The diplomatic gulf between the federal government and Saudi Arabia widened to encompass travel on Tuesday as the country's state airline announced it was suspending operations in Canada.
Saudi Arabia operates at least two routes to the country, both of which depart from Toronto.
Responding to the Saudi move to freeze trade and expel the Canadian ambassador, Ottawa said, "Canada will always stand up for human rights in Canada and around the world, and women's rights are human rights".
The government also froze all new trade with Canada, and ordered approximately 16,000 Saudi students studying overseas in Canada to return home or complete their study in other countries. Canadian exports to Saudi Arabia totaled about $1.12 billion in 2017, or 0.2 percent of the total value of Canadian exports.
Traders said they had received an official notice from the Saudi Grains Organization (SAGO) about its decision.
According to Thompson Rivers University figures, there are 2,839 global students enrolled, nine per cent of which - 256 - are from Saudi Arabia, which makes up the third-most contingent of students at TRU, behind India (22 per cent; 625 students) and China (30 per cent; 852 students).
Infographic KSA, which is believed to be owned by a Saudi youth organization and backed by the Saudi government, has a history of posting infographics that support Saudi government positions and foreign policy.
Among the arrested is Samar Badawi, an award-winning women's-rights activist who sought to abolish the country's male-guardianship laws.
"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.
Canada said it was "seriously concerned" by the escalation but vowed to continue to "stand up for human rights in Canada and around the world".
Garry Keller, who was chief of staff to ex-Conservative Foreign Minister John Baird, said the government needed to look at how it could help businesses that might be affected.
"These countries are able to host the students, and we at the ministry are committed to facilitating the students' transfers so they can easily complete their education", he said.
Amnesty International has said Badawi, the sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi, was recently detained along with Nassima al-Sada, another prominent female activist.