Trudeau mum on Saudi dispute apology, says Canada will speak out ‘wherever we see the need’
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.”
WATCH BELOW: Canada’s allies stay neutral during dispute with Saudi Arabia
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.
WATCH BELOW: U.S. State Department urges Canada, Saudi Arabia to resolve dispute
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.”
More to come …
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