By Patrick Brogan
Before I start, the Liberal Party of Canada would not be my favourite party in that country, that would be the Rhinoceros Party. It’s the Liberals in the news these days, though, and that’s because their leader, Justin Trudeau, is the Prime Minister of Canada and is touring Europe.
And touring is a good way of describing his visit to these shores. He is that new breed of politician; the rock-star diplomat. He’s very much in the Obama mould and now is accompanied by France’s Emmanuel Macron and Ireland’s Leo Varadkar. Indeed, it was his meeting with Varadkar that made international headlines. Why? Because of socks. No, seriously. This was the headline; Justin Trudeau is the King of the Political Sock Game No More. This is what has become of international relations. He met the Queen of England shortly after and this was the headline; Justin Trudeau Met With the Queen and People’s Hearts Couldn’t Cope. How fucking annoying. Admittedly, these are both from the Huffington Post, which has never been described as a bastion of quality journalism, but most of the media follows this form of unquestioning adoration of Trudeau.
When Justin Trudeau ran for Prime Minister of Canada, his main aims were strengthening ties with the US, pulling Canada out of the conflict with ISIS, wanting more refugees from Syria, reopening diplomacy with Iran, a proactive stance on climate change, legalising marijuana and investigating the disappearance of 1,500 “aboriginal” girls and women.
XL Keystone Pipeline
His stance on the XL Keystone Pipeline ties up many of these goals, but sometimes in a contradictory manner. This pipeline will take oil from Alberta, and transport it through the US into the Gulf of Mexico. Trudeau is looking at the economic benefit of this and said it will be a massive boost to the Alberta economy. The Trump administration wants the pipeline to go through because they want to reduce their dependency on oil from the Middle East. So, this certainly has improved relations between the two “leaders”.
But, what about the environmental impact? Well, it has a checkered history and a lot of that comes back to President Obama’s stance on the pipeline. He never greenlighted it because the EPA advised him it would be a danger to the environment. So much for Trudeau being a green politician. He has claimed that this project will not affect Canada’s targets for greenhouse emissions.
In a strange way, this also impacts on the native Canadian community, too. The Keystone Pipeline is not all that different from the pipeline the people at Standing Rock are protesting about. One of their main grievances is that this pipeline violates the agreement saying that the area around Standing Rock is their land. Trudeau is not directly responsible for this, of course, but it his stance on the Keystone Pipeline that does in a remote way vindicate and make the pipeline going through Standing Rock more likely to happen. Is he picking and choosing when to engage with “aboriginals” and respecting their rights when it is politically expedient?
He may have been a bit slow out of the blocks on this one, but he has backed legislation gone through the Canadian parliament that could see the recreational use of marijuana legalised by 1st July 2018. There are no guarantees this will pass. Conservatives are worried about access children will have if it’s grown at home and driving under the influence laws. Others are far more sceptical of Trudeau’s motivations for legalising weed.
Slowly but surely, Canada is opening up relations with the Islamic Republic. Trudeau and his government have said they hope to hold Iran to account for its various human rights abuses. This seems a bit naive. Maybe they are hoping to establish trade agreements like they have with Saudi Arabia, Iran’s nemesis. They sell arms to them, described by Trudeau as jeeps. Whatever the reason, it has very little to do with human rights because there is no way Canada can influence that.
And speaking of Saudi Arabia, Trudeau said he would disengage from the conflict with ISIS. As of March this year, Canada is actually looking to increase its “assist” role in Iraq. On the face of it, that’s another position he has gone back on. He has received criticism for his position on Omar Khadr, a man held in Guantanamo for the murder of a US soldier. But, this video explains that this case is not all that straightforward.
Canada took in 26,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict under its wing. While some have thrived, others have struggled. Justin Trudeau appears to have gone through the same thought process as Angela Merkel; bring in as many refugees as possible without any forward planning, it was just a numbers game. In some ways, these refugees aren’t much better off than before because they are now trapped in a foreign country with no real means of leaving.
CETA is part of an alphabet soup of trade agreements that will definitely have a huge impact on our lives. Many believe it will be a negative one. It is argued that this trade deal will impinge on civil liberties, food safety, environmental legislation, banking regulation and many more issues aside.
This deal is between Canada and the EU. Justin Trudeau has always pushed for it to be brought into law and did so as recently as his visit to Ireland. It has been an overarching theme; Trudeau backs big business at the expense of the little guy.
I may have cherry-picked the more negative articles to get a point across. He is undoubtedly a more well-rounded figure than I put across here. But this is to counter the overbearing love fest the rest of the media conduce towards him. Talking about his socks when there is a potentially very dangerous trade deal on the table? Fuck off. There is no doubt he is a good looking and charismatic leader, but this is no reason to let him off the hook. Like Obama before him, he is the voice of youthful optimism, but the only change he has sought to bring is all for the worst.
To some degree, I sympathise with politicians’ frustration to get things done, there is too much red tape and too many bean counters. No doubt, Trudeau has inherited problems from his predecessor, but what the pop-star Trudeau is pushing is far more sinister. Should the media not be questioning this more? Look, he’s pretty and wears nice socks, that’s all that matters.
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