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Nine-in-ten Canadians say ‘no’ to future arms deals with Saudi Arabia

While Canadians express almost total unanimity about prohibiting future sales of weapons and defence equipment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the latest public opinion survey from the Angus Reid Institute shows they are evenly divided over the question of what to do about the current, 15-year, $15 billion dollar agreement between this country and the KSA to exchange military goods for cash.

In the wake of the coverup – and later confirmation of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder allegedly on the order of senior Saudi officials, nearly half of Canadians (46%) now believe the government should cancel the deal, a 6-point increase in the number saying this last year.

Another 44 per cent of respondents say Canada should honour the deal, but have no further engagement with the Saudi’s in this industry going forward.

Canadians also express support for the Trudeau government’s actions criticizing the Saudi regime for human rights abuses.

After comments from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland led to a diplomatic spat and demands for an apology from the Saudi Royal Family, 32 per cent of Canadians say the government should continue to voice its displeasure when necessary, while the same number say officials should increase their criticism further. Only three per cent of Canadians say the government should hold back on criticism entirely.

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More Key Findings:

  • While a majority of Canadians (63%) say they have followed the news of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, it does not appear to have an impact on views of the Saudi Arms deal. In fact, those with no pre-existing knowledge of the case are more likely than all others to say Canada should end the deal
  • Asked which countries Canada should not sell military arms to, 76 per cent of Canadians say Saudi Arabia should be banned. This represents a 14-point increase from 2017. The same number say Iran should be prohibited, while 54 per cent say China should be as well.
  • Politics drives opinion on this issue: past NDP supporters are most likely to say Canada should end the 15-year arms deal now and prohibit future sales – 57 per cent say this, compared to close to four-in-ten Liberals (43%) and Conservatives (38%)

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