Rivers: Driving Dangerously - Tanks, Teslas and Tweets.



Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

August 17th, 2018


“Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups… Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” (Hillary Clinton)

Word is out that Elon Musk has an offer he can’t refuse from the Saudis, to help him take back Tesla from all those critical public share holders. The question is why. Is it possible that Allah had bestowed an enormous endowment of battery quality lithium in the Arabian desert, as well as all that petroleum.

Rivers Musk

Elon Musk

One suspects Saudi King Salman must be up to something fishy. Otherwise why would a nation whose economy virtually runs on oil be buying into an electric car company? Perhaps the kingdom, sees Tesla as a threat to the gas guzzlers and is planning to buy it up only to shut it down – sort of like what US Steel did to Stelco. But why spend good cash buying a money losing car company. Odds are good it’ll go bankrupt all on its own.

If they can be taken at their word, this foray in buying an auto company may be just the start. They’ll still have ready cash available in their two-plus trillion heritage fund – enough to buy other perennial money losing auto companies like Chrysler. Or perhaps there is a deeper method behind this seeming madness.

Rivers Tesla cockpit

Cockpit of a Tesla electic car

How much simpler life would be for the misogynous state if the new Saudi Teslas could be engineered somehow so that only males could operate them. After all Elon Musk is a genius. Tesla pioneered autonomous drive as well as battery power. How difficult could it be to differentiate between males and females, and everything in between? Wouldn’t that bring a whole new slant to the term intelligent drive?

What then would be the point of those female protesters demanding equal rights to drive when they are not gender-capable of doing so anyway? Women in Saudi Arabia have finally and grudgingly been given the right to drive, provided they are accompanied by a male and/or have submitted an acceptable flight plan to a male relative or guardian. Hardly what we’d call freedom, but then that is Arabia.

Rivers Raif

Protesters demanding the release of Raif Bedawi; his wife is now a Canadian citizen

Human rights are subservient to male rights in this backward sexist monarchy and all rights are subservient to the wishes of the royal family. Back almost a decade ago Saudi authorities apprehended an independent humanitarian blogger, Raif Bedawi, for having the gumption to write on the internet about something we call freedom of speech.

For that heinous act he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes to be administered at the rate of 50 a week.

The Harper government and its foreign minister Baird roundly criticized the Saudis back then, trying to influence them through diplomacy and even twitter. But since then Bedawi’s wife has managed to flee to Canada and become a citizen. So when Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, out of desperation and as duty to a Canadian citizen, tweeted to the Saudi government that they should immediately release Mrs. Bedawi’s husband and the other imprisoned peaceful protesters, all hell broke loose and the rest is modern history.

The Saudi will accept nothing less than an apology for calling them out for exactly what they are. But Trudeau is not going to apologize for speaking out on women’s human rights, even if the Conservative opposition members, who have apparently forgotten what they did as government, are now making sounds like they think he should. After all he is the feminist PM of Canada.

And Canada is not going to play tit-for-tat trade. Our $15 billion contract to export armoured cars is wrong on several counts but $15 billion is a lot of money and jobs, and besides if we cancelled, General Dynamics would just transfer production from their Ontario plant to someplace else. Morality has never been an insurmountable issue when it comes to selling weapons for the Americans, Brits or French either.

Rivers Freeland + prince

The Crown Prince wants Canada to apologize for the tweet Chrystia Freeland sent.

It is embarrassing that over the thirty years since Trudeau the elder promised a national energy policy, we’re still importing oil from Arabia.

Perhaps once the jurisdictional matter with B.C. is resolved we will move forward on the Energy-East pipeline. Or we could start making more electric cars – like Tesla is doing.

And then there are some 800 Saudi medical students who’ve been told by their homeland to pack up and go home. Sure we’ll lose the money they bring with them, but that is about the best news ever for young Canadian medical graduates still waiting for a resident position.

Most concerting in this unfortunate tussle though was the image released by a group of Saudi whacko nationalists portraying an Air Canada plane heading for collision with our CN tower. There was a retraction and apology, but nobody thinks threatening another nation with the kind of terror we saw on 9/11 is at all funny. And, of course, 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationalists, as indeed was bin Laden

Rivers LAV-700-icon

We manufacture them in London, Ontario ship them to Saudi Arabia

So this little tempest over a tweet will become a game of ‘who blinks first’. Or like a game of road chicken, American Graffiti style, except the Saudi’s are racing at us with their new Tesla and Canada is driving one of those General Dynamics tanks. And our foreign minister, a woman, is doing the driving.

