Tuesday, June 7, 2016

"Cancellation fees and jobs", "empty words and double standards"

Central to the international human rights system is the essential principle of universality. States are committed to fulfill their obligations to promote universal respect for and the observance and protection of all human rights for all. The international system does not declare that the rights of individuals and peoples matter more or less because of where they live, or that there should be more or less international level concern about human rights protection in certain countries over others. From the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 to the advent of the Universal Periodic Review 60 years later, in 2008, universality has been fundamental to international human rights protection. An important dimension to the principle of universality is that Canada’s implementation of human rights should be measured against its capacity and history: whether it is progressing, regressing or stagnant, and in light of what should be reasonably expected of a country with such an abundance of resources and wealth.
From "Empty Words and Double Standards: Canada's Failure to Respect and Uphold International Human Rights" / Amnesty International
 I've been observing an exchange on Progressive Bloggers that I can't help but interject on. The subject matter covered in the last volley is of particular interest to me as I don't particularly feel that either has provided a true analysis. Montreal Simon's is written in partisanship, and Mound of Sound's in haste - while also failing to correctly identify the issue.

Rather than quote and comment on those posts though I'm instead going to comment on the source material they are both commenting on.

Canada would face multi-billion dollar penalty if it cancelled armoured vehicle sale to Saudis

The focus here will be on the issues with Simon's post as Mound's entire take was based on a statement I'm assuming he either misread, or misunderstood, and which is actually attributed to John Baird - Montreal Simon explains this aspect within his own response so I won't explore that further.

The reason I call his post written in partisanship is that he deliberately omits certain quotes and re-frames the Liberals actual position as "getting screwed".
When Harper announced the $14.8-billion sale in 2014, he and land systems officials touted the 3,000 jobs to be created — mostly in London, Ont. — and the importance of Canada working with Saudi Arabia, a key regional security ally in the Middle East. 
The Liberals did not oppose the sale during last year’s federal election, with a campaigning Trudeau at one point calling it a commercial contract for a bunch of “jeeps.” 
Once in power, foreign affairs minister Dion signed off on export permits in April to approve the shipment of the LAVs based on an assessment the Saudis would not use them against its civilian population but would use them to defend Canada’s common security interests with the desert kingdom.
Here is another one missing from Simon's post:
On Thursday in the Commons the NDP demanded to know why the government would not create a committee to oversee arms exports to guard against human rights abuses
Pam Goldsmith-Jones, Dion’s parliamentary secretary, said “the government takes every opportunity to raise critical issues with senior Saudi officials with respect to humanitarian issues, consular issues, and human rights, as the minister did in his visit to the region last week.” 
Asked later how the government intends to monitor whether the LAVs would end up being used by Yemeni military forces against civilians, she said, “We’re watching that situation very closely. Of course, as you know, with regard to our permit process, monitoring the human rights situation is of utmost importance, so that’s all I can tell you at this time.
My personal favourite:
In fairness to the Liberals,” Baird said, “this was successfully negotiated by General Dynamics Land Systems under the previous Conservative government and you shouldn’t blame the Liberal government for that. Contracts should be sacrosanct, and the new government is honouring that and it’s the right thing to do.” 
Fast’s and Baird’s views are in sharp contrast to the position taken by the Conservatives’ current foreign affairs critic, Tony Clement, who said information now available about Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen wasn’t available at the time the deal was struck. He said the deal should be shelved.
And there it is, the false left/right paradigm and continuity of government wrapped up in a simple two paragraphs. As I wrote yesterday:
It's how the system manipulates the public: a politician comes in, makes many unpopular changes then a popular one comes in and doesn't change much at all and simply utilizes the changes passed by the previous government. The anger about those changes leaves with the previous political party but the changes themselves? Those remain.
And there is Baird telling you to do exactly that, while the "opposition" takes on their role pretending to give a shit as with nearly every other major issue we never see change on.

Ironically just today the Saudi-led coalition has been removed from the blacklist, "pending review":
Following a complaint by Saudi Arabia, however, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon agreed to a joint review by the world body and the coalition of the cases cited in the annual report of states and armed groups that violate children's rights in war. 
"Pending the conclusions of the joint review, the secretary-general removes the listing of the coalition in the report's annex," Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement. 
But Saudi Arabia's U.N. ambassador, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, said the removal of the coalition from the blacklist was "irreversible and unconditional." 
"We were wrongly placed on the list," he told reporters. "We know that this removal is final." 
Mouallimi, who described the removal as a vindication, earlier on Monday said the figures in the U.N. report were "wildly exaggerated" and that "the most up-to-date equipment in precision targeting" is used. 
Saudi Arabia had not been consulted prior to the publication of this year's report, Mouallimi added. 
Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asseri said in a statement sent to Reuters late on Sunday that the U.N. had not based enough of its report on information supplied by the Saudi-backed Yemeni government. 
The Saudi-led coalition began a military campaign in Yemen in March last year with the aim of preventing Iran-allied Houthi rebels and forces loyal to Yemen's ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh from taking power.
Yes, you read that right, the U.N. "had not based enough of its report on information supplied by the Saudi-backed Yemeni government". And we're supposed to believe that Canada "is watching the situation very closely"? That we take "every opportunity to raise critical issues with senior Saudi officials with respect to humanitarian issues, consular issues, and human rights"? If you believe that I have a bridge to sell you.

Deals always have cancellation fees. Considering Canada spent 1 billion dollars beating it's own citizens, I think we can probably afford a "multi-billion" cancellation fee, don't you? To ensure we are not involved in the oppression? This is of course if that fee can actually be enforced. I'm sure if Canada is actually "watching things closely" it wouldn't be hard to fight the legal ramifications at the WTO or whatever secret corporate court would handle it. If we actually had any interest in doing so, anyway. We don't.
So who's he to pretend he's a great defender of human rights? Why would he twist my words? When he's the one who is siding with the Saudis by suggesting that we should pay them billions so they can buy armoured cars from another country.

So we could lose $20 billion dollars, and throw thousands of Canadian workers into the street, for nothing.
First of all, the deal is only worth $14.3 billion. The cancellation fee is cited at "multi-billion" - probably less than the value of the deal. Second, the Saudi's don't need our billions - in fact they are trying to dump their reserves in preparation for a new monetary system that is not based on the USD. This deal is just one of many that the Saudi's, the Russians, and the Chinese are carrying out sending their stored U.S. debt back to the west where it came from and getting real material and assets in return. Third, it's not "for nothing" - if not for at the very least Canada and Canadians having a legitimately clean conscious about our involvement.

As I've been writing about over the past year, the Saudi's along with the Russians, and the Chinese are all moving away from trade with the U.S. dollar. Canada is working to establish itself in this new alliance. "Screwing the Liberals?", no, this about serious things - not the political circus. Governments everywhere love to talk about human rights, meanwhile the neoliberal agenda works to eradicate them and turn everyone into a debt slave in a new world of feudalism as the industrial age and the control system of a taste of luxury disintegrate due to limits to growth taking hold. We're up against very powerful forces here and they don't play the same political bullshit we do.

The Amnesty report on Canada is named perfectly "empty words and double standards". The Canadian public gets all in a huffypuff that a journalist was "berated" by a Chinese ambassador here on a business trip representing the very same alliance our Saudi deal is connected to and yet when our government that claims to "uphold the value of human rights" has a real chance and window to actually make a difference all it takes is the mention of some debt based fiat currency and some jobs to change our tune, even though "money and power" is where most human rights violations stem from anyway.

"Empty words and double standards", indeed.



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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

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