Friday, February 5, 2016

UPDATED: It Isn't Just About Jobs

Although we live in a time that seems to demand almost constant preoccupation with the economy and jobs, sometimes there are more important considerations, such as a country's moral standing. Right now, that moral standing is in jeopardy thanks to the apparent inflexibility of the Trudeau government on the Saudi Arabian armaments deal. While it is worth a tremendous amount of money ($15 billion), many are saying it's just not worth it.

A poll released today is instructive:
Nearly six out of 10 Canadians surveyed by Nanos Research for The Globe and Mail say they feel it is more important to ensure arms exports go only to countries “that respect human rights” than it is to support 3,000 jobs by selling weaponized armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.
Other countries are growing increasingly uneasy about dealing with the repressive Middle East kingdom that has little respect for human rights:
On Thursday, an all-party committee of U.K. MPs called for a suspension of British arms sales to Saudi Arabia pending a probe into Riyadh’s devastating military campaign in Yemen. A UN report last week said a Saudi-led Arab coalition has conducted “widespread and systematic” bombing of Yemeni civilians – killing more than 2,600.
Germany’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel recently signalled Berlin’s increasing unease over arms deals with Riyadh, saying in January the government needs to review future shipments. In the past 24 months, Berlin has denied key applications for arms exports to Saudi Arabia, including several hundred battle tanks and G36 rifles.
In Belgium, the head of the Flemish government, Minister President Geert Bourgeois, announced in January that he has refused an application for an export licence to ship weapons to Saudi Arabia and hinted he would continue to do so in the future.
While the Canadian government is adamant about the deal going ahead, pollster Nik Nanos believes the poll results provide an opportunity "... for the Liberals to cancel, stop, delay or modify the transaction”.

The question yet to be answered is whether Trudeau, especially in this case, is willing to put his money where his rhetoric about collaboration and transparency is.

UPDATE: Things are getting very interesting on this file:
Opponents of Canada’s $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia are taking Ottawa to court in an attempt to block shipments of the combat vehicles, a move that could force the governing Liberals to explain how they justify the sale to a human-rights pariah under weapon-export restrictions.

Daniel Turp, a professor of international and constitutional law at the University of Montreal, is leading the effort, supported by students and a Montreal law firm with a record of class-action work and anti-tobacco litigation.
Turpin gives voice to what many Canadians undoubtedly feel:
“The idea that military equipment made in Canada could contribute to human-rights violations against civilians in Saudi Arabia and neighbouring countries is immoral. But we also believe that the authorization to export armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia is illegal”.
One can only hope that at the very least, the government will be forced to lift the cloak of secrecy around whether an actual assessment of the deal was done as required by law, and if it was, what that assessment revealed.


  1. Well, I always knew what to expect from the harper government - 100% opposite to my personal desire.

    Now with Trudeau, I haven't a clue what to expect about half the time. This makes me antsy. Especially when I see explicit election promises broken, like withdrawing the CF18 jets, and the miserable one day meeting uselessness and abandonment of CPP extensions, with muttered promises that it would be re-examined later. Sure.

    Overall, I see not a lot of change, just a guy who'll empathize and promise everyone everything they desire and not deliver, instead of a dictatorial fiend who just said No.

    The same kind of corporate interests, this time the Red team instead of the Blue, run things their way. The Red team makes an apparently "nicer" tone in applying corporatism (of course TPP will pass anyway), but the end result is the same. And $15 billion worth of 105mm howitzer-equipped "jeeps" will be made so the nutbar and son running Saudi Arabia can silence protest and give those darn Yemenis what for. Great, ain't it?

    A pox on both their political houses. Same policies, just one is administered with a hot lemon toddy merely for politeness' sake.

    1. I continue to hold out the hope for something better from this government than the last offered, Anon, but I think your cynicism is certainly understandable and justified. Whether there is the possibility of something different should be evident within the next several months.