Law reform needed to ensure Canada meets global arms trade standards

Status Report on Bill C-47

For all those of you following the passage of Bill C-47, the legislation to permit Canada to join the Arms Trade Treaty, we are pleased to attach the updated Civil Society Brief presented to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and International Trade on 21 November 2018.

“The government of Canada must establish parliamentary oversight to ensure Canadian-made weapons will not be transferred to countries like Saudi Arabia, where there is a serious risk they will be used to commit war crimes, crimes against humanity and other grave human rights violations,” say a group of arms control and human rights advocates.

The Rideau Institute has played a key role along with Amnesty International Canada, Project Ploughshares, Oxfam Canada, and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) in the preparation of these materials to better inform Senators on the urgent legislative reforms still needed to Bill C-47.

See also the media release accompanying the updated brief.

Whenever the pressure builds to stop Canada’s unconscionable arms transfers to Saudi Arabia, we are told by the Government of Canada that some secret provision of the contract makes such action impossible. This level of secrecy — which is far beyond the normal bounds of commercial confidentiality — severely undermines transparency and accountability — core principles of the ATT and of democracy itself. – Peggy Mason, President of the Rideau Institute

Peggy Mason testified before the Senate Committee on behalf of the Rideau Institute on Thursday, 29 November at 10:30 am. You can hear the testimony by clicking on the following link:

For a recent commentary on the yawning gap between our government’s words and deeds, see: Canada should not let Saudi Arabia get away with murder (Cesar Jaramillo, contribution to Toronto Star, 22 November 2018).

For more information on the barbaric Saudi Arabian treatment of women who dared to campaign for the right to drive, see: Concern grows for UBC grad after report Saudi Arabia tortured activists (Michelle Ghoussoub, CBC News, posted on 22 November 2018).

It is outrageous that CBC coverage of Saudi Arabian torture of its own citizens and deliberate starvation of millions of Yemenis routinely fails to mention the direct Canadian complicity in these barbaric acts through our weapons exports to Saudi Arabia. – Peggy Mason


Photo credits: Civil Society Witnesses before the Committee on 29 November, 2018 (Project Ploughshares photo)

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