Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and committee members.
The new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development has been set up at a time of rapid change on the world stage in terms of economic and political powers. Canadian interests are truly global in nature and our government is actively standing up for them on an ongoing basis on every continent.
I welcome your questions today, but first I would like to point out a few of the challenges facing us and our approach to dealing with them.
One of the most urgent challenges, of course, is the terrible violence that we are seeing in Syria. The people of Canada have been very generous in helping those most in need, and we join other nations around the world in seeking a political solution to this conflict. I continue to be in close contact with our allies on the issue, and I note recent progress, however small, on getting both sides to the table under the Geneva II process. Both the political solution and, more importantly, the humanitarian effort will continue to be a focus of our department moving forward.
Neighbouring Syria, we also see some progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I have been in close contact with my Israeli and Palestinian counterparts, as well as with U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, on this issue. I've also had dealings in recent days with Martin Indyk, his ambassador and special representative for the negotiations.
Canada has been generous in our support of a future Palestinian state. We want to see a secure, prosperous, and future Palestinian state, one that lives side by side with its Jewish neighbour. Just a few months back we announced $5 million in support for increased economic opportunities in the West Bank. This came out of an initiative that John Kerry had launched with $100 million in a short-term stimulus for the West Bank economy. In my talks with my colleague, Tony Blair, the Quartet Representative, he made clear that Canada's contributions were appreciated and Canada's voice in the region remained respected and strong.
Elsewhere in the region, Iran elected a new president this year, Hassan Rouhani. We note his change in tone, especially when it comes to Iran's nuclear ambitions. All of us who have long despaired about the Iranian regime want to believe that Iran is genuinely committed to positive change at home and in its foreign relations, but kind words, a smile, and a charm offensive are not a substitute for real action. Canada is determined to shed light on the human rights abuses in Iran and remind Iran of its international obligations.
We condemn abuses because doing so is a Canadian value. That is why we also denounce the forced marriage of young girls. Every year, 9.5 million girls, some of whom are only 8 or 9 years old, are forced into marriage. Forced marriage is essentially a form of violence against women.
The practice of early and forced marriage is abhorrent and indefensible. That's why Canada introduced the first ever stand-alone resolution on child, early, and forced marriage at the United Nations General Assembly. That is something that I think all Canadians can be proud of.
Some may wish to stir up old debates that have divided our country in the past, but this is not a partisan issue, it is a human issue. Our government wants Canada's voice to be heard, for it to be clear and for it to be unambiguously free of moral relativism, from the rights of women and girls to religious freedom, for which the Prime Minister was proud to launch the Office of Religious Freedom last year, to the decriminalization of homosexuality abroad. These aren't the values of conservatives, of social democrats, of liberals, of one province or another, but Canadian values that have been shaped by our national experience.
I spoke at the outset about the amalgamation of our department. It is taking place at a time of rapid change in the world. Canada must, more than ever, deploy its resources smartly and in common purpose. I am confident that the new department will bring a more integrated and effective approach to advancing Canadian values and Canadian interests. We must be ready to embrace change, to recognize these opportunities and to seize them as they arise.
All Canadians have a role to play, as do our parliamentarians. You will have an opportunity to make an invaluable contribution to this national effort, to this global fight.
For that, and the work of the committee, I want to thank all of you, in all parties. I look forward to hearing your comments and to taking your questions.
Mr. Chair, I am pleased to be here today to discuss with committee members the proposed appropriations through Supplementary Estimates (B).
Before beginning however, I want to take a few moments to acknowledge the recent devastation seen in the Philippines and portions of Vietnam due to Typhoon Haiyan. We were all shocked and saddened by the tragedy. Like you, I am moved by the enormity of the devastation, and by the tragic loss of life. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected.
This recent tragedy serves as an important reminder that our international assistance is a tangible expression of the best of Canadian values and Canadians themselves. Canada is a compassionate neighbour, and we stand ready to do more to help deal with this crisis.
The tragedy also serves to highlight the importance of the changes we are making at DFATD towards the increased coherence of our development, foreign affairs, and trade activities under one department. The legislation passed earlier this year has enshrined in law Canada's commitment to poverty reduction and humanitarian assistance.
First, however, I would like to talk about our main items under the supplementary estimates.
Funding of $100 million is being sought to allow for the permanent creation of a quick release mechanism to respond to major international natural disasters, humanitarian crises, and conflicts, so that Canada has the ability to respond quickly, and effectively to international crises, such as we just witnessed in the Philippines and Vietnam.
