We can kiss Canada’s human rights credibility goodbye

We can kiss Canada’s human rights credibility goodbye

Postby Oscar » Sat Apr 16, 2016 8:32 am

We can kiss Canada’s human rights credibility goodbye

[ http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/ ... e29630940/ ]

CESAR JARAMILLO Contributed to The Globe and Mail Published Thursday, Apr. 14, 2016 12:58 PM EDT Last updated Thursday, Apr. 14, 2016 1:13PM EDT

Cesar Jaramillo is executive director of Project Ploughshares, an anti-war group that tracks arms sales.


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QUOTE: “The credibility of Canada’s voice on human rights has taken a big hit. And if Ottawa still refuses to acknowledge the flagrant inconsistencies in its position, it might at least want to drop the line about Canada’s export controls being “some of the strongest in the world.””


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Damning revelations about Ottawa’s handling of the controversial $15-billion arms deal with human-rights pariah Saudi Arabia have confirmed that the Liberal government authorized the bulk of this contract even after having repeatedly claimed that it had already been approved by the previous government.

Both the Harper Conservatives and the Trudeau Liberals have argued that failing to fulfill the deal would damage Canada’s international reputation. But it is the reputation cost of actually fulfilling this dubious contract that all Canadians should be most concerned about.

Any Canadian attempt to speak out on international efforts to protect human rights will soon be met with skepticism and disdain. One can almost hear it: “Ha! … Says the country that is arming one of the most repressive regimes on Earth.”

Canada takes public pride in valuing the protection of human rights and in maintaining stringent military export controls. But its voice in the arena of human rights will be utterly diminished, if not silenced, as Ottawa ploughs ahead with the implementation of this deal. And it could take decades to repair the damage.

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In a peculiar twist, the Conservatives are now chastising Trudeau’s Liberals for their intention to fulfill the deal and for the secrecy surrounding its authorization. Conservative foreign affairs critic Tony Clement even suggested that the deal be scrapped, pointing to changing “realities on the ground” in regards to the Saudi involvement with the ongoing conflict in Yemen.

A cat can only be skinned so many ways, and Ottawa clearly exhausted its attempts to rationalize the Saudi arms deal. But it still had the audacity to grant the requisite permits. Even so, questions about the compatibility of the Saudi arms deal with existing export controls can and should continue to be raised, as they remain essentially unanswered.

The credibility of Canada’s voice on human rights has taken a big hit. And if Ottawa still refuses to acknowledge the flagrant inconsistencies in its position, it might at least want to drop the line about Canada’s export controls being “some of the strongest in the world.”

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Cesar Jaramillo
Executive Director
Project Ploughshares
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G6
Tel. 519-888-6541 x 24302
http://www.ploughshares.ca
Oscar
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