Canada divided over the Saudi Light Armoured Vehicle deal | ADU

Canada divided over the Saudi Light Armoured Vehicle deal

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Ottawa. 27 May 2016. It was a major financial boost to the Canadian government when the Conservative government originally made a $15-billion deal in 2014 with Saudi Arabia to sell the country combat vehicles.

But all the hullaballoo today is that the Canadian government’s rules state it will not export arms to countries that perpetrate consistent human rights violations, with the exception of there being no reasonable risk the arms could be used against civilians. Going by reports on human rights violation by Saudi Arabia and US concerns, the Canadian government has been trying to justify  the approval of export permits to for the combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

Cancellation of the contract will have financial repercussions  for  Ontario specifically, and Canada as a whole. These light-armoured vehicles are produced by General Dynamics Land Systems in London, Ontario.

“Canada must stop applying a double standard and ensure that its action matches its words when it comes to human rights violations in countries with which it wishes to maintain economic relationships,” spokesman Amnesty International ‘s John Tackaberry said in a written statement.

The Liberal government is defending  this sale even though the contract was signed under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. For once both seem to be on the same side.

A poll, from the Angus Reid Institute, to reflect the mood of the masses , shows that only 19 per cent of Canadians think the government’s decision to stick by the deal to sell light-armoured vehicles to the desert kingdom is a good one, with 48 per cent of Canadians thinking the opposite.The remaining one-third of respondents were unsure.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau justified the government’s decision to go ahead with a $15 billion arms contract with Saudi Arabia a ‘question of principle’. Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion said that the previous Conservative government signed the contract on Feb. 14, 2014, and that commitment must be respected and he cannot block exports unless the armoured vehicles are being used against civilians.

Canada government  is concerned about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and are concerned about the  high number of executions, the suppression of political opposition and freedom of expression, arbitrary arrests, the poor treatment of detainees, limitations on freedom of religion, discrimination against women and mistreatment of migrant workers.

The  written documents released by the government also says  Canada has to weigh “whether there is a reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population. The department is not aware of any reports linking violations of civil and political rights to the use of the proposed military-purposed exports.”

“Given that ISIS is a potential threat to KSA [the kingdom of Saudi Arabia] and the general potential threat of Iran, Canada can consider that the KSA is facing legitimate threats,”  it elaborates.

Peace groups are up in arm against the deal and hence it is in the eye of storm. And yet it is definitely good for the Canadian economy feels the common Canadian. General Dynamics is for sure happy by the government’s stand and must be hoping that the opposition to the deal fades away . The association representing Canada’s defence industry is defending the deal and these disagreements will fade away, is the general view.

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