"The expulsion of the Canadian ambassador by Saudi Arabia suggests that the regime of [Saudi Crown Prince] Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is a continuation of the previous one. The reforms promised by the new head of state have not been launched so far, and, perhaps, are nothing but an illusion supported by media," Cotler said.
Cotler believed that Canada should continue to exert pressure on Saudi Arabia so that the country begins to respect human rights and promotes a more moderate Islam.
"The Saudi monarchy is relentless. Instead of an increased openness, the regime, in fact, shows dissimulation. In order to persuade the international community of his commitment to changes, the new prince should act differently," Cotler stressed.
The statement was made after on Monday, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Ottawa and expelled the Canadian ambassador from the kingdom after Canada called for the immediate release of women rights activists who had been detained in Saudi Arabia. Besides, Riyadh froze trade and investment transactions with Canada and suspended student exchange programs.
On Thursday, Canada demanded that Saudi Arabia release women rights activists, including Samar Badawi, the sister of Saudi opposition activist Raif Badawi, arrested in 2012 following his criticism of Saudi clerics and religious police, as well as over allegations of insulting Islam. Riyadh considered Ottawa's demand as an interference in its internal affairs.
Saudi Arabia is believed to have witnessed a series of major changes that touched the country's economy, social and political spheres since King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud took the throne in 2015. A significant role in the reform process is attributed to Mohammed bin Salman, who was appointed as Crown Prince in June 2017.
The views and opinions expressed by Irwin Cotler are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.