The Canadian government will go forward with the export permits that allow Saudi Arabia to acquire Canadian-made Light Armored Vehicle III (LAV III). The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stéphane Dion, stated that Canada would block future export permits if Saudi Arabia uses the purchased military equipment against its own citizens.
Any agreement signed by the Harper Conservatives must have been contingent upon the subsequent issuance of export permits, which are key to the integrity of Canada's military export control system. Honouring the deal with Saudi Arabia -- as Prime Minister Trudeau has pledged -- simply means allowing the export control system to function as it should.
Questions about the dubious eligibility of Saudi Arabia as a recipient of Canadian-made military equipment have been raised for over two years. Yet two successive governments have failed to address the most basic question: how can the authorization of this deal be consistent with the human-rights safeguards of Canadian export controls?
No line taken by the government in this matter will please everyone. Perhaps it will plough through with the deal and weather the heat from critics, no matter how persistent. Alternatively, if it decides to open the books on the Saudi deal, and the contract is altered, suspended or cancelled, there will be complaints from those concerned for the economy. The Saudi arms deal presents the new government with an admittedly complex policy challenge. But challenges can result in opportunity.
On the same week that Ottawa condemned the most recent human rights violation in Saudi Arabia, it confirmed that Canada was set to proceed with plans to arm the perpetrator. Every indication is that the $15-billion deal, which the Canadian Government brokered on behalf of General Dynamics Land Systems of London, Ontario to provide Saudi Arabia with Light Armoured Vehicles, will go ahead. But can this largest-ever Canadian military exports contract comply with the human rights safeguards of Canadian exports control policies?
Less than two months before Ottawa announced a $14.8-billion military export contract with Saudi Arabia Canada provided substantial input concerning the Saudi human rights situation at the United Nations Human Rights Council. And while progress has been utterly lacking in relation to every single recommendation made by Canada, it is now all but certain that the deal with the autocratic Kingdom will proceed.
As Muslims celebrate Eid, it's important to look at the past month during which the world has witnessed thousands suffer in Gaza, Iraq and Syria. We has Prime Minister Stephen Harper to speak out about these issues, but are disappointed. We must do more in the name of humanity, Prime Minister Harper.
As Saudi Arabia curbs its vital but "illegal" migrant population violently this week to appease high unemployment, I cannot help but reflect on my moment with such destitute citizens a few years ago. Like almost all migrant workers everywhere including in North America, these people perform jobs that their own citizens would not dare touch.
In June 2011, two prominent Saudi activists, Wajeha Al-Huwaider and Fawzia Al-Oyouni, came to the aid of a Canadian woman named Nathalie Morin. She is physically and psychologically mistreated by her husband. Saudi law puts all aid workers who help women in need of protection from domestic violence at legal risk.
Our government may say that we're engaging the Saudis to foster reform in the kingdom. Apartheid South Africa's allies made similar arguments, calling for "constructive engagement" with the racist regime. Thankfully, Canada rejected that approach and led the world on sanctions, which hastened the end of apartheid.