Should Canadian farmers be selling wheat and barley to Saudi Arabia when Saudi Arabia has historically oppressed women and still does to this day? Does a country conducting international trade compromise its values if profiting from a country from which values conflict? Should politicians in high office frustrated by diplomatic overtures abroad turn to twitter to voice grievance? Should a Canadian confident in his /her position that we have a weak Prime Minister contend that all policy initiatives by the federal government will commensurately be weak? Is it fair to impact the livelihood of commercial operators because of international political grievance?
The above questions arise in the context of a spat between Saudi Arabia and Canada over this past week. It’s frankly unsettling to witness such weakness. My position is that Canada has been compromising its values over time with respect to trade and shouldn’t be surprised that a peculiar twitter remark should be received with outrage from an internet platform limiting in its communicative power from a nation bereft of bestowing respect upon women. What’s even more surprising is that Ms. Freedland seems like an intelligent woman who should have known better. She should have know that the incarceration of women’s rights advocate is a sensitive matter and that a frustrating social media appeal could actually undermine diplomatic efforts to liberate the woman.
Our country, Canada, has some soul searching to do with respect to trade policy in the context its values and protectionist sentiment arising from the U.S. New alliances are forming and Canada has a place at the tables but must affirm its position with clarity complemented with trade deals rooted in the fabric of cooperation with partners of whom it can look dead straight in the eye.