Global Affairs Canada Trade Commissioner Service withdraws from CANSEC arms show in Ottawa, but why?

Published by Brent Patterson on

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The Global Affairs Canada (GAC) Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) has withdrawn from this year’s CANSEC arms show.

It’s not yet known why.

The TCS still notes on its website: “Canada’s export-intensive defence and security sector is of critical importance to the country.”

The website for the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) organized CANSEC arms show also still highlights: “Each year, the Government of Canada and CADSI work together to engage a diverse global community at CANSEC. Contact your Canadian in-country trade commissioner to learn how you can attend the event in partnership with the Government of Canada, as well as any rules and regulations that may apply.”

And the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) has previously stated the crucial role the TCS has played at CANSEC.

In their 2017-18 Annual Report, they note: “CCC played a leadership role with the TCS at the CANSEC tradeshow by participating in the Government of Canada Pavilion and managing the foreign delegation program.”

TCS at CANSEC for 18+ years

At CANSEC 2005, they were there as “The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service/ Export Controls Division” in Booth T11.

TCS was also present in 2013.

Photo: CANSEC 2014 Show Guide.

Photo: TCS was even there in-person at CANSEC during the pandemic.

And most recently in 2023.

When and why was the decision made?

On November 23, 2023, the TCS noted under “Upcoming Sectoral Events and Activities” CANSEC with a hyperlink to the 2024 event.

And on January 25, 2024 the TCS was listed as an exhibitor at CANSEC. It had even been assigned Booth 225-S at the EY Centre, the location of the show. 

At some point by February 8, 2024, it was no longer listed.

This happened before the House of Commons vote on March 18, 2024, in which the Liberal government put forward significant amendments to an NDP motion including so that it would now read: “Cease the further authorization and transfer of arms exports to Israel to ensure compliance with Canada’s arms export regime and increase efforts to stop the illegal trade of arms, including to Hamas.”

Video: Minister Mary Ng rises in the House to vote in favour of the revised motion.

The decision to withdraw from CANSEC also appears to have been made after January 8, 2024. That’s relevant because in a statement published by CBC News, Global Affairs Canada says: “Since Jan. 8, the government has not approved new arms export permits to Israel and this will continue until we can ensure full compliance with our export regime.”

Confirmation TCS has withdrawn

In response to an enquiry (dated February 27, 2024) from Peace Brigades International-Canada, an emailed statement (dated March 22, 2024) from the Public Affairs Branch of Global Affairs Canada says: “Since the TCS has been an exhibitor at CANSEC in the past, it’s likely we were left on the exhibitors list inadvertently by the show organizers. However, the TCS has withdrawn exhibiting at CANSEC this year.”

The question remains why.

We will be reaching out to other officials at the TCS for answers.

Sara Wilshaw is the Chief Trade Commissioner, International Business Development, Investment and Innovation. Her team is listed here. TCS is the responsibility of the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development. That Minister is Mary Ng. CADSI lists Trade Commissioners Pierre-Alexandre Carrier and Rob Hunter as the TCS contacts at CANSEC 2023.

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