A group of human rights organizations are the latest to criticize a $15 billion armoured vehicle deal between General Dynamics Land Systems and Saudi Arabia.
Amnesty International, Project Ploughshares and the Rideau Institute are calling on Justin Trudeau’s government to rescind export permits for the sale of the London-made light armoured vehicles to a regime with a demonstrably poor human rights record. The deal, signed in 2014, was inked under the previous Conservative government, but Foreign Affairs Minister Stephanie Dion personally signed the export permits for $11 billion worth of LAVs earlier this year, despite earlier claims by the government that nothing could be done about the deal.
In an open letter to Trudeau, the groups said that the deal breaks both Canada’s export controls and international laws.
“We urge you to consider seriously whether our export controls have served their intended purpose with the authorization of this deal,” the letter said. “To provide such a large supply of lethal weapons to a regime with such an appalling record of human rights abuses is immoral and unethical. The government has had every opportunity to uphold this position, but has chosen not to.”
One of the spokespeople for the group went so far as to imply that there is blood on Canada’s hands because of the deal.
“It is a pernicious argument to assert that Canadian jobs must depend on the killing, maiming, injuring and repressing of innocent civilians abroad,” Rideau Institute president Peggy Mason said at a press conference in Ottawa.
The contract is estimated to create about 3,000 jobs in London and southwestern Ontario.