Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador on Monday and froze "all new business" with Ottawa over its criticism of the ultraconservative kingdom's arrest of women's rights activists - yet another warning to the West reflecting Riyadh's newly assertive foreign policy.
But Canada has stood firm, with Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland insisting it would defend human rights around the world.
"Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi", the tweet read.
The ministry also announced "the freezing of all new trade and investment transactions with Canada while retaining its right to take further action".
We consider the Canadian ambassador to the kingdom persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours, ' the Saudi foreign ministry tweeted early Monday.
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In apparent escalation of a rift between Saudi Arabia and Canada on Monday evening, Riyadh suspended scholarships for Saudi students in Canada and said it would relocate thousands of students studying there to other countries, state media reported, citing an Education Ministry official. "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".
Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, said it is hard to determine what the economic impact on Canada would be without specifics on which trade deals will be affected. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were citizens of Saudi Arabia, and Saudi royals have always been accused of complicity in the attack.
On one hand, it would be a bad scenario to cancel the arms deals, but on the other, many human rights groups have criticized Canada's decision to sell armoured vehicles to a regime with a "horrible human rights record", Juneau said.
At the same time, it sends a strong message to European and Middle Eastern countries not to "mess" with Saudi Arabia, Juneau said. The Twitter account has been described as "an official government" account in Saudi-owned state media, although the relationship to the Saudi state is not clear.
The federal office says Canada imported $2.6 billion worth of goods from Saudi Arabia, with $2.5 billion of that in mineral production.