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?
The gap between U.S. President Barack Obama's Keystone announcement and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's response is indicative of the fundamental choice that this government needs to make between the oil industry and real climate action. Unfortunately, it's a choice that Trudeau doesn't seem to understand yet.