I have to agree …

… with Doug Saunders, who writes, in the Globe and Mail, that, “Though they would never say so out loud, on some level Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland must regard Saudi Arabia’s imposition of sanctions and punishments on Canada as a gift … [because] … The Saudi attack, despite being a time-consuming annoyance at an inconvenient moment, allows them to do something that no Canadian government could have done on its own: distance this country from an overly friendly relationship with a regime whose conduct, interests and regional influence are contradictory to democratic values.

Saudi Arabia,” Mr Saunders explains, “was a visible stain on the Liberals’ supposedly principled, feminist, rights-promoting foreign policy. There was no way you could call it any of those things as long as one of its most visible planks was a cozy economic, political and military relationship – which included authorizing the sale of 928 Canadian-made armoured vehicles – with a regime that is imprisoning and flogging feminists, using those armoured vehicles to commit mass atrocities in Yemen and to attack Saudi citizens in the country’s east. The “moderate Islam” policies promised by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have proved almost entirely illusory (just this week, the Kingdom beheaded and crucified a man convicted of murder) and Riyadh’s value as an opponent of Bashar al-Assad’s rule in Syria is questionable.” Saudi Arabia is, by any sensible measure, worse than those countries that President Trump grouped into the category of “shithole counytries.”

Doug Saunders goes on to say, correctly I think, that “that relationship could only have been terminated by the Saudis. Any Canadian politician considering such a move would be faced with a stark calculus. The political cost – from businesses and universities and key constituencies that benefit from Saudi ties – would outweigh any immediate benefit … [because, again] … Most of what we call “foreign policy” is not about governments expressing their principles and values, or politicians keeping promises. Rather, it is about path dependency. Government bureaucracies try to keep doing what they’ve done before because change is far more difficult and risky than continuity.” Canada had an interest in maintaining ties but now that the Saudis have complained even the most anti-Liberal commentators are coming out in support of the Trudeau regime’s defence of Canadian “principles.”

This, Doug Saunders is quite right: the Saudi storm in a tea cup is  blessing for Team Trudeau.

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