Canadian errors helped fuel Saudi row, says expelled Canada envoy

We made mistakes and went too far, says Horak

Dennis Horak

OTTAWA — Canada made mistakes in its dealings with Saudi Arabia which helped spark a diplomatic dispute, the former Canadian ambassador to Riyadh said in frank remarks on Wednesday.

In August, Saudi Arabia froze new trade with Canada, expelled envoy Dennis Horak and ordered all Saudi students home.

"It was a situation that didn't need to occur ... to sort of yell from the sidelines I don't think is effective," Horak said in a phone interview. Horak's comments mark the first time a senior Canadian official has conceded Ottawa was partly responsible for the row.

Horak also said the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should have spent more time trying to improve ties with the Saudis.

Horak, now retired, said he did not know the tweet was going to be issued and would have advised against it. "The urging of immediate release I think went too far," he said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, speaking on the sidelines of a United Nations meeting, asked Canada on Sept. 26 to apologize for its actions and to stop treating the Kingdom as "a banana republic". — Reuters