arms control: the conservatives’ double standards

… they tell us who they truly support – Published on the star.com, by Dave Coles, July 12, 2012.

It was reported last weekend that the government doesn’t want the United Nations to track global arms sales because it might compromise “the legally protected information of private companies.” At the same time, its wants every Canadian union to disclose the details of their cleaning contracts.  

In an overwhelmingly negative speech to the UN last week, Foreign Affairs Deputy Director Habib Massoud laid out the Conservatives’ position on the final round of Arms Trade Treaty negotiations. “In Canada’s view, detailed reporting about each and every transaction can, in certain circumstances, be both impractical and unrealistic. The sheer volume of such transactions would overwhelm virtually any administrative system now in existence” … //

… Labour unions are among the few institutions that can and do provide a counterbalance to the power of corporations. Yet the Conservatives are not requiring companies that bargain with trade unions to file detailed reports to the Canada Revenue Agency on their salary, political or lobbying spending. Additionally, they are not requiring other professional associations that collect fees or dues from their members, such as the Canadian Medical Association for example, to follow the terms of Bill C-377.

They are only requiring the institutions created to represent the interests of millions of workers across the country to file these detailed records. There is no other way to interpret this than as an attempt to disarm a political opponent.

Much like what Habib Massoud was hinting at when talking about those involved in the arms trade, the detailed reporting required by Bill C-377 will be burdensome, costly and threaten the privacy rights of many individuals, companies and organizations that work with unions. Incredibly, under the proposed legislation, labour-associated pension and benefit plans will be required to publicly disclose “the name and address” and a “description” of benefits paid to individuals greater than $5,000. This could include personal medical information.

Bill C-377 should be scrapped but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for greater transparency for all major Canadian institutions. But any requirements imposed by the government need to be applied equally. There shouldn’t be one set of standards for the groups the Conservatives don’t like and another for their friends selling arms. (full text).

(Dave Coles is president, communications, of the Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada).

Links:

CEP / SCEP (Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, abbreviated CEP in English and SCEP in French) … see also Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada on en.wikipedia;

UK must tighten up arms export licensing mechanism, says Control Arms Coalition, by Amnesty International, July 13, 2012;

Control arms.org;

Control Arms Campaign on en.wikipedia;

NEWS for Control Arms coalition on Google News-search;

Demand a bulletproof arms trade treaty, on OXFAM.org’s website/get involved: Every day 1,500 people are killed in armed violence around the world. For every one death, countless more are injured, disabled and traumatised. Many of the weapons used in these killings are illegally traded small arms, yet there are no global rules for the arms trade. In fact, there are more international regulations concerning the trading of bananas than weapons. Oxfam, as part of the Control Arms coalition, is campaigning for an Arms Trade Treaty to regulate this deadly trade and save lives;

Campaigners for the Control Arms Coalition at the UN Arms Trade Treaty Conference, July 2012: Campaigners from the Control Arms Coalition in front of the UN building for the opening of the diplomatic conference on the future Arms Trade Treaty. They are calling on the over 190 countries present to agree a strong global agreement that will bring the arms trade under control, on flickr;
Join the call now: support a bulletproof Arms Trade Treaty!

Video on YouTube: The Grieving Dad, The Former Cattle Raider And The Youth Worker: 3 Reasons For An Arms Trade Treaty, 2.30 min;

arms control on YouTube: short videos, videos longer than 20 minutes;

Global Arms Trade Treaty picks up speed, says Control Arms Coalition, July 15, 2011;

Control Arms Coalition: Time to get serious on the Arms Trade Treaty, February 28, 2011.

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