Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a meeting of the Youth Council in Toronto on Friday, October 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a meeting of the Youth Council in Toronto on Friday, October 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Cancelling Saudi Arabia arms deal would cost $1 billion: Trudeau

Canada has added its voice to global calls for answers, with Trudeau telling the CBC in an interview today that the Saudi government’s explanation of what happened lacks credibility.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says cancelling the controversial contract to sell armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia would leave taxpayers on the hook for $1 billion.

The comments come as the Liberal government is facing new pressure to cancel the deal amid international outrage over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi earlier this month.

Canada has added its voice to global calls for answers, with Trudeau telling the CBC in an interview today that the Saudi government’s explanation of what happened lacks credibility.

Human rights groups have urged Canada to cancel the $15-billion contract to sell light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia — a 2014 deal signed by the Harper government and upheld by the Liberals.

Trudeau says the government could suspend export permits but notes the contract is structured in a way that makes it very difficult to cancel and he is limited in what he can discuss publicly.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada is “gravely concerned by the murder” of Khashoggi, adding there are “very important questions” about the entire relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Related: Canada condemns killing of journalist in Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey

Related: Canada not sending anyone to Saudi business summit

The Canadian Press

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