In addition, the department is seeking additional funding of $90 million for humanitarian assistance in response to the Syrian crisis. Canada's support will be used by experienced humanitarian organizations to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance. This builds on the more than $200 million Canada has committed to the crisis.
Canada continues to carefully monitor the situation in Syria.
The new amalgamated department is better placed than ever to ensure the effectiveness of Canada's international humanitarian assistance and development activities, and to ensure that our contributions are in line with Canadian values and priorities. In addition to the immediate impact of Canada's humanitarian assistance, our long-term development programming is improving the lives of poor people around the world. We are doing so by ensuring that our aid is focused, effective, and accountable.
As you already know, Canada has taken a leadership role in addressing the health challenges faced by women, newborns, and children in the world's poorest countries. Canada has been at the forefront of international efforts to improve accountability in maternal, newborn, and child health programming. Canada is prepared to do more in this area and will fulfill all of its commitment made under the 2010 Muskoka initiative.
Education is critical to achieving many other development goals. Educated girls marry later and have fewer children. They are also more likely to participate in the labour force, which has huge benefits for their families and communities.
With support from Canada and other donor countries, the Global Partnership for Education helped enrol 19 million more children in schools, supported the construction of more than 30,000 classrooms, and trained more than 337,000 teachers.
Health and education, while of critical importance, are only part of the equation. We support creation of the enabling environment that helps small and medium enterprises in the developing world become stronger and more competitive through better functioning government, less red tape, and more access to markets.
A great example of how the private sector can help in finding creative solutions to development challenges can be found in Mozambique. There, we are supporting an initiative to strengthen the vaccine supply chains by using Coca-Cola's refrigerated trucks. As the thinking goes, if Coca-Cola can be available in every corner of the world, medicine can too.
The department is also supporting the launch of a 15-year investment fund that leverages private equity investment of up to $400 million to help approximately 250 promising small and medium enterprises grow. This program will create at least 15,000 new jobs in developing countries and is being managed by the Mennonite Economic Development Associates and Sarona Asset Management.
Let me conclude. Our government is committed to reducing poverty and hardship in the developing world. Through our humanitarian assistance, we are responding to crises and achieving real results by saving lives and alleviating suffering.
Under an amalgamated department, we are ensuring that development plays a more important role than ever in achieving our foreign policy objectives, including security and economic prosperity, around the world.
I am proud of the work of our development officials—and especially want to congratulate them for their efforts during the most recent crisis brought upon by Typhoon Haiyan. I would also like to take a moment of the committee’s time to thank the individual Canadian citizens, Canadian NGOs, and Canadian companies who donated so selflessly to help.
Thank you again for this opportunity to appear before the committee, and I welcome your questions.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and members of the committee. I'm delighted to speak here at committee today for the first time as my role of Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, with specific responsibility for consular affairs. It's been a busy several months and fascinating experience to help to advance Canada's values and interests in the world, and I am proud to support the work of my colleagues, John Baird, Christian Paradis, and Ed Fast.
My interest and engagement in Canada's international relations are longstanding and I represent a riding where farming and mining are important economic activities and from which we supply our products to foreign markets. Saskatchewan's output, not just as potash, is integrated with the global economy.
I will start with a few words about the consular assistance provided by DFATD. Strengthening services to Canadians, including consular services, is one of this government's priorities. Canadians are travelling now more than ever, and how and where they're travelling is changing. This has caused an increase in the complexity of consular cases. An estimated 2.8 million Canadians reside outside of Canada.
In 2011, Canadians made nearly 60 million visits abroad and these numbers are getting higher every year. While most of these visits are incident free, we are here to help when problems do arise. Canada's consular services operate around the clock through a network of more than 260 offices in over 150 countries. In addition, the 24/7 emergency watch and response centre here in Ottawa responds to a high number of telephone calls and emails from Canadians every day.
Last year, approximately 235,800 of our cases involved routine services such as replacement of stolen or lost passports, citizenship applications, and travel advice. There were 6,000 more serious cases, such as arrests or detentions, death, assault, family distress, or natural disasters. Some of the most complex cases involved children, such as their abduction or welfare. In all of these situations, we have to work with foreign jurisdictions and sometimes within international accords, which add more layers of complexity to our consular services.
