‘Navy’ to open ‘military’ weapons sale

The federal government is to announce plans for the sale of military-grade weapons to Canadian defence companies in a bid to bolster the country’s defences.

The announcement comes as the government is facing a backlash over its decision to buy armoured vehicles from the Saudi-led coalition, which has been accused of mass-casualty attacks in Yemen.

The sale of the military equipment will not involve the Canadian Forces or the Royal Canadian Air Force.

It is likely to be the largest sale of defence equipment to a private firm outside Canada in recent years, officials said Wednesday.

The purchase of the weapons is being done through a private contract, but the announcement was expected to be made at a news conference, said the Canadian defence minister, Rob Nicholson.

Mr. Nicholson said the sale will be financed by the federal government’s new fiscal 2018-19 budget, which was approved by Parliament Wednesday.

It will also be the first military-related procurement to be approved by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), which has the authority to conduct intelligence-gathering operations in the country.

The deal comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are struggling to win over voters ahead of the Oct. 19 election.

The Liberals have promised to strengthen the countrys defences by beefing up its defence capabilities and cutting back on spending on defence.

Mr Trudeau announced last month he will increase spending on military equipment and train more soldiers.

But critics say the Liberals are making the purchase too big and too quick.

Defence experts say the move will add to Canadas already large defence budget and could add to the nations growing military footprint.

The federal cabinet approved the $4.2-billion sale of a number of military hardware including armoured vehicles and air defence systems, along with other equipment, last month.

The Canadian Forces is also seeking to buy another armoured vehicle to be delivered in 2019.

The armoured vehicle deal, announced Wednesday, comes after the Liberals last month decided to buy the Saudi Arabia-built armoured vehicles, known as T-55s, as part of a $10.7-billion deal to buy 10 Apache attack helicopters from Boeing Co. The Apache helicopters are being sold to the United Arab Emirates for $4 billion.

The defence minister said in a news release that the sale would allow the Canadian Armed Forces to strengthen its ability to defend Canadas interests.

The minister said the purchase will not impact the country s national defence, but it will ensure that Canadians can continue to rely on the equipment and services they need to continue their military missions.

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