August 16, 2019 6:19 pm
Updated: August 16, 2019 6:20 pm

Ottawa to buy 360 LAVs from London’s General Dynamic Land Systems

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, second from right, is joined by Liberal MPs Peter Fragiskatos, left, and Kate Young for Friday's announcement in London, Ont.

Andrew Graham / 980 CFPL

A weapons manufacturer in east London is on the verge of doing big business with the federal government.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan was in town on Friday to announce Ottawa’s intent to buy 360 light armoured vehicles (LAV) from General Dynamics Land System’s (GDLS) facility on Oxford Street east.

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The vehicles, Sajjan told reporters, will be deployed to support troops with the Canadian Armed Forces and replace outdated equipment.

In a release, the federal government says it’s in the final stages of negotiations with GDLS over a contract that’s estimated to be worth up to $3 billion, with a repayable loan worth up $650 million.

“This project was in our defence policy, but because of the great work we’ve been able to do… we’ve been able to streamline the process and move this project over,” Sajjan said.

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During an appearance on London Live with Mike Stubbs, London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos added that he doesn’t want Friday’s announcement to seem like a campaign promise, with it arriving just months before the October election.

“This is not related to the election,” Fragiskatos said. “This issue has been worked on for a long time now. I can tell you I’ve been working on it, and others have been working on it, for the better part of a year.”

READ MORE: Canada could face severe consequences for cancelling Saudi arms deal: global affairs expert

The Liberal MP added that the benefits of the yet-to-be signed contract will stretch far beyond the walls of GLDS’ east London facility.

“There’s around 4,000 people, once you take into account the local and regional supply chain. I love this company; I have gone to bat for this company and will continue to do so.”

Friday’s announcement comes after Ottawa announced in February it had awarded a $186 million contract to GDLS-Canada to upgrade and maintain underwater sensors for the Royal Canadian Navy’s frigates.

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Operations at GDLS have come under national scrutiny in recent years related to one of its largest contracts. The deal signed in 2014 worth $15 billion to build and maintain armoured vehicles for Saudi Arabia has been criticized because of the kingdom’s human rights abuses.

Treatment of women, the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and allegations that the kingdom uses the armoured vehicles against its own citizens are the main issues raised by critics.

When asked about the contract during a media scrum following Friday’s announcement, Sajjan stated only that the arms deal is “under review.”

GDLS’ east London facility currently employs more than 1,600 workers.

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