Archive | Canadian Politics

Bill Blair apologizes, corrects remark saying ‘overwhelming majority’ of asylum seekers have left

Posted on 29 September 2018 by admin

Border Security Minister Bill Blair has apologized and corrected a statement he made last week claiming most asylum seekers who crossed the border in a surge last year have left the country.

In an interview that aired on Sunday with The West Block, Blair was asked about how the government has been working to deal with the surge of more than 32,000 migrants who have walked across the border over the last year and a half to make asylum claims in Canada, and whether the government knows where all of them are now.

Despite data from the Canadian Border Services Agency indicating only 398 of the 32,173 people who crossed the U.S. border irregularly into Canada between April 2017 and August 2018 had actually been deported, Blair stated the opposite.

“I will tell you that we did experience a surge of people last year,” Blair told The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson.

“We found a very small percentage of them were actually eligible to stay, and the overwhelming majority of those people have left.”

First in a tweet Sunday night and then in a formal press release issued Monday afternoon prior to question period, Blair apologized and said he had misspoken.

 “Minister Blair would like to clarify that he was referring to a small cohort of failed claimant asylum seekers,” said press secretary Marie-Emmanuelle Cadieux.

Blair’s apology from his tweet was included below that in the press release.

“I clearly misspoke in suggesting the majority who arrived last year have left. They have not. They await disposition of their claim. Sorry for the obvious confusion that I caused,” Blair said.

Global News made repeated attempts to clarify Blair’s comments and ask for the data his team said backed them up.

Cadieux said he was referring to people who had “left the Lacolle facility.”

When asked to provide numbers that demonstrated that, Cadieux quoted numbers from the Canada Border Services Agency saying that the number of irregular migrant removals in 2017/2018 was 240 and the removals in 2018/2019 were 214.

Of those, she said, the irregular/failed claimant removal subset stood at 125 and 127 in those same years.

“Note that not all those who have arrived in recent years have finished their processes that would ultimately lead to a removal,” she wrote in an email.

“This is what the minister is referring to when he says the ‘the overwhelming majority of those people have left.’ The others are still going through the process.”

However, the response and the minister’s remarks prompted a swift backlash from critics online.

The issue of how to handle irregular border crossings has been a lightning rod between Liberals and Conservatives over the past year and a half.

Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel has repeatedly accused the government of not having a plan to deal with the surge, which has come amid an increasingly anti-immigrant climate in the United States.

Rempel has also called for the government to negotiate with the U.S. to apply the Safe Third Country Agreement to the entire border.

That agreement between Canada and the U.S. essentially states that both countries recognize each other as safe countries for people to make asylum claims and as a result, each will not consider claims made from someone who first lands in Canada, for example, but then decides to try to make a claim in the U.S.

However, that agreement only applies to migrants who attempt to cross the border at official checkpoints.

Irregular crossers, once intercepted by RCMP after crossing at unofficial points along the border, can make an asylum claim despite crossing from the U.S.

That loophole has been a major source of criticism since the surge began, and Blair told the House of Commons last week he has made attempts to discuss the matter with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

In late August, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was heckled during an event in Quebec by a woman asking him when the federal government would reimburse the provincial government for the costs of dealing with the irregular migrants.

He accused her of “intolerance.”

When she confronted him a second time following the event to ask whether he respects “true stock Quebecois,” he told her, “your racism has no place here.”

Trudeau was unapologetic for his accusations when questioned about them afterwards.

“I will not flinch from highlighting when the politics of division, of fear, of spreading misinformation is actually harming the fabric of this country,” he said.

“The fact is, we have a situation where there are irregular arrivals coming across our border into Canada … People who are trying to make this sound like a crisis are playing exactly the politics of fear and intolerance.”

 

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Premier Ford announces intentions to form special committee to probe Ontario’s fiscal situation

Posted on 29 September 2018 by admin

TORONTO – Calling his predecessor’s handling of Ontario’s books “the biggest government scandal in a generation,” Premier Doug Ford announced plans for a special committee Monday that would dig further into the province’s fiscal situation.

