Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Tories say the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty could affect gun owners.
During the past two years, the Harper government has clearly demonstrated its shortcomings on two major issues: banning cluster munitions and the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. Let's look at each in turn. Bill C-6, which addresses the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions concerns one of the most horrible conventional weapons ever invented. These munitions deploy tiny bomblets by the thousands, many of which do not detonate upon impact, but rather lie in wait until they are accidentally disturbed, killing and injuring civilians in the resulting explosions years or even decades after being dropped.
The government of Canada knows that signing the UN Arms Trade Treaty will save lives by stopping the illegal flow of small arms. Minister Baird is faced with a choice then: does he take a meaningful step to prevent carnage like the Nairobi attacks or does he bow to the domestic gun lobby and their fallacious claims? Sadly, I suspect we know the answer to these questions.
On Monday I asked Canada's foreign affairs minister about the Arms Trade Treaty. Shamefully, the Conservative government acted as a spoiler during the treaty negotiations. The only civil society representative on Canada's delegation was from the gun lobby -- a man who was hailed by the NRA as one of its "beacons of hope." Hundreds of thousands of people die every year as a result of armed conflict. This treaty will help them. Dozens of countries have realized this, and have joined together to pursue a safer and more prosperous future. Canada should join the world in ending the illegal flow of weapons to the world's worst conflicts.