Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that his government is willing to freeze exports of military hardware to Saudi Arabia following the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, The Globe and Mail reports.
According to the newspaper, Trudeau announced during a Question Period on Monday that his government "has committed to strengthening arms export controls in Bill C-47."
"We have frozen export permits before, when we had concerns about their potential misuse, and we will not hesitate to do so again," he said, apparently referring to Canada halting the approval of permits for arms exports to Saudi Arabia in August 2017, when Ottawa "began an investigation into Riyadh’s deployment of Canadian-made armored vehicles against Saudi citizens."
"Jamal Khashoggi’s death is a very serious, grave incident in Canada’s eyes. We still have many questions about this incident. The explanations are not credible and they are not sufficient," Freeland replied when asked why Ottawa is going ahead with a massive sale of armored vehicles to Riyadh.
This development prompted Canadian MP and member of the New Democratic Party Helene Laverdière to accuse the government of “doublespeak,” arguing that “the government claims to defend human rights on one hand, and on the other hand they arm one of the world’s worst human-rights offenders.”
"Saudi Arabia is leading a military coalition that has been accused of war crimes in Yemen, where 12 million people could starve to death due to the armed conflict. Can the government stop the doublespeak – and stop arming rogue nations like Saudi Arabia?" she inquired.
Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also announced that it is “impossible under the circumstances we see” for Berlin to keep exporting weapons to Riyadh, while the country’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that there was “no basis” to continue arms sales to Saudi Arabia "as long as we don’t know what happened."
US President Donald Trump, however, claimed that canceling weapons sales to Riyadh would be “not helpful” as it might affect “over a million jobs” in the US.
Jamal Khashoggi, a newspaper columnist at The Washington Post, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. On October 19, Saudi Arabia, which has initially denied any involvement, admitted that the journalist had been killed in a fight inside the consulate.