Ford’s vow to hold the previous regime accountable came in a speech to caucus delivered days after his finance minister announced the province was dealing with a recently revised $15 billion deficit as a result of Liberal accounting practices.

“They do not just get to walk away from this,” said Ford, whose Progressive Conservatives won a majority this spring. “We will demand answers about where the money went.”

Ford said the committee will have the power to call witnesses, compel documents and gather evidence for a final report expected in December.

On Friday, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said the province will have to make sacrifices as it grapples with a $15 billion projected deficit for 2018-2019.

“Vic you helped shine the spotlight on the biggest government scandal in a generation,” Ford said to Fedeli, who was standing beside him. “We sent a team of experts, an independent commission, to follow the money.”

Ford took no questions on his plans for the committee, which are in addition to the work of the independent commission and a line-by-line audit of government spending that’s expected to be finished in the coming weeks.

The premier instead repeatedly criticized his predecessor, Kathleen Wynne.

“We’re not just going to look the other way,” he said. “We’re not going to let Kathleen Wynne and her cronies walk away from their $15-billion scandal because we can’t let anything like this ever happen again.”

The government said the committee will investigate Liberal accounting practices, decision making and policy objectives. The body will be made up of six government members and three NDP legislators.

“We expect that this committee will leave no stone unturned,” Ford said. “Boy I’d be worried to go in front of them. They’re a tough group.”

Fedeli has explained that the Progressive Conservatives had chosen to adopt accounting practices used by the auditor general and had found greater deficits under the Liberals than had been reported.

The Liberals had disagreed with the auditor general over accounting principles applied to two pensions plans and its Fair Hydro Plan, a situation the fiscal watchdog said meant the province understated its deficit by billions.

Critics have said Fedeli’s message will pave the pave the way for significant cuts to government services.

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Canada’s Armed Forces, struggling to hit diversity goals, turns to new digital recruiting tools

Posted on 19 September 2018 by admin

The Canadian Armed Forces are struggling to hit their own targets to get more women, Indigenous people and visible minorities into uniform, new data obtained by Global News shows.

And, in an attempt to to boost numbers that appear to have been largely stalled for more than three years, the Department of National Defence (DND) will launch a suite of new digital tools — including a smartphone app that, in its functionality, will resemble the matchmaking app Tinder — aimed at convincing more Canadians to consider a life in the Armed Forces.

The Canadian Forces believes a more diverse group is also a more effective group.

“It’s important in that it gives us operational effectiveness,” Brig.-Gen. Virginia Tattersall said in an interview. “If we were all that one sort of vanilla, you won’t get that same range of opinions, those different ways of being able to think about issues, that different approach to how to solve a problem.”

The Canadian Forces says that, as of the most recent fiscal year-end, on March 31, 2018, just 15 per cent of the regular force were women, a ratio that’s hardly budged since 2016 when it was 14.4 per cent. DND’s own target is to push that ratio to 25 per cent by 2026.

One new female recruit, army Capt. Mandy Grewal, joined the Canadian Forces in the spring at the age of 34. She had been a practising private-sector lawyer and had never considered a career in uniform when she was growing up.

“It was never a career that was presented to me growing up as an Indian female,” Grewal said in an interview.

But through some friends who were in the Forces, Grewal learned about life in uniform and found out she could continue practising law and have the chance to work overseas and in different parts of Canada. She believes more women and visible minorities might consider making the same choice she did if they knew more the sorts of trades the military is seeking.

“I think that greater awareness of the career opportunities, of the fact that there are pretty much every trade that you would have in the civilian world, you can practise and you can also learn to do it in the military context,” said Grewal.

Tattersall acknowledged that one barrier to recruiting more women has been the perception that the Armed Forces did not do enough to prevent inappropriate sexual behaviour, that women were putting themselves at risk in a culture that often overlooked that kind of behaviour.

“But the Canadian Armed Forces is working hard to change that culture,” Tattersall said. “We’ve taken [steps] to make that very clear that’s not what the Canadian Armed Forces represents, apologize to those who have suffered and to move forward with a culture we want, which is an inclusive culture.”

