PM Trudeau, what are Canadian values worth?

Since October 2nd the world has been gripped with the brutal and brazen murder of Washington Post journalist and Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi Arabian hit squad. The unspeakable crime took place in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey and was almost certainly carried out on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman (MBS).

Global outrage has led to the German suspension of arms sales to the Kingdom and American congressional threats to do the same, despite President Trump’s extreme reluctance to jeopardize lucrative arms deals in any way.  U.S. legislators are also calling for the resignation of the Crown Prince, described by one Republican Senator as a human “wrecking ball”.

I agree with those who say that [German] arms exports, which are already limited, cannot happen given the circumstances, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday.

What about Canada? After all, Saudi Arabia is our largest customer for military goods after the USA, due mainly to the $10-billion-plus contract to sell upgraded armoured vehicles to Riyadh, older versions of which have already been deployed in the brutal Saudi war in Yemen.

Prime Minister Trudeau discussed Canada’s position on a popular Quebec television program on Sunday evening, 21 October. He stated:

[I]n this contract, there are [human rights] clauses that must be followed in relation to the use of what is sold to them [the Saudis].… If they do not follow these clauses, we will definitely cancel the contract. [translation from French]

Let us be clear. Whatever the terms of the contract originally negotiated by the Stephen Harper regime, Canada has full authority under both the Export and Import Permits Act AND the so-called Canadian Magnitsky Law of 2017 to cancel arms shipments to the Saudi Royal family in the face of gross human rights violations.

The real question is not one of legal authority — Canada has it — but of moral courage in the face of shocking depravity. – Peggy Mason, RI President.

Prime Minister Trudeau also addressed the issue Monday in Question Period:

We have frozen export permits before when we had concerns about their potential misuse and we will not hesitate to do so again….

Photo credit: Youtube image (Crown Prince MBS and Jamal Khashoggi)



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33 Responses to “PM Trudeau, what are Canadian values worth?”

  1. Donald KerrOctober 24, 2018 at 4:04 pm #

    Yes, we must stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. Some one else might sell them but that’s a specious argument. It is not just the murder of a journalist, it is the murder of thousands of civilians including children in Yemen in an undeclared war. Diplomacy is needed. Yemen was two separate nations in the 1990’s and the resulting nation was declared a kleptocracy which encouraged the rebellion. It is a clear case of a need for diplomacy instead of making ineffective complaints. When and if we stop selling the armaments, we should also compensate the workers and heip them to find meaningful work.

  2. LaVnne KhayyatOctober 24, 2018 at 12:13 am #

    Russia would be happy to pick up the arms contract and supply Saudi Arabia with anything they want. Is that what we want? In August Riyadh invited Putin to visit and Russia is working on it (Reuters World News Aug 24, 2018). Our prime minister (and the entire West) has a dilemma indeed. “When the righteous rule the nation prospers”. We have to believe that and trust our prosperity turns on a sounder principal than a foolish contract. God help us.

  3. Ann CoffeyOctober 23, 2018 at 10:20 pm # has a new petition calling on Trudeau to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. Please sign it.

    • LaVonne KhayyatOctober 24, 2018 at 12:17 am #

      I will sign it.

  4. Ernie HildebrandOctober 23, 2018 at 9:44 am #

    Ernie Regehr wrote a book , “Canada and the Arms Race”, in the early ’70’s.
    Canada has been fully engaged in the arms race for a very long time . It’s good for the economy! I believe a high percentage of sales all along have been to the USA. Do we believe they have been used for benevolent purposes? The world continues to be a “waring” place . The military – industrial lobby is powerful. I’m in favor of a full re-assessment of the manufacture and export of military equipment from Canada. Possibly, this current issue will cause us to see the bigger picture.

  5. Dan FarrellOctober 23, 2018 at 9:31 am #

    A practical move that might satisfy both the ethical and economical issues would be for the Trudeau government to divert the arms destined for Saudi Arabia to the Ukraine, Poland, and othe states now threatened by Russian expansionism. The cost could be added as Canada’s contribution to NATO. Workers in Ontario would retain their jobs, the USA would be pleased, and Russia would be contained. If Saudi Arabia were to respond by cutting off oil to Canada, the Energy East progam could be revived in short order. Although it would not reduce weapons production this would stop the current abuse in Yemen by the Saudis.

