Canada shows no signs of slowing down shipments of light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia despite deepening concerns of human rights abuses and an outstanding debt to Canada of more than $1 billion.
A new report from Global Affairs reveals that, from 2016 to 2018, Canada shipped 217 armoured combat vehicles – almost all of them light-armoured vehicles, or LAVs – to the Middle Eastern kingdom.
In total, the exports are worth $1.8 billion.
The shipments are part of an existing trade deal, signed under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and upheld by the Trudeau Liberals, estimated at $15 billion.
CTV News has learned that no new arms export permits have been issued and that the earlier deal – the largest arms deal in Canadian history — is moving forward.
But concerns are mounting that Saudi Arabia isn’t honouring payments to Canada. The Crown corporation that helped broker the deal between London, Ont.-based General Dynamics Land Systems and the Saudis was owed $1.9 billion by the end of last year.
Sources told CTV News that some payments have been received in 2019, but Saudi Arabia still owes Canada well over $1 billion.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told CTV News last December that he was looking for a way out of the deal. But so far, that hasn’t happened.
“We are engaged with the export permits to try and see if there is a way of no longer exporting these vehicles to Saudi Arabia,” Trudeau said.
The prime minister has also suggested that scrapping the deal would cause significant financial penalties of $1 billion or more.