaceful use and was tracked, but unfortunately may have been used to develop capabilities with respect to weaponized use of that technology.

I use that as a point of reference to show how, over many Parliaments, Canada has done this. We did not wait for the United Nations. Had we done that, it would have been a bit of a lawless west. As a responsible parliamentary democracy, Canada has been doing this.

I invite the member to review the specific items controlled under the Export and Import Permits Act that we charge the Trade Controls Bureau to monitor.

My third point on how our existing system is superior to an inferior UN treaty is the tracking.

The items I just outlined, including military equipment, cryptological, nuclear, and biological, are tracked by both the Canada Border Services Agency and by Statistics Canada, and not just under our own reference points. We use the World Customs Organization tracking figures for these items. We track and limit the trade in these items far more than what the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty does.

An article in Ceasefire magazine calls the UN's ATT a failure. The third item it tracked was its lack of transparency. There is no tracking internationally under this treaty. Canada already does it.

I hope the parliamentary secretary rewrites the notes the government has been passing around on the bill, because they do not accord with our legislative record or Canada's responsible treatment of controlled technologies, including not only military but nuclear technology as well.

Canada was the fourth country to have controlled nuclear fission. We have 70,000 people in Canada that work in this area. Our CANDU technology is the best in the world in capability and its safety record. We have taken this very seriously since the 1940s and we track according to the World Customs Organization tracking codes for each of those items.

I have a fourth point at which I would invite the Liberals to look.

Right now, we have what is called an area of control list under the Export and Import Permits Act. That empowerment in the bill, through an order in council, can specifically limit sales of anything to a country. Right now the only country on the area control list is North Korea, and it is probably very good it is on there. I would agree with the government if it wants to keep that country on the list. In the past, the area control list has included Belarus and Myanmar.

Not only do we already have a system of controls, tracking, and itemization that is far superior to what is proposed in the bill, our legislation as it stands in Canada can ban a country entirely. That is a tool the government can use if it is about control of anything, not just our controlled items that I have said are tracked.

The cabinet is charged with making decisions on why countries should be removed from that list. As Myanmar opened up, it was removed from that list. It was the same with Belarus. However, we still have to track. We see problems in Myanmar right now with respect to Rohingya. Perhaps the civilian oversight of the miliary is not quite as it would seem.

The Liberal government has within its power now, not by the United Nations treaty, to limit entirely sales to a country. I would invite the parliamentary secretary to review that.

Finally, like many UN treaties, the main players are not part of the treaty. In global arms trade, there are six countries and they are called the “big six”. Three of those countries are not part of this treaty. I am not worried, because Canada's regime, as I have been describing to the House, is superior to this treaty.

The treaty came as an election promise by the Liberals, but I want them to see that what Canada is doing now, and has been doing responsibly, is superior. If we want the UN to have the tracking, to have the transparency, we should be pushing to have these discussions before a treaty is brought forward. Many MPs on both sides of the House want to ensure that Canada adheres to its Export and Import Permits Act, so they need to know what a good job it is already doing.

Finally, another inferior part, and quite frankly short-sighted part of the UN ATT is article 5, which would suddenly include the Department of National Defence into the military equipment provisions of that treaty, preventing, or in some cases limiting, government to government transfers. We have never had to catch DND within our own export and import permits regime, because DND is the government. It is a crown ministry. It is part of the crown.

Therefore, if we want to do military-to-military aid, perhaps sending training materials to the peshmerga that our special forces are working with and training, this measure would encumber that process. I am quite sure that most Canadians believe that DND is responsible for its own equipment. Why then would we catch them in a treaty that most groups are calling a failure anyway, which does not involve three of the big six players in terms of the global arms trade?

Finally, I have listed five or six items demonstrating that what Bill C-47 proposes is actually inferior to what Canada is already doing.

The last item is about unfairness, and this where the politics of it come in. Just as we are seeing with small business, there is no consultation on concerns about overbreadth or the fact that hunters, sport shooters, or recreational users under a regulated regime of lawful firearm use could be caught within the confines of the measures in this bill. I have placed this last because, while the parliamentary secretary insists it is not the case, all industry groups insist it is, but without consultation, how does the parliamentary secretary know?

It is clear that he does not understand the export and import permit regime. Maybe he knows a little more about it now, which I think is part of why we have debate now in the House of Commons. It is to show that regulation in Canada is in many ways superior to what is done anywhere else in the world, including the United Nations. Before we even talk about what the UNATT does, we should talk about what Canada is doing already, and whether it is insufficient to limit and track items that we consider potentially dangerous: military equipment, nuclear technology, chemicals, biologicals, cryptology, or anything that could adversely impact our national interest.

On the last point, the cryptological sales, we have seen the current government green-light sales to China of pretty much any technology out there. I would suggest that some of these technology trades occurred without the proper oversight, without the full review that is normally done. For some reason those reviews were waived in the case of one of the most recent sales to China. Those reviews are important, because technology is actually the threat of the future to the public safety and security of Canada and our allies, and Bill C-47 does not address that.

