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Canadian Military Arms Export

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McG

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Canada planning to sell guns and military equipment to developing countries to maintain domestic arms industry
Lee Berthiaume,
Postmedia News
05 January 2014

The end of Canadian combat operations in Afghanistan and deep cuts to defence budgets in the United States and other allied nations are driving the federal government to look to developing countries as potential buyers of Canadian-made guns and military equipment.

The past few years have seen the government add Colombia to a list of countries to which Canadian defence companies and others can sell military weapons and equipment, and look to add a number of others such as India, Kuwait, Brazil, Chile, Peru and South Korea as well.

Yet while many have believed the move towards selling military goods to developing countries, some with questionable human rights records, was intended to expand Canada’s share of the global arms trade, it appears the actual reason is to help the $12-billion industry through tough times.

A secret briefing note presented to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in June says the plan to add Brazil, Chile, Peru and South Korea to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List was a direct response to reduced demand for Canadian-made weapons in “traditional markets” such as the U.S. and Britain.

“This request comes after the conclusion of Canada’s combat role in the NATO-led mission to Afghanistan, and when demand from traditional markets for defence products has significantly decreased, forcing the Canadian defence industry to look for new market opportunities,” reads the document, obtained by Postmedia News.

The U.S. and British governments, in particular, have drastically slashed defence spending in an effort to get their books in order.

Colombia aside, it remains unclear whether any of the four countries will end up being added to the list.

But the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries, which represents more than 975 defence-related companies, says about half the sector’s revenues come from foreign sales.

“We are supportive of government efforts to reduce barriers in this sector in the full knowledge that these transactions are governed by a rigorous export controls process explicitly designed to safeguard against their inappropriate use or sale,” association president Tim Page said in an email.

The sector says it is responsible for about 109,000 jobs in Canada.

Steve Staples, president of the Ottawa-based Rideau Institute and a frequent critic of military spending, questioned the moral and economic rationale for supporting the arms industry’s efforts to expand into developing countries, some with less-than-stellar human rights records.

“Rather than helping companies chase arms deals from questionable customers, the government should be helping these companies refocus their business away from declining defence markets toward more promising commercial markets,” he said.

The Conservative government has been promoting Canada’s defence industry as an economic priority, in large part because it hopes doing so will help offset the thousands of manufacturing jobs that have been lost in other sectors.

In addition to looking at developing countries as potential customers, the government has ordered Crown corporations and agencies such as the Canadian Commercial Corporation and the National Research Council to focus on developing and selling defence goods.

It has also advocated a “Buy in Canada” approach for new military equipment, and is working to remove restrictions on the transfer of hundreds of military-related goods.

But in a recent analysis, Kenneth Epps, senior program officer at arms-control group Project Ploughshares, found that the Canadian defence industry’s two largest customers – the U.S. and Canadian governments – have significantly scaled back orders.

At the same time, many other Western governments have been aggressively supporting their own flagging defence sectors following reduced demand and budget cuts, and targeting the same non-traditional markets as Canada.

The Swedish-based Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported last year a “new sense of urgency” in the pursuit of new export markets.

But while the government and arms industry say new markets will bolster Canadian jobs and prosperity, arms-control advocates worry about Canadian-made weapons being used to suppress democratic and human rights, or contributing to ongoing or emerging conflicts.

Canadian-made light armoured vehicles of the type used by Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan were sold to Saudi Arabia several years ago and later used in 2011 to help crack down on protesters in neighbouring Bahrain.

And the addition of Colombia to the firearms control list in December 2012 was followed several days later by the sale of 24 similar armoured vehicles for $65 million despite concerns about human and labour rights inside the Latin American country.

Baird spokesman Rick Roth would not say if the government was planning to add more countries to the firearms control list anytime soon, despite having held several consultations over the past two years.

He said the government “rigorously assesses all exports of military goods and technology on a case-by-case basis and are only approved if such exports are consistent with Canada’s foreign and defence policies, including human rights.”

But Staples said the Saudi and Colombian examples, the Conservative government’s high-profile refusal to sign on to an international treaty aimed at curbing the illicit sale of arms and ammunition, and a lack of transparency on Canadian arms sales in recent years doesn’t inspire confidence.