Canadians must realize that when they are in a foreign country, that country's laws apply to them, that our consular services cannot simply exempt them from the local legal system. This is why we are providing tools to help travellers learn as much as possible about their destinations and to make safe decisions before they leave Canada. The travel.gc.ca website provides country-specific advice and other travel resources. My colleague, Diane Ablonczy, the former minister of state responsible for consular affairs, worked hard to make this a better resource for Canadians.
The site has been expanded and relaunched to enhance online services and assure accessibility. The site's content is regularly updated and is fed into by 11 other departments and agencies and supported by social media. I am proud that last month our website received the Government Technology Exhibition and Conference Award for excellence in public service delivery. I meet with stakeholders in the travel industry, including airlines, tour companies, travel associations, to get their input and advice on how best to serve Canadians abroad. These stakeholders are helpful and appreciative of the improvements that we have made.
In addition to my consular role, I have helped advance and defend Canada's broader interests on the world stage. I represented Canada at the Bled strategic forum in Slovenia, and in Croatia I promoted deeper energy ties between Canada and Europe and marked the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries.
It was a pleasure to promote closer engagement with Europe when we were strengthening ties through the Canada-Europe trade agreement. The agreement will generate prosperity and growth for Canadians in a wide range of sectors in every region of our country.
In Indonesia, I attended an APEC meeting of small and medium enterprise ministers and the Women and the Economy Forum.
I also had the opportunity to highlight Canada's support for women's empowerment at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. We advanced Canada's objectives related to nuclear disarmament, countering violent extremism, and the post-2015 international development agenda at the UN.
Finally, it's been a pleasure to support the Minister of International Trade. By consulting with industry representatives from the extractive sector, our government is determined to help that sector do well in the global economy. We are conscious that its benefits flow to every part of the country.
I am delighted to have the opportunity to help ensure that Canada provides first-class consular services and to play my part in advancing Canada's values and interests internationally.
Thank you. Merci beaucoup.
Thank you for your question.
When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, the government initially announced an amount of $5 million. Two days later, it announced a matching relief fund for the typhoon victims. Yesterday, the announced an amount of $15 million to match the relief fund set up by Canadians. Canada's contribution is $20 million from the government and $19.6 million from Canadians for a total of just under $40 million.
Let me tell you of this amount now from the $20 million committed by the government. There is $12 million that has been allocated: the United Nations World Food Programme $4 million; the United Nations Children's Fund will receive $3 million; the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, $2 million; the International Organization for Migration will receive $2 million; the World Health Organization will receive $800,000 and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs will receive $200,000.
Then after that, Canadian organizations will receive $8 million and here's the breakdown: $1 million will go to CARE Canada; $1 million will go to Médecins sans Frontières Canada; $1.5 million is going to Oxfam Canada, $1.5 million is going to Plan Canada; $1 million is going to Save the Children Canada and $2 million is going to World Vision Canada.
The capacity and the access to communities is taken into account. As we speak, these organizations are already working on the ground.
In terms of the Francophonie, I went to Senegal last week. Two issues were discussed. The Sommet de la Francophonie will be held in Dakar in 2014 and an economic strategy will be discussed. Canada is looking forward to that. The development and involvement of the private sector to generate revenue and break the cycle of poverty will be discussed at the summit.
We signed two major agreements with Senegal. First, we signed the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, a product of the G-8 Summit that took place at Camp David. It is the first time that an initiative like that has been launched in Africa. We know that 10 African countries have joined, but the first major event took place in Senegal, when the agreement was signed. We also signed the mutual accountability framework between Canada and Senegal, which stems from the Paris declaration on the effectiveness of aid to development. The fifth principle of the declaration deals with mutual accountability. This is the first time Canada has signed a mutual accountability framework on development assistance with a member country.
Both from the perspective of the Francophonie and the engagement of francophone Africa and others, the summit in Dakar is very promising in terms of the principles of governance and development. Just last week, the experience in Senegal became a tangible success story.
Thank you very much.
The issue of early and forced marriage is not exclusively a women's issue. It's a human rights issue. It's increasingly a development issue. I think it's something that frankly has gone on for many centuries without being brought up and discussed.
For the last two years I have made this an issue. There is an excellent group called Girls Not Brides, which operates in Europe out of the United Kingdom. Princess Mabel of the Netherlands is the chair. There is also a group of elders including Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu, who have advocated against this.
