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December 10, 2013

Globe and Mail

Canada’s “principled” foreign policy keeps running into problems in Bahrain, the Gulf monarchy that violently suppressed pro-democracy protests in 2011.

When Foreign Minister John Baird visited the country in April, he made no public comment about Bahrain’s repressive practices, including the regime’s continued incarceration of democracy activists. His silence was troubling, not least because the Conservative government has repeatedly portrayed itself as an uncompromising defender of human rights, democracy, freedom and the rule of law.

As it happens, Mr. Baird was back in Bahrain’s capital last weekend to address the Manama Dialogue, a regional security conference. In his speech, Mr. Baird rightly rebuked Iran for its human rights abuses. Once again, however, he refrained from publicly criticizing – or even directly acknowledging – Bahrain’s own lamentable human rights practices.

If Mr. Baird wished to signal Canada’s discomfort with these practices, he could have e...

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Roland Paris
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

University of Ottawa

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