June 11th, 2018

NDP: Liberals Must Withdraw Arms Trade Treaty bill

OTTAWA – NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Hélène Laverdière (Laurier- Sainte-Marie) today called on the Trudeau government to withdraw its legislation on the Arms Trade Treaty, in order to work with the NDP and experts on a bill that would fully respect the Treaty. A vote is expected today to send the bill to the Senate.

“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.”

Among the remaining loopholes that concern the NDP is the continued exemption of Canadian arms exports to the United States from regulation and reporting. Many Canadian weapons exported to the United States are then exported on as components of weapons systems sold to other countries, including Saudi Arabia and Nigeria – but Canada does not keep records. In March, Liberal MPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee voted against an NDP amendment that would require annual reporting of these exports to Parliament.

“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 begun to weaken U.S. arms export regulations.”

Civil society experts including the Control Arms Coalition, Amnesty International, Project Ploughshares and the Rideau Institute are continuing to call on the government to fix the bill before proceeding.

“If the experts who led the fight for the Arms Trade Treaty are saying this isn’t good enough, then it isn’t good enough,” said Laverdière. “The Liberals need to heed their calls and fix the legislation. Canada is running the risk of weakening the Treaty by setting a low bar that other countries might follow. The Arms Trade Treaty is designed to save lives, which is why it is important Canada get this right. The NDP is urging the Liberals to present a better bill that fully respects the Arms Trade Treaty.”