Every week tens of thousands of these young girls are forced into early marriage and are never able to finish their education. By extension their children also never get an education. So it becomes a cycle of dependency. They are never able to fully realize their potential, and the huge challenge this presents to the economic development of their country is profound.
We are working with other countries to begin to have this conversation internationally. We are putting some resources into this. I raised this at the Commonwealth in 2011 in Perth and it was sort of suggested to me that as this is an uncomfortable issue for some countries, that perhaps Canada wouldn't mind not pressing it so hard. If a country like Canada doesn't raise these issues, who is going to? We have tried to reach out and bring other people into a leadership role. The foreign minister of Ghana has started to work with us as have the development minister of the Netherlands and the new foreign minister of Italy. There is even some work being done in the United Arab Emirates by one of the sheikas.
This is an issue we want to introduce into the discussion at international fora. We had the first stand-alone resolution at the United Nations. We will never see Africa or South Asia reach their full potential until we grapple with this significant problem. We're in the early stages of putting it on the global map. We have put some financial resources into it, such as grants and contributions, and we're open to doing more work in this regard and encouraging other countries to join us.
This is along with the issue of rape as a weapon of war, on which Canada has worked with the United Kingdom, putting financial resources into that and joining the effort on that.
There is the early maternal health initiative that the Prime Minister has led, particularly with the accountability initiative on which he and the President of Tanzania have taken action. These are not women's issues; these are human rights issues. These are expressions of Canadian values, ones we would like to see.
It's interesting that when Minister Yelich took over her position as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, in one of our first discussions I said we were not going to compartmentalize these types of issues as women's issues and put them on a different tier. These are fundamental priorities for Canada. They are not just human rights issues but development issues and economic issues, because if these young women don't reach their full potential, how are Ethiopia, Sudan, or India ever going to realize their full economic potential?
Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to talk to you about Bill today. As you know, the Oslo convention prohibits the use of cluster munitions. Canada was one of the first countries to sign the convention in 2008. The convention also prohibits the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention and transfer of cluster weapons.
Let me state clearly and unequivocally at the outset: the Government of Canada is committed to ridding the world of cluster munitions. Bill is an important step in that direction, but it is just the beginning of our work. Extending the relevant elements of the Oslo convention into domestic law will allow Canada to join the growing list of countries that share the same goal. It is worth spending a few minutes on making sure that we are very clear on what we are talking about and just what is at stake.
By definition, cluster bombs involve the scattering of many small submunitions or bomblets over a wide area from a singular container. I have some examples. These are obviously mock-ups, which I can show around the room on how problematic these are. The challenge is that when these bombs rain down on an area, they all don't explode. That is problematic after the cessation of hostilities.
I have some examples here. I will ask my office staff to pass them around so that members can get a clear idea of what we are talking about.
Extending the relevant elements of the Oslo convention into domestic law will allow Canada to join the growing number of countries in this regard. It is worth spending a few minutes on making sure we are very clear on what we're talking about and what's at stake. I have brought a few replicas with me, and we're passing them around the room.
Unexploded bomblets can pose a continuing threat to civilians long after the military action in which they are used. It is difficult to find these bomblets and it is dangerous to remove them. The unintended human toll exacted by these weapons is significant, and it is a human tragedy.
I urge committee members to look closely at these images and these replicas. There is little difference in the eyes of a child between these round bomblets and a schoolyard ball. A child sees what looks like a harmless ribbon, or a can to collect stones or to use in any other way that their young imaginations can think of.
Anyone who has ever met with victims of cluster bombs or who has heard their tragic stories cannot remain indifferent to their plight. I am sure that many of you around this table have had the opportunity to see how grave their situation is when you have travelled abroad.
My own experiences have deeply moved me. For instance, last month, I went to Laos in response to the country’s call for international assistance. Laos has to disarm a staggering 80 million unexploded bomblets that were dropped during the Vietnam War. The war ended four decades ago, but its deadly aftermath continues to be felt. Without our assistance, there would still be deadly consequences. Words are not enough to describe the extent of human costs caused by cluster bombs.
Cluster munitions like this have been used in nearly two dozen armed conflicts around the world since the Second World War. Tragically, they are still being used today. This map shows the status of stockpiles around the world.
Almost 90% of the victims of cluster munitions last year were killed or maimed in the war in Syria. Despite this, there are encouraging signs that global momentum is growing to stop their production, use, and transfer.
