Monday, October 29, 2007

Canadian arms exports surge amid secrecy

A CBC investigation reveals that Canada is now the world's sixth leading arms exporter, as watchdogs accuse us of secrecy.

Canada's military exports have more than tripled over the past seven years, a CBC News investigation has learned.

Over the past seven years, Canada has exported $3.6 billion in military goods. Canada now exports more arms and military goods than it imports. ...

... for the past four years the federal government has not released annual reports providing detailed information to Parliament. ...

The prolonged silence by Ottawa has now become an international embarrassment, said Ken Epps of Project Ploughshares, an arms control watchdog and peace group founded by the Canadian Council of Churches.

Epps cited a recent report by the Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based monitoring group, which dropped Canada's transparency rating on arms controls to just above that of Iran. ...

But the federal government couldn't release figures on military exports to Canada's biggest buyer, the United States, even if it wanted to. Ottawa doesn't track those sales.

In fact, most military exports to the U.S. don't even need government permits because of a defence agreement signed by Ottawa and Washington in the 1940s.

The agreement leaves a huge loophole in Canada's arms controls, [defense analyst Janice] Stein said.

"The export licencing requirements for what we sell to the United States are so minimal that it is possible that some of that equipment moves to third parties," Stein told CBC News. "We would never know." (link)
Canadian Copters?
Unable to convince NATO allies to contribute more war machines, NATO command has decided to rent helicopters from private sources. Meanwhile, Toronto-based company SkyLink Aviation "is one of several firms from around the world that could provide the choppers NATO is now looking to use in Afghanistan", reports David Pugliese in the Ottawa Citizen. "We have been working with NATO and ISAF (by) providing them the information they would need in order to go out for a commercial lease agreement," SkyLink general manager Jan Ottens said. (link)

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