Statement by CSO’s on the occasion of Canada’s accession to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)

att.pngWe Canadian civil society organizations, namely, Amnesty International Canada, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam- Quebec, Project Ploughshares and the Rideau Institute, long active in the effort to strengthen Canadian controls on the export of military equipment, today applaud the Government of Canada’s formal announcement of this country’s accession to the global Arms Trade Treaty.

As Minister Freeland herself stated, the ATT opened for signature in 2013 so this step by Canada is long overdue and most welcome. In particular we commend the Government of Canada for the legislative and regulatory changes to Canada’s export control regime to more effectively regulate Canada’s arms exports in accordance with the high global standards set out in the ATT.

“Canada’s new arms export vetting procedures include an obligation on the Foreign Minister to deny an export permit where there is a “substantial risk” the Canadian-made weapons could be used to commit or to facilitate serious human rights abuses or undermine international peace and security.” - Cesar Jaramillo, Project Ploughshares

Another important change to existing practice is that, for the first time ever, export permits will be required for some US-destined weapons – namely full conventional weapons systems, albeit under an expedited method without a prior risk assessment.

“The inclusion of at least some exports to the USA is a modest first step toward full compliance and transparency in Canada’s military exports with its largest trading partner. Hopefully, Canada will amend the legislation in the future to meet all its obligations under the ATT, which requires export permits and risk assessments for all conventional weapons exports, including parts and components, to all destinations.” – Thomas Woodley, Canadians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East (CJPME)

This action by Canada to formally join the Arms Trade Treaty comes against a backdrop of controversy over our continuing export of LAVs to Saudi Arabia, despite that country’s shocking record of internal repression and war crimes in Yemen. Most recently, the UK has suspended weapons exports to Saudi Arabia in light of the UK Court of Appeal ruling them in violation of international law and the U.S. Congress has voted for a second time to ban American arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

“Canadian exports to Saudi Arabia have now been under review for a full 8 months. In the meantime, our exports to Saudi Arabia have continued with, according to some credible media reports, alleged use of Canadian LAVs in Yemen, even as the peace process flounders and civilians continue to suffer from indiscriminate air strikes, torture and forced recruitment of children. The time has come for Canada to take decisive action, once and for all, and suspend any further weapons exports to Saudi Arabia.” – Peggy Mason, Rideau Institute

We believe that joining the Arms Trade Treaty will only be meaningful if Canada “walks the talk” and ensures that, henceforth, our export of weapons will strictly comply with the global standards set out in that Treaty.



  • Amnesty International Canada (English branch): Lucy Scholey, Media Relations, (w) 613-744- 7667 x 236 (c) 613-853-2142; [email protected]
  • Oxfam-Québec: Camille Garnier, relations medias (w) 514 905-1027 (c) 514-513-0506; [email protected]
  • Oxfam-Canada: Paula Baker, Media Relations, (p) 613-240-3047; [email protected]
  • Rideau Institute: Peggy Mason, President; (w) 613 565-9449 ex.24 (c) 613 612-6360; [email protected]
  • Project Ploughshares: Cesar Jaramillo, Executive Director, Executive Director of Project Ploughshares, 519 888-6541 ext. 24302; [email protected]
  • Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East: Miranda Gallo, Campaigns Coordinator, 438-380-5410; [email protected]

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  • Buzz Ware
    commented 2019-07-18 12:37:07 -0400
    Excellent article. I’ve come across something that should be alarming to Canadians and that is old orange head down south.
    “President Trump released his third presidential budget request today, after a month-long delay due to the government shutdown. And it’s a doozy.

    President Trump’s priorities for FY 2020 go even further than last year’s request in bloating the already enormous military budget, requesting $750 billion for the military —an increase of 5 percent, or $34 billion, from the 2019 enacted budget.

    That would put 57 percent of the $1.3 trillion discretionary budget into the Pentagon and nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, total funding for all other agencies, from the Department of Education to Veterans Affairs and NASA, is only $543 billion, down from $597 billion budgeted in 2019 – a nine percent decrease.

    The budget pretends to be fiscally responsible, but it relies to an unprecedented degree on one of the biggest budget gimmicks of the 21st century, a Pentagon slush fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations. This account was first established to pay for wars in 2001, but has become a genie in a bottle for the fulfillment of any Pentagon wish that doesn’t fit in the regular budget. Administrations can claim to keep Pentagon spending under control, and stuff the extra into the slush fund. The Trump budget takes full advantage, more than doubling funding for this Pentagon slush fund, to $165 billion, up from $81 billion enacted last year.

    The top-line budget numbers released today in the president’s “A Budget for a Better America” document provide a broad outline of the President’s priorities — more specific numbers are expected to be released next week.

    But the document lays out some of the incredibly out-of-touch, militaristic items flagged for national security funding increases, like the “United States Space Force (USSF)” proposed as a sixth branch of the Armed Forces. And the budget touts the ramp-up of funds to begin and ramp up a planned $1 trillion-plus commitment to U.S. nuclear weapons capacity. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the Dept. of Energy also gets an 8.9 percent boost to $16.5 billion for even more nuclear weapons proliferation."

    - above from the National Priorities website in an article entitled, Trump’s FY2020 Budget Request Bloats Militarized Spending—and Slashes Actual Human Needs
    This is a terrible blow to nuclear non-proliferation and the usual and not-so-usual bugaboos and straw men will be invoked to rationalize the “necessity” for such programs.
    With the rise of nationalism and recycling of the playbook of the John Birch Society by such “avatars” as Stephen Knight and Jim Bannon, America is stumbling into a self-inflicted oblivion of its nation-state. Its become increasingly clear that corporate welfare for arms manufacturers brokered by dealer/lobbyists (ex- generals and Senators) is driving the government into bankruptcy- both moral and fiscal.

    Canada must resist the lower impulses of our neighbours to the south especially as it relates to patriotism and its ugly twin militarism.