This is a defining moment for the Justin Trudeau government

On Monday, 22 October we posted a blog on the brutal Khashoggi murder and the need for Canada to finally stop any further shipments of arms to Saudi Arabia.  We updated the situation in our Rideau blog on Tuesday, 23 October.

Since then the Prime Minister of Canada has continued to vacillate between asserting Canada’s power to suspend any further shipments, without incurring financial penalties, and the opposite — that cancellation of the contract will cost us “billions”.

In the meantime, Ed Fast, the trade minister in the government of Stephen Harper that actually negotiated the deal, says he knows nothing about “details” like the penalty clause.

Whatever those details, Canadians need to know that suspension of any further shipments under this contract would have an immediate and significant effect on Saudi Arabia.  Even if most of the contract is complete, the Saudis need an ongoing supply of parts and servicing.  And it will take them years to acquire satisfactory replacements.

– Peggy Mason, RI President

Canada can make a real difference.

So Canada can make a difference, a real difference. We can act in a way that supports genuine accountability for the monstrous Khashoggi crime. Even more importantly, we can act in a way that will make it more difficult for Saudi Arabia to continue its unimaginably brutal war in Yemen.

The October 26th edition of the New York Times focuses in depth on that war, with photographs that are almost unbearable to face. They write:

The harshest criticism of the Saudi-led war has focused on the airstrikes that have killed thousands of civilians at weddings, funerals and on school buses, aided by American-supplied bombs and intelligence.

But aid experts and United Nations officials say a more insidious form of warfare is also being waged in Yemen, an economic war that is exacting a far greater toll on civilians and now risks tipping the country into a famine of catastrophic proportions.

This is a defining moment for the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  He recently stated that a seat for Canada on the UN Security Council was not end in itself, but a means to stand up for human rights and the rule of law on the world stage.

Germany, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and Finland have now all suspended arms shipments to Saudi Arabia.  The European Parliament in a non-binding resolution has called for all EU members to do the same.

On the other hand, the hapless UK, crippled by its impending Brexit doom, clings to trade with Saudi Arabia no matter how depraved that country’s behaviour.

Donald Trump says money is all that matters.

Where does Canada stand?

We await our Prime Minister’s answer.

Photo credit: General Dynamics Land Systems Canada (Product Overview)


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18 Responses to “This is a defining moment for the Justin Trudeau government”

  1. Simon GoodOctober 31, 2018 at 6:49 pm #

    There should be an immediate termination of trade in weapons of war, with Saudi Arabia. That is simply obvious, it is seriously inappropriate to carry on because of the financial benefits of trade with Saudi Arabia. We can do way better than that!

  2. Kurt FreyOctober 30, 2018 at 3:18 pm #

    Many of the comments here allude to the fact that our media spend endless news cycles on Khashoggi but barely mention the carnage in Yemen. Ditto for our government. This dichotomy is atrocious and reprehensible.

    But what most folks are missing is the elephant in the room. Why are we so up in arms (pun unintended) about Saudi Arabia when Canada exports and sells more military goods to the U.S. which ultimately supplies and provides logistics to the Saudis and enables their incursion into Yemen?

    Yes, we should halt exports to Saudi Arabia. But then, let’s do the truly right thing and also halt them to the U.S. That is unless buttering our bread is more important than adhering to our principles and protecting human rights.

    • Ceasefire.caOctober 31, 2018 at 12:36 pm #

      Kurt Frey, we are working very hard to ensure that arms exports to the USA fall under the new export control regime being established by Bill C-47. In short, this is not an issue we have been ignoring in any way! However, the glare of global opinion is focused on Saudi Arabia right now and that gives us a chance to put pressure on Canada to do the right thing.

  3. Marion AbelOctober 29, 2018 at 7:52 am #

    We must make a difference and make a stand on peacemaking. Please stand firm and pull out of arms. Fokering. Make moves and waves towards ending violent confrontation globally.
    We needs ripples that change confrontation and warmongering to negotiation and tolerance.

  4. Michael C DunneOctober 27, 2018 at 10:34 pm #

    While the death of Khashoggi is indeed an appaling criminal act do not let the death of one person be used as a cover for the continuing atrocities perpetrated in the war led by Saudi Arabian forces in Yemen.

