Wednesday, January 6, 2016

UPDATED: The Limits Of Principles

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.

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.
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,
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.

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.”
This will not be the first time that Canadian arms have been used to suppress human rights:
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.

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.
H/t trapdinawrpool


  1. .. Stephen Harper saw Arms Manufacture for Export as becoming a key driver of Canada's Economy. He began reshaping our Diplomatic direction accordingly. Diplomats or Ambassadors began receiving the new Harper Doctrine which saw them as Foreign Commerce tools.

    The problem is, he forgot to mention this as an election promise or policy direction.. much less consider a referendum. He may claim some day that 'he had no knowlege of these things' & it was all someone else, perhaps rogue diplomatic operators.. haha. Somehow the terms of the 15 billion dollar deal are a Secret.. and of course - Binding..

    Young middle aged Justin needs to start revealing and eroding & indeed attacking the toxic structures, tactics, actions, legislation & misery Harper & his Pandora's Box 'legacy' have set in motion. The Saudi deal is an amazing example of how insidious our previous Prime Minister was and is. He played us for fools.. and now we are expected to pay the piper

    1. Like so many of Harper's policies, this one is redolent of financial expedience at the cost of principle, Salamander. if it is at all legally possible, I think the new government has a moral obligation at the very least to reveal the terms of this agreement, especially pertaining to the due diligence allegedly done to ensure that the armoured vehicles will not be used against the Saudi people who do not see eye to eye with their royal rulers.

  2. It may have been Harper's policy, but, was it his idea? Soon, I believe, Mr. Trudeau, just like Harper and many of those who preceded them into the PMO, will have his Howard Beale moment and be told, by the Americans, what the truth is, what he can say and do...or else. We shall never see our country as it once was.

    1. I'm not sure I share your cynicism here, Anon. While there are certainly a number of factors that play into deals and policies, appeasement of Americans is not, in my view, at the top of the list.

    2. What I see is that this deal is so out of character, so beyond our national ethos I can't believe that even Harper could have accepted it. I suggest outside influence, by the Americans, made it so, and, unfortunately, at the cost of our own country's reputation. It was a deal, in my opinion, that the American government couldn't themselves stomach, and for very obvious reasons, but, Canada, well we're a peace loving country, and dammit we're Canadians, so doing such deals with the Saudis must be legit. Meanwhile, in Washington, hands are washed of it and any linkage of Obama, the peace president, towards aiding the Saudis sectarian massacre in Yemen. This was not a Canadian deal, but, we get to wear it.

  3. Liberal politicians have lots of principles, and if those principles get inconvenient, they have a whole other set of principles to replace them with.

    1. Regrettably, Anon, the Liberal Party has a long history of such 'flexibility.'