The undersigned, representing a cross-section of Canadian labour, arms controls, antiwar, human rights, international security, and other civil society organizations, are writing to reiterate our continued opposition to your government’s issuance of arms exports permits for weapons destined to Saudi Arabia. We write today adding to the letters of March 2019, August 2019, April 2020 and September 2020 in which several of our organizations raised concerns about the serious ethical, legal, human rights and humanitarian implications of Canada’s ongoing transfer of weapons to Saudi Arabia. We regret that, to date, we have received no response to these concerns from you or the relevant Cabinet ministers on the matter. Critically, we regret that Canada finds itself in violation of its international arms control agreements.
For more than half a century, Canadian arms manufacturers have been selling weapons to foreign states. Much of this economic activity is the direct result of government assistance. From brokering contracts to staffing international arms fairs, the Canadian government goes to bat for Canadian weapons manufacturers.
Canada is in dire need of a solid diplomatic strategy that responds to the growing nexus between emerging technologies and national security. Newly-appointed foreign minister Mélanie Joly would do well to prioritize the development of robust and forward-looking policies to tackle tech-related security concerns, as is increasingly the case in the foreign ministries of a number of countries—including key Canadian allies as well as would-be adversaries.
There is a growing global consensus that all AI technology should exhibit the characteristics of transparency, justice and fairness, non-maleficence, and privacy. While a specific blueprint of responsible AI in defence applications has not yet emerged, shared commitments to reliable technologies that operate with an appropriate role for human judgement and experience are increasingly accepted.
“You can ignore reality,” said Russian-American author Ayn Rand. “But you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” Canada needs to heed this warning. While it continues to support the policies of nuclear-weapon states, the multilateral policy landscape on which nuclear disarmament negotiations occur is being reshaped. And all parties that continue to shelter under a nuclear umbrella will be increasingly isolated.
Just before Canada halted certain weapons exports to Turkey in April 2021, the FAAE committee released nearly 1,000 pages of government documents on Canada’s arms deals with Turkey. Although heavily redacted, the documents provide an unmatched look into the Canadian arms trade, including previously confidential memoranda to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, hundreds of pages of internal correspondence by Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and never-before-seen Canadian export permits for weapon systems.
In September 2019, Canada acceded to the legally binding Arms Trade Treaty, the first international framework to comprehensively control the international trade and transfer of conventional weapons. This positive action …
As various ministries of the federal government, as well as relevant ministries at the provincial level, seek to develop policy and procedures on the use of AI, they will need clear guidance on the risks associated with different AI applications and how they should be regulated. So far, no Canadian agency has taken the lead in providing the guidance needed to plan for high-risk AI use, particularly in security and defence applications.
On April 27, 2021, Ploughshares Executive Director Cesar Jaramillo and Researcher Kelsey Gallagher provided testimony to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development of the Government of Canada. The subject was Granting of Arms Export, with a particular focus on permits granted for exports to Turkey.
In 2016, Kirsten Mosey volunteered at Camp Moria on the island of Lesvos, Greece—once Europe’s largest refugee camp. Designed to house between 2,000 and 3,000 people, the former military/detention centre held approximately 20,000 refugees at its peak.