Canada ruling party rejects arms sales transparency bid

April 21, 2016 9:30 am

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers a speech at the parliament in the capital, Ottawa, December 3, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

’s ruling Liberal Party kills a plan to establish an arms exports oversight as pressure mounts on the government to cancel a controversial $15-billion weapons deal with Saudi Arabia. 
The opposition had made a motion in the parliament in early February to establish an oversight committee for all Canadian weapons exports but Liberal MPs voted against it on Wednesday.
New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulcair accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his party of failing to fulfill their campaign promise of bringing more transparency to Canada. 
“How can they possibly justify that? These are members of parliament who wanted to do their jobs, of getting a report on the human rights record of countries we’d eventually be exporting to and finding out whether these types of deals should go forward,” he said. 
Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion secretly signed off on export permits for the $15-billion sale of weaponized combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia earlier this month.
The Liberal government insists that the Saudi deal was a fait accompli arranged by the former Conservatives  in February 2014.
Dion, who has come under fire for authorizing the sales, has claimed that canceling the agreement would cause a major economic backlash from Saudi Arabia.

Yemeni workers look at the destruction at a factory destroyed in Saudi airstrikes in the capital, Sana’a, September 17, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

Amnesty International warned Canada on April 14 that the sale of the weapons to Riyadh could make it an accomplice to Saudi human rights violations.
“Saudi Arabia has an alarming record when it comes to human rights, one that affects the lives of thousands of people, including prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia and civilians in Yemen,” Amnesty said in a statement.
“To supply arms to Saudi Arabia with full knowledge of this record is to risk being an accomplice to these violations,” it stressed.
On March 22, Amnesty also called on the United States and Britain to halt their arms deliveries to Saudi Arabia amid the brutal Saudi military campaign against Yemen.
Amnesty criticized Riyadh for “repeatedly” using prohibited cluster munitions in attacks that have “killed and maimed civilians.”
Human Rights Watch has also urged the US, the UK, France and all other nations to suspend their sales of arms to Riyadh until it “not only curtails its unlawful airstrikes in Yemen but also credibly investigates alleged violations.”
Yemen has been under military attacks by Saudi Arabia since late March last year. At least 9,400 people, including 4,000 women and children, have been killed, and at least 16,000 others injured since the onset of the aggression on Yemen.
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