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Saudi Arabian-Canadian arms deal improved, more transparent: federal government

Last Updated Apr 9, 2020 at 3:28 pm EDT

Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne responds to a question during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, March 9, 2020. The federal government says it has improved a controversial contract to sell light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia by making its details more transparent to the Canadian public. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — The federal government says it has improved a controversial contract to sell light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia by making its details more transparent to the Canadian public.

The Liberal government has been under pressure since winning power in 2015 to cancel the $14-billion contract between Saudi Arabia and the Ontario-based General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada because of concerns over Saudi Arabia’s poor human-rights record.

The Liberals have said they were hamstrung by the confidentiality provisions of the contract, which was negotiated by the previous Conservative government in 2014, and that cancelling it could cost jobs in the manufacturing sector.

In a statement today, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and Finance Minister Bill Morneau say that even the “mere disclosure” of any of the terms or its cancellation would have cost the government billions of dollars in penalties.

They say the new improved deal will respect Canadian law and human-rights values.

The government says it is creating an arms-length advisory panel to review best practices on arms exports to help better comply with the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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