The Oslo convention, which was negotiated in 2008, reflects widespread concerns about the impact of these weapons and provides a framework for putting an end to them. Canada was among the 108 countries that proudly signed the convention in Oslo.
Enacting the bill before you would allow Canada to legally ratify the convention and to become a state party. I think we're clear about the reality of these weapons, and I hope I can say that all of us are committed to working towards a world where they will no longer exist.
Now let's look at the reality of making this happen. The fact is, not all states are ready to ratify the Oslo convention, as we are. Interestingly, Laos, where I visited, is one of the countries that is not ready, despite being one of the first countries to sign the landmines convention.
Among those parties is the United States, Canada's closest ally and the country with which we have the closest defence and security relationship of any two states on earth. That cooperation is of central importance to Canada's national security. In this uncertain world, to walk away from generations of a unique and privileged partnership would undermine the safety of Canadians within our own continent, and it would weaken our ability to contribute to peace and security internationally.
A lot has been said about article 21 of the convention. This article permits the armed forces of states parties to conduct operations or serve in exchanges with the armed forces of non-states parties.
Not having this would have significantly undermined Canada's ability to operate in coalitions and to maintain alliance relationships. Canada and a number of our close allies would not have been in a position to sign the convention. The United Kingdom and Australia, for example, have adopted similar measures in their legislation, and for similar reasons.
Of course, I wish that article 21 were not necessary, and maybe one day it will not be. I would prefer a world in which all of our allies had signed and ratified this convention, but the reality is that we're not there yet.
Canada's unique defence collaboration with the United States takes many forms: information sharing, logistics support, joint exercises, and combined operations, to name just a few. There is no doubt that it is absolutely crucial in meeting our broader defence needs.
This close cooperation could lead to members of our armed forces finding themselves in a situation whereby the provisions of Bill might apply to them while they're simply doing the job that they are trained to do and that we ask them to do. For example, Bill , because of its scope, could apply to situations where Canadian Armed Forces members call in air support when under attack, or refuel an aircraft, or even just engage in military planning or the sharing of intelligence.
Remember: this is a criminal law bill. And it is a criminal law bill that is ambitious in the scope of what it will criminalize. Without these exceptions, which are permitted by the convention itself—and I want to underline this: which are permitted by the convention itself—our servicemen and -women could be held criminally responsible for doing the tough and often incredibly risky jobs they have volunteered for.
We do not want that, and I'm sure you don't want that either, so out of concern for our soldiers, I believe that this carefully balanced approach we have taken is something that we can all support.
Let me be clear that Bill enshrines the prohibitions outlined within the convention and the permitted exceptions to those prohibitions as set out in article 21—nothing more, nothing less.
Let me make something else perfectly clear. No Canadian soldier will use cluster munitions, ever. I want to repeat that: no Canadian soldier will use cluster munitions, ever. A directive from the Chief of the Defence Staff will see to that. When this bill is passed, we can task that directive.
Let's have a look at the reality of our defence relationship with the United States and the extent to which these exclusions might apply in practice.
There are over 67,000 members of Canada's regular forces and more than 28,000 in the reserves. Each day, hundreds of these members are taking advantage of our friendship with the United States through training, exchanges, or secondment within the U.S. military. These secondments improve the security and safety of all Canadians. Within these secondments, it would be a very, very rare scenario in which a Canadian Armed Forces member might—might—be directly implicated in the use of cluster munitions by U.S. forces.
For example, at this time, there are fewer than five Canadians in command positions in multilateral operations, fewer than five single members of the Canadian Forces. The slide here gives you a sense of what we're talking about; the little red Canadian stick man is actually disproportionately large, but we couldn't make it any smaller.
As you can see, the principal offences in the bill would affect only a tiny, tiny number of personnel and operations, but the bill also has to include aiding, abetting, counselling, and other forms of indirect involvement. It is these interpretations that could potentially extend to many more personnel if we don't protect them.
I am proud to be able to say that Canada has never produced cluster munitions and we've never used them in Canadian-led operations.
I can also say that even though we're not yet a state party to the convention, the Department of National Defence has already begun the process of destroying Canada's remaining cluster munitions.
These munitions were acquired many, many years ago, dating back to the seventies. Given that they're older, they're probably the ones we should be most worried about. Obviously the failure rate of the explosion of the droplets would be even higher than the ones they make today. These munitions were withdrawn from service several years ago. They are secure, and they will be destroyed with Canadian oversight as soon as possible.
