There’s nothing like family get-togethers to take the pulse of the nation. Over the holidays we quizzed our folks and friends on which wireless provider is the best (well, the least bad), the cheapest way to fly and what they thought of Trump (crazy like a fox) Trudeau (read on) and the Habs and PKP (not even the faithful have much faith).
We were the instigators on the Trump question. To get things rolling I’d say Trump and America deserve one another. Louise would note the budding love-in between The Donald and Mad Vlad Putin and what that might mean to their respective foreign policies. It was a sure-fire icebreaker.
The discourse on Canada’s new Prime Minister was revealing in both official languages. Even those I expected to be critical, weren’t. Before Christmas, Trudeau was asked why he hasn’t intervened personally in the case of Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger imprisoned and tortured for disrespecting Islam and the theocratic police state which presumes to rule in Allah’s name. The questioner’s inference was that it was hypocritical of Trudeau to have hammered his predecessor for failing to get involved, then doing nothing once he was elected.
The PM’s response (I’m paraphrasing here) suggests to me there’s hope Trudeau the Younger may surprise us. If he weighs in and the Saudis say no, there’s no further recourse. Instead, he instructed Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion to take Badawi’s case up with Adel Al Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s minister of foreign affairs.
Dion says he began by congratulating Al Jubeir for bringing together Syria’s opposition parties in what is hoped will be a first step on the road to a ceasefire and peace talks leading to a free election and concluded with the observation that there are 16,000 Saudi students pursuing their education in Canada.
Perhaps that doesn’t sound like a tongue-lashing but it delivered a finely honed message coupled with the Liberal decision not to cancel the $15B sale of armoured vehicles to the Saudis. The Canadian-built LAV-25 Coyotes are considered one of the most sophisticated armoured patrol vehicles on the arms market and the Saudis want them badly.
Bottom line: we’ve got your kids and those 21st-century camels you so badly want. We want Badawi. You figure it out from there.
A subtle message, all the more effective because of the friendly way it was delivered.
Leaden tongue notwithstanding, Trudeau is clearly listening to the pros. He’ll only get better.