Subdued kudos to Team Trudeau

John Ibbitson, writing in the Globe and Mail, says that “There’s been a lot of Liberal rhetoric about Canada being back on the world stage after a decade of Conservative darkness. Some of us aren’t sure fighting wars in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq, or being in the front lines of delivering aid to quake victims in Haiti and Ebola victims in Africa, or joining trade negotiations in both the Atlantic and the Pacific constituted an absence. Whatever. Justin Trudeau promised that his Liberal government would revive Canada’s reputation as a caring nation committed to doing its share, and he’s kept his word … [and] …  Canada is indeed doing its share  … [but, it is] … the same share that it contributed under the Conservatives.

Mr Ibbitson goes on to enumerate the only very slight changes in policy in such areas as:

  • Funding for sexual and reproductive health programs overseas, which builds on the maternal health initiative that Stephen Harper spearheaded in 2010. The Conservatives refused to fund abortion services; the Liberals, commendably, are filling that gap;”
  • The military mission launched by the Conservatives to help Ukraine defend itself. On Justin Trudeau’s watch, Canada is not only staying in Ukraine – it will also lead a battle group stationed in Latvia to deter Russian aggression in the Baltic states. Canadian hostility to Vladimir Putin’s ambitions is as pointed under the Liberals as it ever was under the Conservatives;”
  • Although “the Liberal government did end the air combat component of the mission against the Islamic State in Iraq. But the Liberals have preserved and expanded other components, such as aerial surveillance, training and medical aid. Canadian troops have even been spotted in the front lines. This country is every bit as committed to the fight against the Islamic State under Mr. Trudeau as it was under Mr. Harper;”
  • While “Mr. Trudeau was determined to return Canada to its traditional role of peacekeeping … [but] … thus far, we can’t seem to find a peace to keep. The Liberals are cautious about contributing to peacekeeping efforts in Mali for the same reason the Conservatives refused a UN request to lead the mission in Congo: both are potential quagmires;” and
  • On trade, the Liberals secured the agreement that the Conservatives negotiated with the European Union. Now that the Trump administration has torpedoed the Trans Pacific Partnership, the Liberals hope to pursue trade agreements with Asian nations on a bilateral basis. The Conservatives signed Canada’s first Asian free-trade agreement, with South Korea, and launched talks with India, Thailand and Japan. Conservatives and Liberals were once at daggers-drawn on the question of free trade; now each seeks to outdo the other in landing new deals.

So we should be giving kudos to Team Trudeau for steering what is, essentially, Prime Minister Harper’s course … and John Ibbitson might have mentioned, also, that despite the fact ~ and I assert that it is a fact ~ that he could give Canada’s chances of securing a worthless, second class, temporary seat on the UN Security Council some needed support by joining the anti-Israel chorus in the UN, Prime Minister Trudeau has refused to do so. Our kudos might be a bit subdued, however, because Team Trudeau has, essentially, ignored foreign and defence policy except for:

  • Throwing money at ill-defined climate change initiatives;
  • Completing Conservative trade deals; and
  • Reacting to perceived threats from President Trump.


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