On October 15, Canadians elected Justin Trudeau, whose sound-bites “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian” and “because it’s 2015” mesmerized the nation and the world. Two and a half months later, it’s 2016, and Rosemary Barton the host of CBC’s Power and Politics is asking the new government some tough questions about foreign policy and human rights. During Barton’s interview with Stéphane Dion, Dion confirmed that despite the ongoing conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran,
A $15-billion contract signed under the previous government to supply Saudi Arabia with light-armoured military vehicles won’t be revisited after the execution of dozens of prisoners in that country.
Dion goes on to say,
“We’ll review the process by which these contracts are assessed in the future. But what is done is done and the contract is not something that we’ll revisit.”
Barton also interviewed ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird to get his perspective on the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. During the interview,
Baird said while Canada and Saudi Arabia “share many different values” there are also common interests. There’s an economic interest linked to the deal, he said, but also a shared interest in security as the battle against the Islamic State continues. (My emphasis)
It should be obvious that share is not the best word to use when discussing the difference between Canada’s and Saudi Arabia’s commitment to human rights, religious freedom and foreign policy and Canada and Saudi Arabia’s common interests are economic and self-serving.
CBC reports that Dion did issue a press release condemning Saudi Arabia’s
execution of 47 individuals, including al-Nimr, on Jan. 2, expressing concern that it could further inflame sectarian tensions.
In December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed Syrian refugees arriving in Toronto with what have become his trademark touchy-feely phrases: “Welcome to your new home” and “You are home. Welcome home.” What Trudeau didn’t tell the Syrian refugees is despite Canada’s promise to continue to raise concerns “about human rights and due process with senior Saudi Arabian officials on a regular basis,” Canada continues to enter into trade with Saudi Arabia and is seriously considering opening an embassy in Tehran “to play a more robust role in easing tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.”
Canada’s attitude towards Saudi Arabia and Iran is consistent with Canada’s attitude toward multi-multiculturalism. Jean’s Chrétien’s statement in June of 2000 makes the connection between Canada’s Multiculturalism Act (1988) and Canada’s foreign policy:
Canada has become a post-national, multicultural society. It contains the globe within its borders, and Canadians have learned that their two international languages and their diversity are a comparative advantage and a source of continuing creativity and innovation. Canadians are, by virtue of history and necessity, open to the world.
Supporters of Canadian multiculturalism “argue that cultural appreciation of ethnic and religious diversity promotes a greater willingness to tolerate political differences.” Chrétien’s assertion that Canadians are “open to the world,” and Canada’s “willingness to tolerate political differences” suggest that the Canadian government won’t take a principled and unequivocal stand against the political and human rights abuses Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Multiculturalism is a scourge: it forces federal, provincial and municipal governments to accommodate diverse ideologies, practices and beliefs, it hampers the creation of a truly secular society and it limits Canada’s influence on the world stage.
- Justin Trudeau advised to deepen ties with Saudi Arabia, brace for change in Iran, CBC News, 2016-01-07
- Stéphane Dion stands by $15B Saudi arms deal after executions, CBC News, 2016-01-05
- Canadian diplomats downplayed Nimr al-Nimr death sentence in 2014, documents suggest, CBC News, 2016-01-04
- Saudi Arabia severs ties with Iran, expels Iranian diplomats, CBC News, 2016-01-04
- Multiculturalism in Canada, Wikipedia