Tattersall said the department has spent considerable time thinking about how to convince Canadians to join the forces.

Among the new initiatives set for this fall, the Forces hope to launch a program that lets Canadians sign up on a temporary basis, to get a taste of life in uniform, in the hope that they will enjoy the experience and make a career commitment.

There will soon be a revamped website which will include some virtual reality tours. And there will be a smartphone app that lets potential recruits explore some of the hundreds of different trades or occupations within the Forces by swiping right for those they like and swiping left for those they don’t.

“We are really upping our game so that we are going to approach young people just like any other modern company would think of,” Tattersall said.

DND is closer to hitting its self-imposed targets for visible minorities and Indigenous Canadians although, as with the ratio of female regular Force members, the numbers have not budged much over three successive years.

At the end of fiscal 2018, visible minorities made up 7.2 per cent of the regular Forces versus 6 per cent in 2016. The 2026 target is 11.8 per cent.

The 2026 target for Indigenous Canadians is 3.5 per cent and at the end of fiscal 2018, the regular Forces were at 2.8 per cent versus 2.7 per cent in 2016.

That data was provided to Global News by DND after Global News obtained a briefing note prepared last March for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan that outlined some of the human resources challenges facing the department.

For example, the department would like to lower the attrition rate of the forces. At the end of fiscal 2018, the forces were losing about 4.1 per cent of its members — both regular and reserve — a year. In fiscal 2017, the attrition rate spiked to 7.9 per cent. That spike, according to the briefing note prepared for Sajjan was a result of the clearing of a backlog of medical releases.

There are about 66,000 regular Force members and about 27,000 reserve Force members. The Trudeau government’s goal is to boost that to 71,500 regular Force members and 30,000 reservists. A high attrition rate makes it more difficult for the Forces to achieve those goals.

In fiscal 2018, the department spent $6.575 million on its recruiting advertising campaign which included the purchase of $1.365 million worth of television advertising which ran on CBC in French and in English during the Olympics.

 

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Here’s how Canadian businesses are affected by Canadian retaliatory tariffs

Posted on 19 September 2018 by admin

As the ongoing trade dispute over steel and aluminum rages on, Canadian producers and manufacturers are caught in the middle. As Canada’s largest trade association, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters has more than 2,500 members and it tells Global News every single one is affected.

Global News spoke with a number of steel manufacturers across the country. Here’s what three of them are up against.

How it is affected:  Apollo Machine employs 250 people at three facilities where it offers a wide range of machining services.

It has been hit hardest by counter-tariffs on the steel it needs to source from south of the border. Customers of its subsidiary, Apollo Clad, demand very specific types of steel bars for additive manufacturing that aren’t available in Canada. In some cases, the steel it needs is under an American patent.

It has been trying to source the product outside the U.S., but globally prices have been climbing due to the demand sparked by the trade dispute. And, like many others, it doesn’t want to hurt its longstanding relationship with its American supplier. Apollo Machine buys $9 million in steel annually and estimate counter-tariffs will cost the company $3 million this year if nothing changes.

It says the new Canadian rules are making its business non-competitive — right after it recovered from the oil and gas downturn in Alberta.

Is it getting help: The company applied for tariff relief, but all it got in response so far was an email saying the process would take weeks. Research and development manager Doug Hamre has launched a petition sponsored by Conservative MP Mike Lake, calling for Canada to get rid of the surtaxes on materials not produced in Canada, or at the very least, make the application process for duty relief programs easier.

How it is affected: Autotube makes steel and stainless steel tube components like dipsticks and oil tubes that are eventually used by the big three automakers as well as Toyota. It employs 200 people at two facilities.

It has been hit by both American and Canadian-imposed tariffs. First, American suppliers have upped their prices. But at home,  the company is subject to Canadian counter-tariffs which are costing $100,000 a month. It says it can’t get the coiled steel easily in Canada, the Canadian prices are much higher, and in addition, it has a 20-year relationship with its American supplier.