    • Anne StreeterOctober 23, 2018 at 2:00 pm #

      Wrong on most counts! Russia is not expanding, Ukraine is a Neo Nazi state, NATO promised not to move east, Energy East is not wanted nor is it necessary and Canada should get out of the arms industry and into sustainable decent jobs.

  6. Rosemary MiguezOctober 23, 2018 at 8:33 am #

    When will Canada stop their support of killing innocent people? The war in Yemen is unnecessary and many many lives are being lost.
    WARis not the answer…. Let’s stop Canada’s participation in the “war machine” -by building these armorments and selling them – into the Peace Keepers we were known as.
    Money could be better spent in researching clean energy cars that withstand our climate! Let’s switch gears and look inward to where we could make a different impact on the world.

  7. Paula TippettOctober 22, 2018 at 11:02 pm #

    Prime Minister Trudeau must cancel the contract to send LAV’s to Saudi Arabia.

  8. Ann ButtrickOctober 22, 2018 at 10:19 pm #

    Stop supply of arms now to Saudi regime. Give them a message now.

    • Nancy BOctober 22, 2018 at 10:54 pm #

      Thou Shall Not Kill People!

  9. David BourchierOctober 22, 2018 at 9:52 pm #

    To Justin & the Canadian Parliament: In this age of diminishing moral standards, there is a tendency to, paradoxically, “over think” & “over simplify” complex issues. I’d like to appeal to an even easier standard to understand- We, as Canadians, do have certain values that we live by. We discuss, we disagree, we act & we react; but no blood flows in the streets. It is unconscionable to involve ourselves in the international arms trade & particularly with repressive regimes that murder journalists, innocent people & their own citizens in the name of domestic power, religious tribalism & strategic foreign policy. We do have a choice & our government knows this. Do the right thing & cancel arm sales to Saudi Arabia. It’s really not that hard a decision – Money vs. Ethical & Canadian Values

  10. Gail SingletonOctober 22, 2018 at 7:56 pm #

    We “cannot serve two Masters” in this issue. The light armored vehicle contract should never have taken place under the Harper government. It is a travesty in terms of the treatment of the Saudi people, and people in submission under their authority. It supports complete lack of human rights which until recently I thought Canada was against. It appears that blood money has become this Country’s new bargaining chip. It also breaks all rules and regulations Canada has set for itself concerning selling to a country who will use the weaponry against its own people. Trudeau had better cancel this contract, or face the next election with fear. This will be remembered!

    As well it breaks all rules and regulations this Country made regarding

    • Radmila SwannOctober 22, 2018 at 9:30 pm #

      Canada should absolutely cancel all contracts with the Saudis. Their behaviour has been outrageous.

  11. Peter CoombesOctober 22, 2018 at 7:35 pm #

    Canada is very unlikely to stop this arms shipment to Saudi Arabia without consent from the United States. Saudi Arabia is *the* key ally of the United States in the middle east and if (or is it when) this ally falls it would be a disaster for American power in the region. the impact would be global. So the Americans will do whatever to prop up this regime.

    What I find interesting is that if this were Russia Freeland would be apocalyptic in her delight to go after the Russians… this would be her chance to advocate regime change. It would be like watching Dr Strangelove I could see her jumping aboard a missile with her cowboy hat and cheering the Americans.

    But in this case Canada has to be leery because being too harsh on Saudi Arabia would be seen by the U.S. as an attack on American interests and a breech of the alliance. Canada is not going to (or is not ready to) join the rising star in the east, the Chinese -Russian-Iranian alliance.


    • Anne StreeterOctober 23, 2018 at 1:48 pm #

      Bingo! You are bang on about Chrystia Freeland!

  12. Janet HudginsOctober 22, 2018 at 7:26 pm #

    It’s hard to understand how the contract could have been signed in the first place, even considering it was a right-wing government in power at the time. But, the change to one, we thought, with policies promised to be more in the interest of Canadians, should have stopped the sale immediately in office. In the situation with Saudi Arabia now, the government must act for us with a concrete decision to stop the sale, and promptly.

  13. Jean LeahyOctober 22, 2018 at 7:00 pm #

    Thank you for raising the issue of moral values and the question of the courage of Prime Minister Trudeau. I urge him to have the integrity to cancel the contract with Saudi Arabia!

  14. Neil FinnieOctober 22, 2018 at 6:51 pm #

    What business have we Canadians in selling this kind of product to Saudi Arabia?
    This order should be cancelled, for the reasons here otherwise expressed.
    Canada should show some integrity here, better late than never.
    Simply do the right thing.

