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View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
NDP (BC)
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2017-09-21 15:17 [p.13376]
Mr. Speaker, today is the International Day of Peace, on which we are asked to commit to peace above all differences and to contribute to building a culture of peace here in our community, our country, and around the world.
Human rights are not optional. If the government wants to show Canada that it is a leader in human rights, then it needs to ensure that it, and we, are walking the talk.
I was very moved at a ceremony in my community in Nanaimo on August 6, which is the anniversary of the tragic and terrible bombing of Hiroshima, where members of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom were talking about the United Nations treaty to ban nuclear weapons. At this ceremony last year they shared my hope that the Prime Minister was going to walk his talk and sign the treaty, given his campaign commitments about peace, security, and restoring Canada's good reputation on the world stage.
However, this year peace activists—and I think particularly of my mentor, Dyane Brown—were condemning the Prime Minister because he had directed Canada to vote against negotiations to end the nuclear weapons trade. Therefore, Canada voted against those negotiations and is not a signatory to that treaty. It was shameful. The United Nations Secretary-General called for nuclear negotiations, and 68 countries voted in favour. This was a bit more than a year ago, and Canada was on the outside of that international consensus.
The vote was called “the most significant contribution to nuclear disarmament in two decades” by one of the United Nations member countries. It is a shameful position for our country to be in. With the Liberal government's vote, Canada has effectively removed itself from nuclear disarmament democracy and diplomacy. We do not understand how Canada can be back, in the government's words, “on the international stage” when the Prime Minister is turning his back on the most important international negotiations in years. The threat of nuclear war is so present on the international stage right now that it is even more important that the international community work together at this time.
New Democratic members of Parliament and the representative for the Green Party stood on the steps of Parliament yesterday with activists in the area. We ourselves signed that treaty in a sign of solidarity, even though our Prime Minister and the Government of Canada will not.
There is much more United Nations consensus in which our country can join. A 2009 resolution of the Security Council stressed the particular impact of armed conflict on women, children, refugees, internally displaced persons, persons with disabilities, and older persons. As the New Democrat spokesperson on the status of women, I am going to bring a gender lens in particular to this debate.
The UN and international aid agencies say women are among the most heavily impacted victims of war. Tens of thousands suffer sexual violence, rape, and lack of access to life-saving health care. Amnesty International says women and girls are uniquely and disproportionately affected by armed conflict. Women bear the brunt of war and are the vast majority of casualties resulting from war. Rape and sexual violence target women and girls and are routinely used not only to terrorize women but as a strategic tool of war and an instrument of genocide. Systematic rape is often used as a weapon of war in ethnic cleansing and, in addition to rape, girls and women are often subject to forced prostitution and trafficking during times of war, sometimes with the complicity of governments and military authorities.
Is it not time that we look more closely at the regimes to which Canada exports weapons? In all countries everywhere in the world, sexual violation of women erodes the very fabric of a community in the way that few weapons can. This is the moral challenge to our country and government. About 603,000,000 women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime. Are we exporting weapons there?
In many countries there is repression, silencing of abuse, and mistreatment and imprisonment of women, human rights defenders, and activists. Are we exporting weapons there? In some countries, women are considered perpetual legal minors, permanently under the guardianship of a male relative. Are we exporting there?
In some countries, it is actually legal for a man to rape his wife. Are we exporting arms to those countries?
We hear again and again that Canadians want to have more scrutiny over the destination of Canadian weapons, and they want to know that we are not exacerbating those human rights abuses in countries abroad.
At last year's New Democrat convention, Stephen Lewis powerfully said:
We're not supposed to be sending armaments to countries that have a 'persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens.' Saudi Arabia is the embodiment of the meaning of the word 'violations.' And the government of Canada refuses to release its so-called assessment of the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. So much for the newly minted policy of transparency.
He then called out the Prime Minister, who “unselfconsciously calls himself a feminist” but is selling weapons to a regime "steeped in misogyny.”
