Roundup: Urgent investigations

With more video evidence that purports to show Canadian-made LAVs being used in Saudi Arabia against their minority Shia population, Foreign Affairs minister Chrystia Freeland has ordered an “urgent investigation” of the claims. At the same time, we’re getting some pretty usual reaction from the various opposition parties and their supporters, that portray the Liberals as being wide-eyed naïfs who had no idea that these vehicles could ever be used for such purposes.

While it’s easy for the woke supporters of opposition parties to try and paint the Liberals as cynics on the issue, this ignores the very real fact that every party in the election was gung-ho about living up to this contract with the Saudis, and insisting that it would go ahead no matter what, because they wanted those jobs – particularly at the General Dynamics plant in London, ON. The fact that the opposition parties, while doing their jobs of holding government to account, are nevertheless speaking out of both sides of their mouths on this issue. It’s also easy to give facile talking points about how terrible Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is without going into the genuine strategic reasons why they’re an ally in the region, and why that complicates and adds a truckload of nuance into the relationship. And as we’ve discussed before, there is no “nice countries only” option when it comes to having an arms industry, and if you think that we can preserve those jobs without getting our hands dirty in the process, well, real life doesn’t work like that. There are trade-offs to be made, and we should be trying to have an honest discussion about it and what those trade-offs are. This chirping, like from our woke tweeter, is not an adult conversation, and does nothing to reflect the reality of the situation in any way.

Good reads:

  • Canada may try to get language around climate change into a renegotiated NAFTA (or perhaps it’s just a bargaining chip).
  • Jody Wilson-Raybould is talking about lowering legal limits for alcohol, which the restaurant industry says will put them out of business.
  • The Prime Minister’s National Security Advisor is in North Korea to try and get a Canadian imprisoned there released.
  • As the timelines for the acquisition of “interim” Super Hornets ticks down, Lockheed Martin is also offering up “interim” F-35s.
  • The Canadian Forces released some data on the first year of the Military Sexual Misconduct Response Centre.
  • The MMIW Inquiry lost another staff member, because of course it did.
  • An air passenger rights advocate’s attempts to post to the CTA’s Facebook page are continually being blocked, and he is calling it censorship.
  • Doctors, particularly in Ontario, are pushing back against plans to tax the small corporations many of them use to avoid paying taxes.
  • American tourists keep trying to bring guns into Canada and lie about it.
  • Here’s a look at birth tourism, maternity hotels, and giving children a Canadian passport as “insurance.”
  • Conservative Senator Bob Runciman is retiring, and lists the lack of Senate and corrections reforms as his biggest regrets.
  • After a couple of weeks away, Charlie Angus is back on the campaign trial while his sister remains in palliative care.
  • Susan Delacourt wonders if Canada isn’t becoming too popular when it comes to issues of immigration and refugees trying to cross our borders.
  • My Loonie Politics column looks at the problems associated with the eight-year promise that some Conservative senators undertook when appointed.

Odds and ends:

In the Law Times, I have a piece about Ontario’s slow-moving plans to get more Indigenous representation on juries.

2 thoughts on “Roundup: Urgent investigations

  1. Before we heap too many flower petals on St. Justin for supposedly being straightforward on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, let’s remember two things. First, Trudeau had a two-faced position on LAV sales before being elected. Sometimes he pushed untruths such as that the LAV deal was for “jeeps” and was “not an agreement between the government of Canada and Saudi Arabia” but instead “between a manufacturing company here in Canada and Saudi Arabia.” At other times, such as during a debate in August 2015, Trudeau said Canada should “stop arms sales to regimes that flout democracy, such as Saudi Arabia.”

    Secondly, once Justin & Co. were elected, the new Prime Minister tried hard to pin the Saudi deal on the Conservatives alone, avoiding the uncomfortable fact that the Trudeau government had to sign off on the export permits to sell weapons to a regime that has been rightly labeled as being ‘the worst of the worst’ in terms of human right abuses. (Trudeau’s ‘I had no choice but to honour the contract’ argument sounded rather similar to John Turner’s lame “I had no option” response during his July 1984 debate with Brian Mulroney.) Further, under Trudeau’s watch, General Dynamics Land Systems Canada was given access to a Canadian Armed Forces base in Canada to allow the Saudis to test the LAV vehicle in question.

    If Trudeau had chosen to double-down on the ‘virtue’ of arms sales to the Saudis (after all, by some estimates Canada is now the second largest arms dealer in the region) and focus on the ‘if we don’t do it some other country will’ argument for arms sales to Saudi Arabia that would be one thing. That might be part of the “adult conversation” you want, Dale. But that’s not what he’s done. Instead, he’s bobbed and weaved, trying to have to it all ways for all audiences. And for that, he qualifies as every bit as cynical and disingenuous as any of the opposition party spokespeople.

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