In 2014, Canada signed a $15-billion, 15-year deal to sell military vehicles to Saudi Arabia - a country regularly ranked among the world’s worst for human rights. To add to the tension, this controversial transaction creates 3000 Canadian jobs.
The international community is torn on how to react to the current state of the global arms trade: the US and UK continue to supply weapons to Saudi Arabia, while the EU has voted in favour of an embargo on selling arms to Riyadh.
General Dynamics Land Systems, the Canadian company selling the combat machines to Saudi Arabia, advertises its fighting vehicle (machine gun included) with photos of poutine, Mounties, a hockey game and a moose. The tagline: This is Canadian.
Is this the reputation Canada wants, and at what point should our values trump economic interests? Is Ottawa doing enough to monitor and control this lucrative business? In a poll by Nanos Research for The Globe and Mail, 6 out of 10 respondents said human rights should trump job creation.
The debate extends beyond the Middle East. Six of the world's ten largest arms importers are in Asia and the region has accounted for 46 percent of global imports over the past five years.
Canadians are torn.
Do we protect Canadian jobs while supplying arms to governments involved in human rights abuses? At what point would Canada fail to meet its obligations under arms control agreements? What is our responsibility?
Join thePanel on May 9 to explore these questions and more at our next debate: What role should Canada play in the Global Arms Trade?
FEATURED INDUSTRY EXPERTS
Director at ENsight Canada and previously was the Senior Advisor to former Trade Minister, Ed Fast
Bessma Momani is a CIGI Senior Fellow. She has a Ph.D. in political science with a focus on international political economy and is an associate professor at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the University of Waterloo. She has been a visiting scholar at Georgetown University’s Mortara Center and at the Amman Institute, a research centre to improve local governance in the Middle East.
Dr. Monia Mazigh was born and raised in Tunisia and immigrated to Canada in 1991. She speaks Arabic, French, and English fluently and holds a Ph.D. in finance from McGill University. Dr. Mazigh was catapulted onto the public stage in 2002 when her husband Maher Arar, was deported to Syria where he was tortured and held without charge for over a year. She is currently the National Coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group in Ottawa.
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