Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday January 6, 2016
Canada stands by $15B Saudi arms deal after executions
A $15-billion contract signed under the previous government to supply Saudi Arabia with light-armoured military vehicles won’t be revisited after the execution of dozens of prisoners in that country, the foreign minister says.
Sheik Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shia cleric, was one of 47 prisoners recently executed by Saudi Arabia.
“We have said during the campaign — the prime minister has been very clear — that we will not cancel this contract or contracts that have been done under the previous government in general,” Stéphane Dion said Tuesday in an interview with Rosemary Barton on CBC’s Power and Politics.
“We’ll review the process by which these contracts are assessed in the future. But what is done is done and the contract is not something that we’ll revisit,” Dion said.
Since the Shia cleric’s execution, a diplomatic row between Iran and Saudi Arabia has escalated. Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran and Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, predicted “divine vengeance” for the execution.
Dion condemned the executions and the subsequent violence in Tehran directed at the Saudi embassy.
He said Canada could play a more robust role in easing tensions between the two powers if it had a diplomatic relationship with Iran, despite its questionable record.
“The fact that Canada is not in Tehran is helping nobody. It’s not helping the population of Iran, it’s not helping Saudi Arabia, it’s not helping Israel — so we need to engage Iran in trying to be positive in the region,” the foreign minister said. (Source: CBC News)