Canada Sticks Its Finger in Saudi Arabia’s Eye… Again

Young Woman Who Fled Saudi Arabia Arrives In Canada As Refugee

A young Saudi Arabian girl who hid in a hotel room in Bangkok and told the world that she was afraid to return home because of what her male relatives would do to her, is now safely in Canada. After many countries in the world hummed and hawed about accepting her as a refugee, Canada stepped forward to offer her asylum. When the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) needs a place to send people in trouble, they know that Canada is one of the best places to turn.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun almost immediately declared that she would no longer refer to herself by her last name. Instead, she would be called Rahaf Mohammed.

This is not the first time Canada has acted against Saudi Arabia for its treatment of women. A few months ago Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland criticized Saudi Arabia for jailing two women activists. Saudi Arabia threw a temper tantrum and expelled the Canadian ambassador in response, as well as recalling its ambassador from Ottawa along with other moves. One Saudi diplomat even tweeted a 9/11 style threat against Canada. That does not seem to have deterred Canada, however, particularly when it comes to the Saudi Arabian treatment of its citizens abroad and of women in particular.

All of this is just fine by me and shows once again how a little nation like Canada is not afraid to stand up to a global bully like Saudi Arabia while its American neighbor tugs at its forelock and refuses to blame the Saudi royal family for murder.

There are reasons for this of course. Canada has oil of its own. And Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a real shellacking in the media and on social media for selling the Saudis military vehicles. I really don’t care about the reasons why Canada did this I’m just glad they did.

As Mr. Trudeau said during the first altercation with the Saudis, Canada will always speak strongly on questions of human rights.

Finally, I wish Ms. Mohammed a safe and peaceful time in Canada. But as this article from the New Yorker shows, no Saudi citizen living abroad who has dared to criticize Saudi Arabia’s treatment of its citizens or of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is safe from pressure to be quiet or even worse retaliation, as we know all too well from the case of Jamal Khashoggi.

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Go North, Young Man…And Woman

Trump’s immigration policy has foreign tech talent looking north of the border

Trump’s immigration policies are driving talented foreign workers to Canada. Excellent

Part of this article states that Canada is not very good at selling itself. Well, part of that may be that unlike Americans, Canadians tend to understate how great the country is. And it is a great country that offers so much more than the United States.

The weather? Well as the article again notes there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.

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Musings 12/06/18 – The Celebration and the Denunciation

George H.W. Bush’s funeral was a powerful renunciation of Trump
Bush’s Funeral Wasn’t About Trump. But Of Course It Was.

How odd it must’ve been for a man who insists that everything be about him, to sit through a 90-minute service about another person, and to listen to speaker after speaker extolled that person’s virtues when every virtue was a repudiation of how the listener conducts his life.

As John Harris writes in Politico, in Washington DC subtext is text. While each of the four speakers eulogizing the late Pres. George H. W. Bush focused on his service to his country, his understanding that the opposition is not the enemy, his desire for America to have a prominent place in the world, and perhaps most of all his kindness, they were also denouncing the lack of these traits in the current occupant of the oval office.

Trump sat through the service like a caged animal, arms folded in a defensive posture, restless, unable to tweet, not bothering to sing the songs or pray the prayers (probably because he didn’t know them – Trump probably has been near a church since he was baptized).

But the most stinging and straightforward rebukes came from a former Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, who praised Bush for his work on NAFTA, in NATO, on environmentalism, and in international leadership, all things which Trump has derided or debased.

For me, watching the service I had mixed emotions. I was not a huge fan of the 41st President of the United States (I will never forgive him for the Willie Horton ad) but he understood service and you cannot question his love of country. More than anything else I came away with a feeling of nostalgia. A nostalgia for a time when the president of the United States, regardless of his political party, actually tried to make the office more about the people of the country than about himself.

Huawei CFO arrest ‘violates human rights’, China says

Hearing China condemn another country for violating human rights is a bit like listening to the Ku Klux Klan condemn another organization for being racist.

