An arms deal with Saudi Arabia has proven the Canadian prime minister is not as perfect as he appears to be.
Defending his government’s decision to sign the export permits for an arms deal with the Gulf kingdom for light-armored vehicles, PM Justin Trudeau recently said the issue is a “matter of principle,” and Canada must “respect its contracts.” His comments came in the wake of criticism following Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion's decision to move foward with a $15 billion deal that would allow Riyadh to acquire Canadian-made light armored vehicles.
Dion assured Canada would block future export permits if Saudi Arabia uses the purchased military equipment against its own citizens.
However, both Trudeau and Dion failed to take into account how their Saudi allies have been using weapons — purchased from Western countries like the U.S., U.K. and Canada — against civilians in Yemen.
While claiming to fight Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, an unofficial battleground for Riyadh to wage its proxy war against Iran, the Saudi military coalition has allegedly committed mass atrocities against civilians.
Saudi Arabia, currently the world’s top arms importer, has reportedly used American and British weapons to kill more than 3,000 civilians since March 2015.
And even if Canadian arms were not used to commit human rights violations, is it really “a matter of principle” to sell war machinery to a military force indiscriminately bombing civilians in another country?
Apart from Yemen, Trudeau and his government are also overlooking Saudi Arabia’s draconian policies pertaining to women and the gay community. And considering the Canadian prime minister’s bold and much-celebrated positions on both feminism and LGBTQ rights, it seems all the more hypocritical to trade with Saudi Arabia.
"The principle at play here is that Canada's word needs to mean something in the international community,” Trudeau said of the controversial deal.
The statement makes you wonder if Canada’s word is worth more than human rights and, in Yemen’s case, human lives.