Is it not time that we looked more closely at the regimes to which we export weapons? Many Canadians would be shocked to know that Canadian weapons exports have nearly doubled over the last 10 years.
While Canada used to export primarily to NATO countries, under the Conservative government these shifted to regimes with particularly troubling human rights records. Canada is now the second-largest arms dealer in the Middle East after the U.S. Saudi Arabia is now the world's second-largest buyer of Canadian-made military equipment.
There are increasing allegations that Canadian weapons are being used to commit human rights violations in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Sudan.
Last year, the NDP wanted to create a committee in this House that would have provided parliamentary oversight of arms exports. We would have had multi-party co-operation investigating current and future arms exports. However, the Liberal government voted against it.
All last year we called for Canada to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty. Finally, with this legislation, Canada is, but Bill C-47 does not strengthen export controls, and we have no idea whether future arms deals with human rights-abusing countries would be prohibited. The Arms Trade Treaty was meant to prevent these kinds of deals, but the government's legislation seems to go against the spirit and the letter of the Arms Trade Treaty.
Nor does it consider violence against women and children. The Arms Trade Treaty requires the exporting country to take into account the risk of arms or munitions “being used to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence or serious acts of violence against women and children.” The Arms Trade Treaty is the first international convention to recognize and address the link between conventional arms transfers and gender-based violence. That is a good thing. Such criteria should be incorporated into Canada's export controls, but this bill fails to address that need.
We have a government that says it is deeply committed to equal rights for women, and committed to transparency, do let us move forward. Let us do the right thing collectively. Let us amend this bill to make it fair, transparent, full of human rights for women, and consistent with the Arms Trade Treaty. Let us make Canada proud again on the world stage.
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
NDP (BC)
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2017-04-11 10:07 [p.10415]
moved:
That the Fourth Report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, presented on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, be concurred in.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I had not appreciated that it has been almost a year since this report was tabled in the House. This was a unanimous report of the all-party Standing Committee on the Status of Women. It reported to this Parliament that after successive Auditor General reports that had denigrated both Liberal and Conservative governments' abilities to implement gender-based analysis as had been a commitment 20 years ago to the United Nations, progress had stalled.
The committee came together and made constructive recommendations to the government. First and most, it followed from how we interpreted the Auditor General's disappointment that until there is legislation requiring the government to actually run all of its policy and budget decisions through a gender test, the Auditor General will not have the teeth to say that the government failed to uphold its own law. A commitment to the United Nations is not the same as legislation.
Of the most striking consensus recommendations of the all-party committee, one is that the federal government introduce legislation by June 2017 setting out the obligations of federal departments and agencies with regard to implementation of gender-based analysis.
Recommendation 17 went into more detail:
Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) is applied to all proposals before they arrive at Cabinet for decision-making;
GBA+ is a mandatory portion of Privy Council Office, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and Department of Finance submissions for all departments and agencies;
The Privy Council Office and Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat are mandated to return policies and programs that do not demonstrate the application of GBA+.
The third striking recommendation is that the Government of Canada create the office of the commissioner for gender equality based on the model of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.
There are many other recommendations in the report, but those are the three most meaty ones.
We did have a response from the minister some months later saying that it was good work, that the government is doing lots behind the scenes and that it will get back to us in 2018 about whether or not it will bring in legislation. It is certainly a great disappointment that there was not even a commitment about when legislation would be tabled. The committee was convinced by the arguments that with the current government's backlog of legislation and all the work that needs to be done to repair some of the damage done during the Conservatives' tenure in power, plus the unprecedented spending announced by the Liberal government, all of the policies, laws, and budgets should go through a gender test to make sure that women and men are benefiting equally and at least that there are not unintended consequences.
The New Democrats submitted a minority report saying that we agree with the spirit of the entire committee recommendation, but we think that the need is greater and the speed should be faster. We asked that the legislation be tabled in December 2016. That deadline has passed, and the government has already told us that the June 2017 deadline for legislation will not be met and in fact this may not be legislated at all.
