29 October 2013

Different name, same deadly consequences

The highly contested draft Bill C-6, (formerly referred to as Bill S-10) is back on the agenda of the Canadian parliament after a long summer break and a one-month prorogation period. The bill, that should enact the Convention on Cluster Munitions in the country, proposes legislation that is not only against the spirit and the intent of the Convention, but would also put the lives of civilians at severe risk during and after armed conflicts.

While the Convention on Cluster Munitions bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions in all possible forms, Bill C-6 includes a clause(Section 11) which would enable Canada to request other countries to use cluster munitions in the course of joint military operations, and in certain cases enables Canadians to use these outlawed weapons themselves.It should be noted that to date Canadian Forces have never used cluster munitions.

Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird announced that he is prepared to listen to critics of Bill C-6 when its stands for review in the House of Commons. According to the minister "there is one very narrow part of the (bill) that’s contentious and I’m keen to provide a better briefing and explanation to it before the committee" "The Cluster Munition Coalition believes no explanation of the contested clause is plausible" said Sarah Blakemore, Cluster Munition Coalition Director, only by closing the dangerous loopholes can Canada really claim to be banning cluster munitions and putting the protection of civilians first." The minister’s recent visit to Laos will have given him a first-hand view of the devastation caused by these indiscriminate and dangerous weapons.They should never again be used by anyone and Canada’s legislation should reinforce that," said Paul Hannon, Executive Director of Mines Action Canada.

The draft legislation is now awaiting review by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade where parliamentarians should hear from expert witnesses and will be able to amend the draft legislation to close the loopholes.

The Cluster Munition Coalition calls on all Members of Parliament to take this opportunity to revise the legislation to ensure that Canada’s legislation lives up to both the spirit and the letter of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.