Monumental Stupidity

Aurora’s Remembrance Day efforts went by without anyone unable to pay their respects to soldiers fallen in the Afghanistan conflict.

In fact this week’s Auroran features a photo of a mother who lost her son during the Afghan Conflict:http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/?p=12533

Nowhere this week did I overhear a single voice say: “You know what’s missing, one of General Dynamic’s LAVIIIs. If only there was some way the town could pay $15,000 so one can be deposited next to our sacred cenotaph.”

If there is an “equally passionate contingent for whom the Aurora Cenotaph is the most logical place for a LAVIII” it seems conspicuously absent.

Instead the letters passionately against the LAVIII keep coming. E Watson adds his letter this week: http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/?p=12541

It was also the subject of Scott Johnston’s cartoon this week.

In a previous post I focused on how General Dynamic’s toph-heavy LAVIII have been reported in 16 rollovers resulting in more than 50 casualties since 1999: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2015/11/06/slight-armoured-vehicle-iii/

But that isn’t stopping them from being sold, in fact not even Canada’s arms export laws are stopping a $10 Billion deal to supply them to Saudi Arabia with the first vehicles expected next year. Here is a CBC news piece from February of 2014:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/general-dynamics-canada-wins-10b-deal-with-saudi-arabia-1.2537934

“The sole remaining conclusion is that the Canadian government deliberately ignored its own guidelines to allow this unprecedented military sale to proceed,” as reported in this Globe&Mail piece from January 2015: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canadas-arms-deal-with-saudi-arabia-shrouded-in-secrecy/article22547765/

We read:

Ottawa went to great lengths to make the transaction happen, taking on contractual obligations for the sale through a Crown corporation. It’s by far the largest export deal ever brokered by the government’s Canadian Commercial Corp. and the manufacturer is General Dynamics Land Systems Canada in London, Ont.

The largest, but according to Jonathan Manthorpe’s Jaunuary 23rd piece: http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2015/01/23/Canada-Saudi-Arabia-Weapons-Deal/ not the first to the same customer.

Since 1992 General Dynamics has supplied the Saudi National Guard with over 1,600 earlier variants of the LAV. The new order, announced by International Trade Minister Ed Fast in February last year, is to replace these earlier models.

General Dynamics isn’t just an exhibitor at the annual Special Operations Forces Exhibition in Jordan, they’ve actually spent $200 Million to build a showroom in Jordan to sell a wide variety of military hardware, including the LAVIII to anyone who shows up with $:

It’s deals like this that then Conservative MP Susan Truppe praised as “the largest advanced manufacturing export win in our nation’s history” in that CBC news piece from February of 2014. Truppe claimed the deal “proved the Conservative government was acting on job creation and not just spouting empty rhetoric.”

We then crunch the numbers provided by the Harper government and GDLS that show the Saudi deal will create and sustain more than 3,000 jobs a year for 14 years and will benefit 500 Canadian companies. Its value could climb to nearly $14 billion if all options are exercised.

Job creation that the defeated Harper government felt any questioning of would result somehow in “punishing” workers in a factory in London.

In a federal leaders’ debate, when the NDP’s Tom Mulcair questioned Conservative Leader Stephen Harper on the deal it drew fire from Unifor, the union that represents workers at the London plant. This is the subject of a September 30th National Post piece here: http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/union-asks-ndp-to-keep-saudi-armoured-vehicles-deal-under-wraps-fearing-significant-job-losses

A union rep is quoted fearing that “if GDLS lost the contract, it would not only mean significant job losses in London, but that it would also hurt the plant’s ability to land future work.”

It is then revealed by the same rep that the union asked the NDP to not make this an issue, that it be kept under wraps.

WTF?

For a government that spent $52 million advertising its Economic Action Plan, spouting its campaign mantra of having a steady hand on the wheel and how we all need to “Protect our Economy” how is it that as a nation we had to contravene our own arms export laws and take on contractual obligations to Saudi Arabia as a means for job creation?

David Perry, senior analyst with the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute sums it up well at the close of the National Post piece:

“If we’re going to have a domestic industry that is economically viable, we need a foreign policy pragmatic enough to support it. We just can’t sell to our closest allies. We need to broaden the market.”

That’s right, Canada is no longer economically viable without broadening the market to selling arms to Saudi Arabia because if we don’t build and ship LAVIIIs to them we’ll only be hurting ourselves.

And while we’re at it let’s memorialize Canadians that did not return from Afghanistan by using the parts we can’t sell, because that sounds pragmatically Canadian.

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