The government has just tabled a budget that it described as a gender budget, but because we do not have legislation in place, we do not have the transparency to know how the government made its measures, what the criteria were, and whether the policy was actually upheld. These all happen at the cabinet level, and cabinet confidence means we do not get to peak in. Although it was much lauded as a gender budget, it was more a list of the various discriminations against women in Canada, which we are certainly well aware of, in particular, the gender pay gap. Many of us are wearing red today to recognize that this is the day in Ontario that women get out of the red. Women are working for free up to this point in the year.
This is pay equity day in Ontario. I recognize all of the labour and social justice activists who are pushing the cause forward. The government still has not committed to pay equity legislation. That is a 40-year-old commitment. The first Trudeau prime minister made that commitment, and it still has not been implemented.
The budget did not fund child care this year. It did not fund the operation of domestic violence shelters, something that women's groups call for again and again. All of these pieces point out to us repeatedly that gender-based analysis legislation would give the transparency and accountability this country needs if it is to fulfill its human rights commitment that genders be equal.
The well-documented history in the committee's report is that multiple studies have identified the need for action and the failure to implement. In 2009, a departmental action plan was established on gender analysis in response to the Auditor General's report. No real action was taken on that. In 2012, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts tabled a report saying that gender-based analysis should be a priority. Again, there is still no legislation. In 2015, the Minister of Status of Women's mandate letter said that this was a priority, and I applaud that.
In 2016, the Auditor General's report concluded that selected departments were not always performing gender-based analyses to inform government decision-making and the departments that had implemented the GBA framework were not always conducting complete or high-quality analyses. The committee concluded in this area, “despite the long history of work on the topic of GBA and GBA+ as outlined above, a great number of recommendations from the aforementioned reports have not been implemented, and as a result the federal government’s 1995 commitment has still not been fully realized.”
On March 31, the minister tabled an interim report on the implementation of gender-based analysis, which again is happening at the cabinet level, so we are not able to see how that is working.
Just this morning, the Standing Committee on the Status of Women debated a motion that I brought forward on behalf of New Democrats that the minister come before the committee and discuss her March 31 interim report, so that she can answer questions and explain more completely the government's commitments and progress on implementing GBA in the absence of legislation.
I am very sad to say that the Liberal members of the committee voted that motion down. I would have thought that if the government had a good news story to tell about gender-based analysis and why it could do this without legislation, it would be willing to bring the minister forward to have that discussion. We were not able to get consensus, I am very sad to say. That is a mistake on the government's part. If it has good news, it should want to shine a light on it.
I will wrap up by saying that since 1995, Canada has been committing to put its budget and legislative decisions through a gender lens to make sure that men and women benefit equally, to make sure programs and policies are designed in a way that men and women have an equal opportunity to benefit and that we do not have unanticipated consequences. For example, megaproject development can have impacts related to work camps that are predominantly male. Women may lose good jobs in that region. There may be unanticipated consequences around gender violence. This has been well amplified by organizations such as KAIROS and Amnesty International on projects happening in our own country.
The government, with its commitments on indigenous rights, sustainable development, and environmental protection, should want the transparency that gender-based analysis legislation would bring. The Standing Committee on the Status of Women unanimously recommended that this be legislated and that there be a gender commissioner to oversee the implementation. We are disappointed that a year later, these key recommendations have not been acted upon.
I continue to commend the committee's 2016 report to the government. If the Liberals really did want to walk the talk, if they really wanted to put their words into action, they would cede to the committee and would want to return to the committee to discuss how to make a gender lens apply to everything this Parliament does.
