Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday, April 14, 2016
Scrap the Saudi arms deal, says Clement
Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion says he is prepared to cancel the export permits for a controversial arms sale to Saudi Arabia if there is any evidence the armored vehicles made in Canada are used in human rights violations.
“As with all export permits, the minister of foreign affairs retains the power to revoke at any time the permit should the assessment change,” said Dion, pointing out that there is no indication that Canadian-made armored vehicles sold to Saudi Arabia in the past have been used to violate human rights.
“Should I become aware of credible information of violations related to this equipment, I will suspend or revoke the permits. We are watching this closely and will continue to do so.”
Speaking to reporters on his way into Question Period where the government came under fire for the deal, Dion defended the $15 billion sale, saying Canada’s credibility would be harmed if it didn’t honor the contract negotiated in 2014.
Dion’s comments come following the revelation by the Globe and Mail that while the Conservative government initially endorsed the deal to sell $15 billion worth of armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia – one of the biggest arms sales in Canadian history – it was Dion who signed the expert permits on Friday, a crucial step in the sale that many had thought had already taken place.
When they came to power, Trudeau’s Liberals indicated the sale was a done deal and their hands were tied. Without the export permits, however, the sale would have been stalled.
Global Affairs Department documents stamped secret and released by the Justice Department this week in response to a court challenge to the sale, indicate the department recommended the deal because it could help Saudi Arabia in its conflict with neighboring Yemen.
However, Conservative Foreign Affairs Critic Tony Clement said there was no understanding the vehicles could be used in Yemen when the Conservative government first endorsed the contract. He is concerned that changes in the region since then mean that the armored vehicles could be used against civilians.
“The hinge on the deal in the first place was it was not going to be used to facilitate human rights abuses, it was going to be used in the fight against terrorism. If that is no longer the case then I have no hesitation in saying the deal should be torn up.”
Clement was also sharply critical of Dion, saying he secretly signed the export permits necessary for the massive arms sale. (Source: ipolitics)