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September 28th, 2016

NDP proposes oversight on arms sales

New Democrats move to create a committee to oversee all current and future Canadian arms exports

Today, the NDP announced that it will put the issue of oversight of Canadian arms exports to a vote in Parliament as an opposition day motion in the coming days.

“There is currently no parliamentary oversight of Canadian arms exports, despite the fact that Canada is now the second-largest arms dealer to the Middle East,” said NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Hélène Laverdière. “These questions are too important to brush to the side. We need a multi-partisan committee on arms exports - one empowered to examine all aspects of Canada’s arms exports regime, now and in the future.”

Polls show that most Canadians disapprove of arms deals with human rights abusers. But Canadian weapons exports have nearly doubled over the last ten years, and Canada is now the second-largest arms dealer in the Middle East, including to countries with poor human rights records like Libya, Sudan and Saudi Arabia. Details on these Canadian arms exports remain scarce. A new committee would ensure oversight and increased transparency for Canadians on these important questions.

"For too long, Canadians have had too little information about arms exports to countries with questionable human rights records. This must change," said Laverdière. “Canadians deserve to have a say in who Canada does business with, and under what conditions. It’s parliament’s role to ensure we do this right.”

The following motion will be debated in the House on Thursday, September 29, 2016:

That (a) the House recognise that: (i) Canadian arms exports have nearly doubled over the past decade, and that Canada is now the second-largest exporter of arms to the Middle East, (ii) Canadians expect a high standard from their government when it comes to protecting human rights abroad, (iii) Canadians are concerned by arms sales to countries with a record of human rights abuses, including Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Sudan, (iv) there is a need for Canadians, through Parliament, to oversee current and future arms sales; (b) Standing Order 104(2) be amended by adding after clause (b) the following: “(c) Arms Export Review”; (c) Standing Order 108(3) be amended by adding the following: “(i) Arms Exports Review shall include, among other matters, the review of and report on (i) Canada’s arms export permits regime, (ii) proposed international arms sales, (iii) annual government reports regarding arms sales, (iv) the use of these weapons abroad, (v) all matters and broader trends regarding Canada’s current and future arms exports.”; (d) the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs prepare and report to the House within five sitting days of the adoption of this Order a list of Members to compose the new standing committee created by this Order; and (e) that the Clerk be authorized to make any required editorial and consequential amendments to the Standing Orders.