In April, Canada voted for an international arms-trade treaty. In June, it can’t decide whether to sign it.
On the surface, it’s a bizarre, split-personality indecision over a treaty that so far has been opposed outright by only Iran, Syria and North Korea. Behind it is the Conservatives’ fear of riling elements of their base that are worried, mistakenly, that the treaty will create a new gun registry.
The issue seemed to provoke rapid mood swings in Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, when New Democrat MP Paul Dewar asked about the Arms Trade Treaty in the Commons this week. First Mr. Baird said any treaty for higher standards on munitions sales is a good thing. A few minutes later, he exploded with a suggestion the treaty might allow the Liberals and NDP to bring back the gun registry.
It might be only short-lived hesitation, which could pass after the Harper government gets through the Conservative Party’s convention in Calgary later this month. But it’s an episode where the Tories have been tied in knots on a relatively arcane foreign-policy issue by parts of their domestic base.
Fear of stoking gun-registry debate haunts Arms Trade Treaty – The Globe and Mail.