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

Actress tells war stories in D-Day remembrance play in Nanaimo

‘Jake’s Gift’ follows a Second World War veteran coping with his past

Man pleads guilty to child porn charges in Nanaimo, Crown alleges 250,000 images

Psychiatric assessment requested by Crown, sentencing to be set June 4 in Nanaimo court

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Fuel supply requires pipeline expansion

As gasoline production is curtailed, consumer demand will force prices higher, says letter writer

IIO B.C. looking into allegation of assault by Nanaimo RCMP

Police arrested a cabin break-in suspect in the Nanaimo Lakes area in February

Man sentenced to 5.5 years for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, formerly of Nanaimo, was charged in 2015 after cold case reopened

UPDATE: Four victims identified in deadly Penticton shooting spree

John Brittain, 68, faces three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

Nanaimo Business Awards celebrate an ‘outstanding’ year

Winners were revealed last week at a gala event at the Port Theatre

Prince George sweeps to first-ever BC Hockey League crown

Spruce Kings beat Vernon Vipers 3-1 in the Okanagan Wednesday for 13th straight playoff win

Hwang’s first MLS goal lifts Whitecaps to 1-0 win over LAFC

Vancouver picks up first victory of season

Child-proof your windows ahead of warm weather: B.C. expert

Fifteen children were taken to BC Children’s Hospital for falls in 2018

B.C. trucker pleads guilty to lesser charges in fatal Manitoba crash

Gurjant Singh was fined $3,000 and given a one-year driving prohibition.

Study links preschool screen time to behavioural and attention problems

The research looked at more than 2,400 families

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Cull sea lions

Letter writer offers ‘easiest and quickest solution’ to declining fish stocks

B.C. Ferries reveals plans for downtown Nanaimo terminal improvements

Terminal development plan proposes more vehicle space, better terminal access, and twin ferries

Most Read