Simon Black, Associate Professor of Labour Studies at Brock University, had a piece recently published in The Conversation where he advocates that Canada end its shipments of light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia while also finding new roles for the jobs that would be affected by that decision.
“In a federal election campaign dominated by domestic issues, foreign policy received scant attention. Nonetheless, few issues bridge the divide between domestic concerns and Canada’s role in the world like Canadian arms exports to Saudi Arabia.
Re-elected for a third term, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government can forge a progressive foreign policy that weds concern for human rights abroad with its desire for a strong economy and good jobs at home — but that will require ending the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia.
The bulk of Canadian arms exports to the Saudis are light armoured vehicles, known as LAVs — wheeled military vehicles armed with various weapons, including automatic cannons and machine guns. In 2014, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government brokered the sale of hundreds of LAVs, manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada in London, Ont., to Saudi Arabia’s National Guard. Trudeau’s Liberals formally approved LAV exports soon after coming to power in 2015.
Harper recently defended the LAV deal, saying he was “proud this constructive relationship [with Saudi Arabia] helped secure jobs for Canadians through the largest export manufacturing contract in Canada’s history.”
Under pressure from critics, the Liberals have defended LAV exports on similar terms, claiming that cancelling the contract would “put the jobs of thousands of Canadians at risk, not only in southwestern Ontario but also across the entire defence industry supply chain, which includes hundreds of small and medium enterprises.”
Worth an estimated $14 billion, the contract supports an estimated 3,000 jobs in London. In a city hard hit by plant closures, the jobs argument has gained traction.”
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