Nonetheless, I was a little surprised to read of the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer. The daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecom giant was picked up by Canadian authorities in Vancouver because her extradition is wanted by the United States for some reason. We don’t know what for yet, because Ms. Meng asked for a publication ban of the details of her arrest, which you can do under Canadian law. (Reporting on court cases and court proceedings in Canada is completely different than what is done under American law.)

Coming so soon after Pres. Trump and Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping seemed to momentarily put aside their trade differences for 90 days, this will not help smooth that road.

Recently several Western countries have restricted the use of Huawei technology in the building of infrastructure for the new 5G networks. That tells me that Western security services are concerned that the Chinese are building lots of backdoors and ways to disrupt a country’s technology through the use of Huawei equipment.

Facebook discussed cashing in on user data, emails suggest

The more I read about Facebook, the happier I am that I am leaving it on December 15. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff recently compared using Facebook to having an addiction to nicotine. As he said, Facebook is the new cigarette. It’s hard to leave, I won’t lie, but with each new bit of news about Facebook, it reaffirms my belief that I’m doing the right thing. Good riddance to bad garbage.

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What’s happening in the Great White North, Monday, November 26

Since the name of this blog is My Two Countries I am going to try to write as much about my home and native land as I am about what is happening south of 49th parallel.

The red line crossed, Jamal Khashoggi’s life cannot be sacrificed for Canada’s economy

An opinion piece from the Globe and Mail that I strongly agree with. Germany has already halted sales of military weapons to Saudi Arabia. It’s time for Justin Trudeau to do the same. For someone who supposed to care so much about human rights, it is time for Trudeau to back up his words with some action. Mohammed bin Salmon is a murderer. I’m not naïve enough to think that Canada hasn’t done business with murderers before. But this murder was particularly egregious and sets a dangerous precedent. If MBS doesn’t learn that there are consequences to his temperamental fits of pique, other innocent people will die for nothing more than disagreeing with him.

Time to fish or cut bait, Mr. Trudeau.

GM to slash jobs and production, cancel some car models

Welcome to the 21st-century folks. And the death of the fossil-fueled car. This decision has numerous consequences for many people. On the one hand, there are the workers at the Oshawa plant and the many plants in the United States who will lose their jobs. But they are also the people who produce oil in Alberta or other places in the world. When one of the world’s largest automobile makers decides to close up several manufacturing plants in two countries because people aren’t buying fuel-powered cars like they used to, the canary in the coal mine is singing. An opera in fact. Bring on electric cars.

There has been a tendency among people to blame immigrants for “taking their jobs.” Immigrants aren’t the reason that people are losing their jobs. It’s technology. And it’s not going to stop happening.

“I talked to the president of GM last night. The first thing I said is, ‘What can we do? What do we have to do?'” Ontario Premier Doug Ford told reporters this morning. “And he said, ‘The ship has already left the dock.'”

When it comes to hazing, female athletes are just as vulnerable

I don’t like college sports. Particularly American college sports. Canadian college sports, on the other hand, tends to be far less oriented towards the almighty dollar than its US counterpart. That doesn’t make it any better in many ways. This report that two-thirds of all varsity athletes in Canada have been subject to hazing – and more women than men – is disappointing but not unexpected. I find the tribalism that goes along with being part of a college sports puzzling. I mean, who really cares? I sure as hell don’t.

Scientist refutes notion that gender identity is an ‘unscientific liberal ideology’

Okay, we all know that conservatives don’t believe in gender identity. They also don’t believe in climate change, a livable wage for workers and freedom of the press (if you listen to PC party leader and political screwball Andrew Scheer, who wants freedom of speech on college campuses – he says – but so much for the media). This is an interesting CBC interview with a prof from Queen’s University who has spent her career studying gender identity. This means that she knows of a hell of a lot more about the issue than conservative politicians.

Oh yeah, there was another thing I forgot to mention that conservatives don’t believe in: facts!

