April 25, 2001
Canada's Military Exports: Fuelling wars and abusing international
The Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) has just released its annual report that juxtaposes data on Canada's military exports with information on armed conflicts, human rights violations and abuses of labor rights by recipient governments. COAT's report uses data published in the latest annual report of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), called Export of Military Goods from Canada, 1999.
Although DFAIT claims that they "closely control" military exports to countries at war and which abuse human rights, COAT's report documents how the Canadian government continues to promote numerous foreign arms bazaars and other opportunities for military exports to "target countries" that are guilty of military aggression and internal repression.
"Several Canadian government departments are blatantly aiding and abetting the export of a wide variety of Canadian military hardware to governments that are widely known to be engaged in war and/or that are violently repressing domestic human rights, including labor rights. Canadian weapons systems are being used by many governments in the commission of crimes against peace, crimes against humanity and war crimes. This makes the Canadian government an accomplice to these crimes," says COAT coordinator Richard Sanders.
DFAIT's annual report covers up more than it reveals. This is shown by discrepancies with data in Industry Canada's online database of military firms strategis.ic.gc.ca/SSG/ad03492e.html This database includes information on Canadian military corporations which state that they have "export experience" to many countries that have never been listed in DFAIT's annual military export reports, including: Afghanistan, Burma, Colombia, Congo, Guatemala, El Salvador, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Rwanda and the Sudan.
Although the U.S. buys about 60% of Canada's military exports, DFAIT still
includes no data whatsoever on Canada's military exports to the U.S. The
military export figures that DFAIT did release for 1999 show an increase of
about 3% from $422 million in 1998, to $434 million in 1999. However, actual
Canadian military exports are probably more than twice the
amount admitted by DFAIT! A Canadian Defense Industry Association report ("Canadian Defense Industry 1999"), reveals that military exports in 1998 (other than to the U.S.) were about $851 million, although DFAIT's report only listed about $422 million in Canadian military exports for that year. Several other major loopholes in DFAIT's reporting serve to protect
information about Canada's military exports from scrutiny by the Canadian public. This was the case with supposedly civilian helicopters sold directly to Colombia's Air Force.
COAT's annual report also shows how the Canadian government promotes profitable business opportunities in "export processing zones"(EPZs) in Third World countries where Canada exports military and police equipment. Unions, collective bargaining and strikes are outlawed in EPZs. Canadian firms import inexpensive products from sweatshops in EPZs where protests, strikes and non-violent movements for social change are violently suppressed by police and military forces that are, in part, armed by Canadian corporations.