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Canada Is Canada being inconsistent about human rights concerns in Saudi Arabia?

12:45  08 august  2018
12:45  08 august  2018 Source:   globalnews.ca

Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador

  Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador"We consider the Canadian ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours," Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry said on Twitter.

As a diplomatic fight between the Canadian and Saudi Arabian governments continues to spiral, Canadian criticism of the Arab kingdom’s arrest of local activists has sparked some frustration from human rights champions closer to home. Story continues below.

The feud between Canada and Saudi Arabia has escalated quickly since it began on Friday, after Canada 's Ministry of Foreign Affairs raised concerns about the Kingdom's human rights record following the arrests of several prominent human rights activists.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Federal Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland poses for a photograph in Montreal, Saturday, February 22, 2014.© THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes Federal Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland poses for a photograph in Montreal, Saturday, February 22, 2014.

As a diplomatic fight between the Canadian and Saudi Arabian governments continues to spiral, Canadian criticism of the Arab kingdom’s arrest of local activists has sparked some frustration from human rights champions closer to home.

An official tweet sent last week expressed “concern about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists” and urged the Saudi government to “immediately release them all and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.”

Saudi Arabian group apologizes for posting image appearing to threaten Canada with 9/11-style attack

  Saudi Arabian group apologizes for posting image appearing to threaten Canada with 9/11-style attack Saudi Arabian group apologizes for posting image appearing to threaten Canada with 9/11-style attack"As the Arabic saying goes: 'He who interferes with what doesn't concern him finds what doesn't please him,'" reads a caption superimposed over the image. The infographic also accuses Canada of "sticking one's nose where it doesn't belong.

The feud between Canada and Saudi Arabia has escalated quickly since it began on Friday, after Canada 's Ministry of Foreign Affairs raised concerns about the Kingdom's human rights record following the arrests of several prominent human rights activists.

Saudi Arabia 's national airline Saudia suspended flights to and from Toronto in an escalating feud with Canada over the arrest of several prominent human - rights activists. Canada has responded that it is "seriously concerned " with Saudi Arabia 's escalation of the matter.

While Amnesty International welcomed the development, its Canadian secretary general Alex Neve said the tweet breaks with Canada’s other dealings with Saudi Arabia: notably, the controversial deal brokered by the former Conservative government and upheld by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to let a Canadian company sell $15 billion worth of light armoured vehicles. Concern has been raised that the Saudi Arabian government has, in some cases, been using the vehicles against its own citizens.

“I think there is obviously inconsistency,” Neve said. “I also know that that’s the world we live in when it comes to human rights diplomacy.”

So why is the government intervening now? Could it have predicted such an extreme reaction?

Canada waiting for details from Saudi Arabia: Freeland

  Canada waiting for details from Saudi Arabia: Freeland Canada waiting for details from Saudi Arabia: FreelandVANCOUVER - Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Ottawa will have to wait to hear more details from Saudi Arabia before it responds to the country's decision to freeze new trade deals and expel Canada's ambassador.

Saudi Arabia 's national airline Saudia suspended flights to and from Toronto in an escalating feud with Canada over the arrest of several prominent human - rights activists. Canada has responded that it is "seriously concerned " with Saudi Arabia 's escalation of the matter.

The moves were a stern rebuke to Canada after the country on Friday expressed concern over the arrests of activists in Saudi Arabia , including prominent women’s rights campaigner Samar Badawi, and called for their release.

Michelle Obama, Samar Badawi posing for a picture: Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton and former first lady Michelle Obama present the 2012 International Women of Courage Award to Samar Badawi of Saudi Arabia.© AP Photo/Charles Dharapak Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton and former first lady Michelle Obama present the 2012 International Women of Courage Award to Samar Badawi of Saudi Arabia.

There are likely two reasons Canada stepped in now, Neve said. One is Trudeau’s public commitment to women’s equality and human rights issues as a matter of foreign policy. The most recent arrests, he said, are “symptomatic of a crackdown on women’s rights activists that has intensified quickly over the last three months.”

The second, Neve said, is a matter of who was arrested: Nassima al-Sada and Samar Badawi. Badawi, a prominent activist who has been jailed before for her work, is the sister of Raif Badawi, a dissident blogger also currently under arrest in Saudi Arabia. Raif’s wife Ensaf Haidar lives with the couple’s children in Quebec, where they recently became Canadian citizens.

