Questions about the dubious eligibility of Saudi Arabia as a recipient of Canadian-made military equipment have been raised for over two years. Yet two successive governments have failed to address the most basic question: how can the authorization of this deal be consistent with the human-rights safeguards of Canadian export controls?
The man dubbed "not a leader" has been named Canada's foreign affairs minister. It's one of the most coveted and prestigious roles in government. Dion will now get the chance to represent Canada on the world stage, a prospect that might have seemed impossible back when the death of the Liberal party was being exaggerated.
International relations with Iran suffered under Stephen Harper. There's a noteworthy Iranian-Canadian community scattered across Canada, which has nurtured prominent artists, scientists, scholars, business people, entrepreneurs, journalists and even politicians who maintain close relations with the fellow citizens living in Iran. Now, as the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau is soon to be inaugurated, Iranians living in Canada and their compatriots at home are wishing for a quick and immediate normalization of the relations between Tehran and Ottawa.
Stephen Harper's decisions on Iran, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and the United States have officially shut the last nails on the coffin of Canadian relevance in global governance. The Conservative government's hard power strategy officially commits Canada to the role of a fireman in an incandescent region, at the taxpayer's expense, with zero influence on the regional levers at the core of the Middle East's most pressing fires today. It is time for the opposition parties to fine-tune their foreign policy chops in the coming official campaign period in order for Canada to chart its way back to the world's bargaining table.
In an article entitled "Why Canada And The U.S. Are On The Wrong Side Of Democracy", I describe the shocking downward spiral of Honduras since the illegal coup, and the concurrent loss of economic and political self-determination. This, then, is the consistent pattern when Empire intervenes in the internal affairs of other countries.
Even the most ardent Conservative supporters must wonder what principled position is behind the recent government-sponsored arms deal with Saudi Arabia that will send over $10 billion worth of Light Armoured Vehicles to one of the most anti-woman and repressive countries in the world. Outside its borders, the Saudi royal family uses its immense wealth to promote and fund many of the most reactionary, anti-women social forces in the world. The Conservatives have ignored these abuses, staying quiet when the regime killed "Arab Spring" protesters and intervened in Bahrain. Worse still, the Harper government's hostility towards Iran and backing of last July's military takeover in Egypt partly reflects their pro-Saudi orientation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reorganized his governing coalition and canceled a call for elections less than a day after his cabinet agreed to hold them early this September. For Canada, this is welcomed news. Any shift in Israel's government would pose a challenge for this country's Israel policy, which often confuses support for Netanyahu with support for Israel.