Canada to reconsider plan to sell helicopters to Philippine military

The Trudeau government is rethinking plans to sell 16 Canadian-made helicopters to the Philippine military as concerns continue over how the aircraft would be used.

The government initially defended the 300-million-dollar deal, which is being facilitated by the Canadian Commercial Corporation.

It said the Montreal-built Bell helicopters would be used for search-and-rescue missions and disaster relief.

But International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said yesterday that he had ordered a review after a senior member of the Philippine military said the aircraft would also be used in ``internal security operations.''

Human-rights and arms-control groups have accused the armed forces in the Philippines of extrajudicial killings, torture and other atrocities while fighting Islamic militants in the south of the country, and communist rebels in other areas.

Champagne said the deal, which was finalized in December, was conducted through a memorandum of understanding between Canada and the Philippines signed by the previous Conservative government in 2012.

Champagne added that neither he nor any other ministers were asked to authorize the contract.