Harper seeking to increase arms exports

The Conservative government is trying to ease restrictions on arms exports to four countries – Peru, Chile, Brazil and South Korea (Lee Berthiaume, Ottawa looking to expand weapons exports, PostMedia News, July 25, 2013). The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development recently began consultations on adding these four countries to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List.

DFATD did not give a reason why they want these four countries added to the list, but it is suspected that an arms sale to the nations will occur shortly after.

The last country to be added was Colombia this past December, and a few days later, Canada sold Colombia 24 armoured vehicles like the type used by Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, for $65.3 million.

It was made clear in the last federal budget that the government intends for the defence industry and arms exports to “provide Canada with a stronger manufacturing base with a capacity for leading-edge technology and innovation.”

…the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries, an umbrella group that represents the sector, says the defence and security industry generated $12.6 billion in economic activity last year, of which $6.4 billion was from foreign sales. The association, which appears to have the Conservative government’s ear, says it wants to double those exports over the next five years, which will only be achievable with federal support.

But [Steven] Staples, a frequent critic of increased military spending, questioned both the logic and morality around turning Canada into a global arms dealer. “The arms industry is no way to build an economy that Canadians can be proud of,” he said. “Rather we should be looking at things like energy and environmental technology. We could be leaders in mass transportation.”

Canada does not have a clean history of arms exports. Recently concerns were raised over Canadian tanks exported to Saudi Arabia, which were seen in neighbouring Bahrain crushing pro-democracy protests.

Photo credit: DND

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