Friday May 13, 2016
Canada must ‘stick to its word’ on Saudi arms deal, Trudeau says
Canada is obliged to uphold its reputation for honouring business deals and therefore must sell $15-billion of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday when asked about video footage that shows the Saudis using similar machines against civilians in the Mideast country.
“We need to be able to project [to] the world that when Canada agrees to something, it sticks to its word,” the Liberal Prime Minister told MPs in the Commons.
Footage published by The Globe and Mail on Wednesday shows armoured vehicles being used against minority Shia Muslim dissidents. Copies of the videos, which date from 2012 and 2015, were supplied by Saudi human-rights activists who want Canada to suspend shipments of combat vehicles to Riyadh.
The combat vehicles in the videos are not Canadian-made, but they demonstrate the regime’s inclination to use such military assets against its own people in a region that is very difficult for Canada to monitor. It also casts doubt on the Liberal government’s assurances that the massive arms sale to Saudi Arabia presents no risks for the country’s civilians.
Asked by NDP Leader Tom Mulcair whether he believes the videos show violations of human rights by the Saudis, Mr. Trudeau said Canada cannot renege on this deal with Saudi Arabia.
“We need to make sure we are respected on the world stage by keeping our word,” he said.
The deal for the armoured vehicles, which will be equipped with machine guns and anti-tank cannons, was secured by the former Conservative government.
The Liberals, however, gave the green light for shipments to proceed when Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion issued export permits in early April for the bulk of the $15-billion contract. (Source: Globe & Mail)