The Canadian government has summoned Egypt's chargé d'affaires to Canada to reiterate its deep concern over the violence in Egypt, while authorities there gave police the green light to use deadly force to protect themselves and key state institutions from attacks.
Canada called in Egypt's envoy Mohamed Naguib Hussein Fakhry on Thursday to urge Egypt's military-backed government and the Muslim Brotherhood to "immediately sit down together, reconcile their differences and work tirelessly to halt this deadly standoff," CBC News has learned.
Officials at Foreign Affairs told Fakhry that Canada believes that "implementing a transparent democratic system that respects the voices of all Egyptians, including members of civil society and religious minorities, is the best way to restore calm and give all Egyptians a stake in the future stability and prosperity of their country."
Concerns over Christian minority
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Canada’s ambassador for religious freedom, Andrew Bennett, issued a joint statement on Thursday to condemn the violence against Christians in Egypt.
"We urge all parties to engage in a productive dialogue to ease tensions. We also call on all Egyptians to show maximum restraint and resolve in the coming days," read the statement.
The Canadian government called the attacks on places of worship "unacceptable," following a day of deadly clashes between Egyptian police and supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi.
"We are concerned by recent attacks on religious institutions in Egypt, in particular the unconscionable attacks on Coptic Orthodox and Anglican churches and on Baptist and Franciscan institutions," the statement said.
Canada closed its embassy in Cairo on Wednesday for security reasons, confirmed a spokesperson for Baird in an email to CBC News on Thursday.
The government web page for Canadians travelling or living abroad has been updated to reflect the closure: "For security reasons, the Embassy of Canada in Cairo will be closed until further notice."
The Canadian government extended its deepest sympathies to the victims of these attacks and called on authorities in Egypt to protect worshippers and religious sites from further violence and intimidation.
Obama condemns steps by Egyptian military
U.S. President Barack Obama interrupted his weeklong vacation on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts on Thursday to address the rapidly deteriorating situation in Egypt.
"The U.S. strongly condemns the steps taken by Egypt’s military," Obama said.
The U.S. president warned the country to lift a state of emergency and work toward peace, or further action could be taken. He also cancelled next month's U.S.-Egypt military exercises.
U.S. officials are not calling Morsi's ouster a coup because that would require the U.S. to cut off $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt.
Unlike the U.S., Canada does not provide international assistance through the government of Egypt.
"We continue to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance and development programming through Canadian, international, multilateral, and local non-governmental organizations," Margaux Stastny, from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada told CBC News in an email on Thursday.