Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act

On Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 in Parliament, Questions on the Order Paper
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Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have a chance to speak to the cluster munitions bill again tonight and to put a question for my friend, the hon. parliamentary secretary.

We had a fairly unfortunate debate on a previous occasion in this place where there was what I tend to call a dialogue of the deaf. Some MPs were claiming that because Bill C-6 was very weak, and, in my view, unacceptably weak, the current administration did not care about getting rid of cluster munitions or about the children who had been injured by them. I reject that totally. I know that the hon. member and everyone in the House do not want cluster munitions to be used.

I want to preface my question for the parliamentary secretary by saying that I accept everything he has said. This bill is supposed to implement a cluster munitions treaty, which means that Canada is on record as being opposed to the use of cluster munitions.

My questions are very specific.

First, why has the administration failed to take the steps that should have been taken in this bill, as our other allies have done, to ensure that investment in cluster munitions is specifically prohibited.

Second, when the interoperability sections were created, why was the same language not used as is in the Ottawa land mines treaty bill, which is much more restrictive and does not allow as many loopholes as does the language we find in this legislation?

David Anderson: Mr. Speaker, my colleague has asked a couple of questions and hopefully I have enough time to respond to them.

One reason we do not use the term “investment” is because it is seen as too broad. The convention is written in a particular language and each country then has to put it into the language of its legal system in order to make it fully applicable. The word “investment” is not used because it is a broad term. It would be covered, as I mentioned earlier, under things such as counselling, aiding and abetting. Those are wrapped up in that. We are not permitting people to invest in cluster munitions, and I think the member opposite can be comfortable with that position.

In terms of the Ottawa convention, these are two very different treaties. One of the differences lies, in a practical sense, in the way that the munitions are used tactically in operations. This one is used in a wide variety of situations, typically planned and unplanned. If we had adopted the exact approach of the Ottawa convention, it certainly would have undermined the Canadian Forces’ ability to effectively participate in joint military operations, interoperability and those kinds of things.

We did not believe that we should risk our national security and defence interests. We think this provides a good balance. It provides the leadership that Canada insists we show to the world in wanting to get rid of these munitions. At the same time, it allows us the interoperability that we need with our partners.

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