Just nine days after Canada’s parliament decided to halt arms exports to Israel due to concern about human rights violations in the Gaza Strip, the Canadian Association of Defense and Security Industries says that it is very confused by the mixed messages of the decision and contradictory government declarations in Ottawa.

Minister of National Defense Bill Blair hastened to say that the parliament’s decision was a temporary pause without specifying the length of the suspension. At the same time, Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly told journalists that the government had stopped issuing approvals for arms exports to Israel back on January 8. But last Wednesday the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa told journalists that companies with existing export approvals could continue with their deliveries.

The companies therefore require clarifications, because from their perspective Israel is a significant export destination. While Canada accounted for only 0.05% of Israeli defense imports between 2019 and 2023, according to SIPRI (Stockholm Peace Research Institute), in 2022 Israel was the main export destination for Canada’s defense industry, after the US.

In 2022, 315 export permits were issued for Canadian defense products and technologies, according to official data from the government in Ottawa. Those approvals amounted to goods worth about C$21 million Canadian (about US$15 million).

“For companies to be able to comply with changes to those rules, they need to know what the changes are,” president of the Defense Industries Association of Canada Christyn Cianfarani told “Defense News.” “The government has a responsibility to quickly publish the exact details of any changes to its policy surrounding exports, and that hasn’t happened yet.”

Canada’s “Maple” website reported that in the first months of Israel’s war in Gaza, Canadian arms exports to Israel amounted to C$28.5 million (US$20.96 million). In other words, Israeli defense imports from Canada in October-December 2023, amounted to more than in all of 2022.

Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on March 27, 2024.

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