Throw Saudi Arabia off the bus? How about no.

Writing in the Globe and Mail, a former diplomat suggests it would be a big mistake for Canada to abandon Saudi Arabia because of its domestic policies.

It would not be surprising to see Riyadh push Canada further out of its “circle of trust.” Currently, Canada isn’t even ranked in the top 10 countries that Saudi Arabia considers a priority partner – in a $653-billion (U.S.) economy.

If Canada-Saudi bilateral tensions were to reach a boiling point, the pain would be widespread and deep for Canadian businesses.

In an extreme event, there could be a visa standoff and trade war. Saudi Arabia is both a critical source of revenue and profit, and a vital link in global supply chains.

Though this story pertains to Canada and Saudi Arabia, one can see where substituting the United States for Canada would allow for a similar message.

Yes, I know that Saudi Arabia is a country not kind to women and is one with a dubious human rights record. Yes, I know that if the U.S. didn’t have significant business dealings with the kingdom that it would be considered a pariah along the same lines as Iran.

But the reality is that there are deep business ties. You can no more change that than you can change Donald Trump’s personal behavior.

I maintain it is far better to engage Saudi Arabia than to distance it.

I admit I’m biased; I’ve met plenty of Saudi students — male and female — who are studying at the university where I teach. I’ve come to like many of them. They know that my door is always open to them.

They are proud of their country; and at the same time, they know that whatever domestic changes might come will come slowly.

You are free to respond in any way you like.

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