  15. Penny CoatesOctober 22, 2018 at 6:35 pm #

    It is unconscionable to sell military equipment to this brutal regime. Stop sale of LAVs now.

  16. Brydon GombayOctober 22, 2018 at 6:32 pm #

    Instead of pleading for the need to maintain jobs for Canadians, it is infinitely past the time for our leaders to work for the conversion of factories producing arms and arms-related vehicles to products which do not shame us all.

  17. Ray EgertonOctober 22, 2018 at 6:09 pm #

    Let us see some Canadian moral leadership here.

  18. Douglas AltonOctober 22, 2018 at 6:06 pm #

    Canada must stop providing arms to Saudi Arabia. Sadly the reaction to the killing of a single American citizen far exceeds the concern apparent over the killing of thousands of Yemeni including many children.
    There are many reasons why we should not continue this pattern.

  19. Toby DentOctober 22, 2018 at 5:48 pm #

    No more weapons sales to the Saudis. They will kill everyone in Yemen with these weapons. Psychopath MBS is cracking down on everyone he feels threatened by, can take no criticism and is supported by the amoral self serving Trump. The rest of the world needs to stand together against such murderous acts. A few days after this murder, Trump was promoting violence against journalists at his neo nazi rally. For shame.

  20. Anne StreeterOctober 22, 2018 at 5:41 pm #

    Where is the leadership! Embarrassingly Trudeau is dragging his feet on this issue! It takes the NDP and others to shame him into doing the right thing. This contract never should have been signed in the first place! As it is, we are complicit in the dreadful Yemen tragedy!

  21. Ann CoffeyOctober 22, 2018 at 5:37 pm #

    One can only congratulate Germany for suspending arms sales to Saudi Arabia. One down and eleven more to go. The US, Canada, UK, France, Italy, Sweden, Croatia, Belgium, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Spain all sell arms to Saudi Arabia.

    As for Trudeau stating that Canada has frozen arms exports before when there were concerns about their potential misuse, has he not been following what Saudi Arabia has done to the Yemen?

    The big question is, can Canada show some moral courage or is it standing by waiting for the US to tell it what to do?

  22. Louise ForsythOctober 22, 2018 at 5:35 pm #

    I agree completely that this arms deal with Saudi Arabia must be cancelled.

  23. Howard A. DoughtyOctober 22, 2018 at 5:28 pm #

    When then-Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion defended the decision (which he claimed was not a cabinet decision but his alone – after consultations with then Trade Minister Krystia Freeland) he gave three explanations:

    1. the deal was made by the Harper government and he was not at liberty to renege on it;
    2. if Canada cancelled the deal, someone else would be it anyway;
    3. it would cost jobs.

    The matter of Saudi retaliation was not, to my recollection, mentioned at the time.

    I found those three arguments unconvincing. I find the fourth (retaliation) unconvincing as well.

    Saudi Arabia is engaged in a regional struggle with Iran that is now playing out in hapless Yemen. Saudi Arabia is also engaged in domestic repression.
    I can’t say precisely where the armoured vehicles Canada is selling are going to be used, but I am pretty sure it’s for no good purpose.

    Meanwhile, now-Foreign Minister Freeland is experiencing some measure of retaliation herself for daring to complain about Saudi Arabia abhorrent human rights record.

    Oh, and of course, President Donald J. Trump and “Christian” evangelist Pat Robertson are falling all over themselves trying to find ways to defend
    the Saudi action.

    Doing the right thing at the right time would have save us all considerable embarrassment.

  24. Art HarmsOctober 22, 2018 at 5:25 pm #

    Justin Trudeau must stop this arms deal, and it should never have happened in the first place underStephen Harper. Stop it now, especially in light of this gruesome murder.

  25. Carol PickupOctober 22, 2018 at 5:24 pm #

    This deal MUST BE CANCELLED NOW!! Carol Pickup, Victoria, B.C.

  26. LORRAINE CODEOctober 22, 2018 at 5:08 pm #


    • AngieOctober 22, 2018 at 5:25 pm #

      Canada should not be involved in the arms trade in the first place. The case against selling arms to regimes like that in Saudi Arabia was clear; with that country’s actions in Yemen, resulting in millions facing starvation; the imprisonment of human rights activists; and now this brazen murder of a journalist how can Canada justify this kind of trade with such a murderous regime?


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