The Harper government, which struck a $15-billion deal to sell military vehicles to Saudi Arabia back in 2014, was approved in April by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government. But it should be scrapped. Considered the largest advanced manufacturing export contract in Canadian history, the controversial deal could put Canada in violation of its own arms-trading rules if the Saudis use the light-armoured vehicles, or LAVs, which will be equipped with machine guns and medium- or high-calibre weapons, on dissidents in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabian National Guard is buying the LAVs. Canada has in the past sold military equipment to the Saudis, but Saudi Arabia is also regularly ranked among the "worst of the worst" on human rights by Freedom House. On Jan. 2, 2016, 47 people were executed in Saudi Arabia, including Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, and Saudi Arabia is among the biggest executioners in the world. Last week, The Globe and Mail obtained video footage dated from 2012 and 2015, that show Saudi authorities using LAVs, not Canadian-made, however, against Shia dissidents. Meanwhile, a coalition of non-governmental organizations including Amnesty International Canada, Project Ploughshares, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, and the Canadian Council for International Co-operation recently sent an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion, and other cabinet ministers urging them to reconsider their decision to issue export permits for the LAVs, calling the government's decision "immoral and unethical." Opposition political parties also pushed the Liberals for a committee probe of the deal, which the Liberals blocked. Mr. Dion has said that if the LAVs were found to be used for human rights abuses, the deal would be stopped. Mr. Dion also said he would table the UN's Arms Trade Treaty in Parliament "later this year" as part of Canada's accession process, The Hill Times reported. But public opinion is not on the government's side. A recent Angus Reid Institute poll showed only 19 per cent of Canadians think the government's Saudi arms deal is a good one, 48 per cent opposed it, while the remaining one-third were unsure. Two former Liberal cabinet ministers, Irwin Cotler and Lloyd Axworthy, say the government should scrap the deal. “My position as a matter of general principle—that would apply to Saudi Arabia—is that we should not sell arms to a country that engages in a persistent pattern of human-rights violations,” Mr. Cotler, a former justice minister told The Globe and Mail in late February. Before that, former foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy told The Globe and Mail in January that given Saudi Arabia’s dismal human rights record, Canada should review the $15-billion deal. But former foreign affairs minister and former deputy prime minister John Manley, in an opinion piece in iPolitics headlined, “We can’t always sell weapons to people we like,” argued in favour of the deal and cited economic reasons and protecting Canadian foreign interests in the region. He added that the arms deal is “fully justifiable on moral grounds.” “…As a mature country, we have to be able to deal with governments and regimes with which we do not always agree,” Mr. Manley wrote. “The world is full of countries that do not share our values and beliefs. Should we adopt a policy of refusing to trade with people whose values are out of line with our own? Regrettably, that might leave us with a rather limited number of potential customers.” Mr. Manley in the same opinion piece also raised an interesting question that the prominent Canadians who are speaking up to cancel the sale of LAVs to the Saudis are being “equally vigorous in their support of a pipeline from Alberta to the East Coast — a pipeline that would reduce and perhaps end our dependence on oil imports from that same country.” He concluded: “Somehow, I doubt it.” Prime Minister Trudeau has said it could hurt Canada's reputation if it cancelled the contract. But the Trudeau government also refuses to explain how the Saudi arms deal is justified under Canada's arms export control regime or why this agreement is allowed to proceed. It should rescind its decision to approve this deal. Saudi Arabia has a shoddy human rights record and is currently involved in the Yemen civil conflict. Canada shouldn't be helping to arm its military.