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    Arms Control - time for a mature conversation Should we sell Arms to Saudi Arabia? What is Canada’s position on the Iranian Nuclear agreement? Recently these questions have dominated the foreign policy debate in Canada and the United Kingdom. While these are important questions the debate itself reveals something is profoundly lacking. Plaining put what is our foreign policy on arms control both conventional and unconventional? As a country that prided itself on the Ottawa Treaty to Ban Land Mines and leaders in Nuclear Non Proliferation recently we have been missing in action. After a decade of despair in diplomacy particularly in arms control it’s time to put on our skates and get back on the ice. O There is incredible opportunity for Canada to make a real difference and now is the time So where to begin? Conventional Weapons Whether it’s the Middle East or North Africa many regions have become awash with small and medium sized weapons which has enabled extremists groups like ISIL, Boco Haram instability and support. Remember what happened in Libya after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011? The weapons stockpiled by Gaddafi were quickly spirited over the border via the black market and were used in Mali and Iraq. The most obvious way to impact the threat of illegal arms sales is to sign and ratify the UN Arms Trade Treaty. While we may be late to the party we can still be a champion to this important treaty which would help repair the damage of the previous government bizarre reluctance to sign the treaty. The new Liberal government has committed to sign the Arms Trade Treaty which is a good start but we will need to ratify the treaty as soon as possible to make up for lost time. In fact 130 Countries have signed the agreement and 80 Countries have ratified, this May states who have signed and ratified the agreement will be filing their annual reports, but not Canada, so we need to catch up. The importance of this UN treaty cannot be overstated it requires countries to adopt reports of exports and end use, national control lists and other regulations and measures. The treaty lays out various reporting and accountability measures involving government and industry, there is also a role for civil society and our Parliament. In the case of our Parliament Canada should adopt the UK Parliament’s structure of their House of Commons Committee for Arms Exports and Controls. The UK committee consists of members from the standing committees of Defence, Foreign Affairs, International Development and Business and Skills Development we could assemble a similar committee in our Parliament. This committee could monitor our compliance with the Arms Trade Treaty and provide a forum for industry and civil society to be heard. As we have seen with the Saudi deal once an export is approved it becomes difficult to monitor use and hold end users to account. Along with signing and implementing the ATT we should become vigorous champions of the treaty and promote its implementation by other countries similar to Canada’s support of the Ottawa Land Mines Treaty. Nuclear Weapons Along with conventional arms control Canada must contribute to nuclear non-proliferation. Recently The Doomsday Clock, the symbolic countdown to humanity’s end due to the threat of nuclear weapons, was calculated at three minutes to midnight, this should be a wakeup call. Historically Canada has a proud tradition of limiting the proliferation, testing and use of nuclear weapons. However in recent years we have impeded progress on nuclear weapon controls. At a time when we see new states seeking to proliferate and old ones looking to refurbish there nuclear stockpiles Canada is on the sidelines. For example the previous government refused to support the P5 plus one negotiation with Iran and most recently we refused to sign the 2014 Vienna Protocol on Nuclear Weapons. Despite Canada’s anemic response there has been some positive moves on the nuclear non-proliferation front; in 2009 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s challenged the world to get behind his five point plan proposal to curb and eventually eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons in this was followed by a unanimous motion in both the Canadian Senate and House of Commons in 2010 calling our government to support t Ban Ki-moon’s initiative. Indeed Canada can play a constructive role; we can support the recently negotiated Iran deal by offering financial and human resources to monitor the agreement. We should sign the Vienna Protocol on Humanitarian Effects of Nuclear Weapons But we can go further we should pursue a global treaty on nuclear weapons. Canada has a unique credibility in taking a leading role in such efforts. At the height of the Cold War, Canada chose not to develop nuclear arms. As a country, we have always known the dangers of nuclear weapons. But we need to engage and inspire a younger generation of people who may not have the intuitive understanding of nuclear weapons that came with life during the Cold War. This September 26th the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons we should host a conference for an eventual Nuclear Weapons treaty. Canada is a significant world power, we have the experience the trust and self-interest to and lean into the major issues that face our globe, instead of ambiguity and chasten responses let’s with clear vision, clear objectives and the will to follow through. We can achieve more on Arms Control to make the world a safer place and have our country take its rightful place on the global stage.
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    This also happened this week ......
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    While the NDP convention was notable for many reasons we also debated some key issues like Nulcear Disarmament
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    Three years after Rana Plaza many still suffering - more attention to the supply chain required to support responsible conduct - government, industry and citizens/consumers all have a role
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    Perfect day for for the solar dyer and bid adieu to the hockey gear for another year
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