Is it getting help: Autotube has hired a consultant to try and get the product reclassified as an auto part, and if that fails, to try and get some duty relief.

How it is affected: Jem Strapping Systems makes all kinds of strapping used to ship products, but the vast majority is made out of steel. It employs about 30 people in its Brant County, Ont., plant.

About half of the company’s steel comes from Canada and the other half from the U.S., so it is affected by tariffs on both sides of the border. President Paul McGrath estimates his business has lost more than a million dollars so far, and is losing half his revenue to the tariff issue in general. Sales are down and McGrath has lost a lot of his American customers who are afraid of uncertainty.

Is it getting help: After submitting paperwork and undergoing a full-day audit by Canada Border Services Agency, Jem qualified for Canadian duty relief. But he says it’s not coming fast enough and he’s still stuck paying duty on scrap steel he can’t sell back to the U.S. — up to $10,000 a month, plus the cost of a bookkeeper to keep track of his new inventory system — separating U.S. and Canadian product.

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25 Toronto MPs slam Ford for using notwithstanding clause, urge MPPs to defeat bill

Posted on 19 September 2018 by admin

The 25 Liberal MPs who represent ridings in the city of Toronto have unanimously called on Ontario MPPs to “defeat” Premier Doug Ford’s bill to cut the size of Toronto city council because of its “unprecedented use” of the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause.

In a statement made public on Thursday, the group of Toronto MPs, which includes several federal cabinet ministers, said they “stand united” against Ford’s decision to use that clause, describing the premier’s move as “heavy-handed and disrespectful.”

The notwithstanding clause allows provincial legislatures and Parliament to pass legislation that overrides provisions enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Before this week, no Ontario government had ever invoked the clause.

“We believe MPPs elected in Toronto have a responsibility to defend the city, its democratic institutions, and the rights of citizens to a free and fair municipal election,” the statement says. “The people of Toronto deserve nothing less.”

“As elected representatives of the City, we want to assure the people of Toronto that we understand and respect the critical role that City Hall and local democracy play in building the communities in which we live.”

Earlier this summer, the Progressive Conservative government tabled and passed a bill seeking to slash the number of seats on Toronto city council seats to 25 from 47.  The reduction came even though a municipal election campaign is already underway. Municipalities throughout Ontario, including Toronto, go to the polls Oct. 22.

The bill was challenged in court and in a ruling issued Monday morning, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba found that the move to do away with 22 city wards in the middle of an election campaign substantially interfered with municipal voters’ freedom of expression and the “right to cast a vote that can result in effective representation.”

“It is only when a democratically elected government has clearly crossed the line that the ‘judicial umpire’ should intervene. The Province has clearly crossed the line,” Belobaba wrote in his decision.

Displeased with the ruling, Ford gave notice he would re-table the legislation cutting Toronto city council seats and invoke the notwithstanding clause to override the Ontario court’s ruling. The re-introduced bill had its first reading in the provincial legislature on Wednesday afternoon.

Speaking with Global News from Saskatoon, where the Liberal caucus met for the last two days, Spadina-Fort York MP Adam Vaughan argued Ford’s decision to use the clause is “beyond the norm” in Canada and represents “an abuse of power.” That’s why Vaughan said he’s calling on Progressive Conservative MPPs — particularly those in Toronto — to vote against the re-introduced legislation.

“At this stage in the dispute, all we can do is appeal to their conscience and appeal to their principles,” Vaughan said in a phone interview. “I do know a number of them and they should give their heads a shake. They should know better.”

“This kind of abuse of principle and practice and law is a slippery slope to all laws and all rules and all regulations being disobeyed. And that is not democratic, and that is not an acceptable practice in this day and age in any democracy, let alone Ontario.”

Despite this being a municipal and provincial issue, Vaughan said concerned constituents have been coming to him “by the score.” Toronto-Danforth MP Julie Dabrusin also told Global News she’s had “a lot” of constituents express worries about the Ontario government’s efforts to reduce the number of elected municipal representatives in Toronto.

