The Liberal Senate Forum

Connect

facebook Ideas Forum youtube flickr

Meet Senator

George Baker

The Hon. George  Baker, P.C. Senator George Baker is the former MP for the riding of Gander - Grand Falls (Newfoundland and Labrador). He was first elected to the House of Commons in 1974, and was re-elected at every subsequent federal election. Since March 26, 2002, he has served in the Senate of Canada, representing the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Statements & Hansard

Second reading of Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (Nuclear Terrorism Act)

More on...

Share

Feedback

Read the comments left on this page or add yours.
Statement made on 17 May 2012 by Senator Roméo Dallaire

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire:

Honourable senators, yes indeed, you are going to have to put up with me for another 45 minutes, but I will try to do as my friends in the U.S. Marines taught me.

I will try to power talk my way through this and curtail my time.

Honourable senators, Bill S-9 concerns nuclear terrorism. In the 1970s when I was serving, Canada still had the capability of delivering nuclear weapons. By that time we had gotten rid of the missiles we had and we were based on gun systems. In my duties within NATO, I had the capability of ultimately being able to deliver nuclear weapons.

Some of the tactical nuclear weapons that I speak of are the size of a grapefruit and can take out half of Toronto. There are still close to 27,000 of those weapons out there today, and those are the small ones, the tactical ones. Therefore, there is an urgency and a concern that in fact the international community does its best to ensure that nuclear capabilities do not fall into the wrong hands.

Bill S-9 on nuclear terrorism is a bill that I certainly support. Let me provide some of the surrounding material to the argument in support of this bill.

The bill is entitled An Act to amend the Criminal Code to combat nuclear terrorism. My objective today is to outline a number of elements within the legislation itself, as well as a series of concerns that I have with Canada's anti-nuclear efforts. I want to describe how Bill S-9 fits into those efforts and finally discuss questions that need further study in committee.

Nuclear weapons are the most extreme massive violation of human rights imaginable. They are a violation of our human right to security, to peace in the world. These terrible weapons of mass destruction not only threaten us as a species, but they threaten our humanity as well.

Why worry about an oil spill or a plastic bag when we actually have the capability of wiping out the planet completely?

Honourable senators, there is simply no other issue of equal or greater importance, significance, danger or threat than that of a nuclear weapon to Canadians and to global security.

Honourable senators, nuclear weapons are absolutely and totally useless weapons.

I would like to express my support for what Senator Andreychuk said when she proposed these amendments on March 27, 2012, on behalf of the Honourable Rob Nicholson. These amendments will update Canada's penalties for activities related to nuclear terrorism and will enable Canada to implement in full two major international agreements on the fight against nuclear terrorism.

This is in accordance with Amendment to the CPPNM regarding criminalization and constitutes a national law that would enable Canada to ratify the ICSANT. This is an important symbolic measure that brings Canada into step with its international partners.

Canada is committed to participating in international efforts to fight nuclear terrorism. We are one of the states parties to the 1980 Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, the CPPNM, which establishes measures related to the prevention, detection and punishment of offences related to nuclear material.

Canada has also signed the 2005 International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, ICSANT, which covers a broad range of criminal acts and stipulates how those who commit nuclear terrorism offences are to be treated.

Canada's Nuclear Safety and Control Act and Nuclear Security Regulations fulfill the physical protection requirements set out in the 2005 Amendment to the CPPNM, but criminalization measures are not yet in place.

Bill S-9 would amend the Criminal Code to create four new offences.

Possessing or trafficking in nuclear or radioactive material or devices would be illegal. Anyone found guilty of this serious offence would be liable to imprisonment for life.

Anyone found guilty of using or altering nuclear or radioactive material or devices or committing an act against a nuclear facility would be guilty of an indictable offence and would be liable to imprisonment for life.

Anyone committing an indictable offence with the intent to obtain nuclear or radioactive material or a device or to obtain access to or control of a nuclear facility would be guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life.

Lastly, anyone threatening to commit any of these offences would be guilty of threatening and liable to imprisonment for up to 14 years.

These penalties are in line with the international agreements we signed.

This bill can be seen as a tool to close legal loopholes when it comes to the prosecution of those carrying out activities related to nuclear terrorism. Through the extraterritorial jurisdiction approach, it extends the reach of Canadian law where prosecution may have previously occurred in a legal vacuum. It also provides for extradition in the case of nuclear terrorism without the need for pre-existing bilateral agreements.

If we are to leave this planet a better place for those who succeed us, then we must take nuclear weapons far more seriously into the forefront, and we must struggle with every effort that we can muster to keep our planet free of their use.

