Canada at a crossroads with its arms export policy

Professor Paul Rogers of Bradford University focuses his latest commentary on the power and pervasiveness of the “military-industrial-academic-bureaucratic complex”:

At the core of the complex is a largely self-sustaining system demonstrating a high degree of integration between manufacturers, the military and political leaderships, all benefiting from security policies predicated on the potential and actual use of force.

As well as manufacturers and the military, it involves universities, research institutes, security and intelligence agencies and government ministries. All of these constitute bureaucracies that gain financial resources which are frequently based on raised perceptions of external threats that require capabilities based specifically on military force.

With respect to academic linkages, consider that in Canadian universities, a key source of research and project funding is from the Department of National Defence, with no comparable funding source for studies on arms control and disarmament or diplomatic peacemaking. See for example the following excerpt from Canada’s new Defence Policy, announced in June 2017:

To transform defence innovation in Canada, the Defence team will: Invest $1.6 billion over the next 20 years to implement the new Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program, including: creating clusters of defence innovators (academics, industry and other partners) to conduct leading-edge research and development….

The incredible political power of this entire “system” and the challenges it poses to democratic control and accountability are extremely troubling.  This is why Bill C-47, Canada’s legislation to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty, is so vitally important.  Canada’s economy is not yet fatally enmeshed in the global arms trade, but we are clearly headed in that direction. Bill C-47 can help us reverse course.  Says RI President Peggy Mason:

Strict adherence to the global standards enshrined in the Arms Trade Treaty would not only help curtail this dangerous trend but provide much-needed global leadership for an industry careening out of democratic control.

But for this to happen, the current draft legislation needs further amendments, beyond the most welcome “hard legal limit” on the Foreign Minister’s ability to approve arms export permits to problematic destinations introduced by the government back in March.  What remains to be done is to close the gaping loophole in Canada’s export controls that Bill C-47 simply ignores — the current lack of any requirement whatsoever for export permits to our biggest weapons destination, the United States.

Not only is there a free pass for Canadian arms destined for the USA, but America is then free to ship them on to whatever destination they choose, even if Canada would never consider allowing a direct export there. – Peggy Mason

Bill C-47 is in the final stage — Third Reading — of consideration in the House of Commons. Members of Parliament are expected to vote on the draft bill sometime during early June. It will then go to the Senate for review.  It is essential that Senators hear from civil society about the further amendments that are urgently needed to Bill C-47.

In the coming days will be coordinating with other organizations and interested Canadians to ensure that Senators get the message! – Steve Staples, Vice-President of the Rideau Institute

And please NOW take the time to email our Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland at: to indicate Bill C-47 is just not credible without the inclusion of Canadian military exports to the United States.

For the full article by Paul Rogers, click here: A war-promoting hydra (, 25 May 2018).

For an excellent critique of the current legislation by NDP Foreign Affairs critic Hélène Laverdière, click here:  Liberals Will Keep Allowing Weapons To Be Sold To Human Rights Abusers (, 24 May 2018).

For the blog post outlining key amendments needed to Bill C-47 to  bring it into conformity with the requirements of the international Arms Trade Treaty, click Bill C-47 leaves majority of Canada’s military exports unregulated (, 2 March 2018).


Photo credit: Destroyed house in south of Sanaa, Yemen (Wikimedia Commons).


Tags: "substantial risk" criteria, Bill C-47. Arms Trade Treaty, Canadian defence policy, Canadian Export and Import Permits Act, export control policy, global arms trade, International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law, LAVs, Light Armoured Vehicles, Military Industrial Complex, military-industrial-academic-bureaucratic complex, Professor Paul Rogers, Saudi Arabia, Steven Chase, War crimes, Yemen