Canada’s sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and the subsequent use of these arms to perpetrate war crimes within Yemen raises a moral dilemma for Canadians. Our international role is that of a peacekeeper, intervening to prevent conflict. The events in Yemen are highly reprehensible, and our involvement as an arms dealer in what the UN has described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis not only sets a bad precedent, but goes against all of our supposed national values.
Some argue that the arms deal is good for Canada, creating a projected 3,000 jobs and boosting our economy. However, as a nation with a reputation for peacekeeping and diplomacy, it is a questionable decision for the government to use a mere 3,000 jobs as the justification for becoming an accessory to war crimes and the bloodshed of tens of thousands of innocent people.
While supplying these arms may appear to be in the best interest of Canadians, it has deep social and political implications both nationally and internationally. As tensions rise between Saudi Arabia and Canada following a Twitter exchange requesting the release of human rights activists, Canada should make the right choice to end the deal and its support for the Saudi Arabian government in this conflict.
Canada must strive to use its place on the world stage to help advance human rights in all corners of the world, regardless of the potential economic or political gain ensured by turning a blind eye.
Junaid Ishaq is a second-year Pathobiology student at Victoria College.