In response to Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine, Canada has announced successive shipments of military goods to the Ukrainian government. As of mid-May 2022, the value of all committed transfers was in excess of $150-million, with military aid worth a further $500-million proposed in Canada’s 2022 federal budget.
Established in 1947 as Canadian Aviation Electronics, CAE Inc. has more than 10,000 employees and operates 180 sites and training locations in more than 35 countries. While CAE produces goods for the civilian market, it is also one of Canada’s largest military manufacturers, chiefly producing cockpit simulators and associated equipment that are used in training air crew. As is true of many Canadian defence manufacturers, most of its goods and services are exported and sold on the foreign market.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest importer of weapons and the global north—in particular, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France—its main supplier. And this trade is growing. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Saudi arms imports for the period 2016-2020 were 61% greater than imports for the prior five-year period.
The government of Canada publishes federal arms export data in its annual Report on Exports of Military Goods from Canada. The report for 2020 reveals that Canadian military exports were at historically high levels, and that some of the customers were among the world’s worst abusers of human rights. While the 2020 edition includes minor improvements in transparency, significant information is still missing or obscured.
As there is credible evidence that Saudi Arabia has breached the laws of war in Yemen, and has gone so far as to illicitly provide these vehicles to proxies in that conflict, Canada’s continued arms exports to Riyadh is a breach of domestic and international law.
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.
The Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), an independently operated Crown corporation, arranges contracts between Canadian manufacturers and foreign governments. Between 60 and 70 per cent of these contracts involve military goods, making the CCC Canada’s largest arms broker.
On March 1, Canada’s Minister of International Development Karina Gould pledged $69.9-million in aid to Yemen, now mired in its sixth year of continuous warfare. Gould stated, “Yemen is undergoing …
In the run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Joe Biden pledged to end arms sales to countries fueling the war in Yemen—specifically, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. …
Ploughshares Communications Officer Tasneem Jamal spoke with Kelsey Gallagher about the genesis of Killer Optics, the impact of its publication, and the role of open-source data in tracking arms transfers.
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