Concerns are being raised over a decision by the Trudeau government to approve the sale of armoured personnel carriers to the authoritarian nation of Azerbaijan – currently embroiled in regional instability.
The move is surprising, especially considering the effort of the Trudeau government to position themselves as supporters of human rights.
Once again, the actions don’t match the words.
As noted in a recent report, “Regional peace and stability, including civil conflict and human rights, as well as the possibility of unauthorized transfer or diversion of the exported goods and technology, are actively considered,” are actively considered by the government according to Global Affairs spokesperson Natasha Nystrom.
However, the government of Azerbaijan has been accused of torture, cracking down on political dissent and free speech, and is regularly involved in armed conflicts with their neighbours.
As noted by Freedom House in a 2016 report, “Azerbaijan remains a deeply authoritarian state, and 2015 saw further aggressive steps from the executive to eliminate all criticism and dissent against a backdrop of mounting economic crisis.”
Azerbaijan and their neighbour Armenia have been in off-and-on conflict since the fall of the Soviet Union. That should have explicitly ruled out approval of the sale, since government rules state there will be no approval of military exports that could contribute to regional conflicts or instability.
Companies struggle to survive
While the sale to Azerbaijan is questionable, it’s not in the category of the horrendous sale of $15 billion worth to Saudi Arabia. Two governments deserve blame for that deal, the previous Harper government who initially approved it, and the Trudeau Liberals who campaigned against it and then changed their minds after gaining power.
However, the deeper problem is the lack of defence spending by our own country. It’s well known that our military is massively underfunded, and this means our domestic arms manufacturers must export their products if they are to survive.
That is yet another reason for Canada to dramatically increase our military spending. Not only would it make our country safer, create jobs, and boost the economy, but it would enable our domestic military companies to survive and thrive without having to sell weapons to countries that mistreat their own citizens.
Photo – YouTube