Despite the widely-condemned mass executions recently perpetrated by Saudi Arabia, the Trudeau government is going ahead with its $15 billion arms sale with the Middle East kingdom.
Foreign Affairs Minster Stéphane Dion released a statement this week decrying the capital punishment meted out Jan. 2 and calling on the Saudis to respect peaceful dissent and respect human rights. Sheik Nimr al-Nimr, the Shia cleric, was executed along with 46 others convicted on terrorism charges.The hypocrisy of the government's position on the deal is not escaping notice. Said Cesar Jaramillo, executive director of Project Ploughshares, an anti-war group that tracks arms sales,
But the biggest Saudi mass execution in decades – delivered by beheading and in a few cases firing squad – is not moving Ottawa to reconsider a massive deal to supply the Mideast country with armoured fighting vehicles. The transaction will support about 3,000 jobs in Canada for 14 years.
“A private company is delivering the goods according to a signed contract with the government of Saudi Arabia. The government of Canada has no intention of cancelling that contract,” Adam Barratt, director of communications for Mr. Dion, said on Monday.
Mr. Dion’s criticism of the mass executions carried out by Riyadh sounds unconvincing given Ottawa’s unwillingness to cancel the arms sale.
Critics including Project Ploughshares and Amnesty International have cited Riyadh’s abysmal human-rights record and said this transaction would appear to violate Canada’s export-control regime.This will not be the first time that Canadian arms have been used to suppress human rights:
The Department of Foreign Affairs is required to screen requests to export military goods to countries “whose governments have a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens.” Among other things, it must obtain assurances that “there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population.”
Activists allege Saudi Arabia sent Canadian-made fighting vehicles into Bahrain in 2011 to help quell a democratic uprising. The Canadian government does not deny this happened.Despite the fact that the lucrative deal will provide over 3000 jobs, is it expecting too much that the new government act with principle rather than expediency in this matter?
UPDATE: Alex Neve, Amnesty International’s secretary-general for Canada, is joining the chorus of criticism over this deal, saying
it is time Ottawa made public how it has determined that exporting $15-billion worth of armoured fighting vehicles to Saudi Arabia would not pose a risk to Saudi civilians.H/t trapdinawrpool
He said such transparency would be “very much in keeping” with the “new values and principles” the Liberals have said they intend to promote in Canadian foreign policy.
“We still have no confidence that there has been a thorough and meaningful human-rights assessment of this deal, and if there has been, it is time for the results of that assessment to be shared with Canadians,” Mr. Neve said.