Lawyers work to halt Canada's $15B mil. sale to Saudis

Canadian law limits deals to countries with human rights violations

Lawyers work to halt Canada's $15B mil. sale to Saudis

World Bulletin / News Desk

A group of lawyers have filed a submission to the Federal Court to bar Canada from selling CAN$15 billion of military armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia, Canadian media reported Friday.

The solicitors, led by Quebec constitutional lawyer Daniel Turp, argue that the sale is illegal because it goes against Canadian law that states military technology exports to nations with a record of human rights violations against their citizens be limited, reported the Toronto Star.

It is the second time lawyers have moved to prevent the sale to the Saudis.

The first court challenge argued that the Canadian government should not be allowed to issue the export permits necessary to complete the deal.

The latest move argues the permits, issued by Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, should be canceled.

“[The court should] declare that on April 8, 2016, [Dion] delivered a decision that was not founded on evidence, based not on a demonstration that there was no reasonable risk that the light armored vehicles would be used against a civilian population, but rather on a simple belief, without considering the pertinent elements that he had or that were available to him,” states the document that was emailed to court Thursday.

The former Conservative government inked the deal with the Saudis in 2014.

The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau surged to power in the fall of 2015 and he said Canada must live up to its commitments. 

But Turp filed the first court challenge in late March, then it was discovered that Dion had issued the export permits April 8.

That rankled Turp. “It’s quite unusual that a government, knowing that there’s a case brought before the court, goes ahead and delivers permits when it has knowledge of the legality of the issue was before a court,” Turp told the Toronto Star.

But a spokesperson for Dion’s office said the government is convinced the issuing of permits and the sale of the armored vehicles was proper.

“The government is satisfied that Canada’s approach remains consistent with our international obligation and Canadian law,” wrote Chantal Gagnon, Dion’s press secretary.

Canadian law says such military deals can only be done if the government can prove the military equipment going to a nation will not be used against its people. 

Saudi Arabia has faced constant criticism that it has one of the world’s worst human rights records and a 2015 Human Rights Watch report found the country continue to jail activists and repress women, among other violations.

But Canada stands to gain economically from the sale.

As well as a financial windfall, the eight-year deal, if it proceeds, will reportedly create 3,000 jobs in Canada.

Last Mod: 23 Nisan 2016, 10:10
Add Comment