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)

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

December 4th, 2017 / 2:35 p.m.
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Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we are absolutely committed to an export control system that is rigorous, that is transparent, and that is predictable. Our government is taking steps to further strengthen the export regime. We have allocated $13 million to help Canada accede to the arms trade treaty.

With Bill C-47, which we just spoke of, we are moving forward on a key campaign commitment to strengthen Canada's arms control regime and accede to that treaty. Bill C-47 would allow us to join our G7 and NATO allies by acceding to the treaty and playing a leadership role in regulating the trade of conventional arms around the world.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

December 4th, 2017 / 2:35 p.m.
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NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-47 on the Arms Trade Treaty respects neither the letter nor the spirit of the treaty, and it does not even cover exports to the United States, which is why Stéphane Dion's former human rights advisor said that the bill is quite simply inadequate.

In committee, the NDP proposed six amendments to the bill based on expert testimony.

Will the government finally listen to Canadians' concerns, accept our amendments, and fix the flaws in this bill?

November 7th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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Cameron Hill Elected Councillor, Gitga'at First Nation

Thank you.

Gitga'at First Nation congratulates Canada for introducing Bill C-48, the oil tanker moratorium act, and thanks the committee for the opportunity to provide testimony regarding the bill.

Before I continue, I was made aware that everybody had our submission. Is that correct?

November 7th, 2017 / noon
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

I'm going to refer to the testimony by Mr. Gilmour and Mr. Arbeiter, from the department, who said Bill C-47 was an attempt to “universalize best practices”. Almost all parties have acknowledged Canada has had since about the 1950s these best world-leading practices.

You've mentioned that 26 of 28 elements of the ATT we're already in line with. I would suggest that actually it's 27, because we've had formalized policies since the 1980s and those policies are now going to be law.

November 7th, 2017 / 11:45 a.m.
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President, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Thomas Woodley

My belief is that we are not setting an example. Other witnesses have declared that we are setting an example, but I don't see that. I see Bill C-47 as a sort of watered-down implementation, with incomplete processes to actually bring the intents of the ATT to the fore. I see it as a flawed bill, and I really think it needs serious amendments to bring it to the standard that the ATT is actually targeting.

November 7th, 2017 / 11:40 a.m.
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President, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Thomas Woodley

One of the things I would like to emphasize is that those of us who have a certain focus on human rights are certainly not against commerce, and we are certainly not against Canadian industry being very productive and successful. I think, to your point, human rights and making human rights part of our political platform and our political strategy is not to say that we want to end all communications and all commerce with a particular country with a particular regime, but rather to put healthy pressure on those regimes, on that commerce, such that the governments in question will move in the direction in which we would like them to move in terms of respect for human rights. By actually putting specific obligations into Bill C-47 itself, we sort of liberate the process to do what it's meant to do, which is that we want to raise the bar for human rights, whether it be with Saudi Arabia or any other country. That's not to say we don't want to do commerce with anyone, but let's raise the bar: look, it's out of our hands; we've made this commitment to human rights.

I'll let others comment, but that would be my take.

November 7th, 2017 / 11:15 a.m.
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Thomas Woodley President, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Good morning.

My name is Thomas Woodley. I'm the president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.

I first wish to thank the committee for this kind opportunity to speak to you this morning. It's a privilege, of course, to be here. I look forward to a frank and honest discussion about Canada and its role in the sad realities of the international arms trade today.

CJPME is an organization, my organization, whose mission is to empower Canadians of all backgrounds to promote justice, development, and peace in the Middle East. We have about a dozen activist groups across the country, and we have approximately 125,000 Canadians who have participated in our activities and campaigns over the years. Because of the devastating role that arms have played in the Middle East over the years, my organization has become increasingly involved in attempts to limit the flow of arms to the Middle East.

CJPME was thrilled when the international Arms Trade Treaty was first concretely debated in 2012, then adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2013, and entered into force in 2014. However, despite our excitement at the adoption of the ATT by much of the world community, we were saddened and upset by the Canadian government's reluctance to consider signing the treaty for many of the past several years.

It's important to note that at the same time the ATT was creating greater hope for higher standards and greater transparency in the movement of arms around the world, Canada was negotiating one of its largest arms deals ever with a serial human rights abuser, Saudi Arabia. This arms deal has been in and out of the news over the past two or three years, as you all know, I'm sure, with two successive governments providing shifting justifications for the sale, despite the fact that Saudi Arabia regularly ranks among the worst of the worst of human rights violators.

