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Schierman: Stephen Harper is back with his same weak defence of the $15 Billion Canada-Saudi Arms Deal

There are many words to describe Canada’s $15 billion arms deal with the human-rights abusing, war crimes committing regime of Saudi Arabia.

‘Disgraceful’ is one. ‘Reprehensible’ would be another. ‘Immoral’ and ‘inexcusable’ also come to mind. So too does ‘shameful’ and ‘sordid’.

As for how everyday Canadians feel about said deal, I’m sure the words ‘appalled’ and ‘mortified’ would not be far from their lips, especially after learning that Riyadh is using Canadian-made arms to perpetuate its war in Yemen; a war, which let us not forget, has resulted in the death of a quarter of a million people – ten thousand of whom have been children. With millions more displaced and on the brink of starvation, the battleground in Yemen has long been referred to as the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

In the face of such calamity (and with the knowledge of our governments culpability for that calamity), most Canadians probably aren’t feeling too proud of their country’s arms sales.

Well, most Canadians outside Stephen Harper that is.

In a recent post on twitter, Harper announced his plans to tour the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, all to promote “Israeli-based surveillance systems.” After heaping praise upon the three Gulf countries, Harper egregiously wrote of the pride he has for the military contract he brokered with the Saudis.

In typical fashion, Harper omitted the fact that the contract in question, the one that he is so “proud” of, enabled the Saudis to obtain hundreds of Canadian-made, light-armoured vehicles (LAVs), which they subsequently used to lay-waste upon Yemen.

Instead, Harper had the nerve to describe the deal as nothing other than a “manufacturing contract” though he still lauded it as the most lucrative of its kind in Canadian history.

The $15 billion LAV sale may indeed be Canada’s largest export manufacturing contract, as Harper says it is. But that does not make the deal any less odious, as no amount of financial profit or number of jobs secured can ever justify the facilitation of violence and war.

Granted, that has not stopped Harper from defending the deal, both in and out of office.

During his final years as Prime Minister, when Canada’s military agreement with the Saudis was first being brokered, Harper tried his best to justify the deal, including by citing the Gulf Kingdom’s opposition to the Islamic state as cause for selling them arms. He continued to do so even as reports were coming in saying that “the LAVs that Canada had already sold to Saudi Arabia had been used in Bahrain when Saudi Arabia went in there to suppress a peaceful demonstration.”

Six years later, and Harper is still making the same weak justifications for the deal. In his twitter communique, Harper claimed that Canada’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is “grounded in shared opposition to the threat posed to the region and wider world by the regime in Iran.

Do you see the pattern here? Harper can absolve himself of all blame for the ruination of Yemen and the subjugation of the Saudi people, so long as he can point the finger at the Islamic State, Iran, or any other regime that he can use to justify his selling of arms to Riyadh. He picks and chooses the countries whose human rights records concern him, as defined by his own narrow worldview.

So unflinching is he in his beliefs, that even if Iran didn’t exist, the former Prime Minister would just fabricate a new enemy in its place to explain and excuse his unbending support for the Crown Prince. He’d find any way he could to not see the flaws in his own thinking, or the culpability he has for the devastation of Yemen.

No matter the human rights abuses and war crimes that pile up, Harper will only continue his defence of Saudi Arabia and the noxious arms deal he brokered.

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