After the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi Arabian consulate, Canada’s relationship is under stress, and Canadian officials are under pressure to reconsider a controversial arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Foreign minister Chrystia Freeland has said that Canada’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is becoming seriously questioned by the Canadian public. Freeland said certain questions need to be asked about their relationship with Saudi Arabia, and that Canada should be conversing with their allies about the matter.
Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi is widely thought to have been assassinated by Saudi Arabian agents after he was lured to a Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul. Turkish authorities obtained an audio recording of the murder and released it to other nations. Canada’s spy chief was sent to Turkey listened to the Khashoggi recording. The CSIS director returned saying “he has listened to the recordings in question” and provided a briefing to Justin Trudeau and other major Canadian officials about the recording’s contents. Justin Trudeau along with other allies, intend to pressure Riyadh to provide a more clear explanation of the Khashoggi killing.
The Central Intelligence Agency concluded that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the grisly murder.
Since the Khashoggi murder, the Canadian-Saudi arms deal made in 2016 has come under greater scrutiny. A survey given out by Angus Reid showed that most Canadians do not want to have future weapon sales with Saudi Arabia. The deal provides Saudi Arabia with Canadian-made Light Armored Vehicles. Trudeau has stated that he will stop the arms deal if the weapons are misused, such as by attacking civilians. The New Democrats, who will be competing for voters against Trudeau in the 2019 election, have said that Canada should not be arming Saudi Arabia, who are already attacking the civilians of Yemen. Despite the pressure from the public to cancel the arms deal, Trudeau stated it would be difficult to suspend or break the deal because the cost of the cancellation would be worth billions of dollars for Canada.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia froze ties with Ottawa when Canada urged them release jailed civil rights activists in the kingdom. Foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland said that Canada will always stand up for human rights, including women’s fair rights, and in response, Saudi recalled to its representative ambassador in Canada and gave their Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the country. Saudi Arabian government also banned trade with Canada, although it is unclear whether that was intended to affect the arms deal.
The Canadian-Saudi Arms deal was already under pressure, and the Khashoggi murder only furthered damaged the relationship between Canada and Saudi Arabia. But even though suspicion of the murder falls now on prince Mohammed bin Salman, allied countries, while calling for a clearer explanation, are also trying to protect the status quo.