Penalty for cancelling Saudi arms contract ‘in the billions’: Trudeau

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OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau says the penalty for cancelling Canada’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia could be “in the billions of dollars.”

The exact price tag has been in question since the prime minister first mentioned penalties of as much as $1 billion earlier this week.

Trudeau says he can’t be precise because the contract — signed by the previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper — includes a requirement of “total confidentiality.”

The Trudeau government has been under pressure to cancel the contract since the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Trudeau says his government is actively reviewing export permits to Saudi Arabia, which it ahas suspended temporarily in the past.

While suspending export permits falls short of outright cancellation of the contract, Trudeau says it would provide a lever for Canada to increase pressure on the desert kingdom to come clean on what happened to Khashoggi.

 

The Canadian Press