Saudi Canada Arms Deal


Foreign Minister Faces Lawsuit Over Canada’s Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia

Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion has been named in a lawsuit filed the Federal Court. Initiated by Professor Daniel Turp, who teaches international and constitutional law at the University of Montreal, the suit alleges the Foreign Minister of illegally issuing permits that allow the sale of combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia. Turp says that the basis of this lawsuit is found in Canadian laws that prohibit Ottawa from selling arms to countries that have records of human rights violations and not enough proof that the arms will not be used against civilians. This deal, signed under the Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is worth $15 billion. Under the deal, London, ON based General Dynamics Land Systems were to provide weaponized armoured vehicles to the Saudi National Guard. This lead to the creation of 3000 new jobs in the country. When news of the deal came out in 2014, the Liberals were quick to lash out against it, with Justin Trudeau’s principal adviser taking to twitter scornfully. “Principled foreign policy indeed,’ Geral Butts tweeted, going on to compare the Kingdom to ISIS. However once the Liberal, under Trudeau were elected into the government, the deal wasn’t revoked. The Liberals quietly let the deal progress and once the news came out, lead to a nationwide debate on its legality. Prime Minister Trudeau insists that his government will stand by the contract, saying that it would be impossible for Canada to do business internationally if a new government did not honour the its predecessors trade decisions. It would injure Canada’s reputation abroad, he said. Dion, on the other hand explained that even if Canada did not go ahead with the sales, other countries, some of them allies of Canada, will not refrain from selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. He also said that stopping this sale will not affect the human rights violations records in the Saudi Arabia. The powerful Middle Eastern kingdom has been increasingly in the news for the past few months for the many human rights violations against its won citizens that are sanctioned by the state. It is also in a war with the neighbouring Yemen, accused of airstrikes against Houthi rebels, with many civilians also included in the casualty count. Amnesty Internationl and Human Rights Watch have both called for arms embargoes against Saudi Arabia, citing a UN report on indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Yemen and other human rights violations in the country.  

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