In this Oct. 10, 2018, file photo, people hold signs during a protest at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in Washington. Saudi Arabia’s financial clout among the Arab media has given it an influential tool as it grapples with the international outcry first over the disappearance and later the death of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)

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

The Trudeau government has been under pressure to cancel the contract since the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi

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.”

READ MORE: Changing story again, Saudi Arabia says killing was planned

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 has 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

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