Background links:

Saudi Arabia –    Tesla Sale –    Saudi Driving Ban

Women Protesters–    Freeland Tweet –    Saudi Medics –    Saudi 9-11 pic


Rivers hand to face

Ray Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers



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7 comments to Rivers: Driving Dangerously – Tanks, Teslas and Tweets.

  • Mike

    Let me cover 2 points in this response.

    First, in terms of our government’s efforts on diplomacy. All folks know that if you want to accomplish anything you use the appropriate channels. Chastising any government via social media, especially Twitter (limited text) is at best, not effective and in reality, damaging. It shows that our government leadership is no better than the likes of Mr.Trump. It is disappointing that Ms. Freeland has shown she is a model of Mr. Trudeau’s persona. Actions like this are only political in nature and serve the government to deflect (again like Mr. Trump) Canadians’ attention away from the abysmal job they are doing on so many files – NAFTA, Kinder Morgan, Pot legalization, controlling illegal immigrant crossings, quickly processing refugee claims and funding for the support of claimants by provinces, organized/violent crime, government finances, etc.

    On the Kingdom, I can speak firsthand, although it is a little dated. June of 2011 was when the woman and driving issue first hit the international media and I was working there at the time. Having spent a lot of time outside work hours walking the streets and the malls, I can tell you, life there for Saudi’s, especially woman is good. Family life there is similar to here …people are people after all …..as the saying goes, the rooster may rule the roost but I (the wife) rule the rooster. This was very apparent when observing couples and families. Those of you that want to apply our standards, need to remember (maybe you are too young, although I know Ray is not), what is was like here in the 60’s. There was a lot of prejudice from many corners. Even when I got married in 1982, being from a Catholic background but marrying someone from an Anglican background was almost akin to heresy. We’ve come along way but it has taken decades. We need to not judge the Kingdom or other countries on the events of the day but the progress over time. If you apply this lens, you get a much more appropriate perspective. You have to also appreciate, like in any country, there are those that fear/dislike this type of change and want to revert back, so leaders have to progress in way that can be accepted within their constituency. The previous said, the bigger human rights issue in the Kingdom is treatment of foreign workers.The same issue exists in many of the other oil rich countries where they import vast amounts of labour from abroad. Working with them to establish better labour standards, especially those involving safety should be top of the list for our government …but oh that would be sensible/practical not political and they have shown us their focus is this the latter.

  • Ray Rivers

    Stephen – as always, thanks for your comment. This is not a winning political issue for Mr. Trudeau any more than it was for Mr. Harper. I can’t believe anyone is advising the PM to pursue this matter as an election strategy. The fact is that traditional diplomacy over the last half decade hasn’t worked with the Saudis and that is unlikely to change.

  • Ok ,so lets be consistent on the human rights front and not cherry pick, who we pick on, and the list is long. So, Freeland is now using Trumpian comm strategies …nice that we are now communicating at his level.

  • Hans

    This is a wonderful article. Thank you for writing it.
    I wonder why SA was not included on the list of Islamic countries from which the U.S. has stopped allowing visitors.

  • Stephen White

    Knowing that the Swedish and German governments were heavily censured previously for making disparaging remarks about the Saudi government’s appalling human rights practices, and imprisonment of dissidents, why did Foreign Affairs Minister Freeland resorted to Twitter to express her government’s displeasure instead of continuing to use “backdoor” diplomatic channels to secure the release of Badawi?

    And while we’re asking questions….why would Elon Musk publicly state that he had secured Saudi funding for his company and run the risk of investigation and censure in the U.S. by the Securities Exchange Commission?

    I’ll bet the answer to the first question is that the Trudeau government is getting ready to spring a federal election on us in late 2018, and will be using the threat of pending economic uncertainty as the reason for needing a new mandate while positioning itself as a global international leader and defender of human rights.

    I’ll bet the answer to the second question is that Elon Musk is desperate, and to use an old adage, “any port in a storm”. Tesla is surviving on vapour fumes. It is so heavily in debt, has suffered massive staff cuts, and Musk’ credibility as a business leader is so seriously lacking, that he needs a massive infusion of cash in order to keep the company afloat. Taking it private also avoids public and regulatory scrutiny….or so he hopes.

    No clue though on why we are still importing oil from Saudi Arabia. It probably has something to do with all those gas guzzling SUV’s car manufacturers keep churning out, and those who think bigger equates to better and safer.

  • Steve D

    Saudi Arabia being as rich as it is gets a lot of attention when it comes to human rights, but the truth is that most, if not all, the Islamic countries are guilty of this, via Sharia law, to some degree, or another. The 2016 World Economic Gender gap study has the bottom half of the list almost completely populated with Islamic countries. Saudi Arabia being 141 out of 144.


  • Ben Tuinman

    Well said Mr Rivers …..I totally agree with you.