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Military Lecture: The Evolution of Canadian Export Policy, 1946-1991
November 17, 2022Free
“Things that go ‘Krump’ in the Night”: The Evolution of Canadian Export Policy, 1946-1991 is presented by Paul Esau.
For more than three decades, successive Canadian governments have tied themselves in knots to justify the sale of Canadian-produced weapons to Saudi Arabia. Yet the Saudi sales are only the latest chapter in a history of arms sales to conflict regions which extends back to the Second World War, and includes customers from all over the world. These sales have contradicted both Canada’s foreign policy in general, as well as the specific military export restrictions which are supposed to constrain Canadian arms sales to certain destinations.
From a historical perspective this hypocrisy is the norm, rather than the exception. For nearly 80 years the Canadian government has been attempting to decide what can be sold to whom, and why – while constantly revising its decision to allow for the next lucrative arms sale. Still, how does a country which has consistently committed to upholding democracy, human rights and peacekeeping also justify consistently selling weapons to undemocratic and repressive regimes in conflict regions? The answer reveals a remarkable story of creative policy-making, bureaucratic bumbling, cultivated innocence, and occasional scandal.
About Paul Esau:
Paul Esau is a PhD Candidate at Wilfrid Laurier University in the History Department. He has interned with several Canadian peace and disarmament organizations, including Project Ploughshares and the Canadian Landmines Foundation, and teaches classes on nuclear, chemical, biological, and conventional arms control. He lives in Kitchener with his wife, Heidi, and their hedgehog Juniper.
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Lecture series is presented in partnership with the Laurier Centre for the Study of Canada.