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

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

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

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

I understand, but you would meet before you all arrive at the meetings. Presumably you'd meet in Ottawa and you'd meet in various locations.

3:55 p.m.

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

Habib Massoud

Or consult by e-mail.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Right, and I assume that typically in preparation for one of these sessions there would be briefings for the minister as well on the approach to be taken at these discussions.

3:55 p.m.

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

Habib Massoud

We discuss with the minister what the minister's office might want, of course, to get a better understanding of the minister's instructions to us so we can better formulate our views.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

From your experience.... I'm obviously interested in the participation of civil society and how these people were selected. I understand that you may not want to discuss that, but I'm trying to get an understanding of what the role of these people would be in the lead-up to the beginning of the negotiations. You're surely not saying that they would just arrive on the day of the meeting and have your morning meeting. They're involved in setting up the preparatory work...?

3:55 p.m.

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

Habib Massoud

We have a wide variety of consultations. Before every PrepCom we actually consult quite a few groups. If anybody else wants to write to us and send us their views, we of course welcome it.

But my experience has been that every minister is different. We try to serve the minister as that minister wants. I stopped long ago trying to predict how ministers think, so—

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

A TV show tried that once, didn't they?

I don't want to interrupt you, but we're running out of time.

Would you be surprised if people who were part of the delegation in which you'll be involved as we head into July of this year were posting, on a website called “canadiangunnutz.com”, references to discussions taking place in the department, offering opinions as to how the government may deal with certain issues, and saying that understanding diplomatese is worse than Klingon?

You don't look like an alien, but you would be surprised, wouldn't you, that people participating as part of your group are on these websites posting stuff like that?

That wouldn't be typical, would it?

3:55 p.m.

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

Habib Massoud

First off, speaking fluent diplomatese, I understand why people have trouble understanding it.

3:55 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

You've never posted on the website called “canadiangunnutz” referring to yourself as a Klingon.

3:55 p.m.

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

Habib Massoud

I wouldn't refer to myself in that way, no.

Members of the delegation all sign a confidentiality agreement because we have to be able to speak freely. Our Canadian delegation to each of the PrepComs has worked very well. We're very pleased we get along very well. I have never seen the internal confidentiality of a Canadian delegation violated.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

So you would be surprised, then, if people purporting to be part of that delegation were offering, on the website, a rather detailed analysis of what the Canadian government would be putting forward at these discussions?

4 p.m.

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

Habib Massoud

My best guess is that this person was probably not a member of the delegation.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

And if the person were either involved with the delegation or a senior official of one of the groups involved with the delegation, you'd want to look into how that happened.

4 p.m.

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

Habib Massoud

I prefer to trust my colleagues.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

You would never verify, though, that this kind of stuff is posted on websites. If somebody were to send you websites....

You're not a police officer or a lawyer, and I understand that, but I'm sort of worried that perhaps there is a tendency to speak freely about what is an important discussion and the role of Canada in those discussions. My concern is that it can be compromised by people who can't resist going on the Internet late at night and posting stuff.

That would be unusual for you, certainly.

4 p.m.

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

Habib Massoud

I fully trust all members of my delegation. I know there are people who think they know things and will write all sorts of things without actually knowing what the facts are. I have complete trust in every member of my delegation.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Thank you for your answer.

We only have one minute left. Perhaps you could give us a sense of where the resistance would be coming from, what countries. If you're correct to say there's no guarantee of a success next month, where do you see the biggest resistance currently from your impression of where different state parties may be in approaching the discussions next month?

4 p.m.

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

Habib Massoud

Let me give you the impression of the room I have when I've been at the PrepComs.

There is a great deal...and growing distrust among many delegations. There are some countries that aren't fully convinced. When we say that we want to impede the flow of weapons to human rights violators, to those who aggravate civilian conflicts, to those who are under UN Security Council sanctions, there are some countries that don't actually believe it. There are some countries that think this is an excuse. There's a great deal of suspicion that maybe—

4 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Sorry—an excuse in what sense?

4 p.m.

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

Habib Massoud

There are some who believe that western countries—

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Dean Allison

Go ahead and finish the answer, but then that's all the time.

4 p.m.

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

Habib Massoud

Some countries think that western countries are simply looking for any excuse to prevent weapons going to them for their own political purposes. They're not quite convinced that we're sincere when we say that we just don't want weapons going to human rights violators. So there's a bit of suspicion.

There are harder-line countries that seem to believe there's some sort of western plot at regime change. They think that the real purpose of the ATT is to be able to give weapons to those we like and to not give weapons to those we don't like, and that there's a political motive beneath all that.

When we come out and say, “No, look, we just think that human rights violators should be prevented from getting weapons, that criminals and terrorists should not be getting weapons”, they don't think we're sincere.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Dean Allison

Thank you very much.

We're going to start our second round of five minutes. We'll probably have a chance for a couple of interventions.

I'm going to start with Ms. Grewal.

June 11th, 2012 / 4 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Thank you, Chair.

To Mr. Galveias, currently military goods shipped from Canada to the United States do not require export permits. An arms trade treaty could affect this licence, the free arms trade arrangement with the United States.

Due to the fact that the Pentagon is Canada's largest customer for military goods, what would be the impact of the implementation of such a treaty on relations with the United States?