Given the UN vote for a ceasefire and warnings of genocide, does the Canadian government have a position on CANSEC?

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: CANSEC arms show.

Earlier this week, The Guardian reported: “[Israel’s defence minister] Yoav Gallant told the Associated Press that the current phase of the conflict, characterised by heavy ground fighting backed up by air power, could stretch on for weeks and that further military activity could continue for months.”

On Thursday December 14, Gallant further stated: “It will last more than several months”.

More than 18,700 Palestinians have been killed since October 7, with thousands of more dead believed to be buried under ruble, nearly 50,600 injured, and the displacement and immiseration of 1.9 million people, 85 per cent of Gaza’s population.

Calls for a ceasefire

On Tuesday December 12, the United Nations General Assembly voted 153 in favour of an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

Canada was one of the countries that voted in favour of the ceasefire.

After the vote, CBC reported: “Iddo Moed, Israel’s ambassador to Canada, said the UN resolution ‘changes nothing on the ground.’ Moed said ‘talking [with Hamas] will not make any difference’ and the UN resolution won’t change how Israel carries out its war on Hamas. ’Israel is there to stay and Israel will win this war anyway, and at any price it would cost us.’”

Exhibitors at CANSEC

Israeli military activity for months brings to our attention the CANSEC arms show in Ottawa that takes place five months from now, May 29-30, 2024.

The exhibitors at CANSEC include “Israel Representatives” and Elbit Systems Ltd., an Israel-based arms company that is the largest supplier of weapons to Israel.

Official exhibitors also include Global Affairs Canada and the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Canadian federal Crown corporation.

Other exhibitors include Lockheed Martin, the makers of the F-35 warplane, and Boeing, implicated as the makers of the bombs dropped on the Jabalia refugee camp.

CANSEC attracts “VIPS, generals, top military & government officials” and “74% of attendees have purchasing power”.

It’s where weapons are showcased, bought and sold.

Calls for an arms embargo

It is in this context that we note that, on November 16, UN Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and Working Groups called for the international community to “implement an arms embargo on all warring parties”. They further warned “the failure to urgently implement a ceasefire risks this situation spiralling towards a genocide conducted with 21st century means and methods of warfare.”

On October 20, Amnesty International also called on the international community to “impose a comprehensive arms embargo on all parties to the conflict given that serious violations amounting to crimes under international law are being committed.”

Furthermore, on December 14, Project Ploughshares released this report and highlighted: “The gravity of this situation calls for immediate action to ensure Canada is meeting its domestic and international obligations to mitigate the risk of contributing to violations of international law, for example, violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), including possible war crimes, in Gaza. Given the substantial risk that Canadian military goods could contribute to such abuses in Gaza, Canada must immediately halt all transfers of weapons to Israel.”

A review of Canada’s annual reports on exports of “military goods” reveals that over the last five years Canada has exported almost $100 million of these so-called “military goods” to Israel: $21,329,783.93 (in 2022), $26,092,288.99 (2021), $18,947,640.49 (2020), $13,744,727.53 (2019) and $15,950,952.12 (2018).

It is unclear exactly what these military goods are, but the categories include bombs, missiles, aircraft components, and electronic equipment.

Ploughshares also highlights that “some components manufactured in Canada and transferred to the United States, including components integrated into the F-35s, are ultimately delivered to Israeli forces. The vast majority of Canadian military exports to the U.S. are unregulated and unreported, the exact volume and value of these exports remain unknown.”

As such, Canadian “military goods” sent to Israel could be much higher than the $100 million figure noted above.

Calls for a two-way arms embargo

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Israel is also the 10th largest weapons exporter in the world.

The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) along with more than 170 organizations have called for a two-way arms embargo on Israel.

They explain: “As Israel continues to import weapons, with over USD 4 billion annually from the US and Germany alone, it has also established itself as a leader in the cybersecurity and surveillance industry and is among the world’s largest exporters of weapons, ranking tenth in 2022. Such technologies are often promoted as having been successfully tested on the Palestinian population in the context of Israel’s long-standing occupation during which they have also often been developed. Our organisations therefore further demand that States put an end to and denounce imports of arms and surveillance technology from Israel.”

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, along with 119 other organizations, have also highlighted in this letter: “Arms imports from Israel are wholly inconsistent with obligations under the ATT. Israeli military and industry sources openly boast that their weapons and technologies are ‘combat proven’ – in other words, field-tested on Palestinian civilians ‘human test subjects’. When States import Israeli arms, they are encouraging it to keep bombing Palestinian civilians and persist in its unlawful practices. No one –neither Israel, nor arms manufacturers in ATT States parties– should be allowed to profit from the killing or maiming of Palestinian civilians. It is thus abundantly clear that imposing a two-way arms embargo on Israel is both a legal and a moral obligation.”

Canada’s position?

Given the warnings that what is happening in Gaza is a genocide, Canada’s obligations to international law, the calls for an arms embargo (both exports and imports), and Israel’s stated opposition to a ceasefire (and its stated intention to continue the “war” for months), what is the Government of Canada’s position on the CANSEC arms show?


Project Ploughshares report.

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