No Fool Like an Old Fool

Like many Canadians, I was surprised to read an opinion piece in the Globe & Mail last week encouraging Canada to strengthen ties with Saudi Arabia. At a time when 24 year old Nazia Quazi, a Canadian Citizen from Ottawa is basically being held captive by her father in that country, to prevent her from marrying her boyfriend, it seemed a bit out of touch. What surprised me even more was to see that the article was penned by none other than that old rascal, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Mulroney, who could clearly use some advice when it comes to picking his friends, has once again climbed into bed with a partner of questionable reputation.

The former Prime Minister notes that Canada exports more than $1.4 billion dollars worth of materials into Saudi Arabia. He gushes that it is “…a country with a dynamic economy that offers tremendous opportunities for our businesses and institutions.” “This relationship is about more than trade.” he says.

Mulroney says that there have been six major ministerial visits to Saudi Arabia by Canadians recently and boasts that he is personally leading a bevy of senior business leaders on a junket to the country last week. Mulroney says that Saudi Arabia offers us tremendous opportunity and that we share a “commitment to inovation and education” and that we are both countries “poised for continued success” and that we jointly value “peace and security.”

So what is wrong with that?

Let’s take a look. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by huge the Saud royal family. Not like Prince Charles and those nice boys but a huge family of about 7000 who live in luxury by skimming their cut off the top of the Saudi economy.

The country’s constitution is the Koran and women are prohibited from driving and the Economist magazine’s Democracy Index rates Saudi Arabian government is the 7th most authoritarian regime among the 167 countries rated.

There are no recognized political parties or national elections. The king’s power are limited supposedly by Shari’a law and other Saudi traditions but who is to tell him if he strays.

On the up side, slavery was abolished in 1962.

I wonder what old Brian thinks we share when it comes to our justice systems. The legal system prescribes capital and corporal punishment including the possible the amputations of hand and feet for crimes such as homosexual activity, adultery, robbery and drug smuggling. If you are lucky or are found guilty of more minor offences you might get away with a flogging.

It makes you question what has happened to our principles when a former Prime Minister, a senior partner in a major Canadian Law firm is proud to lead a delegation to this country. It also makes you wonder about the depth of the ethics of our business leaders who are clambering to invest in the Saudi economy.

I wonder if Mulroney will pay tax on what ever he is paid to lead this junket or, if he will “forget” about it and once again negotiate some much reduced amount with the CRA at some point in the future.

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