A historic treaty aimed at regulating the global arms trade was signed in late September by 90 countries, including the United States- however Canada was not one of them.
The Harper government has faced criticism for this decision by NGO’S, and political opposition, who were concerned Canada was withholding a signature because of worries that the treaty would somehow affect domestic gun ownership.
According to a Canadian Press article dated September 25th, the treaty was introduced to protect civilians from genocide or crimes against humanity, and focusses on armoured combat vehicles, attack helicopters, battle tanks, and missile launchers- among others. The treaty explicitly excludes regulation of any country’s domestic arms.
Despite this, Canada has still not signed the treaty. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in a statement that Canada would need to do consultations before making a hard commitment.
“We said we would do consultations before we made a decision on [signing the arms treaty]. [It is] in the early stages, so obviously we're not going to be signing on to anything, Baird said.”
Executive director of Oxfam Canada Robert Fox questioned why Canada had not been faster in signing the treaty, when even the United States, a country that fiercely protects the second amendment right to bare arms, has signed it.
"We're in a world where there's more regulations about the trade of bananas than there are about AK-47s. We believe the treaty addresses their concerns. If the United States can sign on, then it is a mystery to us why Canada would not, Fox said in a statement.”
United States Secretary of State John Kerry also addressed concerns and was reassuring the treaty did not intend on infringing on the use of arms domestically.
"This treaty will not diminish anyone's freedom, [The U.S] would never think about supporting a treaty that is inconsistent with [...] the rights of American citizens to be able to exercise their guaranteed rights under our Constitution."
Despite the insistence of multiple actors regarding this arms treaty, that it has been designed to prevent atrocities and genocide, the Canadian government remains defiant. Through a lack of action, Canada is sending the wrong message to our allies in the international community, and risking the lives of civilians.