Stamps beat Redblacks 27-16 to win 2018 Grey Cup

When I was growing up as a kid in Ottawa many Saturdays about 300 other kids and I would crowd onto a bridge that overlooked the formally named Lansdowne Park and watch the old Russ Jackson-led Ottawa Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. To this day my brother, Jimmy, will not watch the NFL which he considers an inferior league to the CFL. Last night the latest edition of an Ottawa team, the strangely named Red Blacks, lost the Grey Cup to a team I am familiar with, the Calgary Stampeders. Oh well, maybe next year.

The Red Sox won the World Series – I don’t need anything else.

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Canada prepares for ‘war’ with US

By Tom Regan

Is Canada going to war with the United States? No, not really. But you might say that some elements of the Canadian government are being put on a political ‘wartime’ footing.

Montana/Canada USA Border boundary crossing north of Eureka on Highway 93. (Photo by Spend a Day Touring LLC, Creative Commons)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made some questionable decisions lately, including the sudden decision to drop the plan to change the way Canadians elect members of Parliament. While there are some good reasons for his decision to do so, his way of dealing with the matter shows that over a year into his term he still having some problems figuring out the right way to do things.
One of the things that he has figured out the right way to deal with, however, is the Canadian relationship with the United States. Canada’s relationship with the United States is, at the moment, the most important economic one it has. (Ask me which one is the most important 10 years from now and I might say China.) While that relationship has had its ups and downs, particularly over issues like softwood lumber and cultural issues, it has been dependable and stable for decades.

That was then. This is now.

And now comes in the form of Pres. Donald Trump, a man whose ideas on how to effectively govern the most powerful nation on the planet could be written down on the back of a matchbook cover. Perhaps the most accurate description to be seen so far of Mr. Trump’s governing style was put forward by former liberal staffer Warren Kinsella who described Mr. Trump as a “monkey with a machine gun.” Trump’s habit of tweeting out policy at 3 AM in the morning when he’s restless and bored means anyone dealing with his administration needs to be nimble and one step ahead of the game.

And this is where Canada has perhaps shown the way for other nations in how to deal with Mr. Trump by creating a “war room” in Mr. Trudeau’s riding office in Papineau Québec. The office, headed by liberal political veteran Brian Clow, is designed to help coordinate the Trudeau government’s response to Mr. Trump’s unpredictable whims and fancies. As described in The Hill, which covers government and political issues emanating from Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the office will seek to ensure “integrated outreach across government, so that any projects or talks already underway continue to be worked on.”

Perhaps the most accurate description to be seen so far of Mr. Trump’s governing style was put forward by former liberal staffer Warren Kinsella who described Mr. Trump as a “monkey with a machine gun.”

The genius in this idea is that it will prevent the Trudeau government from “fighting the last war” – in other words move it away from conducting negotiations and outreach in the bureaucratic ways that used to work in the past, but are quite irrelevant in the age of social media and Mr. Trump’s ‘in the moment’ bulldozer style of public policy. Making sure that all government departments are coordinated and singing from the same hymnbook in their dealings with the Trump administration is also key. If you want to see how chaotic mixed messages can be, take a look at what’s happening south of the border right now, where government departments are sometimes called upon to respond to initiatives they didn’t even know were happening.

Another smart thing the Trudeau government did is make former Lieut. Gen., now Liberal MP, Andrew Leslie (Orléans, Ont.), parliamentary secretary to the Foreign Affairs minister, focused on Canada-U.S. relations. The Canadian-American military relationship is important one, and Mr. Leslie’s time working with the Americans, especially in Afghanistan, will serve him well. (There are already signs that the US military is not happy with Pres. Trump – witness the recent leak by three different officials at the Pentagon about how poorly planned the recent raid on Yemen was.) Considering the number of former military people now serving the Trump administration, having a solid relationship with them can only benefit Canada in the long run.

There will be pressure on Trudeau to not be too chummy with Trump, or face the kind of public backlash that greeted British Prime Minister Theresa Mays’ public relationship with The Donald. On the other hand, however, Trudeau cannot afford to be too standoffish or else he risks the wrath of a man known for his childish vengeful attacks on those he sees his opponents. Creating a war room to deal with the US and its new administration is one way of ensuring that Canada’s best interests will be looked after.

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