The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed, Wednesday, his country’s persistence in defending human rights, refusing to apologise to Saudi Arabia for Canada’s opposition to the detention of activists in Saudi prisons.
Trudeau said that although his country appreciates the “importance” of Saudi Arabia in the world, it would continue to speak “clearly and firmly about human rights issues in the country and abroad” whenever needed.
This came in a press statement by Trudeau during his participation in an event held in Montreal, a city in Canada’s Québec province
Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Canada last Monday, and declared the ambassador of Canada in Riyadh “persona non grata,” against the backdrop of what Riyadh called “explicit and blatant interference in the country’s internal affairs.”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced “the freezing of all new trade and investment dealings with Canada and retaining its right to take further action.”
This came following the Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland’s call on Riyadh to release the so-called “civil society activists” who were arrested in the Kingdom.
At the same time, Trudeau explained that the diplomatic talks with Riyadh would continue, “but without taking a single step back from the criticism of the Foreign Minister regarding the arrest of Saudi activists.”
The Prime Minister said that Freeland held extensive talks with her Saudi counterpart, Adel Al-Jubeir, on Tuesday, without giving further details.
Trudeau stressed that they were keen to communicate directly with the Saudi government in order to re-establish diplomatic relations between the two countries, and pointed out that “the issue of Canada’s apology for the criticism of human rights violations were not addressed during the talks.”
He added: “Canadians have always expected our government to speak firmly, decisively and politely about the need to respect human rights around the world.”
He went on: “We will continue to defend Canadian values and human rights. This is something that I will always do.”