There has been an important debate raging in Canada. No, it is not about John Baird's interview which is best discarded in the trash heap of pathetic partisan hypocrisy. It is about how we apply pressure to push for changes in the relationship with Saudi Arabia which really matter to those of us who believe in Canada being a defender of human rights and our interests.
1. Stand against the larger apparatus cracking down on activists.
We can talk about whether the fact that Trudeau and Freeland have criticized Saudi Arabia is a publicity stunt or a baby step. However, as activists we must also use it as an opening that human rights advocates can use to make the Canadian government pressure Saudi Arabia.
Since 2014, Saudi authorities have tried nearly all peaceful dissidents facing broad, catch-all charges in the Specialized Criminal Court, which the authorities set up in 2008 to investigate terrorism-related crimes. This is about more than Riaz and Samar Badawi and we need the Canadian government to continue to stand with human rights defenders. To learn more about what has been going on in Saudi Arabia and advocate for a more comprehensive approach read reports by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights. Then email or call Chrystia Freeland to demand that Canada support the movement to stand against the systemic criminalization of human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia.
Right now, albeit on a different scale and where the real impact on activists is not equivalent, Bill C-59 is conflating anti-terrorism and expanding the government’s power to crackdown on activism here in Canada. Therefore, it is also worthwhile to work with the CCLA campaign to stand for the rights of Canadian activists.
2. Stand against the Saudi weapons deal.
The Harper government pursued one of the largest arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the Liberal government persisted in approving the deal, despite continued alarms raised by the public and experts. We now have evidence that Canadian-made armoured vehicles have been used against civilians in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, causing numerous casualties and destruction of infrastructure, as Open Canada points out. Here is an old petition by Avaaz to Chrystia Freeland, but you can also write to her directly or call her office to find out whether the Saudi arms deal is being cancelled.
3. Stand for the Canadian Wheat Board.
The fact that the Canadian Wheat Board was sold to Saudi owners has been an issue. Now that the Saudi Grains Association has been instructed to no longer accept Canadian grains, perhaps it is time to write to Trudeau to undo the privatization. He used our tax dollars to buy back a leaky and questionable pipeline; it is far more important to Canadian farmers who are having their product boycotted to stand for the Wheat Board instead. Here is a great podcast from Rank and File Radio-Praries where Anthony Fenton gives more information about the issue.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.