It’s time to blame Canada. Again.

It’s time to blame Canada. Again.

You know, for all the complaints about him, you can’t argue that Justin Trudeau appears to be a pretty decent guy. He tries to be inclusive, and sensitive (groping allegations and copious tears aside), and do the right thing.

Perhaps this is why he has become a whipping boy for the world’s dictators and strong men. Because Trudeau is attracting a lot of attention these days from those with say, autocratic tendencies.

We have the trade war with the United States, in which President Trump dumped all over Trudeau for having the nerve to stand up against punitive tariffs from the U.S. How dare he?!

Also Trudeau was a handy patsy so Trump could go into his meeting with Putin looking strong. Don’t think that worked out, but hey… he gave it a try.

And now we have Saudi Arabia, recalling their ambassador, expelling Canada’s ambassador, and generally having a great big hissy fit because Canada’s foreign minister dared to point out that the Saudis were jailing dissidents. The Saudi airline will stop flying to Canada this week. The Saudi Grains Organization will no longer buy Canadian wheat or barley. The Saudi government has ordered the central bank to sell off any Canadian assets. *Sidenote: apparently the central bank doesn’t really own a lot of Canadian assets to begin with so that isn’t a huge hit. And the Saudi oil tap isn’t being shut off.

But suspension of all trade is being threatened, and that’s going to hurt Canadians at some level, even if it isn’t huge.

It all started with a tweet, as things political so often do these days.

In it, Foreign Policy Canada said:

Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.

Well that got the Saudis in an uproar. Nobody criticizes them! How dare someone point out that a dissident has been jailed!

Apparently the new leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has thin skin, almost Trumpian thin.

Another thing that bin Salman and Trump have in common is that human rights are not an issue of big concern. U.S. foreign policy since Trump’s election has been very obviously avoiding mentioning human rights abuses, which, says Guardian writers Martin Chula and Ashifa Kassam, gives Saudi Arabia the feeling that they can lash out at smaller countries without fear of the United States getting involved.

Canada, apparently, is just the right size to push around without fearing too much reprisal.

It’s like the old South Park song ‘Blame Canada’. With a reputation for niceness, an economy that’s big but not too big, an armed forces that has made its name in peacekeeping, why not blame Canada?

What are we going to do? Start a war? Withhold maple syrup?

Saudi Arabia is determined that the only way to get out of this diplomatic mess is for Canada to apologize. That’s unlikely to happen.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia demanded that Canada fix their ‘big mistake’, that being pointing out the arrests of dissidents. Shh, we don’t talk about Uncle Phil in this family, just ignore him.

Canada replied, nicely again, that the country would not apologize for standing up for human rights.

“We continue to engage diplomatically and politically with the government of Saudi Arabia [but] Canada will always speak strongly in private and in public on questions of human rights,” said Trudeau. “People around the world expect that kind of leadership from Canada. We will remain firm.”

Well, people around the world may expect it, but it sure would be nice if one, just one, of our supposed allies stood up and agreed with us.

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