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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: Canada’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia has been expelled and trade frozen between Canada and the Kingdom.

Charles Platiau/Reuters

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Conviction. Diplomacy

Canada should of course stand up for Samar Badawi. But how? Did Chrystia Freeland’s tweet serve to help Ms. Badawi, or was it simply an object lesson in the risks of Twitter diplomacy? In retrospect, I suspect the Foreign Affairs Minister may wish she had picked up the phone and registered Canada’s concerns, firmly but respectfully, via direct dialogue with her Saudi counterpart.

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In the post-Trump era, it seems everyone wants a quick Twitter-finger but diplomats should control that urge. Effective diplomacy is all about personal engagement, above all when it comes to Arab cultures. One hopes it is not too late to engage in that.

Tom MacDonald, Ottawa

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Margaret Wente got it wrong on the Saudi file (Canada Is Right To Stand Up For Samar Badawi, Aug. 8). Canada’s support, while laudable, will likely result in billions in lost trade and the end of 15,000 Saudi students’ education here.

A hundred years of progress on women’s rights in this country cannot be forced upon the Kingdom in a tweet.

Nancy Marley-Clarke, Calgary

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Chrystia Freeland and Justin Trudeau should get off their high horses and stop trying to convert the human-rights heathens, as they usually rebel in a bellicose manner. They should remember economics run this country and that the government is elected to manage that – so far, not well.

At this rate, soon we will not be on anyone’s party list.

Douglas Johnson, Fenwick, Ont.

P.S. I know you will not print this as you, in this situation, cannot see the wood for the trees.

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I have never been so proud to be a Canadian as when we stand alone, abandoned by our traditional allies in support of human rights (U.S. Refuses To Back Canada In Saudi Dispute – Aug. 8).

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Richard Johnston, Orillia, Ont.

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Saudi Arabia is a sovereign state. Samar Badawi was apparently arrested for breaking a Saudi law. That she is an extraordinary proponent of women’s rights is not relevant. People who act on the courage of their convictions often face reprisals. It is two-faced to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, then admonish it for rights abuses. We relinquished the right to criticize them when we put financial gain ahead of our moral integrity.

It is Trumpian to use Twitter to chide the Saudis. There are ambassadorial channels our Foreign Affairs Minister should have used. Fortunately, she may have a chance to redeem herself and show better judgment in how she deals with China, as it pre-empts protests in Beijing. That said, the Saudi reaction could have been more measured.

Ashok Sajnani, Toronto

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The government should offer Permanent Residence status to all Saudi students and med-school graduates in training.

Marc Storjohann, Mississauga

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Through lack of pipelines and interprovincial will and leadership, we import 10 cent of our crude oil from Saudi Arabia. How many Canadian jobs would we create by using our own oil? We need the political will – provincial and federal – to accomplish this now.

Marion Kirsh, Thornhill, Ont.

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The House of Saud has always ignored criticism of its governance, including minority rights, ill treatment of Muslims from poor countries working in slavish, menial jobs in the Kingdom, and the plight of women. They believe they have the divine right to rule as they please, and impose their “brand of Islam” on the rest of the Muslim world. Yes, their charitable work is grand, however their philanthropy is the means to colonize, silence opposition and demand blind following.

Until now, the royal family chose to ignore criticism from abroad, and brutally crush opposition from within. This new prince, however, has chosen to retaliate with measures against Canada that will hurt his own people, especially students who have been recalled. His rash actions are brazen and non-statesman-like.

However, our hypocrisy is also glaring. We deflect from the ill treatment of Canada’s Indigenous peoples and the violations of their human rights, especially Indigenous youth and women, and then think we will be taken seriously when we protest violations abroad. Let’s clean our house first, so we can speak with moral authority to the world.

Shahina Siddiqui, Winnipeg

Fat isn’t the real shame

Re Fat, Shame And Women’s Health (Aug. 8): Please keep exposing this terrible side of today’s health industry. Shaming the overweight is our society’s most easily accepted form of discrimination. The assumption that everyone overweight is unhealthy gets extended to the overweight not being worthy of all of our society’s benefits and acceptance. People are dying because doctors are buying into the health propaganda. That’s the real shame.

Greg Anderson, Toronto

Toxic roadways

Re Here Are The Facts On Driving High (Aug. 8): Ontario roads are becoming increasingly hazardous thanks to distracted driving and just plain mindless aggression. Now we’re adding another variable to the toxic mix. As someone who has to navigate the mean streets and highways and worries about family members doing the same, “What’s my best strategy?” indeed.

Marianne Orr, Brampton, Ont.

Power of sport

Re Sport United Racial Divides – Then Came Trump (Aug. 8): I was happy to see Lawrence Martin’s list of exemplary African-American athletes who serve as examples of supreme grace and talent. And yet, the omission of perhaps the most gifted, resilient and exempt of scandal of them all is also telling. She is quite likely the most astounding athlete of our time. And that she continues to excel, while having to continually contend with ongoing opinion about race and gender, childhood socioeconomic status, femininity, motherhood, and biracial marriage is summed up in one word: heroic. The mere fact of her existence shows the power of sport to unite and reconsider prejudice, of which race is just one form.

As a woman in my 40s, I’m still hoping to to grow up to be as powerful as Serena Williams.

Shelly Dev, Toronto

Buck-a-beer politics

Re Ontario To Lower Price Floor On Beer (Aug. 8): It is truly heartening to see that Doug Ford has followed through on such an important innovation as “buck a beer” policy. Boring issues like the basic income pilot project are such a drag. I can’t wait for the free Friday night bowling initiative!

Trish Crowe, Kingston

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Around 100 AD, Juvenal wrote that the people hope for just two things: bread and circuses. I don’t know if that’s true of Ontario voters, but Doug Ford clearly thinks it is: Looking at his “buck-a-beer” policy, beer must the equivalent of bread. After all, the circus is obviously Doug Ford.

Nigel Brachi, Edmonton

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