An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments)

Sponsor

Status

In committee (House), as of Oct. 3, 2017

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Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Export and Import Permits Act to

(a) define the term “broker” and to establish a framework to control brokering that takes place in Canada and that is undertaken by Canadians outside Canada;

(b) authorize the making of regulations that set out mandatory considerations that the Minister is required to take into account before issuing an export permit or a brokering permit;

(c) set May 31 as the date by which the Minister must table in both Houses of Parliament a report of the operations under the Act in the preceding year and a report on military exports in the preceding year;

(d) increase the maximum fine for a summary conviction offence to $250,000;

(e) replace the requirement that only countries with which Canada has an intergovernmental arrangement may be added to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List by a requirement that a country may be added to the list only on the recommendation of the Minister made after consultation with the Minister of National Defence; and

(f) add a new purpose for which an article may be added to an Export Control List.

The enactment amends the Criminal Code to include, for interception of private communications purposes, the offence of brokering in the definition of “offence” in section 183.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Oct. 3, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-47, An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments)

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from the Green Party for hopefully bringing a sense of comfort to the many gun owners in my riding, where hunting is very much a part of the way of life for many people and many of my constituents.

The NDP will support Bill C-47 at second reading, and we hope to see amendments at committee. Since the member does not get a chance to participate actively in those committees, I would ask her if there are amendments she would like to see brought forward in addition to the one concerning tracking arms through the United States.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak on Bill C-47, an act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code. In 2016, the Liberals announced that they would agree to sign the UN Arms Trade Treaty. This bill, if adopted, would implement the ATT.

Conservatives have always supported efforts to establish international standards for the trade of arms, which would help prevent illicit transfers to tyrannical regimes, terrorists, or criminal organizations bent on harming innocent people throughout the world and fuelling conflicts with their neighbours. I am stating for the record, which I am sure will not surprise many of my hon. colleagues in the House, that I oppose this bill. There are several reasons I oppose it, and for the benefit of Canadians watching on CPAC or in the House, I will explain why.

First, Canada already has an accountable and robust internal system to monitor and control the export of military and security equipment, controls that meet or exceed those laid out in the ATT. The Trade Controls Bureau, which regulates the Export and Import Permits Act, has provided ministers, since the beginning of the cold war, with the ability to prevent the export of heavily restricted items of a military nature to countries that, for a variety of reasons, are perceived to be a threat internally or externally or are under sanctions by the United Nations. We take this seriously. We restrict dangerous items, which include military, strategic dual-use goods, nuclear energy materials and technology, missile, chemical, or biological goods, and cryptological equipment.

Second, we have a comprehensive and rigorous system in place to track and record more items, not fewer, than will be required under the ATT. What is more, Canadians are doing the tracking, not foreign governments. Canadian agencies, fully accountable to Parliament, like the Canada Border Services Agency, which tracks items, and Statistics Canada, which collects information on all items exported from Canada, classify these items using categories negotiated by the World Customs Organization.

Third, Canada has at its disposal the area control list under the Export and Import Permits Act. Through an act of the Governor in Council, a country can be placed on this list and receive a blanket trade ban. North Korea is there right now. In the past, the list has included other countries like Belarus and Myanmar.

Fourth, countries that represent most of the sales of military equipment, like Russia and the United States, have either not signed or likely will not ratify the ATT. How effective is this? How does the government currently think that the ATT would be very effective when key participants in the trade of these items are not part of the treaty?

Fifth, any military trade treaty should explicitly recognize the legitimacy of lawful ownership of firearms by responsible citizens for uses such as sports shooting, hunting, and collecting. The Conservatives have taken a strong and principled stance on this issue. We believe that any military trade treaty must recognize the legitimacy of lawful ownership of firearms by responsible citizens for their recreational use. This is why we did not sign the treaty when we were in government. We could not guarantee the protection of such traditional Canadian activities like hunting, for example.

We must remember that our primary duty as parliamentarians is to protect the rights and freedoms of Canadians. The member for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies stood in the House and did a great job of outlining that issue for law-abiding gun owners, hunters, and recreational firearm enthusiasts. He was asked about this matter in particular and faced a few questions, and there were calls for the member and others to point to where in the legislation there would be a gun registry. I am not going to waste everybody's time here rereading that bill into the record as it has already been done by the member for Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies.

Before members ask me to point to sections that talk about keeping records, I should specify that it is “any records” that the minister stipulates, or the section that references that the minister can require “any person or organization that is required to keep records” to retain them for any period. I challenge members to take the bill back to their ridings and have a farmer, a hunter, a sports shooting enthusiast, or even a gun collector interpret it for them. I guarantee there will be a lot of questions on it.

I am sure they will give their thoughts on another gun registry, a registry—I might remind members—that targeted law-abiding firearms owners, cost the taxpayers of Canada some $2 billion, and did absolutely nothing to prevent firearms from getting into the hands of criminals.

Now we have a government that promised not to introduce a gun registry, yet here it is, the very strong potential for a backdoor gun registry. This seems to be the modus operandi for the government: to introduce proposals that it knows will not pass muster, under some guise. As the old saying goes, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

Summer is the traditional time for vacations or in the case of farmers and entrepreneurs a very busy time, especially in my riding where the summer tourist season is short in some cases. In Ontario we had weather that was not exceptional for some tourist operators, marinas, hotels, and that sort of thing, so that is a crucial period and they are very busy. In the midst of summer, the Minister of Finance tried to slip past massive tax hikes on small business owners, professionals, and farmers, many of whom were in the fields when this was announced. They were busy.

What is it about law-abiding Canadians who are minding their own business that the government has such an issue with? Whether it is responsible gun owners enjoying a recreational pastime or hard-working small business entrepreneurs creating the jobs that grow the economy of this country, the government seems to feel obligated to meddle with legislation that is working fine.

Conservatives agree that Canada's tax system should be fair and equitable for all, and we agree that any military trade treaty we sign needs to protect the rights of Canadian firearms enthusiasts, so why has the government tried to stifle debate and “consult” in the middle of summer? Why is the consultation period set to end next Monday, just 10 days after the resumption of Parliament? Why will the government not prove to Canadians that there was not ill intent, and extend the tax hike consultation deadline?

