Opinion – Let’s think carefully about the future of Canada’s Defence industries

Opinion – Let’s think carefully about the future of Canada’s Defence industries

Theo van de Kletersteeg

Prime Minister Trudeau is trying to pull Canada out of a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, he said on several occasions near the end of 2018, following allegations that suggest Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince was implicated in the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi. “We are engaged with the export permits to try and see if there is a way of no longer exporting these vehicles to Saudi Arabia,” he told CTV, without elaborating. The deal, worth US$14 billion over 14 years, if all options are exercised, and including spare parts, support and training, would supply the Saudi military with light armoured vehicles (LAVs) manufactured by General Dynamics Canada Land Systems Canada, a subsidiary of U.S. General Dynamics Corporation. The contract is the largest Defence export contract Canada has ever entered into. The PM’s comments represent an evolution in Ottawa’s stance toward Saudi Arabia. In March of 2018, he defended the deal for the armoured vehicles, saying that honouring the contract, which was made under a previous government, “fully meets our national obligations and Canadian laws.” Canada’s arms export laws prevent the sale of weapons to countries that “pose a threat to Canada and its allies, that are involved in or under imminent threat of hostilities, that are under United Nations Security Council sanctions; or whose governments have a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens.” The last provision includes an exemption for countries where “it can be demonstrated that there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population.” (more…)

OPINION “We take this very seriously” must be among the most overused platitudes of government and corporate PR machines – how does it apply to GHG emissions?

By Theo van de Kletersteeg

With carbon taxes and concern over climate change once again in the limelight, I thought it might be opportune to update an article that was published in Canadian Sailings in November of 2017.

Scientists and green supporters have explained to us during the past decade or so that global temperature increases must be kept well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, if we wish to avoid the more egregious consequences of climate change. Accordingly, the 2015 Paris Agreement requires that signatories to the Agreement implement programmes to reduce national carbon emissions to levels that are thought to result in global temperatures to be kept in check, and to “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”, compared to the 0.9°C temperature rise that has taken place since 1870. (more…)

Opinion – We should insist that governments regain control over their finances

By Theo van de Kletersteeg

By now we all know that somewhere along the line, the Trudeau government decided to abandon its 2015 election campaign promise to balance the federal budget by the time voters go to the polls again in 2019. Instead, Liberals plan to continue their deficit spending and related borrowing, with Bill Morneau, our Finance Minister, saying that “Every responsible leader knows that a good plan has to be flexible enough to absorb the changes in circumstances because circumstances always change.” Really! With an economy that, to be sure, has its problems, but which nonetheless has produced ever-decreasing rates of unemployment and great corporate profits, the only “changes in circumstances” that I see are higher than anticipated revenues for the federal government and most provincial governments. So how could we go from a projected federal balanced budget to an $18.1 billion federal budget deficit that is now projected for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019? And why is it that deficits are now projected “forever”? (more…)

OPINION – Is there still a need for Western oil in Eastern Canada?

By Theo van de Kletersteeg

There would be major public benefits from construction and operation of a pipeline like Energy East, or through other arrangements that could result in higher volumes of U.S. oil being purchased for use in Eastern Canadian refineries, in exchange for higher export volumes of Western Canadian oil. But, and this is a big but, pipelines need long term commitments, and refineries want the flexibility of buying crude globally at the lowest possible price. Perhaps Energy East never had a viable future after all, after from bureaucratic bungling, regulations changing on the fly, and public opposition. Does that mean that the idea of lessening our dependence on U.S. markets is dead? No, far from it. (more…)

OPINION – We could benefit from trying to understand Trump’s objectives

OPINION – We could benefit from trying to understand Trump’s objectives

By Theo van de Kletersteeg

In this world of political correctness, it’s hard to find supporters of Donald Trump who are willing to speak out, particularly in Canada where trade-related issues have taken on serious emotional overtones. I would like to offer an additional perspective that might help us understand how we in Canada found ourselves in trade conflicts with Mr. Trump almost from the moment he was inaugurated. (more…)