Cross Country Checkup

Are we prepared to pay the price of standing up to repressive regimes?

What began as a tweet of concern about human rights has led to a diplomatic feud between Saudi Arabia and Canada. Listen in as guest host Renee Filippone chats with people across the country about this topic.

How far should Canada go when speaking up on human rights issues in other countries?

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland (left) and Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (right). (Sean Kilpatrick/CP, Thomas Peter/Reuters)
Listen to the full episode1:51:40

It started with just a tweet, yet another example of how powerful a single tweet can be.

Now, Canada and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are in a diplomatic standoff.

Ottawa won't apologize, Riyadh won't back down and the U.S. isn't offering their support. 

Late last week, Canada's foreign affairs department tweeted that it was very alarmed to learn about the arrest of political activists — urging for the immediate release of women's rights activist Samar Badawi — her brother is currently in prison  — sentenced to a thousand lashes for criticizing Islam. 

To say the message didn't sit well with the Saudi government is an understatement. Immediately after, the Canadian ambassador was booted out of Riyadh. 

Saudi students and Saudi hospital patients who are here in Canada, are all being ordered back to the Kingdom. Any new trade and investment — frozen.

But this so called "diplomacy by twitter" isn't new or unusual. The Trudeau government has called out Iran, Venezuela, Myanmar  — the list goes on. Even Stephen Harper took to Twitter against Russia, following the downing of flight MH17

But, there has never been a reaction quite like this. The totalitarian regime is unwilling to face international criticism over its human rights record, and its justice system.the young Crown Prince appears to be making a power play by making an example out of Canada. 

Our question: How far should Canada go in standing up to repressive regimes? ​

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