The Palmerston effect; or who is the puppet master?

There is a video, published by The Guardian, making the rounds on social media which shows Princess Ann, French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Ministers Boris Johnson, Mark Rutte (I think) and Justin Trudeau chatting, it appears, about President Trump who made long, rambling press conferences of his meetings with President Macron and Prime Minister Trudeau. I’m not offended by the light-hearted banter. It was, largely true. Canada’s Prime Minister was, de facto, nothing more than a prop for President Trump to use to address a few of his own issues. While I’m not offended, President Trump was and he called Justin Trudeau “two-faced” for making the quip ~ one might have thought that after the G-7 fiasco in 2018 Prime Minister Trudeau would have learned just how mercurial Donald Trump can be … evidently not.

What did offend me was a bit of this video. At around the 10 to 11-minute mark, President Trump makes his case for more equitable burden-sharing and actually threatens trade sanctions against NATO members who don’t meet the 2% (aspirational) goal and then, at about 14:50, he asks Prime Minister Trudeau “What are you at?” Prime Minister Trudeau, as I predicted, dissembled and prevaricated rather than offering a coherent explanation of what his government is trying to do.

To be clear, I don’t think this Trudeau (minority) government, just like the previous (majority) one, is trying or even wants to do anything about Canada’s defences. We are, thankfully, building ships but that is, mainly, about buying votes sustaining good jobs in Vancouver and Halifax. We are going to buy a new jet fighter, but there may well be another election before the decision is allowed to reach the cabinet table. Team Trudeau’s agenda is about 95% domestic and social.

Screen Shot 2019-12-04 at 08.03.02In 2015 and in 2017 (Strong, Secure, Engaged) the Trudeau government promised to increase defence spending and to make the Canadian Forces “agile, responsive and well equipped.” Recent reports show that the government has fallen far short of the modest goals it set for itself. In the 2019 election campaign, defence and security were hardly discussed at all.

Canadians who care, even a little, about the sovereignty and security of their own country must understand that Justin Trudeau does not.

He doesn’t care and I think he actually doesn’t want to know.

Prime Minister Trudeau seems totally disinterested in grand strategy or the global security issues that bother allied leaders including President Macron, Prime Ministers Lee and Rutte and other leaders, even including President Trump …


… those issues do not matter to Prime Minister Trudeau. It is clear that he doesn’t care; I suspect that Screen Shot 2019-08-22 at 08.08.43he actually doesn’t understand … my guess is that the prime minister of Canada finds global strategy and the whole strategic calculus too difficult. It is all simply beyond his intellect and experience. And the small handful of people who might have helped him are either sidelined and ignored or abandoned him after the first mandate when it became clear that he is not an acceptable national leader.

President Trump will tongue-lash NATO leaders; it will get a bit of coverage in the Canadian media ~ but not much. He will press Canada to support him in his ill-considered trade-war against China … Prime Minister Trudeau will, yet again, dissemble and prevaricate and try do avoid doing anything that might upset any domestic constituency. Canada will become weaker and weaker … the US will eventually force our hand on whichever issues really matter to the “deep” administrative state, and that, I suspect, will include Huawei and our defence budget. But we may get a “pass” on defence spending if we surrender on several issues of Arctic sovereignty and agree to some kind of fresh-water sharing regime. I wonder how that will sit with the progressive element in Canada.

President Trump is a transient problem. The Americans’ finely tuned sense of their own national, strategic and vital interests, as seen by the administrative state, is permanent ~ see Palmerston, again:


Canada is America’s client … we are, de facto, a semi-self-governing colony. Justin 5ebc4dd51382b06c6590c12d83ffcc37Trudeau is a puppet, the real question is: who is pulling his strings? Is it Gerald Butts and the Laurentian Elites or is it a team of faceless senior officials in Washington? Another interesting question is: do Butts, Telford and Trudeau understand who really pulls the strings?

Published by Ted Campbell

Old, retired Canadian soldier, Conservative ~ socially moderate, but a fiscal hawk. A husband, father and grandfather. Published material is posted under the "Fair Dealing" provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act for the purposes of research, private study and education.

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