By Michael Nickerson
I fear for Justin Trudeau. Well meaning, good looking, even has a few inspiring ideas, to say nothing of his pedigree. How can the man go wrong? The last few years he’s been like a rock star on an extended world tour, wowing the fans, making friends, posing for selfies. But the act seems to be growing a little thin. Stood up here, insulted there; the proverbial prom king is starting to look like an ineffectual nerd with a case of the yips.
He’s had a bad run of late. There was the fashion trip to India, the presidential snub while hosting the G7, provincial backlash over his environmental endeavours with carbon taxes and pipeline purchases, and the decades-old revelation that his feminist credentials aren’t as impeccable as we all thought. Now thankfully for Justin and his team most of this is happening over the summer months when the electorate is about as engaged as a sun-soaked cat. But you’d think if you were gifted a winning hand on a silver platter you’d take it with both hands and run with it.
Well three cheers for Mohammed bin Salman! Whether you need airstrikes on children, or the kidnapping of a particularly troublesome prime minister, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia is there for you. Heck, he’ll even embargo a country if need be. Nothing’s too crazy or unpredictable for the young prince. He might even let you drive a car!
But for Justin Trudeau, he pulled out all the stops with a complete hissy fit over a rather mild rebuke about the arrest of two Saudi citizens who had the unmitigated gall to suggest all is not perfect with the House of Saud. The response has been quite breathtaking: The cancellation of all Saudi Arabian Airline flights to Canada, the recall of some 15,000 Saudi university students, and a ban on all new trade agreements. Take that!
Of course they’ll still sell us their oil, which accounts for some 10 percent of Canada’s imports, and presumably they will still want their $15 billion in light-armored (though not so lightly gunned) vehicles, because the House of Saud likes their toys, especially ones that go bang. Turning oil into weaponry continues to be a favourite pastime there.
Now, in theory, that shouldn’t be much of a pastime here, especially when it comes to a regime rather antithetical to the Canadian values Trudeau has been preaching since taking the helm of the good ship Canada. The latest images of bloodied children and corpses in an ongoing war that has killed thousands and displaced millions in Yemen have many Canadians scratching their heads about why we are helping a nation responsible for such atrocities.
Of course this has been an issue for some time for Team Justin™ and its dogged adherence to fulfilling a Harper era deal to sell the Saudi’s weapons while turning a rhetorical nose up at what they tend to do with them. A disconnect between words and action seems to be a growing theme with Justin and his government. The word hypocrisy comes to mind, but let’s not be harsh. Perhaps it’s just a case of the jitters.
Which makes the gift from the Crown Prince so timely! In this trade-war happy, tit-for-tat age it would be hard to blame Justin for finally ridding himself of this moral albatross bequeathed him by his good pal Stephen. Stand up to the bully and make those words count! Fight the power! Make Canada great again!
Well let’s not get carried away. But put simply, the LAV deal should have never been made and violates trade rules we supposedly hold dear. That the government has hummed and hawed over the deal and hoped people might stop caring is an embarrassment, and it’s also a trend. With little more than a year to the next election, it’s time for Trudeau to do more than espouse high minded ideals and act on them, and this issue would be a great place to start. Just be sure to thank the Crown Prince when