Saudi arms deal: The foreign minister must resign!

No to the arms sales to Saudi Arabia! No to the “new doctrine” called “responsible conviction!”

(April 13) – The Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada condemns Canada’s sale of arms to Saudi Arabia for which this government signed export permits on April 8. No matter what the pretext, these arms sales are unacceptable. By no stretch of the imagination can Saudi Arabia be considered a peaceful or a democratic country as the ministry and Trudeau government claim. Nor can Canada’s mission in the Middle East be considered a peaceful one. This is simply not true.

The example of the arms deal to Saudi Arabia was given by the Foreign Minister in a speech at the University of Ottawa on March 29, to vindicate the new government doctrine called “responsible conviction.” On that occasion, the Minister created the impression that the arms sale was a done deal by the previous Harper government. He said it would not be right for Canada to go back on its signature due to harmful consequences. He repeated that Canada’s aim is to bring stability to the region and advanced various other pragmatic excuses to justify aggression and war.

Now it turns out that Dion signed the papers himself on April 8. He has to be held to account for trying to mislead Canadians on this matter since the beginning of January and again on March 29.

Attempts to prettify selling arms to a country such as Saudi Arabia by claiming that they are contributing to peace and stability in the region is nonsense. Furthermore, for Canada to have such a self-serving foreign minister is not acceptable. He has shown he is willing to address questions of war and peace, about which Canadians are very concerned, in a deceitful way. This is not right or acceptable. A person who has a clear conscience does not resort to such double talk and shenanigans.

The MLPC calls on Canadians who treasure their right to conscience to condemn the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, condemn the new doctrine called “responsible conviction” and condemn this Minister’s deceit. The MLPC also calls on Canadian Liberals in whose name this Minister is acting to step forward and tell us whether this new doctrine called responsible conviction to justify reprehensible behaviour is what they stand for. Finally, the MLPC calls on Canadians to demand the Minister’s resignation, now!

Note

To read about the so-called new doctrine called Responsible Conviction see the TML Weekly article entitled “Responsible Conviction” — Another Criminal Doctrine of Canada’s Foreign Affairs to Justify Aggression and War,” available here.

Foreign Minister signs export paperwork for armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia

Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion signed papers authorizing export of the bulk of a $14.8 billion deal to sell Canadian-made armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia on April 8, the Globe and Mail reports. The authorization was revealed by releases from the Department of Justice on April 12 in response to a federal lawsuit launched by Montreal law professor Daniel Turp against Dion. Turp’s lawsuit claims that issuing export permits would violate Canada’s Export and Import Permits Act as well as the Geneva Conventions Act and that the Minister would exceed his jurisdiction or be acting without competence by signing the permits.[1]

The documents are stamped “Secret” and reveal the government’s reasoning for supporting the deal. They also put the lie to the government’s claim that it is a “done deal” and the Liberals are supporting it out of fear for the consequences of breaking a contract. Minister of Foreign Affairs Dion’s signature appears next to the words “I concur” and a recommendation for six permits to “export LAVs and their associated weapons systems, spare parts and technical data to Saudi Arabia” covering $11 billion of the total $14.8 billion.

The Globe states that many critics of the agreement thought the previous government had already signed such permits. It reports that according to Canada’s arms sales regime, transactions can only proceed after the federal government has issued export permits. The previous government “had only approved minor permits for the export of technical data. “Dion and his department insinuated that the export permits for the deal were already signed under the previous government when they continually issued statements about how they would take a different approach to export permits in the future.

At his speech at the University of Ottawa on March 29 announcing the government’s “Responsible Conviction” doctrine Dion said:

“Here is what needs to be done: export permits for this type of equipment must be examined rigorously and with greater transparency by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in consultation with the Minister of International Trade, in order to assess whether they will be used in a manner that is consistent with international law, with human rights and with our national interests. This is what the Prime Minister asked of me and I am working on it with my officials. That is what responsible conviction demands.”

Official support for criminal Saudi war against Yemen

Global Affairs, the new name given by the Liberals for the Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs issued a memo on March 21 requesting Dion’s approval of the export permits. The Globe reports that “the department of Global Affairs recommended approval of the Saudi export permits because it could help Saudi Arabia wage war in neighbouring Yemen.”

The memo says the armoured vehicles, equipped with machine guns and anti-tank weapons will help Saudi Arabia in “countering instability in Yemen as well as fighting Islamic State threats.”[2] It further covers up the use of Canadian weaponry in Saudi Arabia’s 2011 military intervention in Bahrain to quell protests by claiming that the Saudis were only there to “protect key buildings and infrastructure.”

“The acquisition of state-of-the-art armoured vehicles will assist Saudi Arabia in these goals,” the memo states.

The memo notes that the only parties consulted before recommendations were made were the Department of National Defence, offices within Global Affairs and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. The “rigorous examination” was reduced to a claim from Global Affairs that “No concerns were raised.”

The memo said, “There has been no indication that equipment of Canadian origin, including light armoured vehicles, may have been used in acts contrary to international humanitarian law.”

The Globe also reported earlier this year that vehicles matching Canadian-made LAVs already purchased by Saudi Arabia have been photographed in use in Yemen. A CBC report in February showed that Canadian-made sniper rifles were also in use by Saudi forces in Yemen.

U.S.-supplied bombs were found by human rights groups to have been used in March 15, 2016 Saudi airstrikes on a market that killed more than 100 people and 25 children.

The head of the UN Human Rights Committee Zeid Raad Al Hussein said in March 2016 that Saudi forces had killed thousands of civilians. “They have hit markets, hospitals, clinics, schools, factories, wedding parties – and hundreds of private residences in villages, towns and cities including the capital, Sanaa.”

Attempts at launching ground incursions into Yemen and taking territory by Saudi forces were repelled by Yemenis on numerous occasions despite the humanitarian disaster they have inflicted on the country.

Saudi Arabia launched its bombardment and invasion of Yemen just over one year ago, on March 26, 2015. Millions of Yemenis demonstrated on the anniversary to demand an end to the war and the removal of foreign aggressors.

Notes

1. To read the application from Daniel Turp to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, click here.

2. For more information about the Saudi war against Yemen, see:

“The Example of Yemen,” Renewal Update, February 22, 2016.

“U.S. Authorizes Saudi Arabian Military Aggression,” TML Weekly, March 28, 2015.

“The Geopolitics Behind the War in Yemen,” Mahdi Darius Mazemroaya, TML Weekly, April 11, 2015.

 Source: Renewal Update, April 13, 2016 • No. 12
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