Saudi Airlines to suspend Canadian flights

  Saudi Airlines to suspend Canadian flights TORONTO - The rift between the federal government and Saudi Arabia has prompted the country's state airline to suspend operations in Canada. Saudi Airlines issued a tweet early Tuesday saying flights to and from Canada would be suspended starting August 13. Saudi Arabia operates at least two routes to the country, both of which depart from Toronto. Transport Canada did not immediately respond to request for comment on the decision. Saudi Airlines' Saudi Airlines issued a tweet early Tuesday saying flights to and from Canada would be suspended starting August 13.

After what once would have passed as a pro forma complaint from Canada , Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador, withdrew its The ministry issued a broader statement, saying it was “gravely concerned ” about the arrests of human rights activists and calling for their immediate release.

The moves were a stern rebuke to Canada after the country on Friday expressed concern over the arrests of activists in Saudi Arabia , including prominent women’s rights campaigner Samar Badawi, and called for their release.

“That obviously brings both of their cases much closer to home,” Neve said.

It’s also the reason why Nelson Wiseman doesn’t think the Canadian criticism is inconsistent with the $15 billion arms deal.

“There is a family connection there,” the University of Toronto political science professor said. “That’s part of what the consular’s job is for Canadian diplomats abroad.”

READ MORE: Arab states back Saudi Arabia in expelling Canadian ambassador over human rights dispute

One of the Saudi government’s first responses to the tweet was to order the Canadian ambassador to leave the country within 24 hours.

Criticism of the country for human rights violations isn’t inconsistent with the arms deal, Wiseman said, because the government has said it doesn’t have definitive proof that Saudi Arabia has used Canadian armoured vehicles against its own people.

“You might accuse them of some hypocrisy,” he said, “but I don’t think you can accuse them of being inconsistent because they’ve spoken up on human rights.”

Wiseman said he’s mostly surprised to see such a strong reaction out of Saudi Arabia. In addition to expelling the Canadian ambassador, the government is making plans to pull all of its students studying at Canadian universities out of the country.

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  Canada needs to 'fix its big mistake,' Saudi minister says as diplomatic spat worsens The diplomatic brawl between Canada and Saudi Arabia showed no signs of abating Wednesday as the kingdom's foreign affairs minister publicly demanded that Canada withdraw its criticism of his country's human rights record.Video provided by HuffPost Canada

“It confirms prejudices about Saudi Arabia that exist among businessmen in Europe, for instance, while helping investors from countries where business comes first and that aren’t too concerned about human rights issues.” Saudi Arabia ’s freeze on trade with Canada isn’t expected to affect the

Saudi Arabia has informed the Canadian ambassador that he has 24 hours to leave the country, being deemed persona non grata, and informed Ottawa that all new trade and investment with Canada would cease immediately. This is the repsonse to criticisms of Saudi Arabia ’s violation of the human rights

Paul Mkandaŵire, an associate professor who specializes in human rights at Carleton University, isn’t surprised by the extreme reaction. It’s a reflection of the current geopolitical situation, he said. If U.S. President Donald Trump can insult his allies left, right and centre, what’s stopping everyone else from joining the fray?

“Saudi Arabia feels emboldened,” Mkandaŵire said.

READ MORE: Saudi non-profit deletes Twitter image depicting Air Canada plane flying towards CN Tower

Canadians also shouldn’t mistake who the intended target of the Arab kingdom’s message is, he said. Although some believed Saudi Arabia took a step forward earlier this year in granting women the right to drive, there has been tremendous pushback in the patriarchal country.

“Part of it is to send a message that even though there have been concessions of late, the regime stands to defend the status quo,” Mkandaŵire said.

Canada’s stance will likely have economic repercussions, he said, but perhaps it's an opportunity for Canada to be more consistent going forward. Mkandaŵire is firmly opposed to the arms deal, even if the Canadian government doesn’t believe it has enough evidence to say definitively the weapons are being used on Saudi Arabian people.

“I’m not in favour of the kind of deal that builds the capacity of an already repressive regime, where you know they’re going to use machinery for undemocratic ends for sure,” he said.

Neve is similarly optimistic.

“Our hope is that this will become the impetus now for Canada to really become a principled and consistent leader when it comes to Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights record.”

Ottawa was surprised by Saudi Arabia’s angry reaction to its human rights concerns .
Federal officials were caught off guard by Saudi Arabia’s angry response to Ottawa’s social media criticism of the detention of several activists, saying that Canada’s message was little different than what had been conveyed publicly and privately in the past. The tweets sent by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her department set off a diplomatic firestorm that saw Saudi Arabia’s leaders accuse Canada of “blatant” interference in the kingdom’s affairs and react with a series of retaliatory measures.

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