Liberals reject increased scrutiny of arms trade

20160608_pg1_01This is a follow up to our previous blog on the NDP motion calling for a new Parliamentary committee to oversee Canada’s arms exports.

The Liberals voted down the motion, despite the fact that many other modern democracies have such oversight, including the UK and Sweden. Get further details by clicking here: Liberals reject NDP motion to increase scrutiny of arms exports (Stephen Chase, Globe and Mail, 4 October 2016).

An excellent letter to the G&M editors from Kevin Caners, Berlin, Germany highlights the chasm between this government’s campaign and post-election rhetoric of openness and transparency and its steadfast refusal to apply these principles to Canada’s military exports.

Arms and the man:

Re Liberals Reject Motion To Scrutinize Arms Exports (Oct. 5): “Is the defence industry really something we wish to cut back on?” asked the parliamentary secretary to the Foreign Affairs Minister, while defending her government’s rejection of an NDP motion for more parliamentary oversight of arms exports.

Maybe I’m just unimaginative, but I can’t really think of a better industry to cut back on than the one that sells weapons to tyrannical regimes like Saudi Arabia.

Refusing calls for parliamentary oversight so that his government can proceed with arms deals with one of the world’s worst human rights violators isn’t what I imagined Justin Trudeau meant when he promised “sunny ways.” How much longer will Canadians use Mr. Trudeau’s considerable charm and style as a reason to give his government the benefit of doubt, when sadly the substance continues to be much the same?”

 Clearly this is going to be a long struggle.  And we at intend to be in it for as long as it takes.  Canada’s constructive re-engagement with the world cannot be fueled even in part by an arms export policy that demeans human rights, emboldens tyrants and undermines both regional and international peace and security.

Yes, we can do better!

Update: What next for the Colombia Peace Deal?

For an update on our September 22nd blog on the Colombia peace deal, narrowly rejected in a recent referendum, see this statement by the International Crisis Group: Reassembling Colombia’s Rejected Peace Deal (6 October 2016).

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8 Responses to “Liberals reject increased scrutiny of arms trade”

  1. Howard A. DoughtyOctober 8, 2016 at 10:07 am #

    I have no idea why Anne Streeter finds the Liberal position to be “absolutely shocking” or why Don Kerr “expect[s] the Liberal government to be progressive when it comes to civil liberties and modest social justice issues.” The Liberal and Conservative parties are merely the hard and soft sides of social control.

    Writing about the United States (“In a Manner that Must Shame God Himself,” Harper’s Magazine, November, 1972), my New York friend Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) said that there are two “imaginary” political parties in the USA, the Democrats and the Republicans and that there are two “real” political parties in the USA, the Winners and the Losers. He added that, since both imaginary parties are controlled by Winners, in every election this much is certain: the Winners will win.

    Bernie Sanders’ noble uprising and Donald Trump’s unique awfulness notwithstanding, not much has changed in the USA in the past 45 years (or ever). In Canada, however, the NDP (which I have supported as a putative but decreasingly enthusiastic adult since 1963) has occasionally offered an alternative to Carol Pickuip’s (and, originally, Tommy Douglas’) “Tweedle-dum” and “Tweedle-dee” analogy.

    Alas, the NDP has also drifted rightwards ever since the Ontario party purged the Waffle in Orillia one sad day in 1972, more recently eliminated even the word “socialism” from its party “brand,” and waffled (so to speak) on some of the most pressing issues in Canada today – not least foreign and military policy.

    Not unless or until the NDP returns to its roots, will there be an effective voice for sanity in our country’s approach to global issues. Meantime, let’s not forget that, in Lewis Carroll’s increasingly “realistic” version of reality, Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee AGREED to have a battle, hence proving that the apparent contest between Democrats and Republicans and/or Liberals and Conservatives are merely competition about which “face” is going to represent corporate capitalism in government and which is going to pretend to be a serious alternative.

    Note to New Democrats: Canada already has a nominally progressive, fundamentally unprincipled and relentlessly opportunistic political party in the Liberals. Why would anyone want to vote for a cheap imitation? Whether or not it is fated to be Canada’s perpetual federal “loser,” New Democrats should understand that it’s better to be defeated over something, than to be victorious over nothing.

    Winning for the sake of winning means that, once the victory is celebrated, all effort will be directed toward winning again and the reasons why the fight was fought in the first place will be conveniently forgotten. Just ask Tony Blair, if not Harold Wilson. Meanwhile, the search should begin for our own Jeremy Corbyn (or at least a modest imitation of Tommy Douglas).

  2. Carol PickuipOctober 7, 2016 at 2:54 pm #

    Another terrible move by this Neo-Liberal government led by a pretty face and lots of photo ops!! Wake up Canada and vote for a real change-The New Democratic Party-the other two are Tweedledum & Tweedledee.

  3. Don KerrOctober 7, 2016 at 8:27 am #

    We can expect the Liberal government to be progressive when it comes to civil liberties and modest social justice issues; but for the issues of our obscene inequality and corporate power, they will not substantially change it because: 1. they tend to believe the neo-liberal ideology that the market always knows best, 2.. that GDP is the only measure of economic performance and, 3. they depend on the support of Can Council of Chief Executives, Fraser Institute, CD Howe Inst., and the business classes. On these issues, they will talk to the left and lead from the right. Unfortunately, the NDP are not much better as they look for electoral success instead of promoting what’s really needed in the fight against neo-liberalism.

  4. Mary Ann BaxterOctober 6, 2016 at 8:12 pm #

    no surprise here. I am increasingly disillusioned with this government. It claims to be Liberal and working for the Canadian people but is increasingly acting more like Harper Cons.. no country should sell arms to another nation..for any reason..and most especially not to a nation with deplorable Human Rights…if we do so then we can not complain when those arms are used either against us, or UN forces, or against a smaller less powerful nation

  5. demetriosOctober 6, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

    What does one expect? Not just Canada, everybody’s lining up to sell the Saudis arms because they have very deep pockets. This placing of profit ahead of people is a sickening development that we have almost become used to, but it’s WRONG!

    We are witnessing today a most troubling situation where most Canadians (and Americans) are kept comfortably assuaged by the government and the corporations (that control the media). Don’t worry, be happy, make money, buy goods, don’t stop.

    While Mr. Trudeau isn’t as bad on the surface, it is becoming increasingly apparent that he is just another “talking head” who may be just as harmful as the Harper Government for humanity and the environment. This endless pursuit of profit has to be curtailed if we are to move to a better future for Canadians and the World.

  6. John TeeOctober 6, 2016 at 5:44 pm #

    Trudeau Jr. is a Washington lapdog and follows traditional Canadian subservience in foreign affairs as just another cog in the NATO American war machine. Soon we can expect to see intruding imperial missiles and jets shot down in sovereign Syrian airspace and who knows what after that…

  7. Anne StreeterOctober 6, 2016 at 5:23 pm #

    Absolutely shocking! I thought that motion would be a no brainer – an all party parliamentary committee to oversee Canadian arms sales. What in the world is wrong with the Liberals! A response from Pamela Goldsmith-Jones (Foreign Affairs Parl. sec) was a real zinger – when referring to the NDP motion she said that she was “disappointed by the disregard for tens of thousands of Canadian livelihoods”! That blew me away – jobs building deadly war machines! Can’t we do better than that!


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