I can tell everyone why, and it is the same reason that we are debating this problematic bill right now. The Liberal government feels it knows better. It knows better than Canadians and it knows better than the citizens of this country. The government wants to make the world less safe by adopting the ATT, which will do less to protect Canadians, our allies, and innocent lives around the globe. The government wants to remove oversight by trusted Canadian agencies, which are accountable to Parliament and by extension the people of Canada. It wants to do this to reintroduce a piece of legislation it promised not to introduce, a piece of costly legislation nobody wants. Why? It is because it seems to know better. I am here to say it does not, and I suspect it will not be long before Canadians tell it the same thing as well. I look forward to questions from my colleagues.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to address the comments made by my colleague across the way. I wonder if he would explain to his constituents that what Bill C-47 would do, in addition to providing a more codified way in which Canada can ensure that conventional arms are not getting into the hands of people who would do undue harm to women and children in conflict zones, is that it would leave in place the exact same record-keeping regime that was in place under the previous Conservative government. Would he explain that to his constituents, and would he also explain to them that Canada has a leadership role to play in helping address situations where women and young children are unduly and negatively affected in conflict zones? Canada can help regulate and resolve some of the terrible things that happen around the world.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to rise in the House today to discuss Bill C-47, an act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code.

What I am about to say has probably been said by a number of my colleagues, but I will reiterate some of the key points.

I believe, as many government members have already stated, that under article 10 of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, Canada is required to establish brokering controls. It is important to note that within the proposed legislation, brokering is defined as arranging or negotiating a transaction that relates to the movement of goods or technology on a new brokering control list from a foreign country to another foreign country.

Under the government's proposed legislation, the act would implement controls around the brokering of military goods between two countries outside of Canada. In addition, a legal obligation would be established whereby the Minister of Foreign Affairs considers specific assessment criteria prior to authorizing permits. For summary conviction offences, the maximum fine under the Export and Import Permits Act, or EIPA, would be increased from $25,000 to $250,000. Under the Arms Trade Treaty, all states are assigned the primary responsibility in establishing and implementing their respective national control systems. Within the framework of the Arms Trade Treaty, the Department of National Defence is required to be brought into the export control system.

There have been many arguments put forward that the legislation before us is flawed. My colleagues have named a number of them. I would like to summarize some of the concerns I have with Bill C-47.

First, it is important to know that Canada already has a responsible internal system to monitor and control the export of military and security equipment that meets or exceeds the UN treaty.

There are three of four areas I will touch on.

The first is the Trade Controls Bureau in Ottawa, which regulates the Export and Import Permits Act. Since 1947, it has allowed the minister to prevent the supply of military equipment to countries for a variety of reasons, including those that are a security threat, involved in internal or external conflict, or are under sanctions by the United Nations.

The second is that specific items are already heavily restricted by Canada include military or strategic dual-use goods; nuclear energy materials and technology; missile, chemical or biological goods; and cryptological equipment. Companies throughout Canada are leaders in many of these areas.

The third is that we are already tracking and recording more than what is required under the Arms Trade Treaty. Canada Border Services Agency and Statistics Canada collect information on all items exported from Canada and classify these items using categories negotiated by the World Customs Organization.

Canada can also utilize a blanket ban on trade with risk countries through the use of the area control list, which, under the Export and Import Permits Act, through an act of the Governor in Council, a country can be placed on that list. North Korea is there at present. In the past, the list has included Belarus and Myanmar.

Furthermore, countries that represent the majority of the sales of military equipment, Russia and the United States, have either not signed or have not, and likely will not, ratified the treaty, which has been mentioned by my colleagues here today. Like many ineffective international treaties, the key participants in the trade are not part of the treaty, which raises alarm bells in itself.

The Department of National Defence, as a crown department, is traditionally exempted from the export control system. Exports of military aid or government-to-government gifts do not require authorization, and occur without oversight by Canadian export control officials.

Article 5 of the Arms Trade Treaty would require bringing our Department of National Defence into the export control system. I know that many MPs have stated that any Arms Trade Treaty should explicitly recognize the legitimacy of lawful ownership of firearms by responsible citizens for uses such as sports shooting, hunting, and collecting.

The Liberals have moved forward with an Arms Trade Treaty that does not respect the legitimate trade or use of hunting and sporting firearms. We are concerned that little or no consultation with lawful gun owners was undertaken by the Liberals before they unilaterally decided to accede to this treaty. That brings to mind a meeting I held in my own constituency early in September, when I met with gun owners throughout my constituency and had a workshop with them. This bill was raised by those individuals in discussions.

They are the ones that were concerned about whether the government would be bringing in a backdoor gun registry again, as my colleague from Kawartha Lakes just mentioned. This is a concern that is on people's minds, not only in my constituency. My colleague from Yorkton—Melville has mentioned as well that there was a concern in her area, my neighbouring constituency in Saskatchewan.

There are a number of reasons Canadians are feeling they cannot possibly trust the Liberal government when it comes to some of these areas, or they have concerns about some of the things that might be in this bill. That is because the government has already not fulfilled some of the other promises they made, and have driven extensive legislation out of the way to overtax citizens in Canada. The carbon tax, the implementation of the corporate tax laws it is looking at, are some examples, and of course, the idea there may be a gun registry coming back.

From the discussions and calls I have received since that meeting in Brandon three weeks ago on gun registries, Bill C-47, and the thoughts on them, we have also seen a much more driven focus by the Liberal government to tax. It is trying to bring in corporate tax changes on small businesses, medium-sized farming operations, and family farming operations. There is much concern in our rural areas about driving away professionals such as doctors, which are already in short supply.

With those concerns, I will not be supporting Bill C-47.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, before my hon. colleague's speech took a bit of a detour at the end, he was effectively affirming what we have been saying in this House over the past two days of debate on this bill. What this bill would do is keep in place a record-keeping regime that has existed since the 1940s, existed under the previous Conservative government, and in no way affects lawful gun ownership in Canada.

He referenced the brokering controls that come into place under the accession to the ATT in Bill C-47, a system that would mimic the regime that has been in place since the 1940s. All we are saying is that Canada has a role to play in ensuring the brokering of conventional arms that often enter into conflict zones, where they are used for terrible purposes, is something we as a country should be stepping up to the plate to help better oversee and monitor.

Bill C-47 is a commitment to strengthen Canada's role in the arms export regime. It does nothing to law-abiding gun owners in Canada. Does the member realize that early on his speech he effectively affirmed just that?

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak against Bill C-47, An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments).

As Conservatives, our party has always supported efforts to establish international standards for arms transfer that help prevent illicit transfers that fuel conflict, encourage terrorism, or organized crime.

There is nothing new here. The argument is around what the bill could do and whether it is really needed, and whether it is fair and effective. I will be addressing the bill from these standpoints.