“Canada’s policy on controlling arms exports is being driven by the companies that build and sell the weapons,” he said, “rather than a proper analysis of the potential harm that these weapons may cause when they are used by foreign militaries and police forces.”
http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/01/05/canada-planning-to-sell-guns-and-military-equipment-to-developing-countries-to-maintain-domestic-arms-industry/

So, I imagine that being added to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List would mean that a country could by assault rifles from Colt Canada and maybe the ammunition to fire through those rifles.  Does the list authorize more than this?  The article also links the ability to buy LAVs to being on the list.  But it still seems to somewhat sensationalize the issue. 
 
MCG said:
But it still seems to somewhat sensationalize the issue.
Ya think?  Hell, the funniest line in there:  "But Staples said .....rather than a proper analysis of..." from a guy who's never shown an ability to conduct proper, (ie - unbiased) analysis of anything Canadian defence related.
 
Jobs are a big part of the CPC electoral strategy, and 109,000 skilled, well paying jobs is a pretty big trump card to play. While the government may not "push" military exports very hard, they are going to play it for all its worth come election time.
 
Thucydides said:
Jobs are a big part of the CPC electoral strategy, and 109,000 skilled, well paying jobs is a pretty big trump card to play. While the government may not "push" military exports very hard, they are going to play it for all its worth come election time.

Particularly with General Dynamics and Colt being located in the Greater London area, which has had what 4 Major plant closings (Ford, Caterpillar, Heinz, Bicks) in the last year or two?
 
Not to mention 500 more jobs lost from Kellogg's and between 40 to 100 from Cargill in the London food industry.

Of course City Council has made dynamic job creation <sarc>even easier</sarc> preventing food trucks from opening by sending their menus to committee last spring to "determine if they are sufficiently diverse", with a reporting time in the fall of last year. While I never heard if the menus passed muster for being "diverse enough" it would be interesting to compute the number of food trucks it would take to earn the money paid to the politicians and bureaucrats to examine the menus for "diversity".

Of course 0 new jobs were created last summer by food truck operators, nor any spinoff employment by suppliers, website designers, sign painters, advertisers etc. etc.

City Council had better hope GDLS and Colt can make some sales...
 
Here is another bit that seems to sensationalize the message.
General Dynamics Canada wins $10B deal with Saudi Arabia
Will supply armoured vehicles, equipment, and training over 14 years

James Cudmore, CBC News
14 February 2014

The federal government has helped secure a $10-billion US deal for a Canadian company to sell armoured vehicles to Saudia Arabia, a country widely condemned for its human rights abuses.

The deal was announced today by International Trade Minister Ed Fast at the London, Ont., plant of General Dynamics Land Systems.

The Canadian Commercial Corporation, the government's international contracting agency, helped secure the deal. The organization said the Saudi government wouldn't consent to disclose the number of heavy armoured fighting vehicles, ancilliary equipment, training and support services included.

The company, known by its acronym GDLS, is the manufacturer of the LAV III armoured vehicle Canada used in Afghanistan. It also makes similar Stryker armoured vehicles for the United States and bid with a larger, heavier model in the recently cancelled Canadian procurement of heavy armoured personnel carriers that would have been worth $2 billion for 108 vehicles, plus training and maintenance.

Neither the Canadian government nor GDLS has been so far willing to say how many of the sophisticated weapons systems will be built for the government of Saudi Arabia, but a $10-billion US deal could buy many hundreds of vehicles.

Human Rights Watch in its 2014 report alleged the government of Saudi Arabia remains a serial abuser of human rights.

"Saudi Arabia stepped up arrests, trials, and convictions of peaceful dissidents, and forcibly dispersed peaceful demonstrations by citizens in 2013," the report said.

"Authorities continued to violate the rights of nine million Saudi women and girls and nine million foreign workers ... As in past years, authorities subjected thousands of people to unfair trials and arbitrary detention."

Saudi Arabia permits beheading and stoning as forms of criminal punishment for murder and rape, alongside social crimes such as adultery. Homosexual acts are also punishable by death, flogging and imprisonment, as is drug use. Saudi Arabia is also regularly condemned for its treatment of women, who will earn the right to vote in 2015, but who will still be disallowed from driving cars — or armoured vehicles, for that matter.

In a statement today, London, Ont., Conservative MP Susan Truppe praised the deal. Truppe, who is also the parliamentary secretary for the Status of Women, said the deal proved the Conservative government was acting on job creation and not just spouting empty rhetoric.

"I am thrilled that our government has announced that London will be the primary beneficiary of the largest advanced manufacturing export win in our nation’s history," she said.

