Law reform needed to ensure Canada meets global arms trade standards

Status Report on Bill C-47

For all those of you following the passage of Bill C-47, the legislation to permit Canada to join the Arms Trade Treaty, we are pleased to attach the updated Civil Society Brief presented to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and International Trade on 21 November 2018.

“The government of Canada must establish parliamentary oversight to ensure Canadian-made weapons will not be transferred to countries like Saudi Arabia, where there is a serious risk they will be used to commit war crimes, crimes against humanity and other grave human rights violations,” say a group of arms control and human rights advocates.

The Rideau Institute has played a key role along with Amnesty International Canada, Project Ploughshares, Oxfam Canada, and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) in the preparation of these materials to better inform Senators on the urgent legislative reforms still needed to Bill C-47.

See also the media release accompanying the updated brief.

Whenever the pressure builds to stop Canada’s unconscionable arms transfers to Saudi Arabia, we are told by the Government of Canada that some secret provision of the contract makes such action impossible. This level of secrecy — which is far beyond the normal bounds of commercial confidentiality — severely undermines transparency and accountability — core principles of the ATT and of democracy itself. – Peggy Mason, President of the Rideau Institute

Peggy Mason will be testifying before the Senate Committee on behalf of the Rideau Institute on Thursday, 29 November at 10:30 am. You can hear the testimony live by clicking on the following link:

For a recent commentary on the yawning gap between our government’s words and deeds, see: Canada should not let Saudi Arabia get away with murder (Cesar Jaramillo, contribution to Toronto Star, 22 November 2018).

For more information on the barbaric Saudi Arabian treatment of women who dared to campaign for the right to drive, see: Concern grows for UBC grad after report Saudi Arabia tortured activists (Michelle Ghoussoub, CBC News, posted on 22 November 2018).

It is outrageous that CBC coverage of Saudi Arabian torture of its own citizens and deliberate starvation of millions of Yemenis routinely fails to mention the direct Canadian complicity in these barbaric acts through our weapons exports to Saudi Arabia. – Peggy Mason


Photo credits: Front page – Senate of Canada (GOC photos); Blog page: Civil Society Press Conf (Amnesty Canada photo).


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8 Responses to “Law reform needed to ensure Canada meets global arms trade standards”

  1. Jennifer WadeNovember 30, 2018 at 7:10 pm #

    It is a disgrace that we have to have legislation to stop our leaders from dealing with cruel, oppressive and frightening regimes such as the one that exists in Saudi Arabia. One would think Canadian leaders would automatically do what is right . No?

  2. ScottNovember 26, 2018 at 1:04 pm #

    It’s unfortunate that the citizens of Canada must wait upon the US senate to act on the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia to stop the atrocities in Yemen. This is a clear mandate to the revision of Bill C-47 to contain global arms trade standards to insure that Canada will not be implicated in human rights violations, regardless of who we trade with in the future. The goverment has admitted that the Canadian people are committed to upholding the dignity and human rights of our globle community. It is long overdue that our government put in place legislation to re-enforce and assure that we are not implicated in anyway to the violation of this committment in the future. That we as a nation seriously take the violation of human rights, the killing or threat to freedom of the press, and atrocities committed by any nation.

  3. Gregory FraserNovember 24, 2018 at 7:10 am #

    I don’t like the idea of doing business with the Saudi’s at all, weapons or otherwise because of the issues especially with woman’s rights and other human right’s violations that are as bad as our record with indigenous people here in Canada. But I would have to see the wording of this contract the Conservative government signed off on, apparently it is in the contract that Trudeau or who ever succeeded the New Conservative government could not even speak out about the contract without violating it. I’m not ready to blame Trudeau for something the Harper government did after watching them all but destroy Canada’s reputation around the world! Let’s remember that we are talking about a previous government that had booklets printed up on how to disrupt Parliament from getting things done that they disagreed with, and Harper had a real scorched earth mentality. Once we see that contract we may see what he has been dancing around and hopefully, we can stop sending military vehicles to the Saudi’s. As of yet we have never sent arms to the Saudi’s, only vehicles which is bad enough.

    • Anne StreeterNovember 24, 2018 at 8:47 am #

      The Harper government initiated the deal (before MBS & Yemen) but it was Stephane Dion who signed off on it for the Liberals when there was still time to back out. As well, the equipment we are talking about are not just simple vehicles, they are killing machines.

  4. Ann ButtrickNovember 23, 2018 at 9:41 pm #

    Where is Canada’s voice? Our leadership? So deaf, so cynical, yes. Our government appears to weakly look aside as tens of thousands of children are being slaughtered in Yemen. We see the carnage on nightly TV. We cannot say we don’t know what’s happening. Please, Mr. Trudeau, speak out, as other countries are clearly doing.

    And if we are doing something ‘behind the scenes’ to curb the arms trade with the Saudis, please let us know.

  5. Anne StreeterNovember 23, 2018 at 7:08 pm #

    I agree wholeheartedly with Allan Hansen’s comments. As well, why is Trudeau stalling on banning the arms deal with Saudi Arabia? He keeps repeating “we are looking into it”. Others countries have moved quickly. What is wrong with Canada! Are Trudeau and Freeland just hoping that the issue will quietly go away? This mustn’t be allowed to happen!

  6. George SorgerNovember 23, 2018 at 7:02 pm #

    Our government has stated repeatedly that it is concerned about human rights and assures us, the citizens, that it supports human rights. This meets the approval of Canadians, which is why our government keeps repeating it. It is therefore hypocritical to be selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, knowing that it is violating the most basic rights of millions of Yemenis by committing the war crime of collective punishment, i.e. massive bombing campaigns and not permitting basic needs to go through Yemeni main ports.
    We need laws to ensure that this kind of criminal behaviour is not tolerated and armed by our government and that Canadian weapons industries not profit from war crimes

  7. Allan HansenNovember 23, 2018 at 6:41 pm #

    To all of the above mentioned organization, to most of whom I am an annual contributor: you have my full and complete endorsement to do whatever you must to have Bill C-47 passed into law! Thank you all for your attempts to firstly bring peace to those Middle Eastern, African and Latin American countries whom only know the terror created by armaments being discharged at them and bombs raining down on them which were manufacture by western arms manufacturers whom were making a killing on both ends of their production lines!

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