However, we also believe that any treaty should recognize and acknowledge the legitimacy of lawful ownership of firearms by responsible Canadian citizens for their personal and recreational use, including sport shooting, hunting, and collecting. This is a focal point in this whole argument, so how can we agree to any act that would not at least address some internal issues that really matter to our own citizens in Canada? That is a very important element that we should address and pay attention to.

As such, this bill is ineffective and unfair. I will address those points. This bill would establish controls over brokering in military goods between two countries outside Canada, create a legal obligation on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to consider certain assessment criteria before authorizing permits, and increase the maximum fine under the EIPA from $25,000 to $250,000 for summary conviction offences. The ATT assigns the primary responsibility of all states in establishing and implementing their respective national control systems. Article 5 of the ATT requires bringing DND into the export control system.

At the outset we know that Canada has a very responsible internal system to monitor and control the export of military and security equipment, a system that meets or exceeds the UN treaty.

Based on that, we are ahead of the game and ahead of the world in how we address certain issues. The question that comes to mind is, why are we entertaining something that is less important, less effective, and also far behind? Are we taking a step forward here, or are we taking a step backwards?

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

I do not think so. I think this bill is ineffective because the Trade Controls Bureau already regulates the trade under the Export and Import Permits Act, which since 1947 has allowed the minister to prevent the supply of military equipment to countries for a variety of reasons, including if they are a security threat, are involved in internal or external conflict, or are under sanction by the United Nations.

Our regime already addresses the issue of countries under sanction by the United Nations. We are already ahead of the game, addressing and working with the United Nations. I cannot understand why this bill is necessary. It repeats existing work. It is definitely not a progressive move, but a regressive one.

Somebody has to stand up and raise the flag and ask, “Why are we doing this?”

Second, specific items are already heavily restricted by Canada. They include military or strategic dual use goods, including nuclear energy materials and technology, missiles, chemical or biological goods, and cryptological equipment. What is new? What would Bill C-47 do for us that we have not already been doing for a long time? In the 70 years since 1947, we have been ahead of the world. Therefore, if I do not call this a total waste of time, I would call it an unnecessary and time-consuming shift in focus.

Third, we are already tracking and recording more than is required under the ATT. The Canada Border Services Agency and Statistics Canada collect information on all items exported from Canada and classifies these items using categories negotiated by the World Customs Organization. Again, we have data. The ATT does not share data, which is something we also have to pay attention to. When we have our own data, we control our borders. We have all these high standards, so why should we, under any circumstance, take a step backward?

In addition, Canada can also utilize a blanket ban on trade with risky countries through the use of the area control list under the Export and Import Permits Act. Through an act of the Governor in Council, a country can be placed on the list. North Korea, at present, is an example. In the past, we have included Belarus and Myanmar on that list. Again, Canada's role has always been ahead of the international community's and on those measures. We have always been there, and our role has been a fine example to the rest of the international community, with all due respect to the United Nations itself.

Also, a very interesting point I should be bringing up is that major countries that represent the majority of sales of military equipment have declined to sign the agreement. This is evidence of why the bill is ineffective. If three of the top six countries that export military equipment are not in the treaty, logically speaking the treaty would be very ineffective. Therefore, we had better stick to our system, which we can control. It is a system that we created and under which we have been ahead of the whole world for 70 years.

The Department of National Defence, as a department of the crown, is traditionally exempt from the export control system. Exports of military aid or government-to-government gifts do not require authorization and occur without oversight by Canadian export control officials. Article 5 of the ATT would require bringing DND into the export control system.

On a final note, the bill is unfair. It is unfair to our citizens. It seems like the government is only working on improving its image, without paying attention to the interests of law-abiding Canadians, like hunters and sport shooters.

Another important argument I would bring to the House is that the government has not consulted Canadians. Where is the consultation? Where is the government that consults on everything? Why did it not consult on this with law-abiding Canadians?

Moreover, what are the benefits? There are no benefits. It is a total waste of time to even go that route. We could pay attention to more important stuff instead of just repeating something again and again. It is not a step forward. It is a step backward.

In summary, I have spoken on two important elements in regard to the bill: its ineffectiveness and its unfairness.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Mr. Speaker, I just want to bring this to the attention of the House. We all remember former minister Baird as a great guy who represented a Toronto riding. This is just something that his office said. He wanted to have fairness for law-abiding hunters and sportsmen. One of the reasons we signed on to the original agreement was the desire to exempt sports hunters and sports shooters, etc. However, that did not happen and that is why we could not sign it. Former minister Baird referred to how afraid the Liberal Party was of being branded as re-establishing that registry because it has a lot of rural ridings. He said that it does not make sense to abolish that registry only to support one internationally. That is exactly why we are opposed to Bill C-47.

Does my hon. colleague think it is okay on the one hand as a government to get rid of a registry that nobody seemed to like in Canada, and that was brought in by a former Liberal government, and then establish another one internationally? Does he think that is okay?

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak today to second reading of Bill C-47, an act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code with amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments.

This legislation is of concern to law-abiding firearms owners in my constituency of Battle River—Crowfoot. Many of us own firearms, and we use them on our farms and ranches as tools for rodent control and so on. We also enjoy sport shooting.

The Liberals' firearms laws have cost us dearly over the past decades. They have cost us considerable worry and paperwork. They have cost money that many of my constituents just do not have to spend on renewing licenses and filling out application forms and more.

Once again we see the Liberals pandering to the United Nations in their attempt to win a seat on the UN Security Council. The Liberal government is desperate for that seat and is willing to do anything to ingratiate itself with anyone who might cast a vote in favour of Canada's becoming a member.

The Liberals have snooped around and have found a military equipment treaty that Canada has yet to ratify, and that is what Bill C-47 is about. The Liberal government is forcing Canada to meet certain obligations contained in this treaty. Canada will be required to implement brokering controls. Under the proposed bill, brokering is defined as arranging or negotiating a transaction that relates to the movement of goods or technology on a brokering control list from one foreign country to another foreign country.

Our previous Conservative government did not ratify this treaty because it was really a treaty that was written for other nations. Canada is recognized as having a very responsible internal system to monitor and control the export of military and security equipment that meets or exceeds the United Nations treaty.

Canada's Trade Controls Bureau regulates the Export and Import Permits Act, which since 1947 has allowed the minister to prevent the supply of military equipment to countries for a variety of reasons, countries that are a security threat or are involved in internal or external conflict or are under sanctions of the United Nations. Canada can decide whether or not it will export to those countries.

Specific items that are already heavily restricted by Canada include military or strategic dual-use goods; nuclear energy materials and technology; missile technology; chemical and biological goods; and many other kinds of equipment. Treaties are already there for these goods.

