Hon. Larry Bagnell (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.)
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her support for the bill.
I want to comment on the several reasons we had not signed earlier.
During the cold war we were not sure that eastern bloc countries in particular would live up to the terms and the spirit of such an agreement. In fact, they might have used it to inhibit our work and that of our other allies, the United States and the U.K., in times of conflict. They could have hidden behind the convention with respect to historic buildings.
As well, the second protocol was a very complicated legal format. We had check it with a number of existing laws, such as the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act and the National Defence Act, which cover a number of the provisions. We had to make sure that we had the acts and legislation in place so that we could sign it. This is always the way that Canada enters into these international agreements.
It is not that we have not shown leadership. There have been other conventions and international agreements to protect heritage to which we have been a party. We are part of the Geneva Convention of 1949 and its protocol 1, which prohibits the international targeting of cultural property and its use in the support of military operations. Also, in terms of engagement for our military, there has always been very strong leadership and an understanding in their training that they cannot target cultural properties.
I hope that adds a bit more comfort to the member as to the evolution of Canada's support in an orderly fashion to these protocols.
Subtopic: Criminal Code