Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act (Bill S-10)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more with my hon. friend from Newmarket—Aurora that this convention is extremely important. Canada did sign on early, and that is why I am baffled. Maybe she could explain to me why there are these carve-outs.

I am looking at page 7 of the bill, subclause 11(3). It is not related to the movement of cluster munitions for the purpose of destroying them; that is a different section. This section says that earlier prohibitions do not apply to a person in the course of military co-operation or combined military operations involving Canada and a state not a party to the convention—which would include, for instance, the United States—for “aiding, abetting or counselling another person to commit any act referred to in paragraph 6(a) to (d) if it would not be an offence for that other person to commit that act”.

In other words, it looks to me as though we have a carve-out here that lets Canada help the United States invest in cluster munitions, use cluster munitions and transfer them in shared co-operative action.

If we are to adhere to the convention, should we not remove subsection 11(3) so that it is clear that we are not speaking out of both sides of our mouth?

Lois Brown: Mr. Speaker, in a perfect world I suppose that is what we would all want, but we have to live in reality, and the reality is that the United States is our closest ally. We work very closely with the Americans in many military operations, and we do not want to see our Canadian Armed Forces charged with a criminal offence because they are working with our partners and doing what we have asked them to do.

We have said very clearly that Canadian Armed Forces would not be commanding the use of cluster munitions. We have been very strict with that, but we also have to live in reality.

Is this a perfect world? Absolutely not, but this is a starting point. It is perhaps not perfect, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. As we have said throughout this, we will continue to urge other parties around the globe to participate in this convention and to rid the world of these terrible munitions.