“Right now, [Premier Ford] has a right of appeal, he has other mechanisms there for him and that’s what he should be using,” Dabrusin told reporters in Saskatoon.

Ford did say on Monday he would appeal the Superior Court ruling. A majority of Toronto city council on Thursday afternoon voted to head back to court to fight the bill.

In their statement, the Liberal MPs said the issue at hand is not partisan.

Asked about the Toronto MPs’ statement during a press conference in Saskatoon on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he expects all Liberal MPs “to be strong voices for their communities in Ottawa.”

Trudeau, however, has indicated he won’t intervene in the controversy, beyond expressing his disappointment in the Ontario government’s decision to invoke the notwithstanding clause.

The prime minister said on Thursday he’s a “staunch believer and defender” of the Charter and takes Ford’s move “very seriously,” but he’s not going to weigh in on “the actual debate over the size of the municipal governments in Ontario (or) Toronto.”

“I don’t think that’s a role the federal government needs to take on,” Trudeau said.

Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer told The Canadian Press on Wednesday that the Ontario government is well within its legal rights to use the notwithstanding clause in this circumstance.

Scheer, however, did not say whether he thinks it is a good move.

 

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NDP’s Andrea Horwath criticized for mixing politics with Humboldt tragedy

Posted on 19 September 2018 by admin

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is facing online backlash for mixing Ontario politics with the Humboldt Broncos tragedy.

On Wednesday night, Horwath tweeted “Ford chaos in Ontario notwithstanding, my heart is in Humbolt with so many other Canadians from across our country.”

However, it immediately caused several people to respond to the Hamilton Centre MPP with harsh criticism, with some calling the comment “gross”, “tasteless” and “disrespectful.”

Humboldt was also misspelled in the tweet, which has since been deleted.

 

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Trump attacks union leader days after he stated new NAFTA deal must include Canada

Posted on 07 September 2018 by admin

President Donald Trump started his Labor Day with an attack on a top union leader, lashing out after criticism from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

Trump tweeted Monday that Trumka “represented his union poorly on television this weekend.” He added: “it is easy to see why unions are doing so poorly. A Dem!”

The president’s attack came after Trumka appeared on “Fox News Sunday” over the weekend where he said efforts to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement should include Canada. Trumka, whose organization is an umbrella group for most unions, said the economies of the United States, Canada and Mexico are “integrated” and “it’s pretty hard to see how that would work without having Canada in the deal.”

Trump said Saturday on Twitter that there was “no political necessity” to keep Canada in NAFTA. But it’s questionable whether Trump can unilaterally exclude Canada from a deal to replace the three-nation NAFTA agreement, without the approval of Congress. Any such move would likely face lengthy legal and congressional challenges.

Trump administration negotiations to keep Canada in the reimagined trade bloc are to resume this week as Washington and Ottawa try to break a deadlock over issues such as Canada’s dairy market and U.S. efforts to shield drug companies from generic competition.

Trump wants to get a trade deal finalized by Dec. 1.

Trumka also said of Trump: “the things that he’s done to hurt workers outpace what he’s done to help workers,” arguing that Trump has not come through with an infrastructure program and has overturned regulations that “will hurt us on the job.”

Asked about the low unemployment rate and economic growth, Trumka said “those are good, but wages have been down since the first of the year. Gas prices have been up since the first of the year. So, overall, workers aren’t doing as well.”

On Monday, Trump touted the economy, saying “Our country is doing better than ever before with unemployment setting record lows.” He added, “The Worker in America is doing better than ever before. Celebrate Labor Day!”

The unemployment rate of 3.9 percent is not at the best point ever — it is near the lowest in 18 years.

 

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Saudi students to make asylum claims in Canada amid diplomatic feud

Posted on 07 September 2018 by admin

Around 20 Saudi students are set to make asylum claims in Canada so that they can continue studying and living here, amid a diplomatic spat between the two countries.

Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi dissident activist who secured asylum in Canada in 2014, told Global News that the students’ plans were thrown into chaos after the Saudi government instructed them to leave Canada and return home by Aug. 31.

