Export of military equipment to Israel | Permit applications on the back burner since January

(Ottawa) Since January 8, Canada has stopped giving the green light to the export of non-lethal military equipment to Israel. Because in Ottawa, we are concerned that these goods and technologies are used to commit violations of international humanitarian law.

Officials failed to put the stamp of approval on export permits worth millions of dollars in total, The Press a government source who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

According to this same source which confirmed the information first conveyed by the Toronto Star and Radio-Canada, it had become “downright impossible to provide concrete analyzes for each permit application”, which explains the decision to leave them pending.

Under the Export and Import Licensing Actthe Minister of Foreign Affairs must reject any permit application if there is a “serious risk” that the material will harm the peace or be used to violate international law.

Global Affairs Canada had not yet officially commented on this information on Thursday, nor had the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, who recently spent several days in the Middle East.

His ministry argued, a little over a week ago, that in the case of Israel, requests were treated with circumspection. “We have been cautious with exports to Israel since October 7,” wrote spokesperson John Babcock on March 5.

Exports of military equipment manufactured in Canada recorded a significant increase after the start of the Jewish state’s offensive on October 7. In the space of approximately two months, more than forty export permits were approved, for a total sum of some 28.5 million1.

Minister Joly, who bears ultimate responsibility for whether or not to give the green light, argued that it was non-lethal material – an unsatisfactory argument for many, and which did not prevent a coalition from suing the government. Trudeau2.

Blocked armored vehicles?

In the same vein, Radio-Canada reported Thursday that the government voluntarily left pending a request to export around thirty armored vehicles manufactured in Canada by the Roshel company, located in Ontario.


Radio-Canada reported that the government had voluntarily left pending a request to export to Israel about thirty armored vehicles manufactured in Canada by the Roshel company.

It has not yet been possible to The Press to confirm this information.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not want to venture into this area either. “Canada has one of the most robust regimes for issuing export permits; we will continue to ensure that the rules are followed,” he simply said at a press briefing.

“Moral failure”

The Center for Jewish and Israeli Relations (CIJA) quickly condemned Ottawa’s move. “The suspension of exports of non-lethal military equipment testifies to the moral failure of the liberal government,” said its CEO, Shimon Koffler Fogel, in a press release.

“Israel, a country allied with Canada for decades, is waging a defensive war against a Canadian-listed terrorist organization whose declared objective is to destroy Israel and kill Jews,” he also denounced.

On the other hand, at the group Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, we see reason to rejoice – provided that the government makes the announcement openly, maintains in an interview its vice-president, Michael Bueckert.

“But the message this sends is that the government is starting to feel the pressure. And this confirms that civil society groups were right to call for an embargo on the delivery of arms to Israel for months,” he continues.

A controversial motion

The news about the pause in exports leaked a few days before a debate in the House on a New Democratic motion demanding the Canadian government stop exports of military equipment to the Jewish state.

This debate was normally to take place on 1er last March, but it was postponed since work was interrupted following the death of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. It will finally be held on March 18, next Monday, when elected officials return after a two-week parliamentary break.

Eyes will be on the liberals, in whose ranks the war between Israel and Hamas has exposed fault lines. Montreal elected official Anthony Housefather, of Jewish faith, has already promised to vigorously oppose the motion.

This casts a wide net: in addition to demanding a cessation of exports of military equipment, it demands sanctions for “Israeli officials who incite genocide”, but also official recognition of the State of Palestine.

1. https://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/politique/2024-02-15/israel-et-le-hamas-en-guerre/les-exportations-de-materiel-militaire-canadien-en-nette- growth.php

2. https://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/politique/2024-03-05/exportations-militaires-en-israel/le-politique-trudeau-poursuivi-en-justice.php#:~:text=Exportations %20military%20in%20Isra%C3%ABl%20The%20government%20Trudeau%20pursued%20in%20justice&text=Since%20the%20d%C3%A9goal%20of%20l,military%20towards%20the%C3%89tat%20h% C3%A9breu.

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