PrimeMinister Justin didn’t really run as someone who stood FOR much of anything … except for some sort of “hope” for a vague, undefined “change.” He really ran on the basis that he was not Prime Minister Harper, who his party and the (quite large) Liberal friendly parts of the media had painted as some sort of monster. Truth to tell, most Canadians didn’t really dislike many of Prime Minister Harper’s policies, although some (many?) felt uncomfortable with the man, himself ~ especially in contrast to M Trudeau, who is something of a rock star. The simple fact was that after 8+ years in office most Canadians were tired of Stephen Harper. We have, unconsciously ~ as we so very often do ~ adopted another Americanism: fixed terms for the chief executive.
Anyway, since the Liberals came to power mostly on wishy-washy promises of “Sunny Ways” they don’t have too many absolutes … except in matters of defence. The Liberal campaign was quite specific on a number of defence related issues, and they were, again, more ‘negative’ ~ that is to say anti-Stephen Harper ~ than ‘positive’ promises; they included:
- Stop “whipping out or CF-18s” to show how big we are ~ in other words retreat away from war-fighting, no matter who the enemy might be;
- Return to Pearsonian, baby-blue beret style peacekeeping ~ even if that has been dead and buried for a generation, replaced by a more ‘robust’ sort of peace enforcement regime;
- Stop the project to buy F-35, in fact, specifically, not buy F-35s.
These promises appealed to three groups:
- To young Canadians who are, generally (and commendably, by and large) suspicious of simplistic military solutions to deep rooted socio-cultural problems ~ they came out to vote for Justin Trudeau in unprecedented numbers;
- To those for whom “social justice” means, usually, spending less on the military and more on specific disadvantaged groups in society; and
- The left wing voters in Canada who were, in large number, persuaded to abandon the NDP and vote Liberal ~ not so much for Justin Trudeau as against four more years of Stephen Harper.
But, as I mentioned earlier, some of those promises are getting harder and harder to keep. Trying to keep the “we will NOT buy the F-35” promise, for example, may have economic consequences, especially in Quebec where the Liberals must rebuild and sustain their base.
The Liberal brain trust actually believes, I think, the bovine excrement that many influential people, especially people like former foreign minister Lloyd Axworth and former Ambassador (to Germany) and permanent representative to the UN Paul Heinbecker, spread, suggesting that the United Nations Security Council is, somehow, a “good thing” and that Canada needs to have one of the rotating, temporary, second class, non-veto seats on it. I, pretty clearly, disagree, but I think Justin Trudeau actually does believe in the UN (and unicorns?) and is sincere in his notion that, somehow, Canada was “missing in action” since 2006 ~ even though that is, very clearly, a wholly inaccurate (but politically popular and powerful) meme, spread about by people who are either stupid, or liars or, in a few cases, both … even if they have PhDs from Ivy League universities.
(Parenthetically, we should be concerned with, in fact we should be leading efforts to, reform of the UNSC, not getting a worthless seat on the current model.)
But now events are once again complicating the lives of national leaders …
… and these include:
- A direct, personal commitment, in the late winter, to the UN Secretary General to “support more UN peacekeeping operations;” and
- Now, in the late spring, intense pressure from allies, including the USA, I think, to join a NATO brigade destined for Eastern Europe.
It is certainly no secret that I regard Russian opportunistic adventurism as a real, pressing threat to peace. I think it is much more dangerous than anything happening amongst the Islamist terrorists, the North Koreans or the Chinese, and, therefore, I would favour doing the sorts of things my friend the Technoviking suggests and deploying a strong battle group, with a big national support element, to Eastern Europe … perhaps for years. Europe is at peace; Putin’s Russia is a real, immediate threat to that peace … the best peacekeeping Canada could do is within NATO, in Eastern Europe, not in some sh!thole under UN control.
But it is up to Prime Minister Trudeau to juggle the priorities between the real world, where a real peace is under threat, and the cloud cuckoo land where he and many of his advisors seem to believe we should be …
… but he’s once again caught between Scylla and Charybdis … and it is, yet again, a dilemma of his own making. My question is: will this do any damage to his remarkable popularity and/or to that of his government?