In fact, a survey of Canadians just two months ago, in September, by Nanos Research for the The Globe and Mail found that 64% of Canadians oppose or somewhat oppose the Canadian government's decision to sell light armoured vehicles to the Saudi government. Despite the fact that it's common sense, as demonstrated by the survey results, that this sale should not have been approved, Canada's existing export controls, as embodied in the Export and Import Permits Act, EIPA, failed to prevent the sale. There is clearly much to say about this sale, but it's obvious that for a strong majority of Canadians, the current EIPA provisions did not properly function to prevent this sale.

We had high hopes that the new government would sign on to the treaty in a way that would address the long-standing shortcomings of Canada's existing arms export controls. Nevertheless, when Bill C-47 was introduced, it was immediately clear that many of the fundamental objectives of the ATT were being circumvented through the provisions of the bill, whether through omissions, through exclusions, or through deferral to regulations, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

The committee has already heard from a number of witnesses, and I believe there are important points to make regarding some of the testimony that the committee has already heard. I'll address three points.

The first is the need for a legally binding obligation in Bill C-47 on the minister. A witness for the government admitted the following:

Article 7 of the ATT requires each state party to consider a number of specific risks with respect to the items proposed for export, before authorizing the export to take place...The critical element was the need to create a legally binding obligation for the minister to take the ATT assessment considerations into account in deciding whether to issue an export permit.

First, we must be clear that the ATT establishes strict prohibitions on arms exports, depending on an objective risk assessment, and that simply requiring taking considerations into account will not satisfy Canada's obligations under the treaty.

The same witness went on to suggest that the ATT requirement was “most effectively implemented through regulation”. My organization would vigorously disagree with this conclusion. Implementation of this obligation via regulation may be the easiest or most malleable implementation, but it creates a glaring loophole that could lead to high-risk arms sales being approved. In fact, it is precisely this type of loophole that led to the $15-billion Saudi arms deals to be approved under the existing EIPA regulations, against the better judgment of the Canadian public.

As such, my organization agrees with the testimony provided by several other witnesses before this committee which asserted that in order to comply with the ATT fully, Bill C-47 must oblige the Minister of Foreign Affairs to deny exports that carry an overriding risk of contributing to undermining international peace and security, or committing or facilitating serious violations of international law.

Our recommendation would be that Bill C-47 establish an obligatory minimum threshold for export approval as per the ATT. I posit, for example, that there is no need for flexibility around the question of whether or not Canada should approve an arms sale if the arms in question risk being used in human rights violations. If, according to government witnesses, additional flexibility is required to accommodate evolving threats and new international norms, let additional regulations address this need above and beyond the minimum threshold demanded by the ATT and codified in Bill C-47.

Regarding the need to report arms sales to the U.S. under Bill C-47 implementation of the ATT, a witness for the government suggested that accession to the ATT would not require Canada to track and report arms sales to the U.S. Nevertheless, a plain-English reading of the ATT would suggest otherwise. Article 1 of the ATT insists on the highest possible common international standards in the sale of arms, yet Canada's existing arrangement with the U.S. has neither a high standard nor a common standard.

Article 2 of the ATT makes clear that this implementation applies to all arms exports of acceding nations. Exempting Canadian arms exports to the U.S. specifically contradicts this obligation.

Finally, article 5 of the ATT calls for the treaty to be implemented in a consistent, objective, and non-discriminatory manner. A separate, less stringent process for Canadian arms exports to the U.S. clearly is not the consistent standard demanded by the ATT.

The government witness suggested that the ATT does not specify how states parties should organize their export control systems. This may be a fair statement as long as the export systems in question do not violate a nation's obligations under the ATT. However, Canada's arrangement with the U.S. under the defence production sharing agreement clearly does not meet Canada's obligation under the ATT.

For my final point I would suggest that as we consider Bill C-47, we should try to segregate the decision between our ethics and Canadian jobs. I suspect that privately many of the committee members here are as uncomfortable as I am with Canada's $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. However, because proponents of the deal have positioned it as a choice between questionable risks on the one hand and Canadian jobs on the other, the issue becomes a political hot potato. It is not surprising that elected representatives in successive governments would take the approach they have given that the alternative would be a form of political self-flagellation.

