As you’re likely aware, Saudi Arabia and Canada are in the midst of a dispute after Canada’s foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland sent out a tweet criticizing Saudi Arabia's human rights record.
Since then, the Saudis have responded with numerous measures against Canada. The last plane to Saudi Arabia from Toronto left yesterday, and Saudi authorities have ordered all of their international students to leave the country.
Now, a former politician from Stephen Harper’s government has gone on Saudi state television to address the issue. But, he isn't siding with Canada.
John Baird was Foreign Affairs Minister under Stephen Harper, and recently appeared on the English language version of Al Arabiya, Saudi's state television program.
In the interview, the former Minister said that the mix up between the two countries is really Canada’s fault.
“For Canada to treat a friend and ally this way has been incredibly unhelpful,” said Baird.
In the interview, Baird urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to fly to Saudi Arabia and apologize to their leader in person.
“I think the Canadian government is only beginning to understand how offensive their conduct has been to the Saudi government,” he said.
The whole incident is "giving Canada a bad reputation,” Baird claims.
Saudi media has apparently been playing up the comments made by Baird as a way of showing the public that Canada is in the wrong for calling the country out on its human rights record.
Many see Baird's words as hypocritical, though.
As a part of the Harper government, Baird reportedly severed diplomatic relations with Iran over its human rights record. He even attacked Saudi Arabia for flogging one of the activists - the very same activist that Freeland mentioned in her tweet, which triggered the dispute.
Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi’s sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi.— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) August 2, 2018
You can see sections of Baird's interview below.
Canada has yet to take any concrete action against what the Saudis have done in response to Freeland’s tweet.
Source: Ottawa Citizen