DFAIT's Report on Exports of Military Goods from Canada

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) has now published 13 reports on the "Export of Military Goods from Canada." The first dozen of these reports, which released a limited amount of seriously flawed data on Canada's trade in war technologies, were originally published annually and covered data between 1991 and 2002. Only one report, called "Report on Exports of Military Goods from Canada 2003-2005" has been published since then, in late 2007.  Unfortunately, it released even less data than in previous years. In addition, it has even more shortcomings than previous reports.

The biggest and most serious loophole in all of the DFAIT reports is that none of them include any data on Canada's military exports to the US.  This is obviously a major flaw because the US accounts for 70% of Canada's military exports.

For an analysis of the various other shortcomings within these reports, one can refer to a Project Ploughshares' document called On the Record: An audit of Canada’s report on military exports, 2003-05,” by Kenneth Epps and Kyle Gossen, January 2009. (In particular, note the section called "Transparency: What the Report Does Not Tell Us," pp.31-37).

Despite all of the serious shortcomings of DFAIT's most-recent three-year-late report, it begins with these encouraging words:

"A key priority of Canada’s foreign policy is the maintenance of peace and security. To this end, the Government of Canada strives to ensure that Canadian military exports are not prejudicial to peace, security or stability in any region of the world or within any country."

The report then quickly goes on to boast that:
"Canada closely controls the export of military goods and technology to countries:

·        that pose a threat to Canada and its allies;

·        that are involved in or under imminent threat of hostilities;

·        that are under United Nations Security Council sanctions; or

·        whose governments have a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens, unless it can be demonstrated that there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population."

The key phrase here, no doubt inserted by savvy word-smithing lawyers, is "closely controls." This phrase, does not actually mean that exports to countries in these four categories are not permitted, or even that they are necessarily curbed or restricted.  In reality, the phrase "closely controls" means that increases in Canada's arms exports (even to countries at war or which violate human rights) are allowed, as long as they are "closely controlled" increases.

This table is connected to a report of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) called "Canadian Military Exports to Countries at War, 2003-2005."

This COAT report  was created in support of the campaign to Oppose CANSEC 2009 in Ottawa!