Therefore, I would recommend that Canada's implementation of the ATT include provisions to enable lawmakers to avoid this type of catch-22. Perhaps as a result of the role of the Canadian Commercial Corporation, the Saudi arms deal from the get-go was presented as a trade-off that would jeopardize well-paid Canadian defence jobs in London, Ontario.

Under Canada's accession to the ATT, the ethical issue should be addressed much earlier in the sales process, long before people are calculating the trade-off in Canadian jobs.

Naturally, a legally binding obligation on the minister, as required by the ATT, could help prevent many morally questionable deals from even being considered, but beyond that, CJPME would recommend that lawmakers look at other ways to segregate and front-load the ethical considerations of the deal before the potential economic benefits of the deal are promoted publicly. As mentioned above, there may be implications in terms of the ongoing role attributed to the Canadian Commercial Corporation.

The above discussions highlight some of our top concerns with the pending legislation. CJPME would recommend that if they have not already done so, committee members should be sure to review a document issued by a group of Canadian NGOs, CJPME included, entitled “Bill C-47 and Canadian Accession to the Arms Trade Treaty Civil Society Concerns and Recommendations”.

This document was officially released on October 16 and was the result of deliberations between many of Canada's leading NGOs on this issue, including CJPME. It details a number of items that go beyond the scope of my presentation here today.

I believe Canada has the opportunity to prevent unnecessary misery and suffering around the world as a result of unwise or illicit arms sales. My organization and I exhort this committee to propose the amendments necessary to ensure that Canada's accession to the ATT adheres to both the letter and the spirit of the treaty.

Thank you for your attention. I welcome any comments.

November 7th, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
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Anna Macdonald Director, Control Arms Secretariat

Thank you very much for this opportunity to address the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

The Arms Trade Treaty is an amazing document. It took over 10 years of campaigning and six years of UN processes to come into being. It has the potential to bring the arms trade under control and prevent the devastation wrought every day through arms-fuelled poverty, conflict, and human rights abuses. Throughout the world, both the persistence of cyclical conflicts and high levels of armed violence are hampering development, increasing human rights abuses, and exacerbating poverty.

Before the ATT, there was no global treaty regulating the trade in conventional arms and little to prevent the high number of weapons that end up in the illicit market. The ATT therefore offers an important humanitarian tool for addressing the challenges posed by the poorly regulated flow of weapons to some of the world's least developed areas and to conflict zones.

I am the director of the Control Arms coalition, which brings together hundreds of non-governmental organizations from all regions of the world and from many different fields, including human rights, poverty alleviation, conflict reduction, weapons specialists, health, youth, gender, and survivor networks, parliamentary networks, and legal expertise.

Control Arms provides evidence-based research and analysis, conducts outreach to government supporters and the public, builds capacity and expertise among both governments and civil society, and facilitates policy dialogue. We have an emphasis on support and training in the global south and in monitoring of Arms Trade Treaty implementation.

Canada's absence from the ATT was a strange exception over the last few years, and we are greatly encouraged by the current government's commitment to accede to the treaty in the near future. This presents a tremendous opportunity for a return to the leadership in disarmament and peace issues for which Canada was once renowned, for example, through the leadership which led to the Ottawa convention and subsequent mine ban treaty signed in Ottawa in 1997.

The current process toward accession also presents a great opportunity to modernize Canadian export control legislation toward high standards in transparency and accountability and with a firm basis in international human rights and humanitarian law. We welcome some of the positive considerations in Bill C-47, such as the inclusion of brokering and the extension to extraterritorial controls on brokers. However, we share our Canadian partners' concerns on some of the flaws in the legislation, which I would encourage you to reconsider. The most important and relevant aspects of the ATT I would like to highlight in this regard are as follows.

First, there is the purpose of reducing human suffering. Central in the object and purpose of the ATT in article 1 is the purpose of reducing human suffering. This is the goal that must remain paramount in all efforts to universalize and implement the treaty. This is an instrument specifically designed to reduce the human suffering resulting from armed violence and armed conflict, not only in the direct deaths and injuries caused by weapons but also through trauma, displacement, economic impoverishment, torture, and oppression. Therefore, Canadian legislation must also be oriented toward this goal of reducing human suffering.

