Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I want to start across party lines by saying how indebted I think all of us in this House should be for the consistent dedication and commitment from the member for Ottawa Centre, who is such a champion on these issues. I look to him for leadership on these issues, across green to orange, and I make no bones about that. We all should be in his debt. I am.

The member has really cast the light for me to understand what went wrong here. I have been struggling to understand how the bill could be this bad when I believe the intentions are actually good. This goes to what the member just explained, which I had not heard before, that the course of the bill started in the wrong place. Instead of going to the Department of Foreign Affairs, it went to the Department of National Defence. That is why we have legislation before us that falls so far short of what Canadians would want of our government to end the scourge of cluster munitions.

I thank the member for that explanation. I would ask him to expand on it.

Paul Dewar: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her engagement as well, and for the amendments she put forward, which we supported.

In fact, there is a history here. I remember talking to former Prime Minister Clark about this not too long ago. He was at committee a couple of years ago. There was a notion when it comes to international treaties on arms control, et cetera, that we do the best we can with all hands on deck, to have the best and the brightest, the most professional people advising us. This is where the government has gone down the wrong road.

The Conservatives have looked at international treaties and have seen them as perhaps barriers or as undermining our sovereignty. I note that this is an issue right now with the Europeans. The strategic partnership agreement has not been signed, and perhaps it is getting in the way of the CETA.

The government should look back at when Canada had its biggest wins on the international stage. It was when all parties, and all departments if I may, as well as experts were providing their best advice so that we came up with the best legislation for international treaties.

Make no mistake: we have differences on domestic policy; I get that. However, when it is an international treaty, we should have the best minds looking at it. When we are being critiqued by the Red Cross, by former prime ministers of Australia, we are not doing our best.