Former Liberal minister calls for Ottawa to revisit Saudi arms deal

Former Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler, a leading international champion of human rights, says he believes the Canadian government should reconsider its controversial $15-billion deal to sell combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

A law professor and human-rights lawyer, Mr. Cotler has drawn acclaim for his work as counsel to prisoners of conscience worldwide, from South Africa’s Nelson Mandela to Soviet-era dissident Natan Sharansky.

“My position as a matter of general principle – that would apply to Saudi Arabia – is that we should not sell arms to a country that engages in a persistent pattern of human-rights violations,” Mr. Cotler said in an interview.

He said Canada should re-examine the Saudi deal because the Liberals have committed to joining the global Arms Trade Treaty, which places additional obligations on signatories in terms of transparency and scrutinizing weapons exports. “If we are going to do that, then I think we have to revisit this particular sale to Saudi Arabia.”

A Twitter image moved on the Saudi Arabia National Guard account on Nov. 16 shows light armoured vehicles arriving in Najran, near the Yemen border.

A Twitter image moved on the Saudi Arabia National Guard account on Nov. 16 shows light armoured vehicles arriving in Najran, near the Yemen border.

Excerpt from:

STEVEN CHASE
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016