Second, there is the aim of the highest possible common standards, which article 1 also calls for, meaning that there should be no exemptions or exceptions. The continued exclusion of exports to the U.S., constituting as they do over 50% of Canadian arms exports, is a significant omission. Canada will be undermining common standards by excluding a major arms importer and exporter that's unlikely to become a states party in the near future. Article 2 additionally emphasizes that the treaty is applicable to all exports covered under the scope, and article 5 calls on states to implement ATT in a consistent, objective, and nondiscriminatory manner. To our knowledge, there is no other country that enables such a specific export destination to be exempted from its legislation in its ratification or accession to the ATT. To do so would be both unusual and undermining to the core principles of the treaty. The very nature of the ATT is that it is global, the first treaty to regulate the trade of conventional weapons, and therefore aims for universal adherence to high common standards.

Third is the importance of absolute prohibitions and risk assessment. The heart of the treaty is in articles 6 and 7, which cover prohibitions and risk assessments. These articles are very clear and unambiguous that a state “shall not” authorize an arms transfer where it has knowledge the arms will be used in war crimes, in violation of international agreements to which it is a party, or where a risk assessment results in overriding risk. Canadian proposed legislation, which will allow the foreign affairs minister to merely take into account such risks, sets a much lower threshold. In our view, this would mean Canada would not be in compliance with the ATT.

Additionally, I would like to encourage you to consider appropriate parliamentary structures that would enhance oversight and transparency. We have found around the world a strong correlation between active parliamentarians in both the speed of ratification and accession and effective treaty implementation. In the U.K., for example, the committee on arms export controls functions as an additional cross-party oversight mechanism, which holds ministers to account and hears evidence from expert stakeholders.

Finally, I would draw your attention to the inclusion in article 7 of specific language on “gender-based violence”, mandating the risks of gender-based violence to also be considered as part of the authorization assessment. This is the first treaty ever to include specific language on GBV and its operative provisions, and I encourage the Canadian government to explore all possible ways to ensure that this groundbreaking aspect of the treaty is implemented.

In conclusion, the two most important flaws in the proposed legislation, which I encourage you to reconsider, are, first, that Bill C-47 does not cover arms exports to the U.S. and that this therefore leaves a large percentage of exports that will be excluded from the treaty provisions, and, second, the lack of legal limits on the discretionary power available to the foreign affairs minister.

Control Arms supports the universalization and implementation of the ATT, and we believe that it can have a positive humanitarian and human rights impact. We urge you to seize this opportunity to reposition Canada once again as a leader in disarmament and peace-building and to demonstrate the highest possible standards in bringing the arms trade under control.

Thank you.

November 7th, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
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Liberal

The Chair (Hon. Robert Nault (Kenora, Lib.)) Liberal Bob Nault

Colleagues, we are here pursuant to the order of reference of Tuesday, October 3, 2017, on Bill C-47, an act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code.

We have three witnesses this morning. We will allow them to make short presentations and then get into the usual Qs and As.

The witnesses are the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries, the Control Arms Secretariat, and the Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.

From New York, we have Anna Macdonald, the director of the Control Arms Secretariat.

I'm going to turn the floor over to you for your presentation.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

November 2nd, 2017 / 2:35 p.m.
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University—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to assure members of this House and all Canadians that we are delivering on our campaign commitment to join the Arms Trade Treaty. Tackling the illicit trade in weapons is essential for the protection of people and of human rights. Bill C-47 would put into regulations the criteria that must be considered before authorizing export permits. As with all regulations, all Canadians will be able to provide input into developing these criteria.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

November 2nd, 2017 / 2:35 p.m.
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NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, to join the treaty, we would first have to respect it.

Experts have testified to the serious problems in the bill to implement the Arms Trade Treaty. Two detailed reports have been issued that insist that the government's Bill C-47 does not reflect either the spirit or the letter of the treaty. Nothing in the bill would prevent future arms deals with human rights abusers.

I ask the minister again. Will the government amend the bill or withdraw it and start over?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

November 2nd, 2017 / 2:35 p.m.
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University—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Chrystia Freeland LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we are keeping our election promise to join the Arms Trade Treaty. Regulating the illicit trade in weapons is essential for the protection of human rights.

Bill C-47 would put into regulation the criteria that must be considered before authorizing export permits. As with all regulations, all Canadians will be able to provide input into developing these criteria.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

November 2nd, 2017 / 2:35 p.m.
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NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-47 on the Arms Trade Treaty has numerous flaws. For instance, it does not impose any firm legal limits on the authority of the Minister of Foreign Affairs regarding the approval of arms exports. Furthermore, it does not cover exports to the U.S., which account for 50% of our arms exports.

