The Canadian government has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the success of a controversial $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, a transaction drawing more scrutiny as concern grows over the kingdom’s flogging of a man with ties to Canada.
Ottawa is facing growing calls to intervene as Saudi Arabia administers the latest instalment of 1,000 lashes to Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger whose wife and children have been granted asylum in Canada. Amnesty International organized protests outside the Saudi embassy in Ottawa Thursday, and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is writing Prime Minister Stephen Harper, asking him to do more for the man convicted of blasphemy against Islam.
It was only last year the Harper government celebrated a 14-year deal brokered by Ottawa to supply made-in-Canada light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia as a historic achievement that will sustain more than 3,000 manufacturing jobs.
Ken Epps, senior program officer with Project Ploughshares, said the 2014 arms deal was unprecedented in some ways for the federal Crown corporation that facilitated the transaction with Saudi Arabia.