up vote 3 down vote accepted

My impression is that the Canadian position was "about par" for such high-profile cases... but the convicted having some family ties with Canadian citizens probably mattered too:

Ms Badawi is known for challenging Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system. She was given the US International Women of Courage Award in 2012.

Her brother Mr Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for "insulting Islam" online back in 2014. His wife, Ensaf Haidar, lives in Canada and recently became a Canadian citizen.

But the fact that the Canadian foreign minster post is currently held by a woman (Chrystia Freeland) probably matter as well, although she doesn't seem well-known for feminist or women's rights endeavours (or at least Wikipedia fails to mention them); she's better know for her pro-more-equality writings in economics. I guess some of that includes male/female salary parity etc., but I haven't read her works. A summary of one her books says:

Freeland said she made a “huge point” of maintaining a non-partisan approach to the subject, noting that the economic dynamism that helped create such wealth has also had broadly positive results. But she also warns about the future of social mobility in such a divided world.

This is a pretty crowded field nowadays to publish in, so... I hope you'll excuse me for not having read her book.

Also, Trudeau himself is an outspoken supporter of women's rights, e.g.

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave a passionate defense of gender and social equality in Davos on Tuesday, days before U.S. President Donald Trump was due to take the stage at a forum traditionally seen as an enclave of the global elite.

Trudeau, whose country has the presidency of the Group of Seven industrialized nations this year, said gender equality would be a priority in “everything the G7 does this year”.

Trudeau, who appointed a cabinet with an equal number of women and men on taking power in 2015, also referenced social media campaigns against sexual harassment and misconduct and women’s marches in several U.S. cities last weekend in which speakers blasted Trump for policies they said had hurt women.

Clearly saying nothing about the Saudi case(s) would have made his government look hypocritical after criticizing the US (even indirectly) on such matters.

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