Figures tabled in parliament confirm that Canadian arms sales to Saudi Arabia skyrocketed last year, with more than $4 billion in sales approved to the Middle East monarchy (Lee Berthiaume, “Canadian arms exports used by Saudi Arabia to quash Bahrain protest,” Calgary Herald, 23 February 2012).
The Canadian government figures do not specify what items were approved for sale to Saudi Arabia, but there is no doubt that the primary items being sold are Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) built by General Dynamics Land Systems in London, Ontario.
As Ceasefire.ca pointed out last year, Saudi Arabia has been using previously delivered Canadian-made LAVs to help suppress the democracy movement in neighbouring Bahrain.
We warned then that the company planned to sell another 724 LAVs to Saudi Arabia (later augmented by a further 82 LAVs), and we called on the Canadian government to “prevent further shipments to Saudi Arabia of military vehicles made in Canada, and to institute an embargo on the export of all military goods to the region during the current political turmoil.”
Unfortunately, Prime Minister Harper’s self-congratulatory rhetoric about his foreign policy principles only goes so far.
Canada may stand proudly in support of the people of the Middle East in their struggle to throw off the dictators and torturers that oppress them (and also sometimes send us exceptionally useful information).
But don’t expect us to let our principled support for the “Arab Spring” jeopardize $4 billion in arms sales.