August 21st, 2018

Broken ties are no loss


By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on August 10, 2018.

It’s unfortunate thousands of Saudi Arabian students are getting caught in the crossfire as a new school year is about to begin, but the breakdown of relations between Canada and the Middle Eastern kingdom is news we can cheer.

Saudi Arabia is mad that Canada’s Global Affairs department tweeted it was “gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi.”

Badawi is the sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi, both with Canadian ties.

In a tantrum of Trumpian proportions, the Saudis booted out Canada’s ambassador and starting cutting diplomatic and economic ties. Saudi students attending Canadian colleges and universities have been summoned home.

Good. It’s about time we stopped dealing with one of the world’s most brutal and repressive regimes.

The Trudeau government failed to take a stand when it came to office and approved an arms-sales deal the previous government had negotiated with the Saudis.

Many Canadians opposed any deal that would help arm the Saudis, but workers at a General Dynamics plant in London, Ont., who are building the light-armoured vehicles, were thankful and are concerned about what will happen with their jobs if the Saudis cancel the contract.

Money trumped ethical considerations then, and as critics pointed out at the time, by helping to arm the Saudis, we’ve also helped them continue a brutal war that’s reducing Yemen to rubble.

Yes, the Saudis generally support the West in geopolitical matters, but that doesn’t make them our friends.

Look at what Amnesty International said about the Saudis in a summary of the regime’s behaviour in 2017-18:

“The authorities severely restricted freedoms of expression, association and assembly. Many human rights defenders and critics were detained and some were sentenced to lengthy prison terms after unfair trials. Several Shi’a activists were executed, and many more were sentenced to death following grossly unfair trials É Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained common. Despite limited reforms, women faced systemic discrimination in law and practice and were inadequately protected against sexual and other violence. The authorities used the death penalty extensively, carrying out scores of executions.”

There’s more:

“Members of the Shi’a Muslim minority continued to face discrimination because of their faith, limiting their right to express religious beliefs and their access to justice, and arbitrarily restricting other rights, including the rights to work and to state services. Shi’a activists continued to face arrest, imprisonment and in some cases the death penalty following unfair trials.

“Courts continued to impose death sentences for a range of crimes, including drug offences or for conduct that under international standards should not be criminalized, such as ‘sorcery’ and ‘adultery.’ Many defendants were sentenced to death after unfair trialsÉ”

And that’s just the overview.

Almost as surprising as the Saudi overreaction has been the underreaction of Canada’s Western allies. Britain and the United States basically responded that both countries are allies and they hope the differences can be worked out.

The world has turned a blind eye to the Saudis for too long. Canada has been put in a position where we can be the first to say “enough.”

An editorial from the Kelowna Courier

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One Response to “Broken ties are no loss”

  1. lonestar says:

    “the world has turned a blind eye” alright.

    And Canada possess blind eyes!.

    There are human rights issues in this world making most ongoing in SA look tame.

    The resource poor continent of Africa which the world, including Canada for the most part has ignored since the beginning of time has ongoing human rights issues of unfathomable proportions, with “access to justice” issues a tribal calamity in many parts, leading to thousands (many children) dying needlessly each year! And because the media owning the message relayed to the masses remains silent, the public remains dumb, muted and uninformed.

    How very very sad that is for humanity deserving “access to justice”
    .
    But lets for the moment discuss that Kelowna Courier OP-ED line “…..access to justice…..” !.

    It may amaze many folks to learn that here in Alberta 7 out of 10 people incarcerated, are held in prisons, (known cesspools of criminal activity) before they’re convicted! YES – BEFORE they’re convicted of any crime!

    Welcome to Human rights home-style, the Canadian values spoken of by politicians here.

    There’s more – in the last five years out of two hundred and seventy people held in Canadian prison cells – 2/3rds DIED in prison, and they were innocent of the crimes. We don’t need to visit Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to observe human rights abuses!

    Sure Kelowna, let’s talk about “access to justice” for those who right here in Canada spend years behind bars before their case was concluded if they survived the experience. Our justice system or access to it, is appalling, yet Prime Minister Trudeau, Ministers Freeland, Morneau etc have come out chirping that Canadians “are going to stand with the values we know are important to Canadians – every word horribly empty when placed under the microscope.

    It’s our view that our elected representatives given our own dire social problems have absolutely no business whatsoever in the politics of a country far removed from us especially in light of the fact we have a history of complacency and totally at ease with blinders fully affixed when manufacturing and delivering to dictators instruments of death or assisting foreign travesties. Does anyone recall the bundles of money PM Harper gifted the Ukrainian Army for clothing and what not to keep them comfortable during their killing spree? So long ago – so forgotten.

    Canada needs to look critically and seriously inward. Canada needs to clean up its own act before taking on other countries where they have zero jurisdiction.

    We have a mess at home, the informed should not be proud of.


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