Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently met with President Donald Trump for a highly publicized joint press conference in Washington, D.C. While the media went to great lengths to present the two as rival representatives of two conflicting political ideologies, the truth is that Trump and Trudeau have a lot more in common than they would publicly admit.
Trudeau has become a poster boy for liberals both in the United States and Canada while Trump represents the most vile aspects of conservatism. But anyone who hoped for a strong statement from Trudeau denouncing Trump was disappointed. While some media outlets tried to exaggerate a chance photo where Trudeau seemed to give Trump an incredulous look, the meeting was actually friendly and warm. This should come as no surprise to anyone who realize the bedrock that both liberalism and conservatism are built upon.
Two heads of the same coin
Canada is the United States’ second biggest trade partner in the world, trading $2 billion worth of goods a day, with fossil fuels being the biggest export into the United States. Keeping this money flowing to corporations certainly outweighs importance over any difference the leaders may have on refugees or identity politics. Even issues where it seems they have stark differences, Trudeau has a much muddier record than his fans like to admit.
Similar to unpopular pipeline projects in the United States, Trudeau just approved new pipelines last fall to be built in Canada. Like President Trump, he justifies this by saying it is needed for jobs and the economy (as if green energy projects the world is in dire need of would not do the same).
The Trans Mountain pipeline he approved will tremendously increase the destructive and dangerous process of removing crude oil from oil sands in the area. The Tsleil-Waututh nation says this project threatens their very survival.
Trudeau promised in his election campaign that the new liberal government would respect the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people. Indigenous leaders are upset that he is not delivering on that promise.
The new government has been in office over a year, and besides photo ops and press opportunities, very little has been done for the First Nations of Canada. There is still no plan in place to make the vast changes needed to respect Indigenous sovereignty. The RCMP, Canada’s federal police, continue to harass and oppress indigenous communities.
This of course was one of many of Trudeau’s broken promises from his campaign trail. He made a promise that Canada would have a new election system by the 2019 election which would allow a more fair and democratic process. After being elected he openly reversed his decision.
Trudeau himself has recently come under fire from Canada’s ethics watchdog group who questioned him on recent controversies concerning cash-for-access fundraisers his campaign held and an investigation into a private island holiday he took over the New Year holiday.
Trudeau also promised tax breaks for the working class while running for Prime Minister. While the second to lowest income bracket did drop from 22 percent to 20.5 percent, this was actually wiped out by higher payroll taxes which ultimately increased taxes this section of the population pays. The lowest tax bracket got hit the hardest, with no decrease at all and still being burdened with the higher payroll taxes. In fact Trudeau’s new government has eliminated many tax breaks working families need such as Children’s Fitness Tax, Education Tax Credit, Textbook Tax Credit and many more.
Other pledges were to invest $125 billion into sustainable infrastructure and repeal what Trudeau called “problematic elements” of Surveillance Bill C-51. As with other promises no plan has yet to be delivered. Defenders of Trudeau are telling people they need to wait for him to come through. But many Americans are familiar with waiting for 8 years under the Obama administration on broken promises that never came to fruition.
While Trudeau has made some gestures towards respecting the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and immigrants he does not remain consistent. He continues to sign off on permits exporting military vehicles to arm the government of Saudi Arabia, arguably the most repressive regime on the planet. Women and the LGBTQ community suffer tremendously there while the Saudis use this weaponry to stamp out dissidence and pummel Yemeni civilians, adding to the refugee crisis he appears to have such sympathetic approach too.
It is also worth noting a forgotten factor in this refugee crisis is climate change, which has a huge role played in it by the fossil fuel industry he prioritizes and protects.
Thinking outside the box
Defenders of Trudeau, like defenders of President Obama, would argue, not entirely without cause, that the Prime Minister is unable to unilaterally impose his agenda. But if that is the case then Trudeau ran an election in a system that would ultimately carry out these murderous, unacceptable acts regardless. He now sits on top of that system and unapologetically moves it forward. He absolutely does not deserve any admiration as a people’s champion.
The real heroes are in the streets organizing and putting their bodies on the line against this repressive system. If we want to truly move towards justice, we need to be honest about the reality of the Trudeaus and Obamas the system elevates and uses to misdirect progressive people’s energy.
We need to realize that in action, figures like them and Trump have much more in common than they have differences. But if we demand an uncompromising solution that goes well beyond the political system both Trump and Trudeau operate under, we can build a world based on justice, peace, and liberation of all people.