The ironies and hypocrisies of both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s and the Saudi Arabian government abound in the diplomatic spat between the two countries that has garnered international attention.
Last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Global Affairs Canada each sent out tweets publicly demanding that Saudi Arabia release recently arrested activists, including Samar Badawi, the sister of Raif, a blogger who has been in jail since 2O12 for criticizing the morally bankrupt kingdom.
Raif’s wife and three children live in Quebec and became Canadian citizens on July 1.
Freeland’s tweets — which have undoubtedly worsened the likelihood of these brave activists being released — were noticed by the Saudi royal family, which has retaliated in a big way.
On Sunday, the kingdom recalled its ambassador to Canada, expelled our own from Riyadh, suspended scholarships to 15,000 students studying in Canada, banned Canadian wheat and barley, ordered all Saudis receiving medical care in Canada to leave, put on hold all new business with Canada, and is apparently divesting from Canadian investments.
There is some satisfaction knowing that we have so royally angered the Saudi royals and their reprehensible regime, which is not only the world’s largest oil producer, but likely the largest sponsor and exporter of terrorism as well.
The Saudi government called Canada’s public criticism “blatant interference” and “a violation of the kingdom’s sovereignty.”
For a country that invaded neighbouring Yemen, the kingdom’s objections are the very definition of hypocrisy.
So is their vow to continue to ship more than 136,000 barrels of oil per day to Canada’s East Coast for use mostly in Quebec — the very province that put up the biggest fight against the Energy East pipeline.
The $15-billion pipeline, which would have carried Alberta oil to New Brunswick refineries, was axed by TransCanada after the Trudeau government moved the goal posts just months after being sworn in — first by extending National Energy Board pipeline hearings from 18 months to three years and then by insisting that TransCanada be held accountable for all greenhouse gas emissions for the 1.1-million-barrel-per-day line, including emissions by the end user of the product — like Quebec motorists.
Trudeau’s actions put Canadian oil projects at a disadvantage to oil imported from tyrannical regimes, like Saudi Arabia.
On Wednesday, Trudeau addressed the diplomatic row caused entirely by those tweets saying: “Canadians have always expected our government to speak strongly, firmly, clearly and politely about the need to respect human rights at home and around the world.
“We will continue to do that. We will continue to stand up for Canadian values, and indeed, for universal values and human rights at any occasion.”
Besides the fact that the Trump-like tendency to conduct diplomacy over Twitter can hardly be described as “polite,” the greater irony is Trudeau made that comment during a scrum in Montreal, after he doled out $150 million of taxpayer money (mostly from Alberta) to prop up the Quebec business CAE, formerly known as Canadian Aviation Electronics.
Not surprisingly, CAE will not have to account for its GHG emissions. The anti-Alberta bias by Trudeau is infuriating.
In essence, Trudeau is claiming that the economic consequences of our current position with Saudi Arabia are worth suffering.
We must, he tells us, applaud his willingness to stand up for what is right, and take our lumps when they come as a result.
Yet, it is his government that killed Energy East, which would have allowed Eastern Canada to diminish its dependence on Saudi Arabian oil. Trudeau’s actions help fill Saudi coffers and fuel its belligerence against outside criticism of its human rights abuses.
It is hypocrisy, idiocy and cowardice writ large. Either the consequences of taking the moral high-ground are worth it, or they aren’t.
If this truly is a justified fight against human rights abuses, then it would be worth it to anger a few Quebecers in order to get a pipeline built to increase Canada’s energy sovereignty. But it’s just empty words by Trudeau, the master of hollow and vain rhetoric.
So Canadians find ourselves in the conundrum where we are simultaneously funding the Saudi political regime by buying their bloody oil and fighting against it with damaging tweets.
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