A diplomatic spat between Canada and Saudi Arabia may end up affecting a Saskatoon-based business.
Crestline Coaches manufactures ambulances for medical service providers worldwide, including the middle eastern kingdom.
Typically they send between five to 15 vehicles to Saudi Arabia in any given year, but now their pending deals are on hold.
“There’s some innuendo that says decision making is going to be delayed,” Crestline president Steve Hoffrogge told 650 CKOM.
“It has us quite concerned the Saudi government’s reaction may delay … or eliminate Crestline from those orders.”
The reaction from the Saudi government came after Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign affairs minster, tweeted a call for them to release regime critics from prison.
Since then, the Saudis have cancelled student scholarships, airline routes and some agricultural trade with Canada.
The Saskatoon company has been doing business with Saudi Arabia successfully for the last few years.
In 2015-16, Crestline developed 40 small buses for the Saudi National Guard and since then they’ve been producing ambulances for several Saudi government entities.
Hoffrogge said the company supports Canada’s position on human rights but questioned whether Twitter diplomacy was an effective tool.
“I don’t think things like this should be handled through Twitter,” he said.
“We have to think long and hard about the avenues we take … and making sure they don’t impact people, especially out here on the prairies.”
He did say the loss of Saudi contracts would only represent about five per cent of Crestline’s business, and the company’s workforce wouldn’t be affected.