ACTION ALERT: Tell Canada to Stop Arming the Saudi War on Yemen
Rachel Small / Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network
(March 11, 2021) — On March 1st, the Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network publicly launched a letter signed by 68 organizations, representing one million people, calling on the Canadian government and Canadian companies to stop sending weapons to Saudi Arabia and stop arming the horrific war in Yemen. For the first time, it publicly named 28 companies in Canada implicated in this arms trade.
Since the letter was launched on March 1st it’s been hand-delivered to government officials and MPs across the country, and protests and banner drops have been held at the locations of the companies listed who are arming Saudi Arabia and profiting off of the war in Yemen.
End Canada’s Support of the War on Yemen and Ongoing Weapons Exports to Saudi Arabia
(March 1, 2021) — The Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network wrote the following letter condemning the Canadian government and Canadian companies’ ongoing profiteering off of arming Saudi Arabia and sending weapons to the worst humanitarian situation on the planet in Yemen.
We’re pleased to announce that 68 organizations across Canada, representing nearly one million people, have signed on to demand that Canada #StopArmingSaudi and to highlight 28 companies in Canada complicit in this arms deal.
On March 1st, the letter was delivered to Prime Minister Trudeau’s office. Throughout the week it will be delivered to the companies and government officials named across Canada.
The Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P., Prime Minister of Canada
Re: End Canada’s support of the war on Yemen and ongoing weapons exports to Saudi Arabia
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
The undersigned, representing a cross-section of Canadian labour, arms control, human rights, international security, peace, and other civil society organizations, are writing to reiterate our continued opposition to the Canadian government’s issuance of arms export permits to Saudi Arabia.
Now entering its sixth year, the war on Yemen has killed almost a quarter of a million people, and Yemen today remains the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Over 4 million people have been displaced because of the war, and 80% of the population, including 12.2 million children, are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.
On February 4, 2021 President Joe Biden announced the US would be freezing all American arms sales to Saudi Arabia and ending all US support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen. A week earlier, on January 25, 2021, a Global Day of Action to End the War on Yemen was held, which included the participation of civil society, labour and anti-war groups from across Canada, with protests, car caravans, events and arms-blockades in Vancouver, London, Hamilton, Montreal and Halifax.
Germany and Italy have also recently banned or halted arms exports to Saudi Arabia, while the EU Parliament urged its members to halt arms sales to UAE and Saudi Arabia on February 11, 2021.
Canadian civil society has spoken out against the multi-billion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia since it was first signed, and has frequently highlighted the risks associated with the use of LAVs [Light Armored Vehicles] within Saudi Arabia in the context of broader human rights concerns, as well as in the Yemen conflict, including the risk of weapons proliferation to Houthi forces.
In March 2019, August 2019, April 2020 and September 2020 you received letters in which dozens of organizations representing millions of people across Canada repeatedly raised concerns about the serious ethical, legal, human rights and humanitarian implications of Canada’s ongoing arms exports to Saudi Arabia. We regret that, to date, no response to these concerns has been received from you or relevant Cabinet ministers. Two Canada-wide days of action were held on June 11, 2020 and September 21, 2020. These demanded that the government end arms sales to Saudi Arabia and included demonstrations outside MP offices across the country, the GDLS-C factory in London, Ontario, where LAVs sold to Saudi Arabia are made, and GDLS-C’s headquarters in Ottawa.
On September 28, 2020, the UN Human Rights Council named Canada as one of the parties fuelling the ongoing war in Yemen by continuing arms sales to Saudi Arabia. It is unacceptable 1 that Canada is involved in this trade and disgraceful that Canada is the second-largest supplier of arms [after the US] to the entire Middle East region. According to the Export of Military Goods report for 2019, Canada exported approximately $3.8 billion to countries other than the U.S. $2.7 billion of this was to Saudi Arabia.
In Human Rights Watch’s scathing 2021 World Report on Yemen, Canada is noted as one of the countries that continues to supply arms to Saudi Arabia despite documented evidence of continuing violations of laws of war by the coalition, and documentation of the use of Canadian weapons in the war.
UN agencies and humanitarian organizations have repeatedly documented that there is no military solution possible in the current conflict in Yemen. The constant supply of arms to Saudi Arabia only prolongs hostilities, and increases the suffering and numbers of the dead.
Many Canadian companies are profiting from arming the worst humanitarian situation on the planet.
Some key companies involved in the arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries that are part of the coalition involved in the war in Yemen are:
❏ General Dynamics Land Systems
❏ Streit Group
❏ PGW Defense Technologies
❏ IAG Guardian
❏ Pratt-Whitney Canada
❏ Provincial Aerospace
❏ Bell Helicopters Textron
❏ Aeryon Labs
❏ CMC Electronics
❏ Newcon Optik
❏ Robotics Centre
❏ Viking Air
Some of the GDLS sub-contractors in the LAV supply chain include:
❏ Armatec (Dorchester, ON)
❏ Attica Manufacturing inc. (London, ON)
❏ Battlefield International (Cayuga, ON)
❏ DEW Engineering (Miramichi, NB & Ottawa)
❏ FPH Group (London, ON)
❏ General Kinetics (Brampton, ON)
❏ PRO Metal Industries (SK)
❏ SED Systems (SK)
Some companies in Canada involved in the transport of arms en route to Saudi Arabia are:
❏ Port of Saint John, New Brunswick (port of call of Saudi national shipping company)
❏ Port of Montreal (entry point for LAV cannons and turrets imported from Belgium by General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada)
❏ CN Rail (transports LAVs on rail)
❏ Paddock Transport International (truck transportation of LAVs)
Canada acceded to the international Arms Trade Treaty in September 2019. We ask the Canadian government to now ensure compliance with all the articles and principles of the Treaty.
