Friday, December 7, 2007

Canada: Hewers of wood, drawers of watfer, exporter of arms

It seems that one area of exporting has managed to survive the gain in value of the dollar and the decline of manufacturing, the arms export business. The government is rather secretive about it all. Maybe we could find out about the matter through the Schreiber inquiry!! After all our German-Canadian Schreiber is an arms dealer! Perhaps our change from peace keeping to battle roles in support of US hegemony (oh sorry I meant bringing democracy and Sharia law to Afghanistan) is related to the growth of the arms industy or rather the two are complementary.

'What is it they're trying to hide?' NDP asks for military export data
Last Updated: Friday, December 7, 2007 | 7:50 AM ET
CBC News
Canada's growing military export trade remains cloaked in secrecy, despite the Harper government's vow to disclose years-old information, and the New Democrats are now demanding to know why there's a holdup.

In late October, CBC News reported that the federal government had last submitted an annual report to Parliament about military exports in 2002, and the country had quietly risen to the sixth-largest supplier of arms to the world since then.

The same day the story came out, Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier promised to release a report.

"We take these allegations very seriously. That is why, contrary to the opposition, there is a report that will soon be released for 2003 to 2005," Bernier told the House of Commons in French.

Crunching customs data, CBC found that Canada's military exports more than tripled in the past seven years, rising above the amount imported.

In that seven-year period, encompassing both the Paul Martin and Stephen Harper governments, a total of $3.6 billion worth of military arms was sent abroad.

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"It's a pox on both their houses," said NDP defence critic Dawn Black, adding that the government has a legal obligation to make the information public.

"What is it they're trying to hide? Or is it some kind of incompetence? Whatever the issue is, it must be resolved. It's four years late," she said.

Arms control experts have blasted Canada for failing to be transparent, pointing to survey by Geneva-based monitoring group, Small Arms Survey, that dropped Canada's transparency rating to just above that of Iran in a recent report.

And in 2006, the U.S. Congressional Research Service ranked Canada as the sixth-biggest exporter of arms to the world.

Back in October, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said technical glitches with new online systems were to blame for the absent reporting.

When CBC asked why the federal government still hasn't released the promised report, a spokesperson for Bernier couldn't say why the report has been delayed or when it will be released.

As for former Liberal foreign affairs minister Pierre Pettigrew, he couldn't be reached for comment about why reports weren't issued under his watch

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