Months after a giant $15 billion dollar deal was announced with Saudi Arabia, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the General Dynamics facility where the armoured vehicles are made.
Photo Credit: Dave Chidley/CP

Questions of priority, human rights vs Canada’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia

There are more questions being raised about a $15 billion Canadian arms deal with Saudi Arabia involving armoured vehicles and the apparent lack of guarantees that the vehicles would not be used against a civilian population.

Organizations such as Amnesty International Canada, Project Ploughshares. and PEN Canada are questioning whether the lucrative 2014 deal, the largest in Canadian history, is trumping concerns over the human rights record of Saudi Arabia.

When the deal was announced the London Free Press newspaper quoted Tim Page, president of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries, saying “It’s a good day for Canada…This is a big-league contract for a global leader in the armoured vehicle business. It is a significant moment in Canada’s export world.”

On the association’s website Tim Page says the deal “supports and builds on a domestic industrial supply chain that helps hundreds of companies prosper in every region of the country.”

Critics of the deal, which involves General Dynamics Land Systems in the Canadian city of London in the province of Ontario, feel the economic benefits of the deal have overridden human rights concerns.

RCI’s Wojtek Gwiazda spoke to Kenneth Epps, Senior Program Officer at the non-governmental anti-war group Project Ploughshares, about the deal, and Canadian and international laws on arms deals.


More information:
RCI – Canadian government refusing to answer questions on arms deal with Saudi Arabia – here
Globe and Mail – No more Saudi business as usual – here
London Free Press – The feds announce the biggest deal of its kind in Canadian history in London – here
Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries – Major Contract Award Demonstrates Competitiveness of Canadian Industry – here
RCI (April, 2014) – On anniversary of UN Arms Trade Treaty, Canada fails to sign or ratify – here

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