This article was originally published on April 25, 2017 on Ricochet.
When the Trudeau government introduced Bill C-47 earlier this month to accede to the international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), it was one of those situations where you didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. You could be thankful that the government is finally stepping up to international standards for arms control. But then you could cry too, as the Trudeau government seems intent on maintaining existing loopholes in Canada’s international arms dealings.
Looking at the positive side, Canada is finally taking steps to align its existing arms export control mechanisms with a higher UN standard. Despite Canadians’ mythological self-image as a peace-loving nation, Canadawill be the last of its G7 and NATO allies to sign on to the ATT.
Earlier this month, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström had planned to deliver a speech on democracy and women’s rights at an Arab League conference in Cairo. Though it appears that her remarks were intended to be quite general in nature, she had planned to condemn the public flogging of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, which has made headlines in recent months. However, Wallström’s speech was quickly and effectively blocked by the delegation from Saudi Arabia who felt that the speech was “incompatible with the fact that the constitution of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is based on Sharia [law].”
What followed was a series of political and diplomatic retaliations by both governments, which included the dissolution of a trade agreement between Sweden in Saudi Arabia. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two countries has existed since 2005 and secures cooperation in issues of intelligence, security, and the trade of Swedish-manufactured weapons.[i] The agreement was up for renewal this May, but has since been abandoned by the Swedish government.Read more