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November 8th, 2017

NDP to propose amendments to Bill C-47 on the Arms Trade Treaty

Ottawa – NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Hélène Laverdière (Laurier – Sainte-Marie) will propose amendments to Bill C-47, the Canadian government’s legislation on the Arms Trade Treaty. The six NDP amendments would strengthen Bill C-47 to bring it up to the standard required by the Treaty and improve Canada’s arms exports rules.

“The NDP strongly supports Canada’s accession to the Arms Trade Treaty,” said Laverdière. “However, as written, Bill C-47 does not respect the spirit or the letter of the Treaty. The government must fix the bill before Canada accedes to the Treaty.”
One loophole in Bill C-47 is the exclusion of arms exports to the United States from all review and reporting. “Arms and related components sold to the United States are over half of what we export globally, but Canadians have zero information about how they are used and where they end up. This lack of transparency and accountability cannot continue,” said Laverdière.

A second loophole in Bill C-47 is the absence of criteria for export permits issued by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. An NDP amendment inserts language from the Arms Trade Treaty into the Canadian legislation, to ensure stringent criteria are considered before weapons are exported.

“What we have seen with exports to Saudi Arabia and other human rights-abusing countries is that Canada has not respected the current voluntary rules,” said Laverdière. “We want to ensure that the Minister of Foreign Affairs is legally required to refuse export permits where there are risks of human rights violations.”
Without changes to Bill C-47, the Canadian government could continue to approve arms sales to human rights-abusing countries such as Saudi Arabia. “The Liberals cannot promise transparency and accountability on the one hand, and then celebrate this deeply flawed bill on the other,” said Laverdière. “They need to fix the bill if they want to be taken seriously on the arms trade.”

The amendments will be considered by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development on Thursday.