Canada must end arms exports to Saudis and expand humanitarian aid for the people of Yemen.
We recognize that the end of Canadian arms exports to Saudi Arabia will impact workers in the arms industry. We therefore urge the government to work with trade unions representing workers in the arms industry to develop a plan that secures the livelihoods of those who would be impacted by the suspension of arms exports to Saudi Arabia. Such a plan would include providing government support for the conversion of arms manufacturing facilities from arms production to peaceful, green production.
This can be done in a phased manner so jobs are not lost, but the transformation must start now. We envision Canada taking on a role as a peaceful nation that promotes positive peace and human rights and that does not arm other countries, least of all those involved in war crimes and ongoing human rights abuses.
Sincerely, Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers), Canadian Muslim Peace Alliance, Canadian Peace Congress, Canadian Peace Initiative, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, Canadian Council of Muslim Women Niagara Halton, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), Conscience Canada, Council of Canadians — Le Conseil des Canadiens, Denman Island Peace Group, Digileak — NEWS Not Noise, Edmonton Raging Grannies, Federation of Medical Women of Canada, Women’s Peace and Security Committee, Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice, Friends for Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, The Global Sunrise Project, Group of 78, Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War, Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition, Indigene-Community, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War Canada, Just Peace Advocates/Mouvement Pour Une Paix Juste, Kitchener Waterloo Chapter Council of Canadians, Labour Against the Arms Trade, Leadnow, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, Migrante Canada, Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO), Niagara Movement for Justice in Palestine-Israel (NMJPI), Nobel Women’s Initiative, Nonviolence International Canada, Nova Scotia Voice of Women for Peace, OPIRG Brock, Ottawa Peace and Environment Resource Centre, Ottawa Quakers, Ottawa Raging Grannies, Our Lady’s Missionaries, Pacifi (Canadians Organizing for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament), Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU), Pax Christi Toronto, Peace Alliance Winnipeg, Peace and Justice Alliance, Peace Brigades International-Canada, Peace Magazine and Project Save the World, People for Peace, London, Pivot2Peace, Protecting Canadian Children, Regina Peace Council, Religions for Peace Canada, Religions pour la Paix – Québec, Rights Action, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Science for Peace, Servas Canada, Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action Socialiste, Sustainable Development Association, Vancouver Peace Poppies, Victoria Peace Coalition, Victoria Raging Grannies, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Canada, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Nanaimo Branch, World BEYOND War, World BEYOND War Vancouver, World Beyond War Victoria, Yemeni Community in Canada
CC: Hon. Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Hon. Harjit Singh Sajjan, Minister of National Defense Hon. Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Official Opposition Yves-François Blanchet, Leader of the Bloc Québécois Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada Elizabeth May, Parliamentary Leader of the Green Party of Canada Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party of Canada Michael Chong, Conservative Party of Canada Foreign Affairs Critic Stéphane Bergeron, Bloc Québécois Foreign Affairs Critic Jack Harris, New Democratic Party of Canada Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Manly, Green Party Foreign Affairs Critic Jacqueline O’Neill, Ambassador for Women, Peace, and Security
Amnesty International Canada, September 2020, letter to the Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Re: Ongoing Weapons Exports to Saudi Arabia
ARIJ, February 2019, The End User: How did western weapons end up in the hands of ISIS and AQAP in Yemen?
CAE, March 2017, CAE expands to new facility in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
CBC, February 2016, Canadian rifles may have fallen into Yemen rebel hands, likely via Saudi Arabia
Ceasefire.ca, May 2020, War, famine, and pandemic in Yemen but business as usual for Canadian arms exports
Defense World, May 2017, CAE to provide drone training to UAE Air Force
Globe and Mail, April 2020, Opinion: In the midst of our COVID-19 crisis, Canada lifted its moratorium on arms exports to Saudi Arabia
Government of Canada, November 2019, MEMORANDUM FOR INFORMATION: Update on export permits to Saudi Arabia
Journal de Montréal, January 2019, Des armes fabriquées au Québec pour la guerre au Yémen
The Leveller, October 2020, Canada & the Arms Trade: Fuelling war in Yemen & beyond
National Observer, November 2018, Is Saudi Arabia deploying Canadian-made weapons in Yemen?
Project Ploughshares, May 2020, Open letter re: Ottawa’s decision to lift moratorium on Saudi arms exports
Project Ploughshares, September 2020, Analyzing Canada’s 2019 Exports of Military Goods report
Project Ploughshares, Top 5 Arms Exporters to Saudi Arabia 2014-2018
Radio Canada International, October 2019, Footage of Canadian LAVs in Yemen raises new questions about Saudi arms deal
Residents of Canada are invited to sign these two parliamentary petitions: