Hon. Art Eggleton: Minister, Canada will soon be marking an important anniversary. It was on December 3, 1997, 20 years ago, that 122 countries came to Ottawa to sign the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, or as it’s more commonly referred to, the Ottawa Treaty. Canada has rightly been seen as the driving force behind this landmark treaty, which tends to protect many citizens and many areas after the conflicts have ended, to protect people from being killed or maimed.
To date, 162 nations have signed and ratified the Ottawa Treaty. However, there are still some big names that haven’t done it yet, such as the United States, Russia and China. Moreover — this is disturbing — Canadian funding for demining initiatives has fallen dramatically since the early 2000s and has not been in the top 10 list of donors since 2010. My question is: What is the government doing to re-establish Canadian leadership in this important area?
Hon. Harjit S. Sajjan, P.C., M.P., Minister of National Defence: Thank you, senator. The Ottawa Treaty was a landmark moment for Canada. It has prevented people from being maimed and killed. Regrettably, these mines have been littered all over the world. We used to have troops going to different places for clearing. Yes, decisions have been made within the previous decade to shift resources.
One thing I can assure you, now that we have a defence policy that is fully funded, we are not only going to be putting investments into counter-ID training to protect ourselves but to be able to provide that right type of training because this threat has evolved.
We will continue to look at opportunities where we can provide that right support. This is the type of capability, engagement and experience that Canada can offer. We will always look at any opportunity where we can provide the right skill set, but more importantly be an advocate as well.