In 2014 the Conservative government of Stephen Harper inked a huge $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The deal was controversial because of the wretched human rights record of the Saudis.
|During the campaign ahead of the October 2015 federal election that brought Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party to power, the Liberals promised to sign the UN Arms Trade Treaty that is designed to regulate the international arms trade to promote international peace, reduce human suffering, and promote transparency. However, not long after winning power the Liberals said that the arms deal with the Saudis would be exempt from the deal.|
"We have said during the campaign — the prime minister has been very clear — that we will not cancel this contract or contracts that have been done under the previous government in general. We'll review the process by which these contracts are assessed in the future. But what is done is done and the contract is not something that we'll revisit."Dion also said the contract was just part of the world in which we are and that many Canadian allies exported arms to the Saudis. He also said the government did not receive a mandate from the people to stop the sale of the weapons. Many critics of the contract claim the party is jeopardizing its principles by going ahead with the deal and it also violates its own export guidelines.
"Canada closely controls the export of military goods and technology to countries…whose governments have a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens, unless it can be demonstrated that there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population."In an open letter Turp and the students note Saudi Arabia has committed and continues to commit serious human rights violations against their citizens and that the light armored vehicles could be used against their own population. The suit argues that the government is violating its own existing export rules and that the permits for export should be rescinded.
It is beyond dispute that there are longstanding and extensive human rights violations in Saudi Arabia.Those violations arise across the full range of rights enshrined in international law, including torture and ill-treatment, women’s equality, unjust and secretive executions, religious freedom, freedom of expression, the rights of human rights defenders, press freedom, fair trials and arbitrary detention.In addition Amnesty notes that their research shows that Saudi forces operating in Yemen have committed war crimes. Some of the weapons used have been identified as coming from the UK and the US. The UK International Development Select Committee called for Prime Minister David Cameron to halt the sale of arms to the Saudi-led coalition targeting civilian areas in Yemen and engaging in indiscriminate bombing in Yemen.
General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) advertises its fighting vehicle as a classic piece of Canadiana. In marketing materials, it showcases the combat machine, equipped with a machine gun, alongside photos of poutine, a Mountie, a hockey game and a moose. The advertising tagline reads: “This is Canadian.”
“Everybody says it’s for jobs, but I think if you start counting up the price you pay in terms of instability and repression and forceful maintenance of order, you may be paying a high price.I think the Saudis have really, in the last couple of years, really become a problem country. The degree of oppression against women and dissidents in Saudi Arabia is becoming almost epidemic.”Axworthy also claimed that the Saudis help support and export Islamic fundamentalism. Under the terms of the contract details of the deal must be kept secret.
“Of course, job creation is a legitimate pursuit for any government. But there are lines that Canada should not cross in the pursuit of profit – and sustaining one of the worst human-rights violators in the world should clearly be one of them.”