The government and GDLS say the Saudi deal will create and sustain more than 3,000 jobs a year for 14 years and will benefit 500 Canadian companies. Its value could climb to nearly $14 billion if all options are exercised.

Delivery of the first vehicles is expected in 2016.

In a statement, Trade Minister Ed Fast's spokesman Rudy Husny defended the deal with Saudi Arabia.

"Saudi Arabia is an important partner for Canada. It has significant regional and global influence, and plays a leadership role among Arab countries on key regional issues, including Syria and Iran," Husny wrote.

"We will continue to engage with Saudi Arabia on a range of issues including regional security and human rights."

Husny said Canada has strict rules governing arms exports and all deals are rigorously assessed against those standards.

"Further, Canada won these jobs over rival bids from our western allies Germany and France. We supported this agreement to bring these jobs to Canada."

Canada's arms export laws prevent the sale of weapons to countries that "pose a threat to Canada and its allies, that are involved in or under imminent threat of hostilities, that are under United Nations Security Council sanctions; or whose governments have a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens."

The last provision includes an exemption for countries where "it can be demonstrated that there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population."

The contract with the Saudis follows an agreement last year that saw General Dynamics win a $65.3-million US contract with the Colombian government.

The Colombian Ministry of National Defence signed a deal to buy 24 light armoured vehicles from General Dynamics.

The company also signed a $24-million US deal last year to produce 13 light armoured vehicles for the U.S. Marine Corps.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/general-dynamics-canada-wins-10b-deal-with-saudi-arabia-1.2537934

I am curious as to what GDLS is actually selling that is being labeled “sophisticated weapons systems”.    The vehicle is not a weapon system, and it can be bought with as little as a pintle mount for which the customer must supply their own machine gun.  Odds are that Saudi Arabia is buying something more, but if one is going to cry doomsday over “sophisticated weapons systems” then one should be able to identify what those weapon systems are.  Right now, the concern only points to an eight wheeled armoured truck.

… and I am not even sure that we know which truck either.  “LAV” includes several generations of vehicles that can still be bought.  The USMC was contracting for new LAV 1+ back in 2006, and I suspect the 13 LAV contracted by the USMC last year are of the same variety (because that is what they have).  Saudi Arabia is also an old LAV customer but, given the dollar value, I suspect they are buying large enough quantities as to not feel constrained by the current inventory. But, we are not given the information to know.

More on this topic here: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/Government+touts+billion+contract+Saudi+Arabia+amid+human+rights/9509843/story.html
 
I don't know what the big hubbub is about, GDLS and it's predecessor has been selling various configurations of AVGP & LAV vehicles out of it's London plant to princes and kings in most of the allied friendly ME countries for years.

They have been sending retired Canadian military guys as trainers for the same amount of time, both for driver (& maintenance) as well as gunnery.

This article is about 15 years too late.
 
recceguy said:
I don't know what the big hubbub is about, GDLS and it's predecessor has been selling various configurations of AVGP & LAV vehicles out of it's London plant to princes and kings in most of the allied friendly ME countries for years.

They have been sending retired Canadian military guys as trainers for the same amount of time, both for driver (& maintenance) as well as gunnery.

This article is about 15 years too late.

The last 15 years saw Canada involved in a war that was often justified by arguments around human rights and protecting women from Islamic fundamentalists. We can't have it both ways.  In a strictly realist sense, this deal is a logical continuation of standing policy. But our government never had the balls to explain Afghanistan in a realist sense. They decided to bring in the moral ascendency claptrap to build support. So yes, we SHOULD be questioning the fact that our government is selling arms to a regime that beheads women for adultery. we spent billions of dollars prevent a similar legal system from taking hold in Afghanistan. At least that's what we're told.
 
Kilo_302 said:
..... to a regime that beheads women for adultery.

It appears that the executions have overwhelmingly been for murder, with a couple being drug-related:
Of the 12 women known to have been executed in the Gulf over the past 32 months, 10 were put to death for alleged murder, four for killing their husbands, one for killing her father, one for killing a stepdaughter, two for killing employers and three on drugs-related offences.

Shame about those pesky facts though;  saying that the death-sentences were all for adultery just seems so much more  :panic:
 
The official sentence for adultery in Saudi Arabia is death. As it is for armed robbery, “apostasy”, drug smuggling, kidnapping, rape, “witchcraft” and “sorcery”.

