Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, in response to my friend from Palliser, I think we have had a very detailed debate in terms of the places where the bill is deficient, and woefully so.

We know that clause 11 includes far too broad a carve-out. It goes well beyond protecting Canadian troops from inadvertently violating the cluster munitions treaty. If we had used the same kind of language for interoperability that is found in the Ottawa land mine convention legislation, we would not be having this long debate now. We would all be united and proud of Canada for bringing in domestic legislation which meets the letter and spirit of the cluster munitions treaty globally.

This legislation fails to do that by having too a broad a carve-out, allowing too many operational engagements between Canada and obviously our ally, the United States, which has not yet ratified and has apparently no intention of taking the steps that any civilized country should take to eliminate cluster munitions from the face of this earth.

We have been detailed about the changes. I, personally, have put forward amendments in committee. They were all defeated. I am grateful the parliamentary secretary did bring forward the amendment to remove the word “use”, but we are allowed to invest in cluster munitions and we are allowed to participate in operations involving cluster munitions. We have failed to take the steps that were within our reach.

Jean Crowder: Mr. Speaker, I have been here for 10 years now and I have experienced many occasions where the Conservative government, in particular, has violated the spirit and intent of an agreement.

I have been the aboriginal affairs critic for most of the time since 2006, so I can talk about the spirit and intent of treaties of first nations and how consistently that spirit and intent is violated.

When I come back to general obligations under article 1 in the convention, it closes by saying that it is also prohibited to assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activities prohibited by the convention. There is a spirit and intent in article 1 of the convention that surely would make it incumbent upon the government to honour the spirit and intent of the convention by working with its allies and its partners to encourage and support them to stop the use of cluster munitions.

Everything we do to undermine the convention also undermines the spirit and intent of that convention.