The United States and the European Union said Tuesday that they are seeking details about the arrest of women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia, but they sidestepped a sensitive diplomatic dispute over the crackdown between the ultraconservative kingdom and Canada.
This undated and unlocated image available on the Canadian Embassy in Saudi Arabia website on August 06, 2018 shows the Canadian Ambassador Dennis Horak official portrait.
The worldwide feud began with the Canadian government's criticism of Saudi Arabia's arrests of women's rights activists. While the United States is Canada's main supplier of crude oil by far, Saudi Arabia comes in second with a lot of its imports to Canada going to New Brunswick, which supplies other eastern provinces.
The Saudi government funds the tuition of many of those students.
Saudi Arabia's trade freeze now throws that deal into doubt.
"The normal diplomatic route would have been to call the ambassador in and to let him know your displeasure and then to try to move from there", MacKay, Canada's foreign affairs minister from 2006 to 2007 and defence minister from 2007 to 2013, said in an interview with BNN.
"Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this hard time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi", Freeland tweeted.
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Ensaf Haidar, Raif Badawi's wife, who lives in Quebec with her three children, said Monday she was surprised when she heard about the two new arrests.
Saudi state television later reported that the Education Ministry was coming up with an "urgent plan" to move thousands of Saudi scholarship students out of Canadian schools to take classes in other countries.
'We consider the Canadian ambassador to the kingdom persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours'. But the task of approving the export permits fell to the Liberals, who were lobbied by human rights activists to say no.
The sell-off began on Tuesday and underlines how the Saudi government is flexing its financial and political muscle to warn foreign powers against what it regards as interference in its sovereign affairs, the FT said.
In a tweet, Bessma Momani (expert on Middle East issues and a political science professor at the University of Waterloo) responded to this move, stating that this is terrible and unjust for students who will now be scrambling to figure out what to do with their lives.
"The only class of wheat that Canada still exports to the region is durum but even that is not that much".
"We are always going to speak up for human rights, we're always going to speak up for women's rights, and that is not going to change".
"I don't think it will worsen the situation because very often when we make evident unjust imprisonments, like the case of Samar Badawi, that increases their protection and increases pressure on the government", she said in an interview Monday.