Published in The Ploughshares Monitor Volume 41 Issue 3 Autumn 2020

According to Canada’s 2019 Exports of Military Goods report, last year Canada exported weapons worth almost $4-billion—the highest value on public record. Saudi Arabia, which received 76 per cent of those weapons, is now almost certainly Canada’s prime customer, unseating the United States.

In 2019, most Canadian arms went to countries engaged in violent conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, even though these customers were repeatedly implicated in serious violations of international humanitarian law (IHL). Such exports continued despite Canada’s 2019 accession to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which regulates the trade and transfer of weapons.

Although the report indicates that Canada took some steps toward transparency, problems persisted. Canadian officials continued to publish general and unclear data. Weapons exports to the United States, crucial to the Canadian arms trade, remained off the record.