Canada is already tracking and recording more than required under the treaty. The Canada Border Services Agency and Statistics Canada collect information on all items exported from Canada and classify the items using categories negotiated by the World Customs Organization.

Canada can also utilize a blanket ban on trade with high-risk countries through the use of the area control list under the Export and Import Permits Act. Although it takes an act of the Governor in Council, a country can be placed on that list. North Korea is currently on that list. In the past the list has included Belarus and Myanmar, as my colleague from Brandon—Souris mentioned.

Major countries that represent the majority of the sales of military equipment, Russia and the United States, have either not signed on to the treaty or have not and likely will not ratify it.

Why did I go through those four items that already show that Canada has the opportunity to regulate and to watch a country? I did it because this legislation is simply overkill. That is why the United States is not going with it. That is why Russia and other countries are not likely to ratify the agreement, although they may have signed on to it.

As with many ineffective international treaties, the key participants in the arms trade are not part of the treaty, but the Liberals want Canada to sign this treaty anyway. Why on earth do the Liberals want Canada to sign on to a treaty that was not designed with Canada in mind and is focused on other countries? Who knows why the Liberals would bring this legislation forward?

I can tell the House why I believe they did and I will tell the House in a few moments exactly what my constituents believe the Liberals are up to.

I believe this treaty will affect Canada in a negative way. Let me give the House a couple of examples.

The Department of National Defence, as a department of the crown, is traditionally exempted from the export control system. Bill C-47 would force the Department of National Defence to adhere to erroneous sections of export control systems like never before, but the Liberals do not really care about that. They just want to be able to say that Canada has ratified this United Nations agreement, this UN treaty. The United Nations will indeed be surprised, because former Prime Minister Stephen Harper declined to put Canada through this, and the international community understood why he said “no thanks” and accepted it.

We were not pushed into this. The folks at the UN will be surprised that of all things, the current Prime Minister is willingly and feverishly and actively trying to ratify this treaty. Many at the UN will consider this dusting off of an old treaty rather odd, but they will recognize that it is simply the Prime Minister desperately trying to do something, and in this case it may be that he might be able to get a few extra votes for the United Nations Security Council. They will understand and see right through this disingenuous offer to ratify.

Right now exports of military aid or government-to-government gifts do not require authorization and occur without oversight by Canadian export control officials, but with the passage of Bill C-47, Canada will be required to bring our Department of National Defence into the export control system. In other words, our national defence will now be under this agreement. This arrangement would actually work against helping other nations. It will burden Canada whenever we want to help other nations. The Department of National Defence will have more red tape—a lot more, perhaps—to cut through before we can provide the goods or services we used to be able to provide without hesitation.

How does this fit with “Canada is back”? The Prime Minister is actually putting Canada in a much more difficult position. Canada is one step back with the Prime Minister making the statement, but he has set Canada two steps back when it comes to being able to help other countries. The Prime Minister said Canada is here to help, but again, the bill would add more red tape and require the Department of National Defence to do much more.

The Liberals are denying that they are launching any new form of gun registry with the bill. However, there is a requirement for exporters or importers to retain records in a specific electronic file for a period of up to six years. This file must be made available to the ministry upon its request at any point of time. Again, my constituents question whether this requirement does not create some kind of a registry. Does this not create a registry that would be available to the minister in electronic form, naming firearms and the people who have them?

The information has to contain all the particulars pertaining to the sale, import, or export of a firearm. As well, the information does not just deal with firearms alone—

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
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Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, our government believes that regulating the international arms trade is essential for the protection of people and human rights. This is especially true for control and regulation that aim to prevent the illicit trade of arms.

The Arms Trade Treaty is about protecting people. It ensures countries effectively regulate the international trade of arms so that they are not used to support terrorism, international organized crime, gender-based violence, human rights abuses, or violations of international humanitarian law. Our government is committed to advancing export controls as a means of reducing the risks that come from the illicit trade in conventional arms. Joining the ATT, which calls on all of its state parties to set up effective export controls, is the next important step in advancing these export controls and reducing these risks.

Joining the Arms Trade Treaty will put Canada back on the same page as its closest partners and allies. Canada is the only NATO ally and the only G7 partner that has not signed or ratified the ATT.

The Arms Trade Treaty was negotiated in response to growing international concern about the direct and indirect consequences of the global arms trade on conflict, human rights, and development.

The goal is to ensure that all states take responsibility and rigorously assess arms exports. States must also regulate the legal arms trade and use transparent measures to combat illicit trade.

We recognize that unregulated or illicit arms transfers intensify and prolong conflict, lead to regional instability, contribute to violations of international humanitarian law and humans rights abuses, and hinder social and economic development.

Indeed, the proliferation of weapons, and particularly of small arms and light weapons, is one of the greatest security challenges faced by the international community. Armed conflicts affect civilians. Women and children are too frequently targeted or are innocent victims.

The consequences of illicit or irresponsible flows of conventional arms also go beyond the immediate threat of death, injury, or violence. Proliferation and illicit weapons trade contribute to a climate of persistent fear and insecurity, which undermines socio-economic growth and stability.

The Arms Trade Treaty has an important role to play in addressing these issues. Canada must be a leader in this effort, and we must lead by example.

The ATT represents the first time that the international community has agreed to a legally binding and global commitment to control exports of conventional arms. It sets a high common standard for export of arms, and seeks to eliminate illicit trade and diversion of conventional arms.

States acceding to the ATT must assess the risk that an export might be used negatively, including for human rights abuses or to contribute to organized crime. This is not always black and white. It requires looking not only at the state as a whole but also at who will take possession of the weapon, their track record, the risk that the weapon could be diverted from the purpose intended when it was exported, and other similar factors.

The ATT also requires states to consider mitigation measures to address identified risks. This treaty is very clear. If there is no way to ensure that a given export will not pose a serious threat to human rights or be used to violate international humanitarian laws or perpetrate international terrorism or crime, it must be forbidden.

Therefore, Bill C-47 would further strengthen Canada's existing processes in relation to the global movement of arms. Our changes, including those to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty, will make Canada's export control system even more robust, and will ensure a continued high standard for addressing the pressing issue of arms proliferation around the globe.

Canada’s existing export control system complies with 26 of the 28 provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty. In that sense, some changes are needed to bring Canada into full compliance with the two articles of the treaty where we fall short, namely, article 7, export and export assessment, and article 10, brokering.

