Evidence of meeting #41 for Foreign Affairs and International Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was weapons.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Habib Massoud  Deputy Director, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Paul Galveias  Senior Export Control Officer, Export Controls Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Mark Fried  Policy Coordinator, Oxfam Canada, and Member, Control Arms Coalition
  • Hilary Homes  Campaigner, International Justice, Security and Human Rights, Amnesty International, and Member, Control Arms Coalition
  • Lina Holguin  Policy Director, Oxfam-Québec, and Member, Control Arms Coalition
  • Kenneth Epps  Senior Program Officer, Project Ploughshares, and Member, Control Arms Coalition
  • Steve Torino  President, Canadian Shooting Sports Association
  • Tony Bernardo  Executive Director, Canadian Shooting Sports Association
  • Solomon Friedman  Lawyer, As an Individual

4 p.m.

Senior Export Control Officer, Export Controls Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Paul Galveias

We envision it having very little impact on our relationship with the United States. Currently, as you mentioned, very few items from Canada require an export permit to the U.S. There's more than one approach that may be taken in evaluating an export, whether an individual permit is required, or an open licence, or a general licence, or even a licensing exemption.

As my colleague has stated, the ATT is seeking, in our understanding, to define what will be controlled, not necessarily how you will go about controlling it. The aspect of national discretion is very important to us in this regard and in our ability to seek to continue in the mutually advantageous and long-standing relationship we've had with the United States.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

I see.

As Canadian practice now stands, Canada would not meet expected arms treaty standards with regard to the treaty's scope because most Canada-U.S. transfer transactions are currently exempted from authorization and are not mentioned. As deputy director of the non-proliferation and disarmament division, what concerns would you advise this government to have in regard to treaty implementation? What position do you expect the United States to take in the negotiations?

4 p.m.

Deputy Director, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Habib Massoud

The United States has been very supportive of the ATT. It sees, as well as anyone, the need for common international standards.

Really, the goal here is to try to promote greater transparency and confidence among major exporters—that we all try to achieve the same goals. One of the key components, then, is going to be on reporting and transparency so that we can all be confident that we are all fulfilling these obligations we undertake. Therefore, reporting is going to be very important.

However, reporting must also be realistic and practical. For example, under the chairman's text, the chairman seems to believe that we can report in incredible detail about each and every transaction. What we have said in the PrepCom, and others have agreed with us, is that to be realistic and practical, we cannot report in such great detail. Our trade with the U.S. is the classic example of that, where, by all means, we would want to be transparent and open, but the number of transactions between Canada and the U.S. is such that we won't be able to report on each and every transaction.

In any case, there are certain limitations that we and everyone else are going to have in how much and what we can report, including, for example, national security. We don't necessarily want to be able to report in intimate detail how much the Canadian or the American armed forces are buying or selling.

There's corporate confidentiality. We shouldn't ask companies to provide such intimate details about their business transactions. We have to be realistic.

Finally, in the case of Canada, we have the Privacy Act. There's some information that, for private citizens, we just cannot give out, and we don't want to give out.

All that being said, there's still a way of being open and transparent in giving the kind of information that will promote confidence and transparency among the partners of an ATT, and this we would support.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

You have one minute.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

I'll pass my time to Mr. Van Kesteren.

June 11th, 2012 / 4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Thank you, Chair.

I wasn't expecting to ask a question, but in just listening to the conversation the thing that struck my mind was, when we talk about non-state entities, what happens in the case of rebel groups? I'm thinking specifically of the Afghans. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, I don't think Canada was a big participant. The United States obviously was, and I think the rest of the world thought that was probably a pretty good idea at that time. What about in cases like that?

4:05 p.m.

Deputy Director, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Habib Massoud

That's going to be an interesting dilemma.

Certainly one of the driving factors in this was to ensure that weapons are not going to fuel the types of conflicts we see in Africa, for example. Clearly this has a devastating effect, which we don't want to see encouraged.

We say clearly that we want to be sure that weapons are not going into the hands of terrorists. The reality is that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. How do we make that distinction? Do we make that distinction? Should we make that distinction? All excellent questions. I don't have an answer.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

Mr. Van Kesteren, that's all the time.

Do you have a final comment?

4:05 p.m.

Senior Export Control Officer, Export Controls Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Paul Galveias

If I may, just in response to your question, sir, under our principal objectives of export controls and trying to balance trade and security, the first criteria that we look at in evaluating any proposed military export is this: does or will this export cause harm to Canada or her allies? The inverse of that is whether this export is a benefit to Canada or her allies.

As my colleague has said, when you look at a situation, it's not just what will be done in terms of international security and whether it will contribute to national or regional security, stability, or conflict. It's also what Canada's wider role is in that particular question.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

Thank you very much.

We're going to move over to Madam Laverdière for five minutes, please.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you again to the two of you.

Mr. Massoud, when my colleague Mr. LeBlanc raised the issue of the delegation, I was particularly interested to hear you say that the minister was the one who decided who would be in the delegation for the last negotiations. It's interesting. The minister was here a few months ago and I asked him who had decided on the delegation; he said he didn't know. I don't know if he forgot that he had made the decision. Anyway, it was an interesting comment, and I think it furthered our understanding of the file, so I thank you for that.

At the same time, you mentioned that you did consult quite a few groups, but I understand that you consult the people in the delegation by e-mail and that kind of thing, so the consultations are relatively restricted.

I remember some years ago that we used to do large-scale consultations on that whole range of issues, most notably on human security issues. There were very formal, open consultations in which people would come to DFAIT or communicate—it was not Skype at the time, but by some other technology.

Have you seen a change towards fewer consultations in recent years?

4:10 p.m.

Deputy Director, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Habib Massoud

It really varies by issue, by forum, by personality, and by interest. It's very difficult to make such a broad generalization. It depends on how much interest there is on the subject. It depends upon who wishes to be consulted. It depends upon personalities. It depends upon ministers, and it depends upon the forum. I find it very difficult to make that kind of generalization.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

I remember also—I'm sorry to talk so much about my memories, but they are fond memories—that we used to invite a large group when there were discussions or meetings about small arms control, discussions at the UN. There was quite a large éventail of NGOs, including Project Ploughshares, I remember, and people like that who we haven't seen in the latest negotiations.

Do we know who from outside of government is going to participate in the upcoming round of negotiations in July?

4:10 p.m.

Deputy Director, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Habib Massoud

I can only speak for the Canadian delegation. I can't speak for anyone else who is going to be in the room.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

You mean you don't know? I'm talking about part of the Canadian delegation. You had the Canadian Shooting Sports Association in past delegations. Do you know if they are going to be there again, or if other organizations are going to be part of the Canadian delegation?