By Jesse Brown, slate.com, April 17, 2017
My prime minister, Justin Trudeau, enjoys a public image as the anti–Donald Trump. A young, sensitive, feminist, environmentalist with a progressive stance on marijuana; a welcoming attitude toward foreigners; and a glorious head of natural hair, he seems in every way the opposite of the U.S. president.
Trudeau’s golden personal brand dovetails beautifully with the ascendant brand of his country, and together they tell a winning story of Canada as a progressive haven, singularly evolved past the populist forces of petty nationalism and xenophobia.
Each week brings a new version of this story. It’s a tale we Canadians have been telling ourselves for decades, but now Americans are telling it to one another. For a recent cover illustration, the Economist put a maple leaf tiara on the statue of liberty. CNN contemplated whether the American dream is now in fact the Canadian dream. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times anointed Canada the new leader of the free world. Brand Canada has now made it to Broadway, with Come From Away telling a heartwarming story of Canadian selflessness on the world stage.
All this may fluff the self-esteem of needy Canadians while serving as a useful narrative for shell-shocked American liberals desperate for a positive role model. But it’s a fantasy.
The truth is that Trudeau isn’t Canada’s answer to Trump. He’s Canada’s answer to Barack Obama. Our habit isn’t to reject America. It’s to imitate you, a few years later and a few degrees milder. Just like you, we replaced a divisive old conservative (Stephen Harper) with a young, feel-good centrist in progressive clothing. Unlike you, we played it safe and went with a name-brand candidate—only in Canada could the son of a former prime minister be considered a transformational leader.
The fantasy has overtaken the facts. Take the notion that Canada has supplanted America as sanctuary soil for the world’s huddled masses. After Trump’s first travel ban was announced, PBS and others reported that Justin Trudeau had vowed to take in refugees rejected by America. This was wrong and based solely on a misleading tweet Trudeau had posted a day after Trump’s executive order had been signed.
Once the international press had moved on, Trudeau’s immigration minister quietly explained that in fact nothing would change in terms of Canada’s refugee policy: Those who seek amnesty in Canada after being refused refugee status in the U.S. will be sent back to their countries of origin, their claims unheard. As for those inspiring photos you may have seen of a smiling Mountie hoisting a refugee child over the U.S. border, subsequent pictures of that same child and her parents being immediately arrested exist, but proved less popular. Canada and the U.S. are now working together to crack down on the rising influx of desperate border crossers.
Even when Trudeau fails to spin the press, the press will do it for him. During his recent visit to the White House, a photo was snapped that seemed to depict Justin Trudeau looking down with revulsion at Trump's extended hand. It went viral.
In reality, the moment after Trudeau gazed down at the president’s hand, he shook it vigorously, eagerly embracing Trump in many ways. His Washington visit concluded without the slightest pushback on any issue, and the two leaders quickly came to terms on the controversial Keystone XL, a pipeline that will deliver the world’s dirtiest oil from Canada’s tar sands to U.S. markets. Trudeau was even willing to sprinkle some of his progressive pixie dust onto Trump’s battered brand, working together on a hastily arranged and wholly ceremonial PR project about boosting female entrepreneurs. Hours after Trump surprised the world with a missile attack on Syria, Trudeau voiced his total support.
While America’s press celebrates Trudeau for seemingly thumbing his nose at Trump, Canadian media praises him for successfully ingratiating himself to the president, skillfully avoiding opportunities to bruise the Donald’s ego. Nervous Canadians who know their place want a smooth relationship with the giant next door, whatever the circumstances.
Yet mere submission might not be enough. Canadians tend to demand emulation, and if our copycat trend continues, the electorate will eventually choose a Canadian Trump, just as it elected a Canadian Obama. It’s a plan well underway.
Leading the polls in the current leadership race for Canada’s Conservative Party is a reality television star who cultivates the persona of an obnoxious rich businessman. Sound familiar?
Americans may know Kevin O’Leary from ABC’s Shark Tank. Canadians have a decent chance of knowing him as our next prime minister.
Jesse Brown is the co-author of The Canadaland Guide to Canada (Published in America).
Stop swooning over Justin Trudeau. The man is a disaster for the planet
By Bill McKibben, The Guardian, April 17, 2017
Donald Trump is so spectacularly horrible that it’s hard to look away – especially now that he’s discovered bombs. But precisely because everyone’s staring gape-mouthed in his direction, other world leaders are able to get away with almost anything. Don’t believe me? Look one country north, at Justin Trudeau.
Look all you want, in fact – he sure is cute, the planet’s only sovereign leader who appears to have recently quit a boy band. And he’s mastered so beautifully the politics of inclusion: compassionate to immigrants, insistent on including women at every level of government. Give him great credit where it’s deserved: in lots of ways he’s the anti-Trump, and it’s no wonder Canadians swooned when he took over.
But when it comes to the defining issue of our day, climate change, he’s a brother to the old orange guy in Washington.
Breaking tradition championed by his father, Trudeau boycotts key UN disarmament initiative
By Linda McQuaig, rabble.ca, April 15, 2017
Now that Donald Trump has proven himself presidential by bombing a Syrian airbase, I guess we can all relax. Of course, there's an off chance that things won't work out well, that the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists will be proven correct in their decision, following Trump's inauguration, to move the Doomsday Clock closer to midnight than it has been since 1953.
Trump appears to have stumbled on the time-honoured technique used by world leaders with flagging approval ratings -- strike a foreign military target, preferably one that won't strike back, at least not right away.
Sadly, our own prime minister has backed Trump's illegal attack on Syria, lending credence to the narrative that the president was deeply moved by the plight of Syrian babies -- as long as those toddlers don't get any ideas about crossing the Atlantic.
Having Trump's back may be Trudeau's idea of putting Canada back on the world stage, but it feels more like a revival of the Harper era. And while the Trudeau team is very worked up about chemical weapons, they seem strangely unconcerned about nuclear ones.
Indeed, the Trudeau government is breaking a long-standing and worthy Canadian practice by snubbing important new UN negotiations aimed at nuclear disarmament.
Posted April 25, 2017