Canada can easily replace Saudi Arabian crude oil imports: economist

There were 327 Saudi students at Mc Gill University last year.					Marie France Coallier  Montreal Gazette

There were 327 Saudi students at Mc Gill University last year. Marie France Coallier Montreal Gazette

Freeland added that The Embassy of Canada to Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh will continue its regular operations, including consular services.

A Saudi Twitter account shared a photo of a plane flying toward Toronto's skyline, evoking images of the September 11 terror attacks.

The latest retaliatory move came after Canada's ministry of foreign affairs raised concerns about the arrest of women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi (pictured main), sister of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi.

In its first response to the row, the Canadian foreign ministry said: "we are seriously concerned by these media reports and are seeking greater clarity on the recent statement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia".

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

On Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said there was "nothing new or novel" about Canada's long-standing position on human rights around the world, and that Ottawa will await more details from the kingdom before responding further.

The report also said all Saudi Arabian students now studying in Canada will be transferred to other countries.

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The U.S. State Department says it is "aware" of Saudi Arabia's decision to expel Canada's ambassador and considers both countries to be "close partners" of the United States.

Meanwhile, through a statement published by the Palestinian Press Agency, President Mahmoud Abbas also assured the support of Palestinians to Saudi Arabia and its move against Canada's intervention.

Samar was arrested along with fellow campaigner Nassima al-Sadah last week, the latest victims of what Human Rights Watch called an "unprecedented government crackdown on the women's rights movement". "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".

Amnesty International noted Ms Badawi has been repeatedly targeted and interrogated by Saudi security forces for her human rights activist.

But Riyadh's singling out of Canada is aimed at strongly discouraging other critical Western governments from speaking out, observers say.

'There isn't a strong bilateral trade relationship and poking the Trudeau government likely resonates with Saudi's hawkish regional allies.

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