The order came amid a diplomatic spat set off by the Canadian government’s criticism of the arrest of human rights activists in the conservative kingdom.

 “It was like a shock for these students… they didn’t know what to do, so they’re trying to find solutions for their problems,” said Abdulaziz, who is helping the students file for asylum.

Saudi Arabia later said that medical residents could stay in Canada until alternative placements are secured.

However, the students who Abdulaziz is assisting are not medical residents, and so are not eligible to stay in Canada longer. He said they live in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

they fear that their association with him could lead to them being harassed or imprisoned.

The Montreal-based activist says his outspoken social media criticism of the Saudi government has already led to the arrests of family members and friends in Saudi Arabia.

“The Saudi government was trying to blackmail me and use my brother to stop me from tweeting or talking about the situation between Saudi Arabia and Canada,” he said. “But I didn’t cooperate with them, I didn’t accept that, so they arrested him and also another one of my brothers and a group of my friends.”

Abdulaziz said he is counselling students to think long and hard about whether asylum is the best option for them. He’s urging some of them to find other ways to stay in Canada, such as by graduating and applying for work permits, for example.

While the Saudi government may ask students to return, they can still stay in Canada as long as their student visas are valid in this country. Under Canadian immigration law, students can apply for work permits after they graduate.

But Abdulaziz said those who face a demonstrable threat in Saudi Arabia would be well-advised to seek asylum in Canada.

“The situation there is like madness. I don’t think it’s a good idea to go back for some of them.”

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Trudeau on Saudi dispute apology, says Canada will speak out ‘wherever we see the need’

Posted on 15 August 2018 by admin

It appears no apology is in the works from Canada after Saudi Arabia launched an escalating diplomatic dispute over a tweet.

At a press conference in Montreal on Wednesday afternoon, reporters asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau whether he was willing to apologize to Saudi Arabia after Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland last week criticized the kingdom’s arrest and detention of women’s rights activists, including one with family ties to Canada.

 “We will continue to stand up for Canadian values and universal values and human rights,” said Trudeau.

“We have respect for their importance in the world and recognize they have made progress on a number of important issues but we will continue to speak firmly and strongly on human rights around the world wherever we see the need.”

The dispute started on Sunday evening when Saudi Arabia announced it was ejecting the Canadian ambassador, recalling its own and freezing all new business with Canada because of what it deemed “interference” in its internal affairs.

The tweet in question, posted on Aug. 2 by Freeland, criticized the arrest of Samar Badawi, a women’s rights activist who is the sister of imprisoned dissident blogger Raif Badawi, whose wife is a Canadian citizen and lives in Quebec.

Since then, Saudi Arabia has ordered both its students studying in Canada and citizens seeking medical treatment to go elsewhere within the month.

It also blacklisted Canadian wheat and barley imports and ordered the asset managers for its central bank and state pension funds to dump Canadian assets “no matter the cost.”

None of Canada’s allies has spoken out publicly in defence out of what experts describe as fear of being cut out from doing business deals in the lucrative Saudi economy.

When asked whether he was frustrated with the lack of support from countries like the U.S. and the U.K., Trudeau said it was up to individual countries.

“I am never going to impose on another country what their response or reaction should be,” he said.

“I respect the rights of other countries to speak for themselves.”

 

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Saudi Arabia-Canada spat: Here’s everything to know about the feud

Posted on 15 August 2018 by admin

It started with a tweet over human rights and now the feud between Saudi Arabia and Canada has escalated into one of the biggest diplomatic rifts in years between the two nations.

Saudi Arabia has kicked out the Canadian ambassador, plans to pull out thousands of students and medical patients from Canada and is suspending Saudi state airline flights to Toronto.

And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not backing down.

“It’s very harsh diplomatic measures,” said Aurel Braun, a professor of political science and international relations at the University of Toronto. “This is an all-out confrontation short of a military conflict because it’s breaking a link in the diplomatic embassy.”

As the feud continues to balloon, here’s everything you need to know about it.

How did it start?