The ideas we were supposedly fighting against in Afghanistan are public policy in a regime that we are selling weapons to. Surely you can see this is a problem.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/fate-of-another-royal-found-guilty-of-adultery-1753012.html

If you want to defend our government's support for this disgusting regime be my guest. I guess we're saving good union jobs. Though I would imagine you hate unions.
 
Kilo_302 said:
The ideas we were supposedly fighting against in Afghanistan...
I didn't for a moment believe I was in Afghanistan for women's rights or any such thing.  Sure, the HQ people used things like "girls' schools built" as a metric of 'success,' but their powerpoint victories merely gave us something to recapture down the road.  In reality, we were there only to show post-9/11 solidarity with the US because of the shock of the immensity of that terrorist attack; we were hunting the bad guys.  Then, because we had no legitimate national security rationale for being there, we ended up stuck without a clearly definable end-state.

Islamist abuse of women is bad.  No argument.  But there are a limit number of issues I can get worked up over, otherwise I'd spend my days organizing protests and crying in my chai latte -- a dozen women put to death for murder and drugs does not figure among them.
 
Journeyman said:
I didn't for a moment believe I was in Afghanistan for women's rights or any such thing.  Sure, the HQ people used things like "girls' schools built" as a metric of 'success,' but their powerpoint victories merely gave us something to recapture down the road.  In reality, we were there only to show post-9/11 solidarity with the US because of the shock of the immensity of that terrorist attack; we were hunting the bad guys.  Then, because we had no legitimate national security rationale for being there, we ended up stuck without a clearly definable end-state.

Islamist abuse of women is bad.  No argument.  But there are a limit number of issues I can get worked up over, otherwise I'd spend my days organizing protests and crying in my chai latte -- a dozen women put to death for murder and drugs does not figure among them.

I agree (from a left perspective)  with you and others that this deal isn't surprising, and it's par for the course. You're able to identify the real reasons we were in Afghanistan but that's not what the government told Canadians. And sure, Canadians are a naive bunch when it comes to FP, but I don't think it's unreasonable to be questioning an arms sale like this. You can not care about executions in Saudi Arabia all you want, but I think it would be a concern for most people. And that's why it's news.
 
Kilo_302 said:
.....I think it would be a concern for most people. And that's why it's news.
If it truly was a concern for most people, it would have been news before this arms sale.  It's "news" now only because a government-hating media and military-hating 'think'-tanks have a drum to beat; as others have noted, we've been selling these vehicles to pretty much anyone for years without anyone raising an eyebrow.

And that is a problem with people with 'causes' -- whether it be arms sales or global warming -- they presume, and it makes them feel righteous, that "most people agree with them" and whatever they're proposing must be the best solution.

In this particular instance, I suspect that most people would see greater value in GDLS employment than pontificating against the Saudis; but like you, I have absolutely no facts to back up that statement.

So on that note, I leave the soapbox to you.

 
Journeyman said:
I didn't for a moment believe I was in Afghanistan for women's rights or any such thing.  Sure, the HQ people used things like "girls' schools built" as a metric of 'success,' but their powerpoint victories merely gave us something to recapture down the road.  In reality, we were there only to show post-9/11 solidarity with the US because of the shock of the immensity of that terrorist attack; we were hunting the bad guys.  Then, because we had no legitimate national security rationale for being there, we ended up stuck without a clearly definable end-state.

Islamist abuse of women is bad.  No argument.  But there are a limit number of issues I can get worked up over, otherwise I'd spend my days organizing protests and crying in my chai latte -- a dozen women put to death for murder and drugs does not figure among them.


Exactly!

In 2002/03 then Prime Minister Chrétien set out three reasons for Canada's military contributions to the Afghanistan war:

    1. To meet a very real, clearly enunciated by Osama bin Laden, threat to Canada;

    2. To do ~ and to be seen to be doing ~ our full and fair share in the "war on terror." To "punch above our weight," as the saying goes; and

    3. To help the Afghans people.

Those were on the DFAIT web site back in the day and you can still find them referenced or copied in some articles here on Army.ca. 
 
Kilo_302 said:
You can not care about executions in Saudi Arabia all you want, but I think it would be a concern for most people.
The US also executes murderers.  Should they be on the Canadian ban list for military exports?
 
Journeyman said:
If it truly was a concern for most people, it would have been news before this arms sale.  It's "news" now only because a government-hating media and military-hating 'think'-tanks have a drum to beat; as others have noted, we've been selling these vehicles to pretty much anyone for years without anyone raising an eyebrow.

