Mr. Speaker, we live in a world where global actors seek global solutions for global crises and where the international community and international law play an indispensable role in creating a safer, more secure, and more stable international order. It is in that spirit that I rise today to discuss Bill C-47, an act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code.
The implementation of the obligations contained in the bill before us today represents a firm Liberal campaign commitment and is of great concern to a great many Canadians. Bill C-47 marks a common sense and long-overdue commitment on the part of the Canadian government to fully accede to the Arms Trade Treaty and strengthen Canada's arms export regime.
Our accession, in other words, would, first, create a legal obligation for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to consider certain assessment criteria before issuing an export permit or a brokering permit; second, define brokering activities and establish a framework to control brokering that takes place in Canada or is undertaken by Canadians outside Canada; third, set May 31 as the date by which the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of International Trade must table in both Houses of Parliament a report of the operations under the EIPA and a report on military exports in the preceding year; fourth, increase the maximum fine for a summary conviction offence from $25,000 to $250,000 in order to support enhancement and encourage compliance; fifth, replace the requirement that only countries with which Canada has an intergovernmental arrangement may be added to the automatic firearms country control list with a new requirement that a country may be added to the AFCCL on the recommendation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs after consultation with the Minister of National Defence; and sixth, add a new purpose for which an article may be added to an export control list: to facilitate the collection of information on goods that have been, are, or are likely to be subject to trade investigations.
The need for a strengthened international arms regime is abundantly clear. Most estimates suggest that there are over 875 million small and light arms in circulation worldwide. This number is roughly equal to the number of cars or tablets on the planet. To appreciate the magnitude of this figure of 875 million, let us consider that this number is twice the number of people who lived under the British Empire in its heyday. To look at it differently, this number represents 252,306 guns for every Tim Hortons in Canada. In the absence of common sense regimes and international co-operation to prevent the spread and proliferation of small and light arms, this number represents an astounding threat to global stability. Armed violence kills approximately 508,000 people every year on a global scale. It is important to emphasize that most of these people are not living in conflict zones.
The Arms Trade Treaty ensures that 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. Several measures within the ATT help address these pressing concerns. Perhaps most significantly, article 6 prohibits states from authorizing the transfer of arms if they possess knowledge that the arms would be used “...in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians protected as such, or other war crimes....”
In addition, article 7 requires states to examine whether their arms exports regimes “would contribute to or undermine peace and security”.
Quite simply, our government believes that regulating the international arms trade is essential for the protection of people and human rights. It is precisely the type of issue on which Canada was once regarded as a global leader. It is on these types of issues that our government once again seeks to return Canada to a principled and forceful foreign policy based on respect for human rights and international law.
Let us remember that formal negotiation of the ATT began in 2006, arising from a growing concern within the international community regarding the proliferation of small and light arms across the globe. The growing security threat posed by these weapons and the lack of international co-operation on this issue were of grave concern. Unfortunately, as this process unfolded, Canada largely remained on the sidelines. As of this spring, 91 states had both signed and ratified the treaty. It is important to highlight that Canada remains the only NATO ally and G7 nation that has not signed or ratified the Arms Trade Treaty.
The bill before us today will rectify this. Bill C-47 would bring Canada into full compliance with the ATT and set global standards into Canadian law.
Acceding to the treaty is not just about Canada's arms trade regime; it is also about Canada setting a principled standard and embracing the need for coordinated global action.
The regulations before us were developed in a transparent, deliberate, and comprehensive fashion. More importantly, our government is matching words with actions. Budget 2017 allocated $13 million over five years to allow Canada to implement the Arms Trade Treaty and to further strengthen Canada's export control regime. Moreover, we are also contributing $1 million to the UN Trust Facility Supporting Cooperation on Arms Regulation to ensure that we assist other countries in acceding to this treaty.
We are doing this because our government understands that as global security threats become increasingly diverse, dispersed, interconnected, and interdependent, Canada cannot afford to sit idle or to go it alone. We should never neglect our international responsibilities for reasons of domestic pandering or narrow-minded ideology. Canada has a moral obligation to accede to the ATT, and I am proud that our government has taken these concrete steps.