Dutch ban arms trade with Saudi Arabia, but Canada will ‘respect’ its $15B deal

While the Dutch parliament has taken a step to chastise Saudi Arabia for its abhorrent human rights record, voting in favour of banning arms exports to the country, Canada’s prime minister reasserted a controversial arms deal with the kingdom won’t be cancelled.

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    Prime minister Justin Trudeau, visiting UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday, where he formally announced Canada would bid for a seat on the Security Council, said his newly-elected government could not renege on a deal secured by the previous one.

    READ MORE: Canada closely monitoring country’s military exports, has legal ‘levers’ on Saudi deal

    “Canada is a country of the rule of law, a country of democratically elected government, and regardless of how we may feel about a previous government, the fact is they were democratically elected. They signed on to a contract and we are bound to respect that contract,” Trudeau said of the $15-billion arms deal the Conservatives signed to supply light-armoured vehicles (LAVs) to the Saudis.

    The deal would see London, Ont.-based General Dynamics Land Systems Canada manufacture LAVs for the Saudi military, providing some 3,000 people jobs in the process. But human rights groups warn arms sent to Saudi Arabia could be used against civilians and government opposition groups.

    The bill put before Dutch lawmakers Tuesday referenced Saudi Arabia’s rising tally of executions, 73 so far this year, and its bombing campaign in neighbouring Yemen, which has led to more than 6,000 deaths — half of them civilians. A UN panel report leaked in January said the kingdom’s assault on civilian targets were “widespread and systematic attacks” and a violation of international humanitarian law.

    WATCH: Ban Ki-moon asked if he objects to Canada’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia

    The Netherlands is the first country in the European Union to adopt such a ban, following European Parliament motion in February urging member nations to put a halt on arms trade with a government that is widely viewed as an ally to Western governments.

    READ MORE: Federal government denounces mass executions in Saudi Arabia

    There has been growing public pressure on governments, including in Canada, to cease arms trade with Saudi Arabia.

    The Liberal government said last month it would review Saudi Arabia’s rights record when taking future deals into consideration, but has maintained it would not cancel a $15-billion deal brokered by the previous Conservative government.

    Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion told a Feb. 29 Senate meeting the Liberal government didn’t approve of the deal but would permit it to stand.

    READ MORE: Saudi Arabia has a terrible human rights record. Why are they still Canada’s ally?

    The Saudi government was on the defensive earlier this month, calling criticism of the deal “sensationalized and politicized.”

    “The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not accept any interference in its jurisdiction or internal affairs by any party,” the Globe and Mail reported the Saudi embassy in Ottawa saying in a statement.

    Canada is not the only government facing calls to halt arms trade with Saudi Arabia.

    The U.K. sold more than $5.5 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia in the first three months of 2015, according to the Campaign Against Arms Trade.

    Germany, which sold approximately $260 million in arms to Riyadh in the first half of last year, said it will take Saudi human rights violations into consideration moving forward but, like Canada, won’t call off previously negotiated deals.

    With files from

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French’s ketchup ‘cannibalizing’ President’s Choice’s: Loblaw memo

TORONTO – A leaked internal memo sent to some Loblaw employees said the grocery chain decided to stop stocking French’s ketchup because it was “cannibalizing” sales of its in-house President’s Choice variety.

Loblaw confirmed the memo’s existence but said it wasn’t an official one.

The memo addressed to grocery managers and retailers said it intended to explain why French’s ketchup was being pulled from store shelves.

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“We are in the process of delisting French’s ketchup because it is cannibalizing the sales of PC ketchup and has had little impact to Heinz ketchup,” reads the memo.

obtained a photo of the memo from someone who says they are a Loblaw employee. The employee, who wished to remain anonymous due to fears of workplace reprisal, identified the sender of the memo as a senior director at the company.

Loblaw, however, described the sender as a mid-level employee who is a member of the company’s operations team for a group of stores.

READ MORE: French’s ketchup uproar: 4 other times consumers were outraged

“The memo was unofficial, misinformed and sent by a staff member prior to (Tuesday’s) decision to restock French’s ketchup,” Kevin Groh, vice-president of corporate affairs and communication, said Wednesday in a statement.

“Customer preference was the single reason the product was removed from our shelves, and the single reason it is back.”

Loblaw announced Tuesday it was reversing its decision to discontinue selling French’s ketchup following social media outcry.

