Celebrity

Vancouver pizza chain owner urges PM to stop Saudi arms deal


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the penalty for backing out of an arms deal with Saudi Arabia would be in the billions.


Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The owner of a local pizza restaurant chain is taking a slice out of the Canadian government for a planned arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

President of Vancouver’s Freshslice Pizza Ray Russell has written a letter on behalf of all his franchise owners to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging him not to go ahead with a sale of Canadian-made military equipment to Saudi Arabia following the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In his letter, which is posted on the company’s Facebook page, Russell writes that Canada’s near $15-billion contract to supply armoured vehicles to the country amounts to “blood money,” and that as the CEO of a major Vancouver-based company he “cannot sit idly by like an ostrich.”

Russell, who immigrated to Canada from Iran in 1987 and founded the successful franchise, writes that he has been a longtime Liberal supporter, but won’t continue that support if the sale goes through.

Appeals have been mounting to stop supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia in other countries, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that arms exports must not go ahead because of the situation, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Trudeau has said it’s difficult to break Canada’s deal to supply light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia because of a deal made by the previous Conservative government, and that the penalty would be in the billions of dollars. He has said he would consider freezing export permits for armoured vehicles after the New Democrats questioned why Canada would arm a country with human rights abuses.

 


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