So as weapons of war, cluster munitions in Canada are a thing of the past. It is actions like these that will make a real difference to the horrific impact of cluster munitions.
Our actions are by no means limited to this bill. During my visit to Laos, I announced a further donation by Canada of $1 million to help Laos deal with this horrendous remnant of a long-lost past war.
I want to put it in context. In Laos today there are 80 million of these droplets and land mines that are unexploded: 80 million. And Laos is a very geographically small country. The horrors of people scavenging for the metal to recycle and earn money, or children playing.... They had a mock-up at the Cope headquarters I visited of a typical home where many household lamps and other things used metal from these ordnances, most unexploded but some not. To think that these weapons were used in our lifetime is horrific.
Since 2006 Canada has contributed more than $200 million worldwide to help remove such deadly legacies of conflict, but we can do more and we must do more. Looking forward, I will be allocating up to $10 million in new support over the next 18 months.
The great benefit of this is that not only are we clearing areas, land masses, of these weapons, but when that land is cleared, people are safer and the land is now accessible for agricultural production. It's really a win-win proposition.
Canada will continue its proud tradition of support for demining efforts, victim assistance, and risk awareness programs. We will also be making contributions to support advocacy and outreach effort to non-state actors in support of the Oslo convention. Canada will continue to engage in outreach activities to promote the convention and its objectives at the diplomatic level.
We will make sure that Canada's voice is heard loudly and clearly on this issue, but we need to be a state party to have the credibility to do that. This bill is the right thing to do and the right way to do it. I call on the committee to work with us. Let us not allow our differences to stand in the way of advancing these important goals.
I want to say this: I have appreciated the opportunity to speak with a few government members and with critics from both the official opposition and the Liberal Party. I think we share the desire to tackle this problem. I look forward to your having the hearings, where you'll learn more about this. I will be ready, as always, to listen to the deliberations from all members and to your views on these issues.
I did want to come out and very clearly say two things. One, we take this issue incredibly seriously. Two, I have taken the time, that a number of you requested, to have quite a challenge function with members of the Canadian Forces to drill down on what is absolutely necessary for the article 21 exemption. I understand you'll be having some other witnesses, and I look forward to hearing a report on their testimony.
I'll be very pleased to take your questions and comments.
In fairness, define “party to the use of”.
Let me talk about one general who gained a lot of experience being the number two commander of a unit with 60,000 soldiers. If he is number two and those weapons are used in that conflict—he neither recommends their use, nor does he use them—but nonetheless, he is number two in that unit. If we're going to say that our senior military leaders could not attain that leadership development and practical first-hand experience, I think it would be a disadvantage to realizing the full excellence that our military leadership currently holds.
Let me say another thing. These are not exclusively in conflict. If the United States, for example, were to.... If we were to follow your example—and in a perfect world it would be great if we could do so—would we have to say to the United States, “We will not allow overflights of Canada if you have these types of weapons in your possession”? Would we have to inspect, would we have requirements, would we refuse to refuel types of aircraft that might contain these types of things that may or may not ever be used in the future?
As far as Canada goes, we look at—yes, is it 100%? No. But it's 99.99999%, indefinite. If you look at this five years after this bill becomes law, I would be stunned if you see a single example where this has been used.
The Chief of the Defence Staff will come out with a very clear directive. I'm very happy to have that directive deposited with this committee. Having said that, I have looked at this aggressively. I have exercised a robust challenge function with both our lawyers and senior military leadership to ensure that this exemption, as contemplated specifically in the convention, is used as minimally as possible.
I would love nothing more than for our future Canadian government to be able to come back and say that we have negotiated the exclusion of Article 21 from this convention, and we can do it from Canadian law, but we must not let perfection be the obstacle of practical, forward-looking interventions.
When I was in Laos I very proudly congratulated Lloyd Axworthy on his leadership with respect to the Ottawa treaty to ban landmines. I'm told, though, that during those discussions that if we had been willing to make an exception for the demilitarized zone in Korea, the United States might have been able to sign on. But seeking perfection prevented getting the United States on board.
Well, you know, my job every day is to get up and try to move the ball forward and to do as much as we possibly can. If we were to wait for 100% perfection on every public policy file, precious little would move forward.
I'm always prepared to hear concerns. After this testimony, I hope you'll take time to listen to the other members of the Canadian Forces who will talk about their needs.