Bill S-9 is the result of one such effort, but it is certainly not enough. Though perhaps Canadians feel unthreatened by the prospect of nuclear terrorism, I must stress that theft of weapons-grade material and components is not just possible, it is happening. Some of the world's estimated 2,100 tonnes of plutonium and highly enriched uranium are kept in poorly guarded buildings, and there have been 18 known attempted thefts since 1993. These are the materials essential for creating the nuclear weapons.

Matthew Bunn, an eminent scholar at Harvard University and a former White House adviser in the Office of Science and Technology Policy says that the al Qaeda terrorist network has made repeated attempts to buy stolen nuclear material in order to make a nuclear bomb. They have tried to recruit nuclear weapons scientists, including two extremist Pakistani nuclear weapons scientists, who met with Osama bin Laden shortly before the 9/11 attacks to discuss nuclear weapons. Nuclear terrorism, Bunn says, remains a real and urgent threat. The way to respond is through international cooperation, not confrontation and certainly not war.

Responding to these new threats, the UN Security Council, in 2004, adopted Resolution 1540, binding all states to enforce measures aimed at preventing non-state actors from acquiring nuclear, biological or chemical weapons and their means of delivery. A nuclear weapon on the back of a truck may not necessarily be the most effective delivery means, but in downtown Toronto, it could still achieve its aim.

However, the resolution requires complex implementation mechanisms that reduce confidence in its effectiveness. When President Obama convened the Security Council in 2009 to tighten up the non-proliferation regime, Resolution 1887 on non-proliferation was unanimously adopted. While that resolution called for the enforcement of strict controls on nuclear material to prevent it from falling into dangerous hands, it also underlined the right of states to pursue peaceful nuclear energy under the IAEA supervision, so nuclear power is certainly acceptable and within the context of the use of nuclear material.

Unfortunately, all it could do was urge states to curb the export of nuclear-related material to countries that had terminated their compliance with agency safeguard agreements. Since fewer than half of the world's governments have signed on to the tougher IAEA inspection program known as the additional protocol, the checkpoints on nuclear materials are full of holes.

This perilous state of affairs prompted the Obama administration to convene the Washington Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010, a conference that would be succeeded by the Seoul conference in 2012. There, 47 heads of government, including of course Canada's and including those of India, Pakistan and Israel, where the fear of terrorism is constant, pledged to prevent the theft of fissile material by securing stockpiles within four years. That was the plan.

With this commitment, the chances are better that at least states possessing civilian nuclear sites, many of which lack even standard military protections like barbed wire and checkpoints, will invest in proper security measures, such as fuel vaults, motion detectors and central alarms.

Most importantly, the leaders left the summit with a new resolve to beef up the 30-year-old Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and to tighten security measures around the world. Canada is attempting to achieve that in this bill.

A "new nuclear order" is needed to confirm the symbiotic relationship between the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, and President Obama have tried to lead the way to a nuclear-free world. However, many important countries, including Canada, hesitate to follow their lead and appear to be afraid to embrace the bold measures needed to truly rid the world of nuclear weapons.

In the hope that modest measures will be enough to stave off nuclear disaster, these countries are resisting the historic movement that would put an end, once and for all, to the proliferation of weapons that poses a problem for all peoples.

I will bring to honourable senators' attention a bit of history. In 1957, in the little village of Pugwash, Nova Scotia, a gentleman called Cyrus Eaton, who made his millions in the United States but came back to use them in Canada, put together a group of 20 nuclear physicists, including the Russians, at the height of the Cold War. Together they commenced the process of ultimately creating an atmosphere for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

The Pugwash movement, of which I have been the patron, continues still today. It meets internationally, and Pugwash, Nova Scotia, remains the heart of that overall anti-nuclear movement.

Quite an impressive achievement for a fisherman!

The international community has voiced its concerns about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons and again stated that all countries must obey international humanitarian law.

In fact, the 2010 Review Conference, tasked with reviewing the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty, added to the world's agenda consideration of negotiations toward a nuclear weapons treaty to strengthen the instruments. For the first time, the concept of an international ban on all nuclear weapons was validated. That was a first step.

However, progress is hindered by modernization programs of countries with nuclear weapons, countries that have retained their military doctrine of nuclear deterrence as a means of exercising their authority. Moving forward with some reductions would be beneficial; eliminating all weapons would not, at least not at this time.

It is interesting that since the end of the Cold War, when we sought the peace dividend and reduced our conventional military capabilities and the start of a disarmament program was commenced, up to this day, the developed countries that possessed nuclear weapons have invested over $800 billion in modernizing them. That is at a time when we do not need them anymore, certainly not under the context of the history of why they were created in the first place. We have not put $800 billion into environmental protections, but we have put $800 billion into how to wipe out the planet and humanity along with it.