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
NDP (BC)
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2017-02-23 18:24 [p.9322]
Mr. Speaker, the last time I took up the issue of the government's commitments to indigenous women and the environment was in November when Amnesty International had just released a report on resource development in northeastern B.C. The headlines the following days read, ”In approving dam permits, Ottawa forgets its reconciliation promises”. We said at the time that the federal government had been green lighting development projects without any consideration for inequalities and risks to women that were too often a result of megaproject development.
The Amnesty International report also identified that there were no federally funded on reserve shelters in northeastern British Columbia.
I would like to know what the government has done since this very troubling study was released in November, when we last talked about it in question period.
I had the privilege of travelling to the Peace River Valley in July last year to meet with the landowners, the indigenous chiefs, the traditional territory of Treaty 8 nations. I met Yvonne Tupper, who is an inspiring, strong, Cree activist woman. She has made her home in the Peace River Valley. She wrote to me last night to say:
Site C will destroy migration paths for Predators and they will stay on either side of river. Wolves, grizzly bears, bears, wolverines. And Eagles nests destroyed. We are connected to land....Women and young girls should feel valued, appreciated, and respect like any and all women and young girls should in BC, Canada and world. We deserve it considering our lands, are being stolen in vast paces.
I also heard from Craig Benjamin who was one of the authors of the Amnesty report. He wrote to me this week to say:
The thing that has really stuck with me from conversations with Indigenous women in Treaty 8 territory, is hearing again and again that places like the lands threatened by Site C are vital healing places and that a government committed to stopping violence against women, has to be committed to standing with Indigenous women and their communities when they seek to protect those healing places.
The other point that we stressed in our...report is that we have more than two decades of studies in northeast BC repeatedly linking large-scale resource development to known threats to women's safety and wellbeing, from rising costs of living to shortages of housing and child care to rising substance abuse and violence--all of which was quite simply ignored in the assessment of the largest resource development in the region in recent history.
We heard testimony this week at the Status of Women committee from Kathleen Lahey, saying, “Canada has for a long time looked at infrastructure spending as its number one solution to economic growth problems”. She went on to describe the need to do a gender lens assessment of such spending to ensure it would have equal benefits for men and women, but also, and most important, not disproportionate negative impacts on women.
What has the government done since the tabling of this Amnesty International report on the Site C dam approvals to ensure there will not be further federal approvals that do not go through a gender test to ensure our most vulnerable people and environments are protected?
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
NDP (BC)
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2016-11-17 14:43 [p.6865]
Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday we asked the Liberals to take real action to prevent violence against indigenous women. Seventy percent of Inuit communities have no access to shelters.
Amnesty International says “The scale and severity of violence faced by Indigenous women and girls in Canada...constitutes a national human rights crisis.” Yesterday, the Native Women's Association called the government inaction “a breach of human rights”.
Will the government take responsibility, so no woman is ever turned away from a domestic violence shelter?
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
NDP (BC)
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2016-11-17 20:08 [p.6906]
Mr. Speaker, we definitely need gender equality. There is no question. Canadian women earn only 74¢ for every dollar earned by men. Domestic and sexual violence cost our economy over $12 billion per year. There are 1.4 million women who report, and few report, having experienced forms of sexual violence in the last five years. One in four women in their lifetime will be affected by gender-based violence. Canada ranks 60th in the world when it comes to gender parity in our parliaments. We are behind Kazakhstan, South Sudan, and Iraq. Then we just had this very high-profile loss with the U.S. election of president where a lot of us are saying that a highly qualified woman lost to an under-qualified man. It is important to raise the profile of the contribution that Canadian women have made to the growth, development, and character of our country. There is no question.
Already this year, we have women on bank notes, we have a gender-balanced cabinet, and we have this bill being debated today to establish gender equality week. None of that makes a whit of difference in the lives of Canadian women on the ground. I suggest respectfully that the best way to honour women is by legislating real change on gender equality. After more than a year in power, the current Liberal government has failed to translate feminist rhetoric into real change, and it is far beyond time to put words into action.
New Democrats have a great list of actions that could be taken to make a difference in the lives of women and girls.
