HEADLINES

🍁 CDN: Harper’s Saudi Arms Deal Remains A Thorn In Canada’s Shoe

By Tonda MacCharles, (June 4, 2016). Photos & commentary added by Alistair Reign.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird meets with Iyad Ameen Madani, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. (Former) Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird meets with Iyad Ameen Madani, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. July 2015. (Photo: Rabble).

The onerous price tag for cancelling might help explain the resistance of the Liberal government to growing calls by critics to cancel the $14.8-billion contract reached by the Tories. The government of Canada would be on the hook for a multi-billion-dollar cancellation penalty if it were to break a controversial deal to sell light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia under the contract signed by the previous Conservative government, the Star has learned.

However, it also raises questions about whether such a heavy penalty effectively guts the ability of any future government to oversee any human rights violations that could result from deployment of the weaponized vehicles known as LAV’s (lightly armoured vehicles).

International Trade Minister Ed Fast is in Ukraine for two days of trade talks. Ukraine is one of Canada's priority countries for trade and development. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

Ed Fast 01/05/2015. (Photo: Fred Chartrand/ CP).

I’m not going to comment on the details of the contract. That’s for the current Liberal government to respond to,” said former Conservative international trade minister Ed Fast, who worked on the deal along with Stephen Harper’s foreign affairs minister, John Baird.

All I will say is it is a very significant-sized contract. It has very significant benefits to Canada’s economy and I will certainly acknowledge that a termination of the contact unilaterally by one party will have very significant consequences,” Fast said in an interview with the Star.

Fast said he would not discusswhat the actual damages might be for termination of the contract,” adding “there is a process within government that provides for a review under our export/imports regime to ensure that exports serve not only the national interest, but more specifically Canada’s stand on defending human rights.

Fast said the Canadian government gave the 14-year deal “a sovereign guarantee” through the Canada Commercial Corp., a Crown corporation that acted as not only a broker but the contracting party for General Dynamics Land Systems with Saudi Arabia.

nternational Trade Minister Ed Fast, left, announced today he will be leading a six-day trade mission to China in May. He is seen here speaking with Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a ceremony in Beijing on Feb. 9, 2012. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

(Former) Minister Ed Fast and (former) Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a ceremony in Beijing on February 9, 2012. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/ CP).

A source who spoke to the Star on condition of anonymity said the cancellation penalty is part of the contract reached after Harper personally sought support from Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Canada to secure the 14-year deal to deliver weaponized vehicles — a deal that was otherwise looking certain to go to Germany.

Since the contract was first announced in 2014, secrecy has surrounded many details of the contract, such as the number of LAV’s to be delivered.

Fast acknowledged previous reports that Harper had written a letter to the Saudi king.

I can say that the Canadian Commercial Corporation was a key player in concluding that contract and we won that contract over competing bids from Germany and France,” Fast said. Asked if Germany was the preferred bidder at the time, Fast would say only that “it went to Canada.

[Alistair: Except we now know that Germany has refused to sell arms to Saudi Arabia – so eggs on your face’s Fast, Baird and Harper, (Larry, Moe and Shemp).]

The Star requested an interview with the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Ottawa but had not yet received a reply.

Jason Hann, a spokesman for the Canada Commercial Corp., declined the Star’s request for an interview, saying in an email response to specific questions that “details related to all provisions of the contract to which you’re referring are commercially confidential and cannot be released.

Global Affairs spokesperson Rachna Mishra replied to questions sent to Stéphane Dion’s office, saying “For reasons of commercial confidentiality, the department does not comment on ongoing contracts between Canadian companies and other countries.

Baird, reached in Europe, declined to discuss any details about the deal, any cancellation penalty or about Harper’s personal interventions to secure the contract.

John baird

John Baird. Question period in the House of Commons, 2014. (Photo: National Post).

Baird said he and Fast “worked very hard to make this contract happen,” and said the Liberals should “absolutely not” halt it.

This is good for the economy of Canada, but it is also good for the security of Canada because we don’t want ISIS moving into Saudi Arabia,” Baird said.

[Alistair: After reading that last line, I had to pause for a – “WTF is he really that stupid?” – moment. Why you may ask? Read my article on the Wahhabi Daesh connection and you will understand why Baird sounds ridiculous on so many levels, and what is extra laughable is the fact that what happens in Saudi Arabia has absolutely no effect on us in Canada.]

In fairness to the Liberals,” Baird said, “this was successfully negotiated by General Dynamics Land Systems under the previous Conservative government and you shouldn’t blame the Liberal government for that. Contracts should be sacrosanct, and the new government is honouring that and it’s the right thing to do.

Fast’s and Baird’s views are in sharp contrast to the position taken by the Conservatives’ current foreign affairs critic, Tony Clement, who said information now available about Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen wasn’t available at the time the deal was struck.

He said the deal should be shelved.

When Harper announced the $14.8-billion sale in 2014, he and land systems officials touted the 3,000 jobs to be created — mostly in London, Ontario — and the importance of Canada working with Saudi Arabia, a key regional security ally in the Middle East.

The Liberals did not oppose the sale during last year’s federal election, with a campaigning Trudeau at one point calling it a commercial contract for a bunch of “jeeps.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion delivers a statement as he is joined by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in February 2016).

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, February 2016. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/ CP).

Once in power, foreign affairs minister Dion signed off on export permits in April to approve the shipment of the LAV’s based on an assessment the Saudis would not use them against its civilian population but would use them to defend Canada’s common security interests with the desert kingdom.

But the Liberals have come under increasing pressure to respond to concerns about the abysmal human rights record of the Saudi regime which quashes civil dissent within its own borders, denies basic rights to women, authorized a mass beheading of 47 people last January, and moved beyond its own borders to quash an uprising in nearby Yemen, led by Houthi rebels allied with Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, Iran.