Experts who appeared before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development talked about the serious concerns they have.

Will the government agree to amend the bill, or even better, withdraw it and start over?

November 2nd, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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Executive Director, Project Ploughshares

Cesar Jaramillo

Thank you very much for that very good question. I wasn't here for the first hour, so I'm not sure what concerns were raised by the earlier witnesses. I do know from our conversations with other colleagues and like-minded organizations in Canada who have testified before this committee that there are in fact several concerns about the bill.

One aspect, as you rightly point out, has to do with the wide discretion with which the minister would be in a position, as I said, to authorize any and all export permits as long as he or she says they considered the factors. We are greatly concerned that there is no such language, as is found in the Arms Trade Treaty, that refers to exports that shall not proceed, or that the minister cannot authorize. There is no categorical language.

Thus far, the closest Canada's export control regulations come to a categorical prohibition is two words: “closely controls”. That's really the closest we come to a categorical prohibition, “closely controls”. But even under that rubric of close control, right now, as you well know, we are in the early stages of a multi-billion dollar deal with one of the worst human rights violators in the world. That's Saudi Arabia. It is an undisputed fact that they are among the worst of the worst.

Evidence indicates that close control does not suffice and that there is a need for very specific categorical language that indicates, without room for ambiguity, that if certain triggers are met, certain exports quite simply cannot proceed. There is nothing to that effect in the current legislation, in the current regulations, or in the proposed changes in Bill C-47.

November 2nd, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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Cesar Jaramillo Executive Director, Project Ploughshares

Thank you, Chair.

Good afternoon. My name is Cesar Jaramillo. I am the executive director of Project Ploughshares. Thank you very much to all members of the committee for the kind invitation to address you.

I've given a title to my brief remarks, which is “Bill C-47: if left unchanged, Canada will not meet ATT obligations”.

For decades, efforts to better regulate illicit or irresponsible arms exports and to strengthen military export controls have been a key focus of the activities of Project Ploughshares. We were strong advocates of the landmark international Arms Trade Treaty long before its adoption and have since underscored the importance of full compliance as the ultimate measure of the treaty's effectiveness.

We were greatly encouraged by Canada's decision to join the Arms Trade Treaty after a highly conspicuous absence and we have engaged in a constructive spirit with colleagues at Global Affairs Canada on this important file. However, while our desire to see Canada become a fully compliant state party to the treaty has not changed, our expert assessment is that the proposed legislation, Bill C-47, would not enable Canada to meet the requirements and expectations of the Arms Trade Treaty.

We have profound concerns about substantial shortcomings of the bill that make it impossible for us to recommend it before this committee. For absolute clarity, we cannot and we do not support Bill C-47 in its current form. This is a position that is shared by a host of Canadian groups from the disarmament, human rights, and development fields, some of which have testified before the committee on this very issue.

Before I address some of our major concerns about the bill, I would like to underscore the singular importance of this opportunity to review Canada's military export controls regime. It is a rare occurrence that may not happen again in years, if not decades. As such, we encourage all stakeholders, including members of this committee, to seek strong, effective legislation for Canadian arms exports that is truly in line with modern expectations of rigour, accountability, and transparency in the global arms trade, including, of course, full compliance with the Arms Trade Treaty.

A key concern about the proposed legislation is that it does not address the exemptions that have long been afforded to Canadian military exports to the United States. Under current practice, which has been left unchanged by Bill C-47, Canadian military exports to the United States are exempted from licensing and reporting requirements applicable to every other destination. These exemptions are utterly incompatible with the letter and the spirit of the Arms Trade Treaty. Even though we have long considered such an arrangement with the United States to be problematic and contrary to the expectations of transparency around Canada's arms exports, this loophole has become especially egregious as Canada readies to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty. We are aware that the position of Global Affairs Canada is that the exceptions granted to U.S.-bound exports are consistent with the Arms Trade Treaty. For several reasons, we must express our disagreement with this view.