One of the things the bill before us does is introduce the necessary legislative changes to ensure that we meet our ATT obligations.

Article 7 of the Arms Trade Treaty establishes common, clear, and rigorous standards regarding the factors that states must take into account before authorizing the export of any items subject to the ATT. These factors include an assessment of the potential that Canadian exports could be used to commit serious violations of human rights law or international humanitarian law, as well as the potential that the exports could fall into the hands of criminals or terrorists.

The ATT is the first arms control treaty that focuses specifically on the issue of gender-based violence and violence against women and children, issues that are very important to our government. These criteria are designed to ensure that Canada assesses the risks associated with the export of a given product or piece of technology regarding the intended end use and end user.

Bill C-47 will also ensure that Canada can fulfill the stipulations of article 10 of the ATT, which requires that every state regulate brokering. Brokering captures the transfer of arms without an export permit. The provisions of the bill ensure that Canadians who arrange the transfer of arms between a second and a third country follow the same rules as those who export arms outside Canada.

Regulating brokering activities will give our government the ability to monitor the activities of individuals and organizations that serve as intermediaries between arms dealers and the end users of military goods.

Moreover, these brokering permit requirements would also apply extraterritorially, meaning they would apply to Canadians engaged in brokering activities abroad. This additional capability will allow us to have a better idea of the types of brokering control list transfers involving Canadians that occur globally and to bring a greater level of visibility on potentially high-risk transactions brokered by Canadians.

Our government intends to go beyond the standards set by the Arms Trade Treaty and ensure that brokering regulations cover not only the conventional weapons covered by the ATT but also military articles and dual-use items that are likely destined to a weapon of mass destruction end use.

Requiring permits for brokering would ensure that comparable levels of scrutiny would also be applied to brokering activities. As a result, Canadian export permit authorities can better assess the risks of potential arms transfers before they occur to determine their suitability, and to deny a permit for such transfers where there is an overriding risk of the negative consequences of one of the export permit criteria, including the risk of serious violation of international human rights law or international humanitarian law.

I would like to point out that there is a legitimate role for brokers who arrange or facilitate sales for reputable arms manufacturers. Unfortunately, there are also those who do not act responsibly and who choose instead to profit from the sales of arms, even though they know that they will fall into the wrong hands.

Internationally, there are far too many cases where unscrupulous arms dealers put profits ahead of human life. Transactions facilitated by those dealers have given rise to the transfer of firearms to conflict zones, in direct violation of United Nations firearms embargoes, and to terrorist or criminal groups. This legislation will make it possible for responsible Canadian dealers to hold permits and conduct legal activities. It will ensure that those who choose to act unethically will also end up acting illegally.

Beyond the changes required by the ATT, the bill will enhance Canada's export and import controls by addressing the issue of penalties imposed on individuals who try to circumvent Canadian law and regulations. The bill will increase the maximum fine for a summary conviction offence from $25,000 to $250,000 for any offence under the Export and Import Permits Act. Increasing the maximum penalty underscores the seriousness of these offences that contribute directly to destabilizing accumulations of weapons and technologies in conflict zones around the world.

Let me reiterate that these new measures would ensure that our government will be better able to pursue bad-faith actors and hold them to account. At the same time, Canada would be in a better position to review bona fide arms transfers to legitimate end-users. Canada would also be able to effectively penalize those who would try to circumvent these processes.

I would like to make it clear that Canada's accession to the Arms Trade Treaty does not and would not affect domestic ownership of firearms or Canada's domestic firearms laws and policies. The ATT would govern the import and export of conventional arms, not the trade in sporting and hunting firearms owned and used by law-abiding Canadian citizens.

However, the ATT does not limit the number or type of arms a country can sell. The ATT simply requires states to establish rigorous export controls of the kind that Canada already has in place to ensure that exports are not put to unforeseen harmful use.

The ATT is not a one-size-fits-all system. It recognizes that states' export control systems must meet their national needs. It does not prevent states from including expedited processes in their export control systems, as Canada does for close allies, such as the United States.

The government will ensure that exports are assessed in accordance with the criteria set out in the ATT and that they do not violate the prohibitions in the treaty.

Turning now to the Export and Import Permits Act and to the Criminal Code, we have indicated to Canadians that our government is committed to strengthening Canada's export controls with respect to military and strategic goods and technology. This bill and our commitment to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty are part of our promise to increase the rigour of Canada's export-control system. As members are aware, Canada already has a robust export control system. We are a key member of a number of export control and non-proliferation regimes that allow us to exchange information on trends in arms movement and on best practices with our allies.

In addition, Canada has a strong sanctions regime that includes sanctions related to the export or sale of arms. Canadian sanctions are part of a multilateral action. They reflect the work we do in concert with our allies. Sanctions are implemented in Canada through the United Nations Act or the Special Economic Measures Act.

Canada has its own financial intelligence unit with respect to illicit financing of arms. The mandate of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada is to facilitate the detection, prevention, and deterrence of money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities. Our government is taking steps to ensure that these new obligations do not unduly hinder or restrict legitimate transfers of military, dual-use, and other strategic items that are aligned with our national interests and do not pose undue risk.

It is the government's intention to apply the ATT assessment criteria not only to those goods specifically outlined in the ATT, but also to all dual-use, military, and strategic goods. Our government will also apply the ATT assessment criteria to both export and brokering permit applications. We will thus exceed the standards set by the ATT, and strengthen our export control system at the same time. Indeed, our government intends to see Canada establish a particularly high standard when it comes to gender-based violence and violence against women and children. The fact that this issue was included in the treaty is a clear sign of the power of advocacy by states like Canada who are determined to address gender-based violence.

While this is given less attention and consideration in the ATT than other criteria, Canada intends to propose including gender-based violence in the regulations, applying a higher standard, and assessing the risks related to gender-based violence to a broader set of exports than those defined within the ATT. These new measures would ensure that our government is better able to pursue bad-faith actors and hold them to account. Canada would also be better able to effectively penalize those who would try to circumvent these processes.

Canadian businesses would still be able to conduct legitimate transactions in pursuit of Canadian strategic and defence interests and the strategic interests of our allies.

Finally, these changes would allow Canada to meet its international obligations and accede to the ATT. I encourage all my colleagues here today to seek to advance this bill rapidly so that Canada can once again take its rightful place with its international partners as a state party to the Arms Trade Treaty.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2017 / 10:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, it is my honour to rise today to debate Bill C-47, particularly after the speech from the parliamentary secretary, which ended with incorrect information to this place in response to the question from the member for the NDP. Actually, Canada would be worse off than it was before. He said that this would send Canada ahead with respect to the aims of the treaty. That is not only incorrect on the factual review of the treaty itself, but it shows the parliamentary secretary's lack of understanding of our current arms control regime in Canada.