The nuclear powers say that, as long as nuclear weapons exist, they will have to keep their arsenals. According to the convoluted logic that led to the historic nuclear arms race during the Cold War, as we have seen, the degree of security these weapons bring always depends on their use.

The idea of zero nuclear weapons is considered but a dream. The powerful defenders of nuclear weapons act as if not possessing nuclear weapons would be an unbearable deprivation. This continued obstinacy has created a new crisis for humanity because failure to seize this moment to start comprehensive negotiations will lead to the further spread and possible use of nuclear weapon.

More people have them; more idiots are there to use them.

Both the opportunity and the crisis point to an inescapable fact of life in the 21st century: A two-class world in which the powerful aggrandize unto themselves nuclear weapons while proscribing their acquisition by other states is not sustainable. This is certainly not leadership by example. "I need mine and they have to be better and more improved. You do not do not need yours and you have no reason to acquire them." It is not particularly logical.

We face the danger of the proliferation nuclear weapons because the powerful nuclear states have not used their authority to build a world law outlawing all nuclear weapons. They can do that. They own them, they lead in it and they could actually stop it. Whether their industries are prepared to support their politicians certainly still remains up in the air today.

Yet there is hope that a way can be found to move forward together. The 2010 consensus NPT final document stated:

The Conference calls on all nuclear-weapon States to undertake concrete disarmament efforts and affirms that all States need to make special efforts to establish the necessary framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons.

It is a major step in the efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. All states — the strong and weak, the rich and poor — stand on common ground. The global need to reduce nuclear dangers by making it unlawful for anyone to use, deploy, produce or proliferate nuclear weapons is there for us to make and subsequently apply.

In short, the problem of nuclear terrorism cannot be seen in isolation. It is but one facet, albeit important and not insignificant, of the overall problem of nuclear weapons. This fact was recognized by 550 distinguished members of the Order of Canada who have called on the Government of Canada to support the UN Secretary-General's five-point plan for nuclear disarmament, which includes starting negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention.

This action led to a motion unanimously adopted by the Senate on June 2, 2010, and also adopted unanimously in the House of Commons on December 7, 2010. It called for the government to initiate a major diplomatic initiative on nuclear disarmament. So far, the government has not acted on this unprecedented motion. This is the moment for Canada to show that it cares about nuclear disarmament. Its parliamentarians have unanimously requested it to do so.

The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism are just two of Canada's many commitments to support efforts against nuclear terrorism, and we commend our country for that. Other government resolutions and international agreements in which Canada participates, such as the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, emphasize the importance of member states helping each other keep their commitments.

This involves offering support in the way of information sharing, technical cooperation, such as mutual support during investigations and extradition proceedings, and other forms of direct intervention.

There is very little information about how Canada contributes. Further to the Nuclear Security Summit, which was held in Seoul in 2012, Canada announced that it was going to cooperate with the United States to support Mexico by replacing its highly enriched uranium research reactors with ones that run on low-enriched uranium. Unfortunately, few other specific projects have been announced and no resources have been allocated.

The obligations resulting from these agreements and Canada's lack of progress show the potential and importance of Bill S-9. It also reminds us of how far we still have to go. We have taken a fundamental step; now, we just have to continue moving forward.

The measures taken to incorporate these agreements into Canada's legislative framework are very important; however, they represent only one aspect of Canada's overall commitment in the fight for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

There are still important questions remaining with regard to Canada's commitments overseas. How will the $367 million, which was announced after the summit in Seoul and set aside by Canada under the Global Partnership Program, be spent? To date, this budget has been used to fund programs designed to secure nuclear materials, technology and knowledge in countries of the former Soviet Union. What are the future budget priorities? What projects funded in other areas of the world have to do not only with nuclear materials but also with nuclear weapons? These questions need to be answered. And we can help answer them, since our country is part of the solution.

We know, for instance, that support for starting work on the nuclear weapons convention, which would be a legal ban of all nuclear weapons, is widespread. More than three quarters of the countries of the world have voted for a United Nations resolution calling for the commencement of negotiations leading to the conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention. Support comes from across the geopolitical spectrum, including Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and parts of Europe, and includes support from some countries possessing nuclear weapons, which include China, India, Pakistan and, yes, even North Korea.

In fact, the international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons has noted that nations that support a ban make up 81 per cent of the world's population, and who do honourable senators think are the targets of these nuclear weapons? There are no more huge armies deployed in the field. The targets are civilian targets. The targets are our cities, our populations and our resources.

