The United States signed the UN-sponsored Arms Trade Treaty last week, raising the total number of signatures to 107. Unfortunately, Canada remains one of the shrinking number of countries that have failed to sign the treaty. Months after Canada voted in favour of the treaty at the UN General Assembly, the Harper government remains reluctant to commit to the treaty.
Why the delay? According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the government continues to “consult” Canadians to determine whether “the treaty would affect lawful recreational firearms owners in Canada” (“Canada holds off on arms trade treaty even after U.S. signs,” Canadian Press, 25 September 2013):
“If properly done, an Arms Trade Treaty can help limit the worldwide trade in illicit arms,” said [Foreign Affairs spokesperson] Rick Roth in an email to CBC News on Wednesday. “At the same time, it is important that such a treaty not affect lawful and responsible firearms owners nor discourage the transfer of firearms for recreational uses such as sport shooting and hunting.”
Project Ploughshares and other members of the Control Arms Coalition dismiss as absurd claims that the treaty will have any effect on domestic gun ownership.
“It is past time for Canada to get beyond spurious claims that the treaty will affect legal Canadian gun-owners and join the states that want to save lives by ending irresponsible arms transfers,” said Ken Epps, senior program officer for Project Ploughshares, in a statement.
NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said he was shocked that the U.S., which has a much tougher gun lobby, has signed the treaty before Canada.
“The fact that the government continues to refuse to sign the treaty indicates a preference for conspiracy theories over the simple truth: this is a treaty that will help save the lives of millions of civilians around the world and it has no impact on domestic owners of firearms,” Dewar said in an email.
“Today’s signature by the United States just makes it more obvious that the Conservatives are making this decision based on gun-lobby ideology and not reality.”
Photo credit: Defence Images