April 15th, 2020
Statement on Canadian Government Decision to Resume Arms Exports to Saudi Arabia
I am deeply disappointed by the decision made by the Government of Canada to halt the moratorium on exports of arms and military goods to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. While I understand that the original contract was approved by the Harper government, it is unconscionable that Canada will continue to send arms to Saudi Arabia, a country that has violated human rights within their borders as well as internationally; perpetrating criminal acts ranging from murder of individual citizens to mass warfare and genocide. As the New Democrat Foreign Affairs critic, Jack Harris unequivocally stated “The Conservatives started this, but the fact remains, the Liberal government is sending armoured vehicles to an undemocratic authoritarian regime with a terrible human-rights record. This contract should have been cancelled. Period.”
In addition, the Liberals have chosen to approve arms sales to Saudi Arabia at the same time that the Government of Canada has publicly endorsed a UN-negotiated cease fire between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. In a joint statement released by François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, the two stated “Now is the time to put armed conflict on lockdown, to protect the most vulnerable and to focus our efforts together in the fight against this virus.” By providing weapons to the Saudi regime at this time, Canada is feeding the very war that the Canadian Government has condemned. It is inexcusable to call for a ceasefire in Yemen on one hand while selling the very arms that will be used against the Yemeni people in their 5-year conflict with the Saudi regime. The Government of Canada needs to immediately halt the export of military grade LAV vehicles to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, following the lead of countries such as Sweden, Germany and Belgium.
Further, the Canadian Government has an obligation to protect Canadian workers and as such, should provide compensatory contracts to General Dynamics to ensure the LAVs being produced will be used in non-conflict situations or will supply our Canadian Forces needs first. The Government can ensure that jobs are protected while upholding our Canadian values. We can and must do both – we must stand up for Canadian jobs but we must also stand for Human Rights.
Member of Parliament / Députée