… well, you get the picture.
Justin Trudeau came into office in 2015 proclaiming that Canada is Back! Of course, as recent events have shown, nothing could be further from the truth. By almost every measure Canada has fallen in wealth, power and international stature since Justin Trudeau replaced Stephen Harper at the head of our government.
Both China and the USA use Canada as a punching bag. India actively dislikes Justin Trudeau’s Canada because of suspected Sikh separatist sympathies. Brazil, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and even newly “independent” Britain don’t much care … when they even notice us at all. How did we fall so far in just five years?
First, some analysts are correct, Canada started its campaign for a temporary, second-class (no veto power) seat on the United Nations Security Council “in the hole,” so to say. From 2006 on, Stephen Harper was at odds with the Arab League (22 votes in the UN) because of his unwavering support for Israel. He also mostly ignored the African Group (54 votes, some of which are also in the Arab League) and he was suspicious of China. The Guardian, looking back at both the Trudeau and Harper eras, says “experts believe it [the lost bid for a UNSC seat] raised serious questions about the messaging and clarity of the country’s foreign policy … [and, with regard to the 2020 campaign] … the messaging from Ottawa [was] too confused.” The “messaging” wasn’t “confused” in the Harper era, but, with a few exceptions, it was not what most of the world, certainly not the progressive world, wanted to hear. Canada was from about early 2004 (when Paul Martin committed Canada to fight in Kandahar province in Afghanistan) until late 2015, quite unpopular with about half of the UN’s members. Stephen Harper didn’t give a damn. Justin Trudeau seemed to actually care, but he was, obviously, totally inept when it came to conceiving and conducting a coherent foreign policy. He alienated friends and foes alike and it ended up that after bowing and scraping to half the murdering despots in the world Canada wound up being, apparently, even less popular than in 2010. The “frantic effort” as The Guardian described the final days of the 2020 campaign (link above) could not disguise the fact that Justin Trudeau failed, miserably, to achieve his own stated goal.
As former very top-level foreign policy advisor and diplomat David Mulroney says …
… Canada needs a “complete reboot” of its foreign policy. But, before that can happen I believe that Canada needs a new, Conservative government and I also believe that the Conservative Party needs a foreign and defence policy “reboot,” too.
Canada needs to recognize that we are trapped in a bipolar world again. Last time the Cold War was between the US-led West and the Soviet Union and its subject states. This time Cold War 2.0 is between the West, which now has very uncertain and apparently unwilling US leadership, and China (and its client states) with Russia using every opportunity side with China against the West.
Justin Trudeau’s so-called foreign policy was, in reality, almost 99% domestic politics. The goal of almost everything he did was to help the Liberal Party win a few more seats in Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver. That was never more evident than when he set about destroying decades of hard, principled, most Liberal policy work towards India as he tried to solidify his hold on the Sikh-Canadian vote. Now he’s not the first to peace ethnic politics. Jean Chrétien and the team of Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney were masters of the art. But Prime Ministers Chrétien and Harper always ensured, unlike Prime Minister Trudeau, that Canada’s vital interests were at least tied with their parties’ partisan interests.
Prime Minister Trudeau has failed again and again and again and again. But the larger, progressive media outlets seem more concerned with the length of his hair than with the lengthy list of his policy blunders. It is time for governments to stop buying the media ~ the CBC needs a major overhaul of its mandate and business plan. The private media needs to find ways to make money in the information age because Canada doesn’t need its own Pravda and the People’s Daily.
Foreign policy is not a big vote-getter. Canadians, like Americans, Brits and Danes, are mainly concerned with domestic issues and, recently, with celebrity-driven issues like climate change and systemic racism. But out foreign relations impact on our trade relations and those, in turn, create or destroy jobs here in Canada. Foreign policy maters and politicians need to take that message to Canadian voters.
Finally, Justin Trudeau must go and he must be replaced by a competent, responsible Conservative government.