What's driving Saudi Arabia's rapidly escalating feud with Canada?

Saudi Press Agency

Saudi Press Agency

The clash with the Saudis is not the first time Canada risked losing major business over its "rights-first" diplomacy. "It is a country that has great significance in the world, that is making progress in the area of human rights", he said. "We can't do it for them, they need to resolve it together", US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Among the arrested activists is Samar Badawi, whose writer brother Raif Badawi was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for insulting Islam while blogging. Raif Badawi's wife lives in Quebec, in Canada.

Last Tuesday, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said at least 15 human rights defenders and women's rights activists critical of the Saudi government had been arrested or detained arbitrarily since 15 May.

Since Riyadh announced the expulsion of Ottawa's ambassador and a severing of trade ties on Monday, several top officials have reiterated Justin Trudeau's mantra since becoming prime minister in 2015: there can be no compromise on the country's progressive principles.

Lindsay say the university is meeting with all students to assess their situation and needs.

The sudden deterioration in the Saudi-Canadian relationship is likely grabbing the attention of people in the city of London, Ont., more than anywhere else in the country.

The central bank did not immediately respond to a Reuters query for comment.

Besides having immediate effects on global relations and students on exchange between the two countries, the Canada-Saudi tension could mean some serious economic problems for Canada.

Regardless of how allies and others are perceiving the measure, it has rallied support among Saudis, said Momani, adding that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia has a very young nationalistic base, many of whom have taken to Twitter to celebrate the decision and simultaneously criticize Canada.

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Last year, Canadian exports to Saudi Arabia were nearly $1.5 billion, while imports from the Middle Eastern country were about $2.6 billion.

Freeland said Canadians "expect" its foreign policy to be driven by Canadian values.

Saudi Arabia appeared to have shut down the account on Tuesday.

That could disrupt Canadian hospitals and end a 40-year-old program to train specialists for the kingdom.

Trade between Canada and Saudi Arabia exceeded $4-billion (€ 3.4 billion) past year, a significant portion of it came from a controversial multibillion-dollar deal to sell combat vehicles equipped with machine guns and cannons to the Saudis, according to The Globe and Mail.

On Monday evening, the airline, Saudia, made the announcement on its Twitter account that it was suspending flights from the 13 August.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland later indicated that Canada was "seriously concerned" by Saudi Arabia's actions.

Bilateral trade between Canada and Saudi Arabia is worth almost $4 billion a year. European traders said the main Saudi wheat-buying agency had told grains exporters it will no longer accept Canadian-origin wheat and barley.

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