The diplomatic dispute began last week after Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland tweeted concerns about the news that several social activists had been arrested in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi, a women’s rights activist who is the sister of imprisoned dissident blogger Raif Badawi, whose wife is a Canadian citizen and lives in Quebec.

Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.

On Aug. 2, Freeland called for the release of the prisoners, and a day later, her department tweeted further criticism and called for the “immediate release” of Badawi.

Saudi Arabia has consistently been flagged as one of the worst violators of human rights by groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

How did Saudi Arabia react?

The ultraconservative kingdom did not take the tweet lightly.

In a series of angry tweets on Sunday, the Saudi foreign ministry criticized Canada’s “negative and surprising attitude” and called the country’s position “an overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of #SaudiArabia.”

 “Canada has made a mistake and needs to fix it,” Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Wednesday. “The ball is in Canada’s court.”

In a steady string of retaliatory measures, Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry expelled Canada’s ambassador and suspended all business and trade between the two countries.

The nation is also ending thousands of Saudi scholarship programs in Canada, arranging for all Saudi patients in Canadian hospitals to be transferred out of the country, blacklisted Canadian wheat and barley and ordered the asset managers of their central bank and pension funds to dump Canadian assets “no matter the cost.”

Why the quick, harsh reaction?

Saudi Arabia has always been hypersensitive to criticism of human rights, according to Braun. For example, in 2015 Sweden criticized the kingdom’s human rights record, and as a result, Saudi Arabia took harsh diplomatic measures and expelled Sweden’s ambassador.

But Braun said the kingdom’s reaction to Canada seems to be more severe.

 “Maybe the ruling family wants to make an example of Canada and send a message internationally, that Saudi Armada will extract a high cost for those who interfere in domestic affairs,” he said.

The nation also has a young new crown prince in power, Mohammed bin Salman, who is taking steps forward to modernize the country.

“By contrast to the old regime, the country believes it is modernizing, such as allowing women to drive, although this may seem minute to us,” Braun explained. “They see themselves as trying to engage in reform, but they are not being rewarded for it, instead Canada is shaming them. So it’s not only anger, it’s a lack of recognition.”

On Monday, a Saudi youth organization shared and then deleted an image on Twitter that appeared to show an Air Canada plane heading toward the CN Tower in Toronto, evoking images of the 9/11 attacks in the U.S.

 “As the Arabic saying goes: ‘He who interferes with what doesn’t concern him finds what doesn’t please him,’” read a message superimposed over the image from the Twitter account @infographic_KSA. It also accused Canada of “sticking one’s nose where it doesn’t belong.”

Oil will not be impacted

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister assured Canada that the kingdom’s diplomatic dispute with Ottawa won’t affect oil sales. Around 10 per cent of Canada’s oil imports come from Saudi Arabia. Bilateral trade between the two nations is around $3 billion a year.

Was this a wise move for Canada?

Canada has had a long history of standing up for human rights internationally.

“For Canadian leaders to criticize the human rights in other countries is not surprising,” Braun said. But he added it may have been the public platform that Canada used in order to shame Saudi Arabia that left the kingdom so angry.

 “Was this a wise decision to public shame rather than quiet diplomacy? So far it did not have the desired results,” he said. “We have not seen the release of these people.”

What are Canada’s allies saying?

None of Canada’s allies has spoken out publicly in defence out of what experts describe as fear of being cut out from doing business deals in the lucrative Saudi economy.

What are the next steps?

Braun believes that in order for the two nations to mend ties, Canada will have to pull off some intricate diplomatic choreography and find a “face-saving message.”

But Trudeau and Freeland made it clear that Canada will not apologize for standing up for women’s rights.

 “We will continue to stand up for Canadian values and universal values and human rights,” Trudeau said at a press conference on Wednesday. “Canada will always speak strongly and clearly in private and in public on questions of human rights,” he said.

With both sides sticking to their position, it’s unknown how the next steps forward will unfold. However, Braun said it’s unlikely Saudi Arabia will reverse all its retaliatory steps without getting something back.

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