Canadians say no to sending weapons to Saudi Arabia

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Dear supporter,

If he wants to stop it, he can, but will he?

Will Prime Minister Trudeau take bold and decisive action for human rights, for international peace and security, and for Canadian values? Will he stop the made-in-Canada military vehicles – armed with heavy weapons – from being shipped to the butchers in Saudi Arabia?

We must continue to build a tidal wave of Canadians demanding that the government refuse these pernicious exports, and we want you to be part of it!

Donate $45 or $12 each month, right now

It is absolutely true that the Trudeau government inherited this mess from the Stephen Harper Conservatives.

While the 15-billion-dollar deal was being secretly negotiated for upgraded Canadian Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) to be supplied to Saudi Arabia over a ten-year period, that country was rated among the “worst of the worst” of the world’s human rights abusers. In fact, they are guilty of more beheadings in a month than ISIL has yet carried out.

And then there was the role Saudi Arabia played, using previously supplied Canadian LAVs, in suppressing peaceful “Arab Spring” demonstrations in neighbouring Bahrain.

This is what the Liberal government inherited – a sordid deal that runs directly counter to Canadian export control policy. That policy states an export permit can only be issued for military equipment if there is no reasonable risk of use against the civilian population. The opposite was the case with Saudi Arabia.

But bad as things were when the deal was made public in 2014, the situation now is infinitely worse.

In January 2016 Saudi Arabia faced international condemnation for the beheading of a well-respected, moderate Shia cleric and 46 others. Later that same month a damning UN report accused Saudi Arabia of war crimes in Yemen because of its “widespread and indiscriminate” air strikes on civilians including weddings, buses, residential areas, medical facilities, schools, mosques, markets, factories and food storage warehouses.

In response to this horror, the U.K. Parliamentary International Development Committee unanimously called for a suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia pending an independent inquiry; the EU Parliament called for an embargo on all arms to Saudi Arabia; the Dutch national parliament called on its government to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia; while last week Sweden outright cancelled its ten-year military cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia.

And the good news for Canada is that not one armoured vehicle has yet been shipped pursuant to this ugly deal, because they are still under development. The way forward is crystal clear – the Liberal government must do its duty and enforce Canadian export control policy by denying any new shipments of arms to Saudi Arabia.

Canadians want the Trudeau government to do the right thing. Recent NANOS polling shows a solid majority does not want Canadian jobs to depend on the vicious suppression of innocents elsewhere in the world.

What all this means is that we have a real opportunity to shut off the flow of Canadian arms to Saudi Arabia. And to ensure that a sub-committee of Parliament is established to oversee, review and update Canadian arms export policy. We would also be making an important contribution to international efforts to impose an embargo on global weapons shipments to Saudi Arabia.

But to stop Canadian weapons flowing to Saudi Arabia, we are going to have to go up against the combined weight and influence of the Saudi Royal family, already lobbying hard in Canada and Europe, and the powerful defence lobby. We can’t do this alone.

Your support has been so crucial in taking on the pro-war lobby and weapons profiteers.

We have already made taken a huge step forward with the end of Canada’s participation in the bombing campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. That decision took months for the government to finalize and was bitterly opposed every step of the way by the pro-war lobby and its unfailing drumbeat in much of the mainstream media.

We have achieved another huge milestone as well. For the first time since Stephen Harper committed our country to participation in the anti-ISIL coalition, Canada is now actively working to support the UN-led Syrian peace process. This is something we have been calling for from the outset of this devastating conflict. It is essential that we keep pressing the government to back up its tentative first steps in support of the Syrian peace process and Iraqi national reconciliation, with a fully developed plan of action.

These important victories are just the latest examples of what we have accomplished together:
• We first raised the alarm on the F-35 stealth bomber boondoggle.
• We have pushed off the purchase of weaponized drones by the Air Force.
• We have convinced the government to hold a full defence review with public input.
• We have persuaded the government to re-engage with UN peacekeeping and the UN more broadly.
• We have continued to hold the line against Canadian participation in BMD.

But there is so much more we need to do together to ensure that Prime Minister Trudeau and his government fulfill their promise to bring back Canada the peacekeeper, peacebuilder and honest broker.

That‘s why I am asking for your renewed support for 2016.

Take our woefully outdated Conservative-made defence policy. The defence review for which we fought so hard has yet to be launched, but American inputs are already being received in secret. Despite the Liberal pledge to cancel the wasteful and problem-plagued F-35 program, it has not been excluded from the competitive bidding process. The Chief of the Defence Staff, Jon Vance, is openly lobbying the government to obtain armed drones for the air force. Ottawa-based defence analysts continue to push for Canada to join the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defence program. American defence planners are talking openly of improving their “tactical nuclear war fighting capability” while the Liberals go slow on nuclear disarmament efforts.

Our voices are needed as never before!

With your renewed support in 2016 we will mount our most ambitious and innovative public engagement and mobilization campaigns yet. We will use our central location in Ottawa, backing onto the Prime Minister’s offices and steps from Parliament Hill, to make sure the “peace lobby” is heard by Ministers, by Parliamentarians, by the Parliamentary Press Gallery, and of course by major broadcasters like CBC and CTV.

We will continue to work closely with our allies in other non-governmental organizations, universities and colleges, churches, unions and all political parties. We will continue to commission groundbreaking reports on defence spending, the torture of Afghan detainees, peacekeeping training, consular services for Canadians abroad, and other important and timely issues of direct significance to Canadians.

Most of all, we will continue to use every available means to empower you to take action and to make your voice heard.

You can make an impact for peace by joining our Peacekeepers monthly donor club. Nearly 1000 Canadians make generous donations every month by pre-authorized cheque or credit card. Would you consider joining our Peacekeepers club by giving $12 to work for peace?

Or consider making a special, one-time gift to launch our campaigns for 2016. A special gift of $45, $85 or even $110 will help us to reach out to thousands more Canadians.

The damage cause by Stephen Harper will take years to repair. And we will have the powerful defence lobby and its acolytes in the media resisting change towards peace at every step.

Please take action right away and send your donation to support our campaign to stop weapons exports to Saudi Arabia. We hope to raise $25,000 to fund the campaign before May 1, so please be as generous as you can afford.

Thank you for all of your support. I am so encouraged because we have the majority of Canadians on our side, by the millions. Together we can make sure that Canada the peacebuilder is truly back to stay!
Onward in peace,

Peggy Mason
Rideau Institute and

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P.S. Canada is preparing to send $15 billion in weaponized armoured vehicles to the brutally repressive regime in Saudi Arabia. We are working to stop these deadly exports, and need your support. Please join us by joining our Peacekeepers monthly donor club at $12 each month, or a special gift of $110, before May 1, 2016.

Tags: Arms Deal, Arms industry, Canada, Canadian foreign policy,, Crimes against humanity, Human rights, LAVs, Light Armoured Vehicles, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Saudi Arabia