Tuesday, February 13, 2018


   A $233 million deal to supply 16 Canadian-made helicopters to Philippines strongman Rodrigo Duterte may be dead after a human rights group intervened over concerns the Trudeau government may have tried to willfully ignore.
  An earlier order of eight helicopters, manufactured by Bell Helicopters in Montreal, was completed in 2015. According to Liberal Trade Minister Pierre Champagne, both the 2015 sale and the deal concluded last week are covered under a 2012 Canada-Philippines memorandum of understanding that Champagne said “suggested” the helicopters were for search-and-rescue operations.
   But that now doesn’t seem to have been the case. And it is difficult to believe Canadian government representatives were unaware.
  Shortly after the initial order was delivered in 2015, the Canadian Ambassador to Philippines attended a christening ceremony for the eight new helicopters. Photos from the event show the aircraft fitted for weapons, painted grey-green — not the bright colours of search-and-rescue aircraft — and clearly emblazoned for the Philippines Air Forces.

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