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

Kid-friendly ski day at Shames

There were 175 children who skied and took lessons for free at the Port of Prince Rupert event

Proposal could see Haisla reserve double in size

Ellis Ross says waterfront development would be ideal

Kitimat CDC benefits from special technology for special kids

“The kids participate now where they didn’t before.”

Home care declines as B.C. senior population grows, advocate says

More deferring property tax, using rent subsidy to stay at home

Student rangers sought for Terrace

Young adults interested in student ranger program have until Feb. 24 to apply

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Kamala Harris opens U.S. presidential bid in challenge to Trump

The 54-year old portrayed herself as a fighter for justice, decency and equality in a video distributed by her campaign

Most Read