Therefore, for his benefit, and for the benefit of the few of my Liberal friends listening, I will take him through that.

The bill is part of the Liberal's election promise to implement the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, the ATT, which has been debated in the UN, has been brought forward, and signed by some countries but not by others.

My remarks will focus on four key points. Three of those go to the inferior nature of the ATT when compared, side by side, with what Canada does now, and did do under the previous Conservative government, the Liberal government previous to that, and so on, back to the 1940s. I will give three points on how it is inferior and a final point on its inherent unfairness, lack of clarity, and over breadth.

First, this is inferior to what Canada does now under the Export and Import Permits Act and the regulations and orders in council that can be brought forward by government under that legislation. I hope the parliamentary secretary will take notes, because he will need to research this after I go through some of it.

The first point I make is on the Trade Controls Bureau.

We empower a department of the government, and have since the 1940s, to ensure that military equipment sales, issues related to security, crypto logical equipment, and nuclear biological risks are not only governed and tracked but are controlled. We have a bureau already, not in New York, in Ottawa, that has been doing this very effectively for many years. The Trade Controls Bureau has been empowered and does this for each Parliament. I would invite the member to look at the Trade Controls Bureau and see how we specifically address, track, and control trade in military equipment, other items of security, or other interests. All Parliaments have done it. Both Liberal and Conservative governments have done it.

My second point is that we specifically name, from a Canadian point of view, items for export that need to be tracked and controlled. I will review what those are for the member because they are called out specifically.

Military or strategic dual use goods, so some goods that can be used for a military or civilian purpose, are specifically tracked. Other items are nuclear energy materials and technology; missile related technology; chemical or biological goods; and crypto logical equipment and code breaking, particularly in the age of the Internet. Many companies in Canada are world leaders in this technology, like SecureKey and others. We already monitor, control, and, in many cases, restrict export of these technologies.

One problem in the past that we know of was that a previous government, the government of Pierre Trudeau, had some issues when nuclear technology was traded for peaceful use and was tracked, but unfortunately may have been used to develop capabilities with respect to weaponized use of that technology.

I use that as a point of reference to show how, over many Parliaments, Canada has done this. We did not wait for the United Nations. Had we done that, it would have been a bit of a lawless west. As a responsible parliamentary democracy, Canada has been doing this.

I invite the member to review the specific items controlled under the Export and Import Permits Act that we charge the Trade Controls Bureau to monitor.

My third point on how our existing system is superior to an inferior UN treaty is the tracking.

The items I just outlined, including military equipment, cryptological, nuclear, and biological, are tracked by both the Canada Border Services Agency and by Statistics Canada, and not just under our own reference points. We use the World Customs Organization tracking figures for these items. We track and limit the trade in these items far more than what the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty does.

An article in Ceasefire magazine calls the UN's ATT a failure. The third item it tracked was its lack of transparency. There is no tracking internationally under this treaty. Canada already does it.

I hope the parliamentary secretary rewrites the notes the government has been passing around on the bill, because they do not accord with our legislative record or Canada's responsible treatment of controlled technologies, including not only military but nuclear technology as well.

Canada was the fourth country to have controlled nuclear fission. We have 70,000 people in Canada that work in this area. Our CANDU technology is the best in the world in capability and its safety record. We have taken this very seriously since the 1940s and we track according to the World Customs Organization tracking codes for each of those items.

I have a fourth point at which I would invite the Liberals to look.

Right now, we have what is called an area of control list under the Export and Import Permits Act. That empowerment in the bill, through an order in council, can specifically limit sales of anything to a country. Right now the only country on the area control list is North Korea, and it is probably very good it is on there. I would agree with the government if it wants to keep that country on the list. In the past, the area control list has included Belarus and Myanmar.

Not only do we already have a system of controls, tracking, and itemization that is far superior to what is proposed in the bill, our legislation as it stands in Canada can ban a country entirely. That is a tool the government can use if it is about control of anything, not just our controlled items that I have said are tracked.

The cabinet is charged with making decisions on why countries should be removed from that list. As Myanmar opened up, it was removed from that list. It was the same with Belarus. However, we still have to track. We see problems in Myanmar right now with respect to Rohingya. Perhaps the civilian oversight of the miliary is not quite as it would seem.

The Liberal government has within its power now, not by the United Nations treaty, to limit entirely sales to a country. I would invite the parliamentary secretary to review that.

Finally, like many UN treaties, the main players are not part of the treaty. In global arms trade, there are six countries and they are called the “big six”. Three of those countries are not part of this treaty. I am not worried, because Canada's regime, as I have been describing to the House, is superior to this treaty.

The treaty came as an election promise by the Liberals, but I want them to see that what Canada is doing now, and has been doing responsibly, is superior. If we want the UN to have the tracking, to have the transparency, we should be pushing to have these discussions before a treaty is brought forward. Many MPs on both sides of the House want to ensure that Canada adheres to its Export and Import Permits Act, so they need to know what a good job it is already doing.

Finally, another inferior part, and quite frankly short-sighted part of the UN ATT is article 5, which would suddenly include the Department of National Defence into the military equipment provisions of that treaty, preventing, or in some cases limiting, government to government transfers. We have never had to catch DND within our own export and import permits regime, because DND is the government. It is a crown ministry. It is part of the crown.

Therefore, if we want to do military-to-military aid, perhaps sending training materials to the peshmerga that our special forces are working with and training, this measure would encumber that process. I am quite sure that most Canadians believe that DND is responsible for its own equipment. Why then would we catch them in a treaty that most groups are calling a failure anyway, which does not involve three of the big six players in terms of the global arms trade?

Finally, I have listed five or six items demonstrating that what Bill C-47 proposes is actually inferior to what Canada is already doing.

The last item is about unfairness, and this where the politics of it come in. Just as we are seeing with small business, there is no consultation on concerns about overbreadth or the fact that hunters, sport shooters, or recreational users under a regulated regime of lawful firearm use could be caught within the confines of the measures in this bill. I have placed this last because, while the parliamentary secretary insists it is not the case, all industry groups insist it is, but without consultation, how does the parliamentary secretary know?