As I have said, particularly on my third point on transparency, this treaty is inferior. Civil society groups out there have called this treaty a failure, particularly because of its lack of transparency, and as I said, our Trade Controls Bureau has been empowered for two generations to track the sale and control of goods that Canadians deem important.

On that final note, this hearkens back for me, as a member of Parliament for a suburban riding that has a rural element, to the lack of consultation on the last element, on which Canadians have genuine concerns about whether their lawful and regulated use of a firearm for hunting or sport shooting could be impacted. The parliamentary secretary uses the words “phony argument” when we suggest that. I would invite him to go hunting with someone outside of Fredericton and see if they are being phony about their concerns. What we need is consultation to see if my concerns are overinflated or if the parliamentary secretary is being dismissive. I am not suggesting that I know, but as a lawyer, I will tell members that overbreadth or lack of clarity in law is a failure in itself.

The last government made interventions with respect to the negotiation of this treaty on many fronts, and one was a simple and reasonable carve-out of regulated civilian firearms use. I do not know why that was not pursued by the UN when there is zero transparency. However, as I said, fortunately our existing regime has transparency, while this treaty has zero.

While things were watered down as this was negotiated by the United Nations, while three of the big countries that are actual players in global trade are not part of this regime, while those issues were going through the negotiations, a simple and effective carve-out of the legitimate, historical, and cultural use of firearms was not carved out, for whatever reason.

Some of the cases before the Supreme Court of Canada on inherent rights of our indigenous peoples relate to hunting and fishing. This is as cultural as the earliest peoples of this land. Certainly, most people in this House think of the hunter in the duck blind and that sort of consideration, but the inherent right for our first nations to hunt, in both modern and traditional ways, is a constitutional protection.

Would it not be reasonable to carve that out in a treaty that on many fronts is inferior to what Canada is already doing? I really hope the parliamentary secretary and other members of his caucus refrain from that divisive language suggesting that even having a reasonable concern is somehow phony. The last time I saw that degree of arrogance in the Liberal Party, it was from a member from Toronto named Allan Rock, who polarized Canadians by suggesting that people who were law-abiding hunters or sport shooters were somehow a public safety hazard for Canada.

I know some of my Liberal friends, including from rural parts like Yukon and Labrador, know how much it hurt Canadians for the government to suggest that bringing in a licensing and registry system for people who were already trained and responsible was going to have an impact on crime. It became a divisive, rural-urban issue. This Parliament, as much as it can, should try to have debates that do not quickly revert to that approach.

I have been hard on my friend, the parliamentary secretary. I know in Fredericton, especially with the base there—and I know he supports our men and women in uniform—he knows that culturally a lot of people find hunting and fishing to be a way of life, so if they have a concern, I think it is valid to consider that concern.

It is also a valid question to ask the United Nations why, when transparency provisions were wiped out in the negotiations over the ATT, a simple reference providing explicit exclusion for law-abiding and regulated use by hunters and sport shooters, as we do in Canada very effectively, was not provided for. That is a failure of this treaty. Certainly groups out there that still have this concern want to know that the government is at least hearing them and is not suggesting that it is a phony argument. I am hoping, as we debate this bill over the coming days, that we can talk about it in those terms, and that we can talk about it from a starting point of what Canada is doing now.

As a parliamentary purist, I have great respect for our parliamentary democracy, in both Houses and on both sides. This is where we debate the laws and regulations that govern Canadians. When we can work with our allies at NATO or the United Nations to help limit arms sales to North Korea or to places where there is conflict or so that we do not exacerbate someone's pursuit of technology that could be harmful, of course we would do that. We always have. However, we should also make sure, as parliamentarians, to remind Canadians that the starting point for Canada with respect to regulating, tracking, and limiting the export of military equipment and biological-chemical dangerous items is already superior to most of the world. If we do not start from that basis, I do not think we are being fair in this debate.

The final point I will make before I close is that it is not elevating debate in this House to suggest that if the Canadian Shooting Sports Association has a concern about overbreadth, their concern is somehow phony. I hope we have a debate that is better than that, and that we have the context of the Export and Import Permits Act regime to underline a debate on Bill C-47.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink
LIB

Marc Garneau

Liberal

Hon. Marc Garneau (Minister of Transport, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I always enjoy my colleague's comments and I really enjoyed hearing his arguments in the first part of his presentation. I was disappointed in the second part which, once again and for years, has brought up the bogus argument concerning legal ownership and lawful ownership of firearms, but I will pass over that.

What I would really like my colleague to tell me after hearing all that—because I thought he was rather defensive in arguing against the bill—is what the intention of the Conservative Party is with respect to supporting or not supporting the bill. Canadians would like to know whether the Conservative Party of Canada is going to support ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty. If it is not going to support it, they want to know why not. I would appreciate being enlightened by my hon. colleague on that question.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Export and Import Permits Act
Permalink

September 21, 2017