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Everything you need to know about the Saudi Arabia-Canada fallout

Everything you need to know about the Saudi Arabia-Canada fallout

The diplomatic gulf between the federal government and Saudi Arabia widened to encompass travel on Tuesday as the country's state airline announced it was suspending operations in Canada.

Saudi Arabia has called Canada's actions a "blatant interference in the Kingdom's domestic affairs" and has responded with a series of diplomatic measures, including freezing new trade and investment with the country.

Earlier this week, Riyadh froze all trade and education ties with Canada and expelled the country's ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Canadian exports to Saudi Arabia totaled about $1.12 billion in 2017, or 0.2 percent of the total value of Canadian exports.

"There are now more than 12,000 Saudi students studying in Canada, 7,000 of which are on scholarship programs while many are accompanying spouses and children".

Canada's largest refinery in Saint John, N.B., owned by Irving Oil, relies on Saudi Arabia for almost 40 per cent of its crude supply, according 2018 statistics from the National Energy Board.

"The Kingdom views the Canadian position as an affront to the Kingdom that requires a sharp response to prevent any party from attempting to meddle with Saudi sovereignty", according to a statement by the Saudi foreign ministry.

The dispute ostensibly arose because of a tweet issued by Canada's Global Affairs ministry decrying the arrest and detention of two female bloggers and activists.

Canada last week said it was "gravely concerned" over a new wave of arrests, including award-winning gender rights activist Samar Badawi, pictured left.

Crown Prince Mohammed, as heir to the throne, is in line to become the first Saudi king from a new generation after a succession of six brothers dating to 1953.

Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar has been granted asylum by Canada, where she is raising their three children.

The news dominated the worldwide headlines and social media, especially in Saudi Arabia, where Saudis launched an Arabic hashtag "السعوديه_تطرد_السفير_الكندي" that literally translates to: "Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador". "And of course, Irving sells most of its product into the United States, not Canada", he said. "They are the best interlocutor for Canada in the region", he said.

Garry Keller, who was chief of staff to ex-Conservative Foreign Minister John Baird, said the government needed to look at how it could help businesses that might be affected.


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