Jack’s Note: Henry Kissinger once famously said “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests”.
The same can be said for any country including Canada.
The children leading Canada need to take the comment to heart. It would keep them out of a lot of trouble.
International affairs can be a delicate, and sometimes dangerous, dance for world leaders.
The steps and missteps come with the most serious of stakes – from security, to the economy, to matters of life and death.
As such, this weekend’s blowup between Canada and Saudi Arabia should be viewed with concern.
While most Canadians were enjoying a holiday long weekend, a days-old tweet from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland escalated into a major diplomatic row with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Freeland tweeted out concern over the arrest of women’s rights activist Samar Badawi and urged her release.
There is much history with the Badawi family. Her brother, writer Raif Badawi, was arrested in 2012 on charges of insulting Islam while blogging. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. His wife now lives in Canada and received citizenship in July.
Soon, Canada’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia was being ejected from that country, all “new business” between the two nations had been suspended, and plans were being drawn up to remove 20,000 Saudi students from Canadian post-secondary institutions.
Some saw the Saudi rebuke as having the fingerprints of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who may be looking to let all Western leaders know that criticism of his kingdom will not be taken lightly. Others have suggested Saudi Arabia is trying to manage its own internal pressures as it goes through a period of social transformation.
To be clear, we do not doubt the federal government’s cause, here. The arrests in question are, without doubt, cause for grave concern.
It is, however, the tactics of the minister that give us pause. Canada has made many of its greatest contributions to diplomacy by acting as a sage, rationale player behind the scenes, taking part in back-channel conversations to improve the state of world affairs.