Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to supporters at an open Liberal fundraising event in Montreal on Tuesday, October 23, 2018. (Peter McCabe/The Canadian Press)

Trudeau says Canadians expect ‘consequences’ for Khashoggi murder

Prime Minister seemed reluctant to cancel arms deal with Saudi Arabia

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared to be inching closer Wednesday to cancelling Canada’s $15-billion deal to sell light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

On Tuesday, Trudeau seemed reluctant to cancel the deal, billed as the largest arms deal in Canadian history. He cited significant financial penalties — as much as $1 billion or more — built into the contract signed by the previous Conservative government.

But on Wednesday he said Canadians expect there to be “consequences” for the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed earlier this month after entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey. And he suggested his government is looking for ways to cancel the arms contract without triggering the penalties.

“We are a looking at … suspending export permits, which is something we’ve done in the past,” Trudeau said on his way into a Liberal caucus meeting.

“Were also looking at the contract to try and see what we can do because obviously, as we get clarity on what actually happened to Jamal Khashoggi, Canadians and people around the world will expect consequences.”

The Saudi government has said Khashoggi died in a fist fight but Canada and other countries say Riyadh’s explanation lacks credibility and are calling for a detailed investigation.

Turkish officials say a 15-man Saudi hit squad — including at least one member of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s entourage — murdered and dismembered Khashoggi, whose body has not been found.

Prince Mohammed said Wednesday that the killing of Khashoggi is a “heinous crime that cannot be justified.” He made the comment at the Future Investment Initiative, the second annual summit of global investors in Riyadh.

READ MORE: Trump: ‘Severe’ consequences if Saudis murdered Khashoggi

Many international business leaders have pulled out of this year’s summit over the killing of Khashoggi. But several Canadian companies refuse to say whether they’re attending.

SNC-Lavalin, which has extensive business ties with Saudi Arabia, will not say whether it has sent anyone to the summit. Canaccord Genuity Group Inc., whose executive chairman was listed as a speaker at last year’s summit, and Bombardier Inc. did not respond to queries.

Other companies that attended last year — including the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Brookfield Asset Management Inc. — say they won’t be going this year.

A senior government insider told The Canadian Press last week that cabinet ministers, federal officials and embassy staff would also be skipping the summit.

Canada is not the only country soul-searching over its arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the wake of the Khashoggi killing.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday that continued arms exports to the regime “can’t take place in the situation we’re currently in.” Her economy minister called Monday for a common front on the issue by all European Union countries.

While Slovakia and Czech Republic have signalled a willingness to discuss the matter, Spain and the United Kingdom have rejected calls to end arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

The United States — by far the largest supplier of arms to the Gulf kingdom — has also balked, with President Donald Trump saying he doesn’t want to lose a 10-year, $110-billion deal to sell arms to Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty International Canada blasted Trudeau on Wednesday for his concern over the financial penalty for breaking Canada’s arms contract with Saudi Arabia.

“Human rights do not and can never carry a price tag,” said the group’s secretary general, Alex Neve.

“There is nothing in Canada’s international human rights obligations that sets a financial limit on our responsibility to comply. Any other approach would be unconscionable.”

Neve also said Canadians deserve to know more about the penalties, including who would receive the money: Saudi Arabia or General Dynamics Land Systems, whose plant in London, Ont., is building the light-armoured vehicles. The government has so far declined to offer details, citing commercial confidentiality.

— with files from The Associated Press

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

First official speed skating competition held at Setters Place this weekend

More than 100 junior speed skaters from across Alberta competed in the Jeremy Wotherspoon Open

Get your healthy on

Healthy Living Expo promotes sustainable, innovative and healthy lifestyles

WATCH: Team Alberta visits Red Deer this weekend to prepare for Canada Winter Games

About 250 Team Alberta athletes toured venues and tested out facilities Saturday

Keep focus on helping Canadians at home, Trudeau tells MPs at start of meeting

Trudeau said the Liberals will offer Canadians hope amid issue like climate change and global tensions

World economy forecast to slow in 2019 amid trade tensions

For Canada, the IMF’s estimate for growth in 2019 was 1.9 per cent, down from expected global growth of 3.5 per cent

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

‘Gotti’ leads Razzie nominations, Trump up for worst actor

The nominations were announced on Monday, Jan. 21 with some movies earning up to six nominations

PHOTO: Eyes turn to heavens to witness super blood wolf moon

These two photos show the lunar eclipse about 30 minutes apart from each other.

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

May plans next move in Brexit fight as chances rise of delay

Some say a lack of action could trigger a ‘public tsunami’

Group challenges ruling for doctors to give referrals for services that clash with beliefs

A group of five Canadian doctors and three professional organizations is appealing

Most Read