In its first article, the Arms Trade Treaty calls for the highest possible common international standards. To be sure, there are two interrelated and equally important elements to this requirement—highest possible international standards and common international standards—yet the arrangement with the United States neither constitutes the highest possible standard nor is it common to the standards applied to others. Likewise, article 2 of the ATT is explicit about its applicability to all military exports covered under the treaty. Article 5 calls for the treaty to be implemented in “a consistent, objective and non-discriminatory manner”. We find it hard to see how “all” could be interpreted to mean anything other than the totality of Canadian exports, including those destined for the United States. Further, the unique treatment afforded to the United States is out of line with the expectations of consistency, objectivity, and non-discrimination specified in article 5.

Such exemptions would be incompatible with Arms Trade Treaty obligations regardless of the recipient. In the case of the United States, they are especially suspect. The United States is the largest exporter of weapons and military equipment in the world, and as such, Canadian components to the U.S. can be incorporated into systems in the United States and then exported to third parties without requiring further authorization from Canada.

The United States is also the largest recipient of Canadian military goods by far. Project Ploughshares estimates that Canada exports military goods worth as much as $2 billion to the United States annually, typically more than half of all of our total military exports. Therefore, with Bill C-47 in its current form, the majority of Canadian military exports will neither be reported nor require export permits, even after Canada joins the Arms Trade Treaty.

Critically, the United States is not an Arms Trade Treaty state party and is not expected to become one in the foreseeable future. Canada, on the other hand, will soon be a state party and the expectation is that all its arms export regulations will be consistent with the provisions of the treaty, including those related to licensing and reporting obligations.

Further, a widely shared goal of state parties is the universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty. It is hard to see how Canada can contribute to that objective when it offers laxer conditions to a non-state party than it does to those states that have agreed to be bound by the treaty's obligations.

Another area of great concern relates to the way in which Bill C-47 addresses articles 6 and 7 of the treaty, which refer to prohibitions and risk assessment, respectively. In this regard, Global Affairs Canada has indicated that Canada's “current export permit considerations are consistent with all these elements as outlined in the ATT, but are established as a matter of policy, not law.” Also, Global Affairs Canada states, "The critical element was the need to create a legally binding obligation for the minister to take the ATT assessment considerations into account in deciding whether to issue an export permit."

This characterization leaves the impression that the only measure necessary for Canada to be in full compliance with articles 6 and 7 is to establish a legal obligation for the minister to take certain factors into account when assessing export permit authorizations. In reality, however, the Arms Trade Treaty establishes a higher standard than merely taking into account certain considerations when deciding on export permit authorizations.

The Arms Trade Treaty establishes categorical prohibitions on certain arms exports, depending on the outcome of an objective risk assessment process, and it includes unambiguous wording to this effect when referring to exports that a state shall not authorize. Canada's export controls regime lacks any such obligation or wording, whether in policy or in law.

The obligation for the minister to simply consider certain factors does not suffice to meet treaty standards, even if established as a matter of law. In the absence of language that explicitly requires the denial of certain export permits, the minister will have virtually unchecked discretion to authorize any and all military exports, however questionable the recipient or however damning the risk assessment, as long as he or she indicates that factors were taken into account.

We are further concerned that, under the current approach taken by Global Affairs Canada, the details related to these critical areas will be left to subsequent regulations, which are to be known only after the legislation is enacted. Of course, in principle, we do not oppose the notion that certain aspects of a bill can be and, in some contexts, have been, left to be addressed by subsequent regulations. What we find problematic is that aspects related to some of the most crucial dimensions of the Arms Trade Treaty, namely the prohibitions and risk assessment, would be a matter of regulations and not law.

Another area that the bill fails to address has to do with the lack of harmonization between the Department of National Defence and Global Affairs Canada vis-à-vis risk assessment processes for arms exports. While both departments will need to comply with the obligations of the Arms Trade Treaty once Canada becomes a state party, we are concerned that having two separate risk assessment procedures may lead to inconsistent standards and decisions concerning where Canadian military equipment may end up.

Earlier I pointed to the obligation contained in article 5 of the ATT to implement treaty provisions in a consistent manner in the context of the exemptions given to U.S.-bound exports. This requirement for consistency in the implementation of the treaty is also applicable to the dual risk assessment processes at the Department of National Defence and Global Affairs Canada.

To finish these remarks, let me reiterate that we remain very much supportive of Canada joining the treaty as a fully compliant state party. Unfortunately, however, Bill C-47 falls short of meeting the spirit, the objectives, and the specific provisions of the ATT, and thus we cannot support it in its current form.

Thank you very much for your attention. I would very much welcome your comments or questions related to these remarks.