Liberals shake up Crown corporation after helicopter deal with Philippines

OTTAWA – International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne has replaced the chair of the Crown corporation that facilitated the controversial sale of 16 military helicopters with the Philippines.

Champagne announced the change to the Canadian Commercial Corp. while confirming that the Philippines had formally cancelled the $300-million helicopter deal.

The trade minister also says that he is ordering the corporation, whose main role is selling Canadian goods to foreign countries, to diversify and become less reliant on selling arms.

The helicopter deal made headlines last week following concerns that the Philippine military could use the aircraft to commit human-rights violations as part of its fight with local terrorists and communist rebels.

The Liberals initially defended the deal, saying the helicopters would only be used for search-and-rescue and disaster relief, but ordered a review after a Philippines official said they would be used for “internal security operations.”

In response, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out against any restrictions on the use of military equipment against terrorist and rebels before ordering military commanders to kill the deal.

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