Saturday, April 2, 2016

Canadian media blame Trudeau for Harper's Saudi arms deal

When the Canada-Saudi armoured car deal was first announced over two years ago, there wasn't a whole lot of squawking about Saudi Arabia's abhorrent human rights record in our media. Virtually all of the coverage focused on what a glorious win this was for our export sector.

So Harper gets voted out, POTHEAD gets voted in, and poof!.. the moral ambiguities saturating this deal suddenly rise to the surface!

I like to brag about the fact that the think tank here at Falling Downs was all over this story from the get-go. Ya, that's satire at that link. Nobody here really thought that the armoured war wagons were gonna be used to ferry the fairies home when the underground gay clubs closed. Nevertheless, the controversy missed Harper but has landed on Trudeau.

There's quite a crowd that thinks Trudeau needs to establish his human rights bona fides by cancelling this deal. It's an appealing argument; virtuous Canada will not trade with egregious human rights abusers like Saudi Arabia. Case closed.

It's not that simple.

First off, Canada has no right to finger-point at the alleged human rights abuses of other states so long as we haven't remedied the open wound that is our relationship with our native peoples. A cursory survey of incarceration rates, poverty rates, suicide rates, and so on puts the lie to the claim that we are a nation of virtue. We're not.

Secondly, why single out the Saudis? Our biggest trading partners are Mexico, China, and the USA. Any human rights issues in those countries? Will we continue to do business with them? Of course we will! And didn't the Harper government enter into a free trade agreement with Israel? Is anyone clamouring for Trudeau to abrogate that deal because of Israel's wanton disregard for the human rights of Palestinians?

Of course not!

So lets get off the high horse on this Saudi deal. Business is business. Where government had a chance to do something was when GM Defence was sold to General Dynamics in 2003. Canada could have blocked that sale. It was, in case you've forgotten, a Liberal government that let it go through. Getting sentimental about the 3000 Canadian jobs at stake today is more than a little disingenuous.

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