It is clear that he does not understand the export and import permit regime. Maybe he knows a little more about it now, which I think is part of why we have debate now in the House of Commons. It is to show that regulation in Canada is in many ways superior to what is done anywhere else in the world, including the United Nations. Before we even talk about what the UNATT does, we should talk about what Canada is doing already, and whether it is insufficient to limit and track items that we consider potentially dangerous: military equipment, nuclear technology, chemicals, biologicals, cryptology, or anything that could adversely impact our national interest.

On the last point, the cryptological sales, we have seen the current government green-light sales to China of pretty much any technology out there. I would suggest that some of these technology trades occurred without the proper oversight, without the full review that is normally done. For some reason those reviews were waived in the case of one of the most recent sales to China. Those reviews are important, because technology is actually the threat of the future to the public safety and security of Canada and our allies, and Bill C-47 does not address that.

As I have said, particularly on my third point on transparency, this treaty is inferior. Civil society groups out there have called this treaty a failure, particularly because of its lack of transparency, and as I said, our Trade Controls Bureau has been empowered for two generations to track the sale and control of goods that Canadians deem important.

On that final note, this hearkens back for me, as a member of Parliament for a suburban riding that has a rural element, to the lack of consultation on the last element, on which Canadians have genuine concerns about whether their lawful and regulated use of a firearm for hunting or sport shooting could be impacted. The parliamentary secretary uses the words “phony argument” when we suggest that. I would invite him to go hunting with someone outside of Fredericton and see if they are being phony about their concerns. What we need is consultation to see if my concerns are overinflated or if the parliamentary secretary is being dismissive. I am not suggesting that I know, but as a lawyer, I will tell members that overbreadth or lack of clarity in law is a failure in itself.

The last government made interventions with respect to the negotiation of this treaty on many fronts, and one was a simple and reasonable carve-out of regulated civilian firearms use. I do not know why that was not pursued by the UN when there is zero transparency. However, as I said, fortunately our existing regime has transparency, while this treaty has zero.

While things were watered down as this was negotiated by the United Nations, while three of the big countries that are actual players in global trade are not part of this regime, while those issues were going through the negotiations, a simple and effective carve-out of the legitimate, historical, and cultural use of firearms was not carved out, for whatever reason.

Some of the cases before the Supreme Court of Canada on inherent rights of our indigenous peoples relate to hunting and fishing. This is as cultural as the earliest peoples of this land. Certainly, most people in this House think of the hunter in the duck blind and that sort of consideration, but the inherent right for our first nations to hunt, in both modern and traditional ways, is a constitutional protection.

Would it not be reasonable to carve that out in a treaty that on many fronts is inferior to what Canada is already doing? I really hope the parliamentary secretary and other members of his caucus refrain from that divisive language suggesting that even having a reasonable concern is somehow phony. The last time I saw that degree of arrogance in the Liberal Party, it was from a member from Toronto named Allan Rock, who polarized Canadians by suggesting that people who were law-abiding hunters or sport shooters were somehow a public safety hazard for Canada.

I know some of my Liberal friends, including from rural parts like Yukon and Labrador, know how much it hurt Canadians for the government to suggest that bringing in a licensing and registry system for people who were already trained and responsible was going to have an impact on crime. It became a divisive, rural-urban issue. This Parliament, as much as it can, should try to have debates that do not quickly revert to that approach.

I have been hard on my friend, the parliamentary secretary. I know in Fredericton, especially with the base there—and I know he supports our men and women in uniform—he knows that culturally a lot of people find hunting and fishing to be a way of life, so if they have a concern, I think it is valid to consider that concern.

It is also a valid question to ask the United Nations why, when transparency provisions were wiped out in the negotiations over the ATT, a simple reference providing explicit exclusion for law-abiding and regulated use by hunters and sport shooters, as we do in Canada very effectively, was not provided for. That is a failure of this treaty. Certainly groups out there that still have this concern want to know that the government is at least hearing them and is not suggesting that it is a phony argument. I am hoping, as we debate this bill over the coming days, that we can talk about it in those terms, and that we can talk about it from a starting point of what Canada is doing now.

As a parliamentary purist, I have great respect for our parliamentary democracy, in both Houses and on both sides. This is where we debate the laws and regulations that govern Canadians. When we can work with our allies at NATO or the United Nations to help limit arms sales to North Korea or to places where there is conflict or so that we do not exacerbate someone's pursuit of technology that could be harmful, of course we would do that. We always have. However, we should also make sure, as parliamentarians, to remind Canadians that the starting point for Canada with respect to regulating, tracking, and limiting the export of military equipment and biological-chemical dangerous items is already superior to most of the world. If we do not start from that basis, I do not think we are being fair in this debate.

The final point I will make before I close is that it is not elevating debate in this House to suggest that if the Canadian Shooting Sports Association has a concern about overbreadth, their concern is somehow phony. I hope we have a debate that is better than that, and that we have the context of the Export and Import Permits Act regime to underline a debate on Bill C-47.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2017 / 10:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I too enjoy when the Minister of Transport weighs in on things. I enjoyed his interventions much more when he was sitting on this side as opposed to that side, but that is the way Parliament works. I have the utmost respect for him.

In that list of items, one thing I found absent was our world-leading position as a country in space and some of our technology related to space. I know the minister knows the issue far better than anyone in the House.

In the last government, the sale of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates was prevented because of national security concerns. The member liked some of the arguments I made and did not like others.

Why did I sound defensive? It was because the parliamentary secretary ended his question and comment period in French by saying that this was going to be taking what Canada is doing to the next regime. I was listening without translation and from a distance, but he was leaving the effect that the regime Canada had in place was somehow inferior to Bill C-47.

My speech was intended to show that it is not. In fact, our tracking is far superior, and because of uncertainty—and with respect, I do think it is genuine, although he may suggest it is not genuine—all groups that have hunters and sports shooters, including indigenous hunters and sports shooters, who have a constitutional right for that, think it is unreasonable that one definition could not go in this treaty to carve out responsible and legal firearm use. To coin a term, I think that is a modest proposal, but because we do not have that carve-out and because I hear the language of the nineties creeping back in, I oppose the bill. However, I rest easy at night because our regime in place now is already doing more than this treaty would.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2017 / 11:55 a.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, on behalf of the other Liberals who are not allowed to speak, I wonder if at some point the member could share a little of the space here. He has been here a while. So many new Liberal MPs have told me how keen they are to speak in the House of Commons. Some of our time is taken up by my friend, over and over again, regardless of the bill.

Very specifically, on this piece of legislation, the government has said we should not sell arms to countries that flout human rights abuses, yet, under Bill C-47, there is a provision, a loophole, that allows Canadian arms to be manufactured here in Canada then sent through the United States and on to those very same countries, particularly because Donald Trump feels they are okay, and he is looking to make a deal and wants to sell more weapons.

