It’s only a two-country sample, and a full report won’t be made public until sometime this fall, but it appears Canadian arms companies have been enjoying unprecedentedly good times in recent years.
Foreign Affairs recently released figures detailing how much arms companies asked to export to the United States and Saudi Arabia on a year-by-year basis since 2006. The numbers were made public in response to a question from NDP MP Helene Laverdiere, and the results are surprising.
Canadian companies asked to export $49.6 million worth of guns, bombs, armoured personnel vehicles and other military equipment to the United States in 2007. By 2011, that number had increased to more than $250 million. The main areas of growth came in the form of smooth-bore guns and automatic weapons, both big and small, as well as bullets, bombs, missiles and other ammunition.
Canadian companies only have to request export permits for certain items that are considered of military value, unlike exports to most other countries, so the numbers across the board are likely low. Similarly, just because a company requests an export license, that doesn’t mean the goods were actually sent. But for the most part they are, and the trend is certainly favourable to Canadian arms companies.
Similarly, Canadian companies asked to export $54 million worth of military goods to Saudi Arabia in 2006. That compared with nearly $2.5 billion in 2011, which coincided with the Arab nation’s decision to purchase 700 armoured vehicles from General Dynamics Land Systems in London, Ont. That purchase was notable because Saudi Arabia allegedly used some of those vehicles to help crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain during last year’s Arab Spring.