OTTAWA – Canada is weighing its options regarding the $15-billion contract to sell light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “Canadians and people around the world will expect consequences” for the killing of a Saudi journalist.
“We are looking at, as I said suspending export contracts, export permits which is something we’ve done in the past, we’re also looking at the contract and to try and see what we can do because you know, obviously as we get clarity on what actually happened to Jamal Khashoggi, Canadians and people around the world will expect consequences,” Trudeau said, speaking with reporters on his way into a caucus meeting.
Officials have told CTV News that Ottawa is actively looking for a way to get out of the secretive LAV contract, legally.
Earlier this week the prime minister convened an emergency meeting with the Incident Response Group of ministers and senior officials to discuss the case. Cabinet is meeting on the Hill Wednesday, when it’s likely this issue will come up.
Trudeau said Canada continues to be “extremely” concerned over the murder of the Washington Post columnist who had written critically about Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Canada has joined other G7 nations in calling for a thorough investigation into exactly what happened, saying the explanation given by Riyadh lacked credibility.
The Saudis have denied murdering Khashoggi after he entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul earlier this month. The Associated Press, citing Turkish officials, has reported that a 15-man Saudi team tortured, killed and dismembered Khashoggi, while Saudi Arabia says he died in a “fistfight.”
The previous Conservative government signed the huge arms deal for the London, Ont. General Dynamics Land Systems manufacturing plant to supply light armoured vehicles to the desert kingdom.
It’s not the first time the federal Liberals have faced criticism over maintaining the deal, despite concerns over Saudi human rights violations. Until now they’ve defended the contract, however, citing the thousands of jobs at stake.
On Tuesday, Trudeau cautioned that walking away will be difficult, and will come with some $1 billion in financial penalties.