When it comes to a choice between believing a government with a vested interest in protecting a $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia and independent reports that those armaments are being used against domestic populations, I tend to side with the later.
Consider the evidence.
The Saudi Arabian National Guard, a buyer of Canadian-made light armoured vehicles, posted this photo on Twitter in November, 2015. It shows combat vehicles being moved to Najran, a Saudi town near the border with Yemen.
Two years ago, the following was reported in the Globe and Mail:
Canadian-made armoured vehicles appear to be embroiled in Saudi Arabia's war against Yemeni-based Houthi rebels – caught up in cross-border hostilities that critics say should force Ottawa to reconsider a $15-billion deal to sell Riyadh more of these weapons.And last summer, a video emerged appearing
The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis – who are aligned with Iran – has already been accused by a United Nations panel of major human-rights violations for what its report called "widespread and systematic" air-strike attacks on civilian targets. Along the Saudi-Yemen border, constant skirmishes pit Houthi fighters against Saudi ground forces such as the Saudi Arabian National Guard.
...a retired Canadian general consulted by The Globe and Mail, who spoke on condition of anonymity, identified the LAVs being transported to Najran as fighting vehicles made by General Dynamics Land Systems. Stephen Priestley, a researcher with the Canadian American Strategic Review, a think tank that tracks defence spending, also identified the LAVs as Canadian-made.
Critics say having Canadian-made arms enmeshed in a conflict that has claimed more than 2,800 civilian lives should prompt Ottawa to rethink the recent $15-billion deal to sell hundreds or thousands more to the Saudis.
to show for the first time Canadian-made light armoured vehicles being deployed by Saudi security forces in an operation against militants in the Shia-populated eastern part of the kingdom.
EXCLUSIVE: New video purports to show Canadian LAVs being used in Saudi crackdownhttps://t.co/DEfZlfTGXG pic.twitter.com/4YuPPZWmSu— Levon Sevunts (@LevonSevunts) August 8, 2017
Add to the above the fact that Suadi Arabia is a notorious abuser of human rights, so much so that a group of British lawyers has launched a campaign to remove the country from the UN's Human Rights Council.
None of this, however, has forked any lightning with the Trudeau government. The Toronto Star reports that an investigation by the Canadian government has concluded that there is "no conclusive evidence" that the above is true, and so the arms deal will continue.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told a Commons committee Thursday the “independent objective opinion” of her departmental officials [can there truly be independence in a governmentdepartment?] did not determine that was the case. When the NDP asked for the report to be publicly released, the minister deferred to her department.As frequently happens with Mr. Trudeau's regime, while they continue to give Saudi Arabia carte blanche in its abuses, they are vowing to toughen up the export permit process.
Governments should be required to deny permits where there is a “substantial risk” that an export on Canada’s control list “could be used to commit human rights violations,” Freeland said.That kind of fancy footwork may provide a measure of political cover for a government aiding and abetting the Saudis. However, one can't help but wonder how reassuring it will be to those domestic populations who will continue to be abused by the Saudis and quite possibly fall victim to the Light Armoured Vehicles that Canada will continue to ship to the repressive nation.
Freeland said the Liberal government will accept amendments to enshrine such an obligation in law, via a bill now before Parliament to allow Canada to accede to the international Arms Trade Treaty. At the same time, she said, pre-existing contracts would be honoured, meaning the Saudi contract would not be subject to review under new criteria.