National News

Trudeau pressed to give update on review of Canada's arms deal with Saudi Arabia

By The Canadian Press

Published 12:02 PDT, Wed August 7, 2019

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing pressure from civil society groups to update Canadians before the October election on his government's review of a multibillion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing pressure from civil society groups to update Canadians before the October election on his government's review of a multibillion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

The Liberals launched a review of the $15-billion contract to ship light-armoured vehicles to the Middle Eastern kingdom last fall in the wake of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

A letter sent this week to Trudeau from a dozen organizations says the public has a right to know the status of the review now that more than nine months have passed since the government first announced the probe.

The letter says any further delays to the review or the government's eventual decision could mean consequential actions come too late, especially since Canada has continued to ship the vehicles to Saudi Arabia — including 127 last year alone.

The Liberal government halted all new export permits to the kingdom last fall, sanctioned 17 Saudi nationals and started the review of arms sales to the country amid concerns about a lack of a credible, independent investigation into Khashoggi's killing and Saudi participation in the civil war in neighbouring Yemen.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says no final decision has been made in the ongoing review and no new export permits have been issued for Saudi Arabia.

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