    It was time to cancel the arms sale deal that Harper with compliance from Trudeau engaged in when we discovered the armoured vehicles were being used by the Saudis on their own people; but to continue the sale when you are fully arare the arms are leading to a genocide greater than the Shoah is totally and criminally unconscienable.

    If the mendacious cost of cancelling the deal is the only thing nagging the conscience of the Federal Government and Justin Trudeau then the Angela Merkel card is also available to Canada and, just like Germany, “temporary suspension” of the contract is available. I doubt the Harperites were stupid enough to fail to include such a suspenstion clause in the agreement.

    If the full extent of the war crimes these arms make Canada complicit in were explained to Canadians I doubt very much the Neocon Liberals or Neocon Tories would get the backing of their base to continue the slaughter of innocents.
    As Khashoggi Case Highlights Saudi Crimes, UN Warns Famine Driven by US-Backed War in Yemen Could Kill 13 Million People

  5. Anne StreeterOctober 27, 2018 at 7:33 am #

    Justin Trudeau has a problem making decisions – even no brainers such as this. The answer is simple. Do whatever it takes to cancel this terrible contract and get out of the arms business. As for jobs, retool for something truly beneficial. For those who say “if not us then someone else”- my answer is SHAME!

  6. Michael MurphyOctober 26, 2018 at 9:11 pm #

    Stoppingt the arms sale is important, but the crucial thing right now is to stop the brutal attacks on the people of Yemen. Canada should be immediately involved in finding a way to bring about a ceasefire there.

  7. Frances AlldenOctober 26, 2018 at 8:05 pm #

    Canada has no business involving itself in arms deals ANYWHERE much less Saudi Arabia. What happened to strong people standing for what is right on this and so many other issues? Elizabeth May needs more company.

  8. Paul WhittakerOctober 26, 2018 at 7:56 pm #

    I still have a problem with the trigger for the concern over arms sales to Saudi. The murder of one man (not exactly a MLK) started a wave of protest, where the murder of thousands, a million nearing starvation, and a massive cholera outbreak in Yemen had a ho hum response!! What the hell is going on with our supposed “values” we brag about?

  9. Bob StuartOctober 26, 2018 at 6:48 pm #

    I’d like to comment, but the text is so faint I probably missed something.

  10. Howard DoughtyOctober 26, 2018 at 5:36 pm #

    Mr. Trudeau’s record is one of relentless ambivalence: on issues as diverse as aboriginal rights, petroleum extraction, electoral reform, Bill C-51 and the like, he has attempted to plant one leg firmly on both sides of the fence … until forced to choose and then only to backtrack on empty promises made.

    This, of course, is to be preferred over the tradition established by Mr. Harper, which was one of boldly doing the wrong thing in the first place.

    Nonetheless, Sel Burrows has an excellent idea – not one that is likely to be taken up, of course, but one that would put Canada back on the road to international respect and (if, we’re not careful) modest moral leadership.

  11. Angus CunninghamOctober 26, 2018 at 5:34 pm #

    Is it not possible to sue Saudi Arabia for misuse of the arms we have sold them?

    • Ann CoffeyOctober 26, 2018 at 9:07 pm #

      What is “misuse”? Weapons are designed to kill. The seller sells arms to the buyer and the buyer buys the arms and uses them for the purpose for which they were designed. The buyer could not use weapons if the seller had not sold them the weapons. So why should the buyer be any more guilty than the seller?

  12. Ralph HullOctober 26, 2018 at 5:30 pm #

    Be not misled by the small mindedness of trump ~ there is much more to life than money. Big Money causes big problems as witnessed by the actions of those two governments. Selfish and corrupt is not the Canadian way.

  13. Janet HudginsOctober 26, 2018 at 5:18 pm #

    It’s far more important to get us out of the arms trade with the underworld that Harper locked us into; this is no place for real Canadians. As well, it would behoove the government to collect the Chrysler debt to pay this penalty and break the contract. As for the arms industry, its wealth is such that sacrificing one contract will do little to change its swollen profit margin.

  14. Sel BurrowsOctober 26, 2018 at 5:05 pm #

    Why don’t we ask the government to send a supply ship with a Canadian Navy escort to break the blockade.
    Perhaps other European countries would join the convoy.
    The blockade of humanitarian shipments is illegal under international law.
    Sel Burrows

    • Bob ThomsonOctober 27, 2018 at 9:00 am #

      Excellent idea!


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