Number one on the list of actions is pay equity legislation now. Women make 74¢ on the dollar. Aboriginal women with a university degree earn 33% less, so the gap increases the more educated indigenous women are. Although the legislation was written 12 years ago when the previous Liberal government was in power, the government now says its target is late 2018. There is no excuse for that. Not a single witness recommended that kind of time lag. Women have waited 40 years for pay equity, and they should not have to wait any longer.
Another action is more women in Parliament. There are only 26% in this House. At this rate, it is going to take us 89 years to reach gender parity in Parliament. Because the Liberal government voted down the candidate gender equity act last month, which would have promoted a gender-balanced Parliament, we think that the government should introduce its own measure to actually get more women in these seats. Members of Parliament who voted against the candidate gender equity act include the sponsor of this bill and the Minister of Status of Women.
We want an expanded strategy to end violence against women. We still do not have a national plan of action to promote the protection of women and girls despite the commitment made to the United Nations in 1995. Since then, many countries have adopted a national action plan. They include Belgium, Finland, France, and the United Kingdom. Australia is on its fourth plan, kind of breaking some stereotypes about Australia's cowboy mentality. Here in Canada, rates of violence against women have remained largely unchanged over 20 years, and the absence of a national action plan is resulting in fragmented approaches across the provinces and territories. We want the action plan scope that the minister is now undertaking to be expanded to include service delivery in areas of provincial responsibility. That is what a national plan is. That would mean that it includes education, policing, and the justice system, all key services that can help end violence against women.
We want well-funded women's domestic violence shelters. On any given day, more than 4,000 women and over 2,000 children reside in a domestic violence shelter, every day. More than 300 women and children are turned away from shelters on any given day. Three out of four cannot be accommodated, and those are the ones who come forward looking for help. There has been a 24% increase in phone calls at the Haven Society in my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith. More and more women are asking for help. We need expanded services to be able to accommodate them. We are pushing hard for federal funding to support domestic violence shelter operations, and we note that in the mid-1990s the Chrétien government cut that operational funding, which was characterized as the most Draconian spending cuts in federal history.
New Democrats want domestic violence shelters for first nations, Métis, and Inuit women. According to Amnesty International, “The scale and severity of violence faced by Indigenous women and girls in Canada... constitutes a national human rights crisis.” Some 70% of Inuit communities do not have access to any domestic violence shelters.
Indigenous women face a violence rate of three times that of the rest of the Canadian population, and yet the Liberal budget funded only five new shelters on reserve over the next five years. That would result in a total of just 46 violence against women shelters on reserve across the country, and that is by 2022, well after the government's term is over. We also have to look much more thoughtfully at violence against women shelters off reserve.
Gender-based analysis is something that we need legislated in Canada. Gender equality can be exacerbated by policies and spending decisions if we do not have a legislated lense through which these kinds of decisions are made. The Standing Committee on the Status of Women, back in June, recommended that legislation be tabled in the House by June 2017. New Democrats recommended that it be tabled next month, because we need to get ahead of all of the policy changes and infrastructure spending that is about to roll out. However, the government's response was no timeline whatsoever. It thinks that in 2018 it might have a reaction to whether we need legislation at all. Therefore, there is no timetable for legislation.
We need child care in this country, high-quality, affordable child care, that helps women seek employment, improves their job skills and careers, and eases family financial stress. I was delighted to see this week that Premier Notley, the New Democrat premier in Alberta, is creating 1,000 new child care spaces and 230 new child care jobs. As Stephen Lewis has famously said, feminism is a vacant construct without a national child care system.
New Democrats want more federal appointments of women to crown corporations. Only 27% of members of boards of directors of federal crown corporations are women. This is a power that the government has to change, right now. The Canadian Dairy Commission, for example, has no women on it whatsoever. The Bank of Canada and CMHC have mostly male board members. In my community, the Nanaimo Port Authority has a majority of women on its board, and it is a fantastic board.