Pam Goldsmith-Jones, Dion’s parliamentary secretary, said “the government takes every opportunity to raise critical issues with senior Saudi officials with respect to humanitarian issues, consular issues, and human rights, as the minister did in his visit to the region last week.”

Pam Goldsmith-Jones, secretary to Dion. (Photo: CP).

On Thursday in the Commons the NDP demanded to know why the government would not create a committee to oversee arms exports to guard against human rights abuses. Pam Goldsmith-Jones, Dion’s parliamentary secretary, said “the government takes every opportunity to raise critical issues with senior Saudi officials with respect to humanitarian issues, consular issues, and human rights, as the minister did in his visit to the region last week.

Asked later how the government intends to monitor whether the LAV’s would end up being used by Yemeni military forces against civilians, she said, “We’re watching that situation very closely. Of course, as you know, with regard to our permit process, monitoring the human rights situation is of utmost importance, so that’s all I can tell you at this time.

[Alistair: Oh ya – this is not going to end well – I trust doing business with a Saudi royal about as much as I would sleeping in a nest of pythons.]

🔝

Toronto Star: Canada would face multi-billion dollar penalty if it cancelled LAV sale to Saudis.


Send inquiries and requests for permission to re-blog commentary to Alistair.Reign@gmail.com, thank you.


We welcome comments and conversations. Scroll to bottom of page to use the comment box.

Click Picture for a Popular Article

  • UNICEF estimates nearly 400 children have been killed and over 600 injured in the past four months in the country, the poorest in the Middle East. 13 Yemeni teaching staff and four children were killed by a Saudi air strike on August 20. Two days before, coalition bombing in the Amran province took the lives of 17 civilians, injuring 20 more. UNICEF condemned what it called the “senseless bloodshed.” A Red Cross spokeswoman said the violence in Ta’iz, in southern Yemen, in just one day on August 21 left 80 people dead.
  • Although the ISIS terrorist network has claimed to have hacked Department of Defense networks to gain personal information, it is fairly obvious much of the information came from social media websites. Individuals who are becoming targeted victims handed the required details over to the individuals calling for the attacks. Users of social media websites are urged to use caution whenever they are online to avoid attracting attention to themselves or inadvertently providing easily accessible information that could be turned into targeting data.
  • A malnourished child lies on a weighing machine at a therapeutic feeding Centre at Al Sabyeen hospital in Sana’a. (Reuters)
  • Two homeless brothers try to survive on the streets of India.
  • The month is also a time of community; it is the custom for Muslims to invite their neighbours and friends to share their evening meal – iftar – and recite special Tarawih prayers in congregation. It is also a time when Muslims try to reconnect with the Qur’an, which they believe is the word of God. However, Children, people who are sick or who have mental illness, elderly people for example do not have to fast.
  • People searched for survivors in the rubble of houses destroyed by an airstrike in Sana, Yemen, on June 12. (Photo: Mohamed Al-Sayaghi/Reuters) alistairreignblog.com
  • The May 18-21 festival appeared to be a Saudi charm offensive aimed at federal policy makers as the Trudeau government fields questions about its decision to grant export permits for the armoured vehicles to a country that U.S. watchdog Freedom House regularly ranks among “the worst of the worst” on human rights. The Saudi embassy blamed “logistical reasons” for its last-minute change of plans when contacted Monday and a spokesperson said the country’s decision was not motivated by fear of protesters. Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion’s office had already said he would not be attending the “Saudi Cultural Days in Canada.” The embassy was adamant the event “had nothing to do” with the $15-billion arms deal and said it had been planned for years. Canada’s Department of Global Affairs, however, said it was notified of the “Cultural Days” on Jan. 14. That date was nearly two weeks after mass executions in Saudi Arabia drew public condemnation from the Trudeau government.
  • Doctors Without Borders nurse Lajos Zoltan Jecs, pictured in 2013, was sleeping when the airstrike pounded the Kunduz hospital. (Photo: MSF)
  • Yesterday I re-blogged two article's suggesting that Donald Trump announced his candidacy as a ruse to help Hillary Clinton secure the title of President of The United States. When a friend first emailed me a link to the article by J.K. Trotter published in the Gawker, I brushed it off as too far-fetched, However, I recently changed my mind, and I will explain why I doubt Donald Trump's campaign started as a legit quest for the presidency.
  • People light candles at the scene of a massive car bomb attack in Karada, a busy shopping district where people were shopping for the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday, in the center of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, July 3, 2016. More than 100 people died Sunday in a car bombing that the Islamic extremist militia group said it carried out, an official of the Iraqi Interior Ministry said.
  • afghan_clinic_bombed

Click Picture for a Popular Cartoon

  • Way-Back Machine: Who Owned It Best? Come on in and pick out your favorite Dracula cape! Who flaunted the full-length cape better than the rest?
  • Satire: USA Denies Whites Can Be Terrorist
  • Donald Trump will save the day
  • The Donalds invade Washington Caption This photo winner 1The Donalds invade Washington Caption This photo winner 1
  • Donald Trump and a Cheshire cat have the same smug smile.
  • Tune in to the Putin and Obama Old-Timey Show ~*~ Vaudeville Style!! Brought to you by Alistair Reign News Blog: AlistairReignBlog.com
  • Comic Strip: Terror News with Chuck. (Alistair Reign News Blog - Comic Strips: www.AlistairReignBlog.com).
  • What if Donald Trump is elected President of the United States?
  • Donald Trump for President of the (Mexican free and NOW Muslim free) United Sates of America. (AlistairReignBlog.com),