Friday, August 10, 2018

Keeping Our Distance

It's safe to assume that Canada will not receive any "wish you were here" cards from the Kingdom of Saud. But, Tom Walkom writes, Canadians need not get exorcised about the situation:

For the truth is that Saudi Arabia isn’t very important to Canada. And vice versa. Figures compiled by the Library of Parliament show that Saudi Arabia was Canada’s 25th largest trading partner in 2015.
Canadian exports to Saudi Arabia (mainly military vehicles and parts) comprised only 0.2 per cent of this country’s exports overall. Similarly, Canadian imports from Saudi Arabia (mainly oil) comprised only 0.4 per cent of imports overall.
The Saudis have quietly announced that the dispute won’t affect that country’s sale of oil to Canada. Nor is there any indication that it will affect Canada’s lucrative sales of military equipment to Saudi Arabia — including a controversial $15 billion deal to build light armoured vehicles for the desert kingdom.
The wheat and barley boycott might matter if we sold a lot of those grains to Saudi Arabia. But we don’t. Only 7 per cent of Canadian barley exports are destined for Saudi Arabia. The figure for wheat exports is a staggeringly low 0.4 per cent.
As for Saudi financial penalties, the Globe and Mail reports that the country’s central bank holds less than one per cent of Canadian securities domiciled abroad.

The decision to pull Saudi medical students from Canadian universities will hurt. But they arrived because of funding cuts. It's time to restore what was cut.

There's a lot of smoke and not much fire:

Instead, we have this largely phoney war. The Saudi autocracy is using Canada to show the kingdom’s internal critics that it has no patience for Western meddlers.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is using the Saudis to show his critics than he can’t be pushed around.

And it's wise policy to keep one's distance from a country which still crucifies people.

Image: Pinterest


Lorne said...

I find this sanctimony from Canada about the Saudis a little hard to take, Owen, given that they are continuing with the sale of LAVs to a kingdom that uses them to suppress the rights of their people and those in neigbouring countries.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Lorne. I thought the war wagon deal had been scuttled -- a consummation devoutly to be wished.

Anonymous said...

Lorne, I agree that Canada's position on human rights would be a lot more convincing if we put our money where our mouth is. Unfortunately, slapping an arms embargo on the Saudis would likely see us losing yet another investor-state lawsuit under NAFTA. I don't doubt that General Dynamics has already put the government on notice.


The Mound of Sound said...

This is a regular game the Saudis play. They did it with Sweden. Sweden responded by prohibiting the sale of weaponry to Riyadh. They did it with Germany. Germany slapped a ban on the export of weaponry to any country attacking Yemen.

Unlike the Swedes or the Germans, we don't have much of an indigenous arms industry. Those death wagons are being built by General Dynamics Canada, a branch factory of the American defence giant.

JT won't risk alienating Trump over a Saudi arms deal that would piss off a major US defence contractor. Even if it was a homegrown industry he wouldn't risk the wrath of Scheer by putting those workers out of their jobs. Our economy is integrated so tightly with larger economies, especially American, that we've surrendered our freedom of action. We do as we're told. We're no Sweden.

Owen Gray said...

Just another reason why we should stop thinking of the United States as our ally, Mound. They don't have our interests at heart. Their stated policy is America First.

Owen Gray said...

As I wrote in response to Mound, Cap, it's now quite clear that the United States is no longer our ally.

Toby said...

Remember this:

Turner was right, Mulroney sold us out.

Jay Farquharson said...

What Canada should do:

Close the loophole that allows Foreign Military Sales of non-lethal equiptment to Human Rights Abusers. Because the "War Wagons" are leaving Canada unarmed, they are loopholed. The loophole was meant to allow the sales of comm gear, tear gas, trucks, not unarmed IFV's.

Open the Embassy in Tehran with a Taylor as Ambassador.

Join the JPCOA, filling the Trustee spot The Insane Clown POSus pulled the US out of.

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the clip, Toby. "Once the economic levers go . . ."

Owen Gray said...

One of the stupidest decisions the Harper government made, Jay, was to close the embassy in Tehran.

John B. said...

Given the right useless moderator, Mulroney sure knew how to dive into that personal righteous-indignation act to avoid a legitimate debate. A clinic in effective loudership. Little Nicholas is all grown up now and I'm still waiting for his dad to put those bells on.

Owen Gray said...

Caroline is following in Dad's footsteps, John, and she's following her father's advice: "You dance with them what brung you."