Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
World News | By Sandy Lane

Saudi Airlines suspends Canadian operations starting Aug

Saudi Airlines suspends Canadian operations starting Aug

Saudia said it would be temporarily stopping inbound and outbound flights to Toronto Pearson International Airport - the only Canadian destination it serves - from August 13.

Saudi Arabia's diplomatic spat with Canada prompted a tweet that touched a raw nerve in the kingdom: a photomontage of an Air Canada plane heading toward the iconic CN Tower in Toronto. Riyadh has also recalled its ambassador from Ottawa and has also expelled the Canadian ambassador in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Airlines tweeted earlier today announcing the suspension.

Dan McTeague, a senior analyst at the fuel price tracking website GasBuddy, said any such disruption could easily be offset by alternative supply, as Saudi Arabia's oil continues to represent an increasingly small portion of Canada's crude imports.

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Saudi Arabia has frozen all trade, expelled Canada's ambassador and ordered its citizens studying in Canada to leave.

Thompson Rivers University stands to lose nearly one-tenth of global students on its campus - and tens of thousands of dollars in revenue - as a result of a diplomatic row between Canada and Saudi Arabia. Samar's brother, Raif Badawi, is a blogger who was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for criticizing the Saudi clerics, for which he was convicted of "insulting Islam".

Spokeswoman Marie-Pier Baril reiterated her country's position "for the protection of human rights, very much including women's rights, and freedom of expression around the world". "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".

"Canada does not understand its place and it tried to impose itself on the Kingdom's policies in its ministry of foreign affairs statement as if to place itself above other countries in the world", he said.

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In the fist comments by Washington since the dispute erupted, a U.S. State Department official said the United States had asked Riyadh for details on the detention of activists.

The Shura Council in Bahrain, the kingdom's highest legislative body, also issued a statement condemning Canada's interference in Saudi's affairs. "They are the best interlocutor for Canada in the region", he said.

European traders said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia's main wheat-buying agency has told grains exporters it will no longer accept Canadian-origin wheat and barley.

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