More support is coming from such important groups as the InterAction Council, comprised of 20 former heads of state from key countries, including the United States, Canada, Norway, Germany, Japan and Mexico, and a December 2011 summit of leaders of Latin America and Caribbean states.

The ball is moving slowly. Despite the growing support for a treaty, many major states are still unwilling to enter such negotiations. To overcome this obstacle, a practical action would be a core group of countries starting an informal process to start building the framework for a nuclear weapons-free world. This could include preparatory work on some of the elements of a framework, such asverification, national prohibition, exploring what we would be required to ensure, compliance with a global ban, advancing alternative security frameworks to nuclear deterrence, and further refining the model nuclear weapons convention to make it into a realistic working draft for actual negotiations. Such work would pave the way for eventual formal negotiations. It would be a continuum of the great initiative by Cyrus Eaton in Pugwash, for which the Nobel Peace Prize was given in 1995 and sits there in Pugwash.

This could be complemented by actions by like-minded states to build political momentum for such negotiations through advocacy at the highest level, that is, head of state, or through establishing a full-scale international diplomatic conference, as called for by numerous commissions in the past.

Honourable senators, we have stood up time and again to reaffirm Canada's commitment to a nuclear-free world, yet we feel the tension of being a part of NATO, an organization predicated on the possession of these weapons and their potential use. We are really quite bicéphale about it. We establish rules to protect our uranium and nuclear device components, but we do not seriously ask how we can create a framework for cooperating on ridding ourselves of them. We fight tooth and nail to hold on to what we have and punish those who try to take it away from us. However, we do not ask ourselves how we can one day reach a world where those same people do not need, through their rage, to take anything from us in that fashion. That is a world we ought to make. That is a world we ought to leave behind. That is a world in which Canada could be a leader.

Bill S-9 is a small step in Canada's efforts to ridding the world of a nuclear threat. By filling the legal vacuum in which prosecution of these crimes might have taken place, we not only take an important symbolic step forward in the anti-nuclear commitments, but we empower our country with essential new jurisdictional and punitive powers.

I propose, however, that we discuss how this legislation fits into the broader stance Canada has taken and needs to take against nuclear weapons.

Our international commitments, some universally adopted and many reaffirmed by this Senate, hold us to a higher standard. It was only two years ago that this Senate unanimously passed a motion in support of a statement on nuclear disarmament by a group of recipients of the Order of Canada. The time has come once more to study and reflect on what we must do to see that commitment through. The time is now to explore how we can best continue to implement Security Council Resolution 1540, which holds us to assisting other member states with their disarmament and non-proliferation commitments.

We must continue to explore how we can continue to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy through our partners at the Nuclear Energy Agency, the OECD and the IAEA. We owe it to ourselves to take these challenges to the Special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism and continue to ask questions and continue to act.

As nuclear weapons remain one of the only true existential threats to our species, we must always be vigilant and we must always be proactive.

I have stood before you, honourable senators, not only to speak of our successes but also of our failures and our challenges. With each step, we must reflect on the questions, holes and obstacles that still remain in ridding us of what is essentially and fundamentally an absolutely useless weapons system and a threat to our human right to security on this globe. Thank you very much.

Recent Statements from Liberal Senators

First Nations Control of First Nations Education Bill

10 Apr, 2014 | By Senator Lillian Eva Dyck | Honourable senators, I would like to say a few words about this motion. I am definitely in support of it. The idea of a First Nations education act is critically important to the welfare of First Nations across Canada, and especially to our young people.

Income Inequality

10 Apr, 2014 | By Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette | What does the government intend to do to learn from the financial crisis, reduce wealth inequality, and follow the lead of other jurisdictions that have started to rein in compensation that has nothing to do with the productivity of the people who earn the average salary of a Canadian in half a day?

Broadcast of Senate Proceedings

10 Apr, 2014 | By Senator Grant Mitchelll | What is the leader's personal opinion about televising the Senate?

National Pharmacare

10 Apr, 2014 | By Senator Art Eggleton | That was supported unanimously in the Senate, so I take it, senator, that you would be willing to now advance this idea to the government.

National Pharmacare

10 Apr, 2014 | By Senator James Cowan | My question is: Will this government put National Pharmacare on the agenda?
« 1 2 3 4 5  ... » 
Recycle

You can retrieve this page at:
http://www.liberalsenate.ca/In-The-Senate/Statement/16303_Second-reading-of-Bill-S-9-An-Act-to-amend-the-Criminal-Code-Nuclear-Terrorism-Act.
Please recycle this document.