Documents obtained from the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs through an access to information request indicate that the cost of sending delegates to the United Nations Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, which took place from August 27th to September 7th, 2012, was borne by Canadian taxpayers. Normally, this wouldn’t be a surprise. However, one of the delegates sent might leave taxpayers scratching their heads.
Two of the three delegates sent to represent Canada at the Review Conference were from the Department of Foreign Affairs. The third delegate was Steve Torino, the President of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA).
One of the documents released is a letter sent to the Secretary-General of the Review Conference to inform him of the delegates Canada intended to send. The letter from John Baird shows each delegate with their respective affiliations, except for Steve Torino, who is listed only by name. On another document, a list of the delegates, his affiliation was crossed off using a pen.
Why would the Canadian government choose not to mention Torino’s affiliation?
The CSSA’s attitude towards the conference, expressed in a report the group published the day after the conference opened, may provide the explanation.
According to the CSSA, the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons “has been a long-standing exercise in apathy and futility…, with its only by-product being the ridiculous UN Marking System.” The report goes on to applaud the Canadian government’s deliberate efforts to avoid implementation of the UN Marking System.
The report also identifies a “lesson” that the Programme of Action teaches, according to the CSSA:
Never underestimate the depths certain bureaucracies will plumb to hoodwink the public into believing this issue is even remotely important.
Photo credit: U.S. Navy