March 1st, 2018

NDP concerned about remaining loopholes in Liberal legislation on the Arms Trade Treaty

NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Hélène Laverdière (Laurier- Sainte-Marie) is concerned by remaining loopholes in the Liberal government’s legislation on the Arms Trade Treaty following the adoption of amendments by the Foreign Affairs Committee.

“The NDP strongly supports Canada’s accession to the Arms Trade Treaty,” said Laverdière. “However, even as amended, Liberal Bill C-47 still does not respect the spirit or the letter of the Treaty.”

In February, the Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed that her government will continue to exclude Canadian arms exports to the United States from all review and reporting. Today, Liberal MPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee voted against an NDP amendment that would require annual reporting of these exports to Parliament. Many Canadian weapons exported to the United States are then exported on as components of weapons systems sold to other countries, including Saudi Arabia – but Canada does not keep records.

“The Arms Trade Treaty prohibits any exclusions, and this includes exports to the United States,” said Laverdière. “Arms and related components sold to the United States are over half of the military equipment that we export globally, but Canadians have zero information about how they are used and where they end up. This is particularly concerning when President Trump has promised to water-down U.S. arms export regulations.”

Bill C-47 won’t address the role of the Canadian Commercial Corporation in brokering weapons sales. “The recent helicopter deal with the government of the Philippines, which is now being examined by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, is a prime example of the kind of weapons sale that is brokered by the CCC but will not be stopped by Bill C-47,” said Laverdière. “How can this government claim to be a leader on human rights when weapons sales like those to the Philippines will continue without restriction?”

Liberals on the Foreign Affairs Committee also rejected an NDP amendment that would require Canada to reassess existing arms export permits should new information about human rights abuses come to light. “The Arms Trade Treaty has specific language on this. Canada must find a way to deal with reports of misuse of Canadian weapons by governments abroad, like Saudi Arabia. But this Minister is unwilling to meet this standard and reassess existing permits. I am very disappointed.”