Menu Close

Public stance on human rights is mandatory

Canada’s recent dust-up with Saudi Arabia has revived a perennial question: when is it appropriate — if ever, some might ask — for our government to take a public stance on human-rights abuses abroad?

Like so many political firestorms of late, it all started on Twitter. But Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s tweet was no Diet Coke-fuelled, all-caps, 4 a.m. tirade. No, the minister’s simply expressed — in grammatical and measured fashion — her concern with Saudi Arabia’s jailing of women’s-rights activist Samar Badawi and its ongoing detention of Samar’s brother, Raif, a blogger and free-speech advocate whose Saudi-Canadian wife and children live in Montreal.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry soon followed up with a similar tweet of its own. Neither message was particularly provocative, nor were they the first of their kind from a Canadian government.

To the surprise of the world, however, they drew an explosive response from Saudi Arabia’s recently elevated crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (or “M.B.S.”, as he’s widely known).


Share This

Copy Link to Clipboard