The federal government made commitments to real change in the mandate letter for the Minister of Status of Women, but no action has been taken yet. If none is taken, then I will encourage the government to support my bill, Bill C-220, which would move, over the next six years, gender parity on federal crown corporation boards and commissions.
There should be free prescription birth control. The costs of family planning fall disproportionately to women, and yet it is increasingly unaffordable. Liberals should work with the provinces to provide a framework for the full cost of prescription contraceptives to be covered.
Finally, the NDP wants the government to act on its fundamental responsibility by restoring the funding cut by the Conservative government to all of the under-funded social service organizations that support women, girls, and children in our communities. This is especially urgent for women with disabilities, women who are suffering poverty, aboriginal women, and women living in rural and remote areas.
In summary, we should take real action to achieve gender equality. We believe that, when women are no longer disproportionately affected by violence, inequality, and poverty, then we could legitimately have a celebratory week. I am going to vote in support of this bill, but New Democrats are going to propose at committee that this bill not enter into force before the government implements proactive pay equity legislation and gender-based analysis legislation.
After more than a year in power, the Trudeau government has failed to translate feminist intention into real change. It is far beyond time to put words into action. Together, let us create a gender equality week once we have something to celebrate.
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
NDP (BC)
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2016-11-03 14:52 [p.6554]
Mr. Speaker, today Amnesty International released a troubling report on resource development in northeastern B.C. and the resulting risk of violence against indigenous young women and girls. This report is consistent with what I heard from indigenous leaders directly when I travelled to the Peace River Valley this summer. To make matters worse, there are no federally funded domestic violence shelters on reserve in northeastern B.C.
Did the government consider these impacts when it approved the Site C dam, and what support will the government provide to women who face violence in these areas?
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
NDP (BC)
View Sheila Malcolmson Profile
2016-09-29 12:41 [p.5271]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague the hon. member for Salaberry—Suroît.
Mr. Speaker, speaking in support of the motion on the floor, I will start off by saying once again, as my colleagues have been echoing all morning in this House, that for too long Canadians have had too little information about our arms exports to countries with questionable human rights records. This has to change.
Liberals have not been fully transparent with Canadians about our arms exports, but we have a right to know who Canada is doing business with and under what conditions.
There are increasing allegations that Canadian weapons are being used to commit human rights violations in countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Sudan.
It is clear that Canada's arms export policy is not working, and it is really time to have a national conversation about arms exports, with a multi-party commons committee that would collaborate across the floor.
Human rights are not optional. If the government wants to show Canada that it is a leader in human rights, then it needs to ensure that it, and we, are walking the talk.
I was very moved at a ceremony in my community, in Nanaimo, right on the waterfront, on August 6, which is the anniversary of Hiroshima bombing. Members of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, a very long-standing activist organization within our community, was talking about the UN vote that was coming up on nuclear disarmament. They shared my optimism that, given the campaign commitments around peace and security and restoring Canada's international reputation on the world stage, our Prime Minister was going to direct that Canada vote in favour of negotiations to end the nuclear weapons trade.
However, sadly, last month, Canada voted against negotiations for a global treaty banning nuclear weapons. It was shameful. It was a shock to everybody. These nuclear negotiations had been called for by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; 68 countries ended up voting in favour of the motion, so Canada was on the outside of that international consensus; and the vote was called “the most significant contribution to nuclear disarmament in two decades” by one of the UN member countries.
The Liberal government's vote last month also flew in the face of a 2010 resolution, in this House, encouraging the Canadian government to join negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention. The motion was adopted unanimously in this House and in the Senate, with support from all parties, including the Liberals. However, it was a real sad point that they did not follow through and carry on with that commitment that would have made us proud on the international stage. We want to move forward in a more positive way. There is more United Nations consensus with which our country can join.
