Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic dispute with Canada

Summit in Brussels

In response, the Saudi government has expelled Canada's ambassador from the country and frozen all new trade with Canada. On Monday, Freeland doubled down on the position by saying Canadians expect their government's foreign policy to be guided by their values.

'Canada will always stand up for human rights, in Canada and around the world, and women's rights are human rights, ' Freeland told an audience in Vancouver.

Samar is a vocal campaigner for her brother Raif Badawi, a blogger who was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

The former head of the Human Rights Commission in Saudi Arabia, Dr Hadi Bin Al Yami, said that the Canadian government's actions violate diplomatic norms governing state relations. The decision to freeze new trade agreements could threaten Canada's $15-billion arms deal that includes providing armoured vehicles to the kingdom, but Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said it was "premature" to comment on its status.

Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, said it is hard to determine what the economic impact on Canada would be without specifics on which trade deals will be affected.

Later Monday, the row appeared to escalate as Riyadh said it will relocate thousands of Saudi students studying in Canada to other countries, and state airline Saudia announced it was suspending flights to and from Toronto.

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Freeland would only tell reporters Monday that the Canadian ambassador is "fine" and would not disclose his location.

Canada has said it is "gravely concerned" about the arrests and has called for those detained to be released immediately. Saudi Arabia long has been sensitive to worldwide pressure over the Raif Badawi sentence.

There could be a sentiment among allies that, "Finally the Trudeau government is getting poked back in the eye by the Saudis".

Some analysts perceive the move as both a power play for the kingdom's emerging young leader and a demonstration put on for the benefit of countries with stronger ties to Saudi Arabia than Canada.

The true impact of Saudi Arabia's flexing of diplomatic muscle is still unclear.

In the meantime, the Saudi Ministry of Media tweeted they shut down the account until an investigation in the complaints finalised.

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