French’s ketchup became an Internet darling after a man’s Facebook post lauded the U.S.-based company for using 100 per cent Canadian-grown tomatoes.

READ MORE: Ketchup politics: Ontario legislature asked to serve French’s, not Heinz

Other Canadians answered the call to support local farmers and demand for French’s increased. People shared stories of their local grocers being unable to keep French’s ketchup in stock due to high demand.

WATCH: Loblaws restocking French’s ketchup after social media outcry

The memo indicates Loblaw was concerned about French’s ketchup eating into its President’s Choice profits, but Groh reiterated his company’s position that French’s ketchup simply wasn’t selling.

“In past, French’s ketchup has not come close to matching the sales of the other brands — even when discounted,” Groh said.

The leaked memo also says that social media buzz didn’t necessarily translate to actual sales.

READ MORE: Loblaws to re-stock French’s ketchup, made with Canadian tomatoes

But the memo does take issue with the notion that French’s ketchup is a Canadian-made product. It says French’s ketchup contains Canadian-grown tomatoes, but it is made in the U.S.

A spokesperson for French’s said the ketchup it sells in Canada is produced in both Canada and the U.S.

Loblaw’s President’s Choice ketchup, on the other hand, sources its tomatoes from California, but is produced in Canada.

“If we truly want to support Canadian, we must rally behind PC ketchup since it is made in Canada,” the memo says.

Groh said one brand is not more Canadian than the other, but President’s Choice is continuing conversations to purchase tomatoes from Canadian farmers if high-quality produce can be available in the amount needed for the right price.

“We have not yet found that balance,” he said.

Stabbing suspect once had restricted airport security clearance

TORONTO —; The 27-year-old man accused of stabbing two soldiers at a Canadian Forces recruitment centre previously worked at Toronto’s largest airport and had access to restricted areas.

Ayanle Hassan Ali worked for a third party employer at Toronto Pearson International Airport from December 2008 to March 2009 and possessed a Restricted Area Identification Card, according to the Greater Toronto Airports Authority.

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“[Ali] is not an employee of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority nor does he currently work at Toronto Pearson,” a spokeswoman for the organization told Global News.

“We join all Canadians in wishing the injured soldiers a speedy recovery, and in saluting the brave personnel who intervened to defuse the attack.”

READ MORE: Accused in military stabbing said ‘Allah told me to do this’: police

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said Ali walked into the office located in a federal government building in north Toronto around 3 p.m. Monday and slashed a male soldier behind the counter in the arm with a “large knife,” then tried and failed to stab a female soldier before being subdued by Forces members, one of whom was injured in the process.

Both soldiers were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released.

Saunders told reporters Tuesday the accused said at the scene “Allah told me to do this. Allah told me to come here and kill people.”

WATCH: Montreal man faces charges after Toronto military recruitment office stabbings

Police said they believe Ali acted alone in the stabbing but added investigators are looking into any possible connections with terror groups.

Saunders said Ali is a Montreal-born Canadian citizen living in Toronto since 2011. He said the accused had no prior contact with police.

RCMP and federal agencies are involved in the case and terrorism charges aren’t being ruled out, Saunders said.

READ MORE: Man arrested after 2 attacked at Canadian Forces office in Toronto: police

Ali’s lawyer David Burke told reporters the accused is “very scared right now” and may seek bail. Burke refused to answer questions on his client’s personal life or background. The charge sheet states Ali lives in north Etobicoke in the city’s west end.

Police initially announced five charges against Ali but court documents say he faces nine offences: three counts each of attempted murder and assault with a weapon, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of weapons dangerous.

A bulletin issued to members of the Toronto Police Service on Monday and obtained by Global News warned officers to be aware of “potential sympathizers or lone-actors” who may commit similar acts.

It further reminded officers to “maintain heightened vigilance for suspicious behaviour.”

Accused in military stabbing said ‘Allah told me to do this’: Police

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Accused in military stabbing said ‘Allah told me to do this’: Police

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Toronto military stabbing suspect may face terrorism charges

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Toronto police investigating military office attacker’s connections nationally and abroad

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Toronto Police Chief urges public to resist ‘Islamophobia’ in wake of attack on military office

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‘We do remain vigilant’: Canadian Forces recruitment centre



With files from Will Campbell