A 2009 resolution of the Security Council stressed the particular impact that armed conflict has on women, children, refugees, and internally displaced persons, as well as on other civilians who may have specific vulnerabilities, including persons with disabilities and older persons, and it stressed the protection and assistance needs of all affected civilian populations.
As the New Democrat spokesperson for the status of women, I want to bring a particular gender lens to the debate.
The United Nations and international aid agencies say women are among the most heavily impacted victims of war. Tens of thousands suffer from sexual violence, rape, and lack of access to life-saving health care.
Amnesty International says women and girls are uniquely and disproportionately affected by armed conflict; women bear the brunt of war and are the vast majority of casualties resulting from war; rape and sexual violence target women and girls and are routinely used, not only to terrorize women but as a strategic tool of war and an instrument of genocide; systematic rape is often used as a weapon of war in ethnic cleansing; and, in addition to rape, girls and women are often subject to forced prostitution and trafficking during times of war, sometimes with the complicity of governments and military authorities.
In all countries, everywhere in the world, sexual violation of women erodes the fabric of a community in a way that few weapons can. This is the moral challenge to our country and the government. Six hundred and three million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime. Are we exporting weapons there?
In many countries there is repression, the silencing of abuse, and the mistreatment and imprisonment of women, human rights defenders, and activists. Are we exporting to those countries?
In some countries women are considered perpetual legal minors, permanently under the guardianship of male relatives. Are we exporting there?
In some countries it is actually legal for a man to rape his wife. Are we exporting arms to those countries?
We hear again and again that Canadians want to have more scrutiny over the destination of Canadian weapons, and they want to know that we are not exacerbating these human rights abuses in countries abroad.
At the NDP convention in April, Stephen Lewis gave a very powerful speech, and I quote:
We're not supposed to be sending armaments to countries that have a 'persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens.' Saudi Arabia is the embodiment of the meaning of the word 'violations.' And the government of Canada refuses to release its so-called assessment of the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. So much for the newly minted policy of transparency.
He went on to say that it was a huge pleasure to have a prime minister who unselfconsciously calls himself a feminist, yet is selling weapons to a regime "steeped in misogyny".
Is it not time that we looked more closely at the regimes we export weapons to? Polls show that most Canadians disapprove of arms deals to human rights abusers. Many Canadians would be shocked to know that Canadian weapons exports have nearly doubled over the last 10 years. While Canada used to export arms mostly to NATO countries, under the Conservative government our arms exports shifted to include many countries with very troubling human rights records. Canada is now the second-largest arms dealer in the Middle East, after the U.S. Saudi Arabia is now the world's second-largest buyer of Canadian-made military equipment, after the United States.
Our arms export rules were supposed prohibit the sale of military hardware to countries whose governments have a persistent record of seriously violating the human rights of their citizens. However, it is clear that our arms export controls are not working. While the government argues, as the Conservative government did before it, that Canada has strong arms export regulations, in recent months Canadians have grown increasingly concerned about Canadian arms exports falling into the wrong hands.
Canada does not control or track the use of its arms exports overseas. Worse, it was revealed in August that the Government of Canada has weakened its arms export policy to make it easier to export military hardware to states that abuse human rights.
We have a few pieces of good news, despite all of this tough stuff. I am very glad that the government has agreed to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty. We look forward to seeing the details of that. It is a move in the right direction.
We do have a pre-election commitment from the Prime Minister. He said to the press that Canada must stop arms sales to regimes that flout democracy, such as Saudi Arabia. That was reported in the London Free Press on August 10, 2015.
We have a government that says that it is committed to equal rights for women and that it is deeply committed to transparency.
I urge the government, in the spirit of co-operation, to agree to a House committee that would provide parliamentary oversight of arms exports. This oversight is badly needed. We would have multi-party co-operation investigating current and future arms exports, and we can follow the example of other countries that have taken this step.
Let us move forward. Let us do the right thing collectively. Let us make Canada proud on the world stage again.
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