And that is a problem with people with 'causes' -- whether it be arms sales or global warming -- they presume, and it makes them feel righteous, that "most people agree with them" and whatever they're proposing must be the best solution.

In this particular instance, I suspect that most people would see greater value in GDLS employment than pontificating against the Saudis; but like you, I have absolutely no facts to back up that statement.



So on that note, I leave the soapbox to you.

First of all, there is no "government-hating media" in Canada. Ideally the job of the media is to monitor the centers of power, so yes there will be criticism of our current government, but we all think this is a desirable state of affairs, yes? Everyone's favourite punching bag, the CBC, is so terrified of losing funding it's "criticism" of the government is quite muted. Amanda Lang's fawning interviews of Flaherty, or the very fact that Rex Murphy, while being paid by oil interests to promote the oil sands across the country is also paid by the CBC to provide commentary on the same subject and others would suggest to me that the CBC is quite "middle of the road" when it comes to politics. The producers at the CBC are ok with Kevin O'Leary calling for a flat tax and the abolition of the government, and while he's a blowhard, where is the equivalent left wing voice? You would need to have a straight up Marxist sitting opposite him for a real "balance."  I mean really, the Huffington Post Canada and the Toronto Star are the only major "left wing" media left in Canada. This story is getting attention because the government itself is trumpeting the deal, so the attention is warranted.


E.R. Campbell said:
Exactly!

In 2002/03 then Prime Minister Chrétien set out three reasons for Canada's military contributions to the Afghanistan war:

    1. To meet a very real, clearly enunciated by Osama bin Laden, threat to Canada;

    2. To do ~ and to be seen to be doing ~ our full and fair share in the "war on terror." To "punch above our weight," as the saying goes; and

    3. To help the Afghans people.

Those were on the DFAIT web site back in the day and you can still find them referenced or copied in some articles here on Army.ca. 

Number three is where the problem lies. It was emphasized more and more as the expense of the mission in terms of blood and treasure began making Canadians uncomfortable. All of the more "realist" considerations went out window. Am I alone here in remembering the emphasis on women's rights in both the media and government statements?

MCG said:
The US also executes murderers.  Should they be on the Canadian ban list for military exports?

:facepalm: Are you seriously suggesting the US justice system and the Saudi justice system are moral equivalents? This is exactly the point I'm trying to make. If it's Afghanistan, the West is benevolent, morally superior and is motivated by the desire to "help people." Then in this case, Saudi Arabia is just another country (just like us!), and this deal is just another aspect of a realist foreign policy, so "get over it."

Again, I will stress that this is not surprising to me. The core capitalist countries (no matter how socialist those certain European ones get) will always sell arms abroad, and usually will not be picky about who they sell to. But then our governments CANNOT turn around and tell Canadians we went to war to help people, and to prevent a very similar kind of regime coming to power in Afghanistan that we're supporting in Saudi Arabia. There's no moral consistency there, and I don't expect there to be. It's realist FP. But Canadians like to think of themselves as being moral, and living in a moral country. The ease with which many of us dismiss abuses of human rights in Saudi Arabia is really quite the contrast to the moral imperative of our involvement in Afghanistan. When our government uses women's rights, or the safety of Afghans to sell a war to Canadians (and you can't tell me our government didn't do this), and then continues to aid a regime that actually uses a form of Sharia law,  it's a problem. And it should be an insult to everyone who served in Afghanistan thinking they were there to help people.
 
Kilo_302 said:
And it should be an insult to everyone who served in Afghanistan thinking they were there to help people.
Please feel free to be insulted on my behalf, and don't hesitate to continue [you will anyway] telling people who were actually there what we should be feeling.  :boring: 

Having refreshed my memory of your previous posting filibusters, I've made my case; I'm sure if you keep repeating the same thing over and over again, it will become true.

I'm done.
 
Kilo_302 said:
And sure, Canadians are a naive bunch when it comes to FP, but I don't think it's unreasonable to be questioning an arms sale like this. You can not care about executions in Saudi Arabia all you want, but I think it would be a concern for most people. And that's why it's news.

If it was such a concern for Canadians, then they should be insisting that any fuel used domestically, and any products produced are done using non-Gulf oil. The sad truth is, that there are always a couple of narrow minded, limited scope individuals that would latch on this as a negative, and scream the heck out of it.

These are the same people I'd love to have man the food bank in London when some of those families who were inevitably laid off by GDLS come calling.....
 
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