We could, at committee, allow a provision that would say that if we cannot sell directly to a country like Nigeria, which we cannot, then we cannot sell indirectly to a country like Nigeria through the United States. That seems like a reasonable and consistent position to take. Otherwise, the Liberals would be open to the accusation of hypocrisy to say they will not look, but will continue to practice abusing human rights using Canadian armaments to do it.

I think my friend, who says he is very knowledgeable about the ATT and the bill, would see that as a glaring error in its construction right now. This loophole through the U.S., with the current administration, which I hope my friend does not agree with when it comes to human rights or respect for international law in the vision of Donald Trump, should be closed. We should not allow Canadian weapons to be diverted through the United States, and then on to regimes that Canada does not support, nor respect.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to Bill C-47, an issue that is important bill to members on all sides of the House.

The Arms Trade Treaty holds the record for the quickest entry into force of any arms control treaty. It is a sign of the great importance that the international community attaches to this treaty that it reached the required number of ratifications required to enter into force so quickly.

The ATT now has 91 state parties and a further 42 states have signed on but have not yet ratified the treaty. It is now time to add Canada to the number of state parties. Canada has long sought to advance export controls as a means of reducing the risks that can come from illicit trade in conventional arms. Joining the ATT, which calls on all state parties to set up effective export controls, is a natural step. Canada's accession to the ATT would further demonstrate to all Canadians, from coast to coast to coast, and to the international community our commitment to tackle the risks associated with irresponsible and illicit trade in conventional weapons.

Canada, however, cannot fulfill the global aims of the ATT alone. Universalization of the ATT is essential to its success. The ATT, if broadly adopted internationally, can contribute substantially to global peace and security.

Terrorists rely on access to arms largely from illicit or poorly controlled sources. Transnational crime both uses and profits from illicit arms trade. Conflict and instability is fuelled by easy access to conventional weapons. All of these scenarios can and will be reduced, if not stopped, by preventing these weapons from being illegally traded or diverted. This is what the ATT aims to achieve. Ensuring that the treaty fulfills its promise requires the widest possible adherence and effective implementation around the world.

It is important to note that properly regulated arms trade does not prevent states from meeting their legitimate defence and security needs. The treaty recognizes there is a legitimate place for international arms trade when it is undertaken responsibly and with carefully crafted controls. In accepting international norms for the transfer of arms, ATT state parties have struck a balance between national security interests, including legitimate uses of weapons, and the need to address the consequences of unregulated trade in conventional weapons.

Canada has a role to play in advancing the universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty. We have already begun to do so by participating as an observer in meetings of ATT state parties and by supporting multilateral efforts to encourage states to ratify or accede to the ATT.

Our work here today helps set an example for other states considering accession to the ATT.

First and foremost, we are demonstrating our commitment to full implementation of the treaty. Accession to the ATT is a relatively straightforward process for Canada. We already conform to the spirit of the treaty and have strong export controls in place. However, our government realizes we need to do more. There are elements of the ATT that Canada does not yet fully meet, notably, in regulating brokering, and we have taken a firm position that we will not accede to the ATT until we are fully compliant with it.

Second, we are committed to implementing the ATT in a manner that not only meets but exceeds the requirements of the treaty. Bill C-47 would further strengthen the rigour of our export controls to meet and, indeed, seek to exceed the obligations of the ATT. We intend to share this experience with other states in forthcoming meetings of the ATT.

However, leading by example is not enough. All ATT state parties must establish a national system for the control of arms. They must strengthen their laws, regulations, and enforcement mechanisms. Our government recognizes that implementing new legislative systems and export controls can be difficult, particularly for states that may not have significant previous experience in this field.

We are therefore committed to assisting other states that wish to join the ATT, or that have become state parties or are unable to fully implement the treaty. The government has therefore contributed $1 million to the UN Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation. The UNSCAR is a multi-donor flexible-funding mechanism to provide focused and effective support for the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty and the UN program of action on small arms and light weapons. Through this trust facility, Canada is working with other international partners and with the UN to help states accede to and effectively implement the ATT.

It is unfortunate that, to date, in several regions of the world where flows of conventional weapons contribute to high levels of conflict, there is still a low number of ATT state parties. The UN trust facility can also help these states improve their legislation, end-user controls, and management of weapon stockpiles. Its focus on gender and children further supports the goals of the ATT and can make a real contribution to those who are too often the victims of illicit trade in conventional weapons.

Of course, accession to the ATT alone cannot stop illicit weapons flows, which is why our government has also partnered with the international NGO small arms survey, contributing $224,000 to survey a list of weapons flow in the key region of the Libya-Chad-Sudan triangle. This survey is a starting point to implement concrete follow-on actions to reduce illicit arms flows along the pathways identified by the small arms survey. In doing so, we will contribute concretely to reducing access to weapons in a region where these conventional arms undermine security and socio-economic development. We will also promote international security by cutting out flows of arms to terrorists and criminal groups in the region.

Canada can play an important role in promoting the universalization of the ATT. However, we can only do so if we take a leadership role, which our government is doing on a number of fronts, in countering the proliferation of conventional weapons and promoting strong export controls as a means of ensuring that legitimate trade in conventional arms is conducted responsibly, something I am sure all members of the House desire. It is therefore essential that we rejoin our international partners and allies in their collective effort through the Arms Trade Treaty. Canada needs to be at the table.

It is time for Canada to promote internationally agreed standards for the arms trade that will reduce human suffering, help prevent arms from being used in serious violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law, and combat terrorism and organized crime.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

September 21st, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, the first thing I would like to say is that the Arms Trade Treaty does not and will not affect domestic ownership of firearms in Canada.

I grew up in northern British Columbia in the riding of Skeena—Bulkley Valley, which is represented by another individual in the House. A number of friends and family members are farmers and hunters who hunt for moose for two weeks with friends. It is something they do annually. It is a big fishing community, so the farmers and fishermen have my full support. Nothing in Bill C-47 would impede their privacy or right to purchase a hunting rifle or shotgun, or whichever weapon they choose to legally buy.

I would like to clarify and make sure everyone is on the same page with regard to individuals wishing to bring in a weapon from Italy, for example, such as a Beretta. Under Bill C-47, nothing would change in the process. The process remains absolutely unchanged for someone wishing to purchase a weapon in Italy, for example, and bring the weapon here to Canada. That needs to be pointed out to the members on the opposite side, because I keep hearing that and I want to make sure we put on the record that nothing changes.