We’ve got your kids

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.

4 thoughts on “We’ve got your kids

  1. The Saudis have a lot of borders with some less than savoury regimes so patrol vehicles are what boundaries need. That said, they themselves look far from free elections and have been less than hospitable w/the welcome mat for refugees in the region. I spent 3-4 years in the Kingdom in the eighties and never felt that the iron hand of the government did not hover over me. They would take your passport upon entering and I knew some , even Canadians, kept there in a kind of work slavery. Country with a lot of, not so nice, secrets. Mr. Badawi is a brave man. I hope as Jim hopes.


  2. Love the up beat tone of this article, the message of ‘hope’ better times to come. As usual Duff’s finely tuned craftsmanship can make a complex situation accessible. I am a fan. One tiny detail:The imagery of horse trading coyotes and kids for Badawi is strong but the realization of it sticks in my throat. I’m stumped.

    Any reference to the democratic baggage the 16,000 Saudi students bring home from Canada ?


    1. I am so not-politically inclined that jumping in here comes more from common sense than political savvy, the heart and as a metaphor for some questionable ethical issues on our home turf.

      As far as western thought is concerned one beheading is one too many, but we can not put our head on a Saudi’s shoulder, or anywhere in the middle east, except Israel .

      Saudi Arabia has and continues to undergo a conflict between extreme regimes, and, a slight tug toward western influences, some of which is imported by an elite students generation. In 2015 at least 555,000 Saudi students were educated in North America and U.K. alone ( excludes the numbers for France and Australia ) Multiply that number over the past decade, and the homeward bound luggage is bulky with western ways, beyond The Habs, and Tiger Lilies. It is reasonable to accept Saudi Arabia has a demographic shift toward socio- political westerns created by an ever-growing educated affluent segment of the population. Herein is the glimmer toward democracy and human rights therein, culminating in Badawi’s liberation

      As a first step, Trudeau’s decision to send Dion is a reasonable move. Trudeau is a teacher, empowerment comes natural. His advisor , Roland Paris is also an academic.

      Dion empowered and appealed to Al Jubeir to do the right thing.


      Liked by 1 person

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