Saudi Arabia appears to threaten Canada in Tweet

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Raif Badawi was arrested in 2012 for running a blog that promoted free speech and women's rights in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is hitting back at Canada after Canadian diplomats called on the kingdom to release recently detained women's rights activists.

The fallout is a result of a tweet from Global Affairs Canada calling for the kingdom to immediately release jailed human rights activists.

The Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau, a wing of the country's Ministry of Education, announced on its website Monday that all training and scholarship programs in Canada would be suspended by the end of the Islamic calendar year in September.

"We consider the Canadian ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours", Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.

Some analysts perceive the move as both a power play for the kingdom's emerging young leader and a demonstration put on for the benefit of countries with stronger ties to Saudi Arabia than Canada.

The arrests appear to be at odds with the reforms promised by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who lifted the ban on women drivers in June and allowed movie theatres to open across the country for the first time in April.

The true impact of Saudi Arabia's flexing of diplomatic muscle is still unclear.

What's the response been so far, at home and overseas?

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"For Saudi Arabia to punish Canada, it's fairly easy because we're not an important country for them, either are they for us", he said.

"Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, including women's rights and freedom of expression around the world", she said.

The diplomatic dispute between Canada and Saudi Arabia escalated extremely quickly and could take an intervention by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to cool down, former foreign affairs minister Peter MacKay says.

McTeague said the risk of Saudi Arabia causing gas prices to rise is minimal - even locally in New Brunswick - given the "very robust market" globally for crude and Irving Oil's allocation to the USA northeast.

It estimates that at least 15 Saudi activists have been arrested since May 15, though some estimate that the actual number of arrests, including unreported ones, may be higher.

The dispute looks set to damage what is a modest bilateral trade relationship worth almost $4 billion a year.

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Freeland would only tell reporters Monday that the Canadian ambassador is "fine" and would not disclose his location.