Monday, April 30, 2018

Blood On Our Hands

As Canadians, we like to walk around feeling good about ourselves, convinced both of our good intentions and our innate rectitude. Ours is a generally peaceful society, the rule of law largely respected. We look to the violent domestic madness that is an undeniable part of the U.S., and we cannot help but feel smug. We fancy ourselves exemplars for the world, and nod knowingly when someone like Obama or Bono says that the world needs more Canada.

Sadly, there is a another, much darker truth about Canada that few acknowledge. We are merchants of death.

Our hypocrisy is not escaping notice:
When Global Affairs Canada announced another aid package to war-torn Yemen in January, it boasted that Ottawa had given a total of $65 million to help ease what the United Nations has called “the worst man-made humanitarian crisis of our time.”

What Justin Trudeau’s government did not mention in its news release is that since 2015, Canada has also approved more than $284 million in exports of Canadian weapons and military goods to the countries bombing Yemen.

“It’s a bit like helping pay for somebody’s crutches after you’ve helped break their legs,” said Cesar Jaramillo, executive director of Project Ploughshares, a research and advocacy organization that studies Canada’s arms trade.
To whom is Canada selling these weapons? There is, of course, the much-publicized deal with Saudi Arabia, the leader in the coalition against Yemani insurgents.
The Star calculated Canada’s arms exports since 2015 to all of the countries in the Saudi coalition involved in Yemen’s war, as disclosed in Global Affairs’ annual report on Canadian exports of military goods. The bulk of the trade is with Saudi Arabia, to which Canada sold more than $240 million worth of weapons and other military goods in 2015 and 2016 — mostly combat vehicles, but also guns, training gear, bombs, rockets or missiles, drones and unspecified chemical or biological agents, which could include riot control agents.
The original deal with the Saudis, brokered by the Harper government and endorsed by Justin Trudeau's Liberals, is all about jobs, which the government clearly believes trumps the loss of innocent lives:
A $14.8-billion sale of Canadian-made armoured combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia — negotiated by the Conservative government in 2014 but given final approval by the Liberals — will reportedly provide work for about 3,000 people for 14 years in southern Ontario, where manufacturer General Dynamics Land Systems–Canada is a major employer.
While our government continues to express concerns about weapons misuse, they give no indication of how they are monitoring things, which of course suggests they aren't.
The United States and United Kingdom are also arming Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, but they, and Canada, are increasingly isolated in their position. The European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution in 2016 calling on all member states to enforce an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia for its role in Yemen. The Netherlands was first to take up the call. Finland and Norway have since stopped selling weapons to the United Arab Emirates. Earlier this year, Germany declared an end to arms sales to all parties involved in Yemen’s war.

Trudeau’s government has suggested no such ban, despite expressing “deep concern” over reports of Saudi abuses. Ottawa’s official position is that it will stop the export of military goods if there is a “reasonable risk” of human rights abuses. What that has meant, in practice, is that even when a country has a demonstrably poor record on human rights, unless there is definitive evidence Canadian weapons were used to commit human rights abuses, Canada is open to their business.
There is a great deal more to this story, which I encourage you to read at The Star.

Canada is in the killing business. Unless and until Canadians come to understand that fact, expect much, much more blood to flow.


  1. Sunny ways, Lorne, sunny ways. I know what'll fix you up. You're jonesing for a selfie with the Dauphin. Get it right there on your phone. Show your friends. Carry it with you everywhere. Post it on your Facebook page. Just do that and you'll be able to put up with no end of hypocrisy, deceit and under the table malevolence.

    1. A prescription, Mound, that far too many people seek to fill. 'Nuff said.

  2. .. I must be getting old and senile.. a poorly opinionated Canadian farmer in fact. But I recall Ed Fast, a Harper era Minister saying 'arms manufacture and exports will be key drivers of Canada's economy'.. about when PM Harper declared we would become a petro super power. I don't recall a Canadian sponsored NASCAR race car.. petro or arms.. perhaps I missed it

    Of course I was mortified, though I come from a military family

    For years I have wondered why Canada is not feeding the world or exporting irrigation equipment and expertise. And why did we allow the east coast fishery to die.. and are intent on doing so to the west coast fishery? We seem to have trouble moving grain from the prairies via rail.. tho we gave away the Grain Board and all its related properties and ancillary infrastructure.. for what Mr Harper? Nothing? If not mistaken it was his first act as PM

    Why do we need 300 to 400 supertankers thrashing the Salish Seas to deliver dilbit to as yet unidentified countries ? Remember, every supertanker arrives and departs.. so 6 to 8 hundred transits. Of course the actual market is mainly Washington State who pay more than Asia for Alberta dilbit.. refine it and sell back to us, the refined components.. aviation fuel, heating fuels and gas for our cars

    So we subsidize foreign owned Big Energy.. yes we pay them to do this.. and this is 'The Economy' and thousands of high paying jobs.. for whom? Temporary foreign welders? And the payoff is more tailings ponds? More fracked land & species extirpation? Poisoned inland waters? For what? Some meagre royalties we never see? Excuse me.. I did not realize it was silly season

    Thus we have Justin Trudeau and ms Catherine McKenna, plus ms Notely and Jason Kenney & old Joe Oliver lecturing and hectoring Canadians on the untold wealth and opportunity.. otherwise we lose the opportunity of climate management.. it truly is bizzaro 'reasoning' .. but we should suck it up as important policy & roll over for National Interest.. and Energy Security For Canadians.. even moreso if we can get the sludge to Asia.. which bye the bye.. they neither Alberta or the Feds can produce documented purchase agreements for or even documentation of any interest at current or future prices

    I'm a big fan of science fiction.. but this hardly qualifies.. reminds me instead of how Britain, France, Spain and Dutch magnified getting a ship or two each to the exotic Indies for spice.. we must have the pepper, saffron, silk, fragrances and other essentials ! And if the ships should wreck, the crew drown, rounding Cape Horn, its the price of progress.. and the spice !

    1. Increasingly, our values look inverted, Sal. But how many Canadians are looking at them critically?