Many decades ago, when Pierre Trudeau was prime minister, I was, for a while, a student at the Staff College where the Canadian Forces tried, with some success, to turn middle ranked officers into potential admiral and generals. We studied, amongst other things, the “national security environment.” (I think that’s how the academics, somewhat pretentiously, termed it.) Anyway, one day I got a round of applause for asking a question. A senior and distinguished and I must say very wise Canadian diplomat who was, then, in a very senior post in Ottawa came to tell us about the principles of Canadian foreign policy. It was an excellent presentation, as I recall, but it made my blood boil and when it was time for questions my hand shot up. I was, eventually, recognized and I stood up and said (roughly ~ it’s been about 45 years) “Sir, we, here, usually agree that a great speaker is one who can make us change our minds. You’ve done that sir. When I entered this lecture theatre I did not believe in reincarnation. Now, sir, thanks to you, I do … Sir, I don’t see a Canadian ambassador on stage, I see the spirit of Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax.” There were hoots and loud applause from my classmates.
I remember that because it was unfair to the poor guest speaker (and I apologized at the pre-luncheon drinks) and he, very graciously, told us that we might all have to learn how to enunciate and explain policies that we might find, personally, odious. Governments, he reminded us, come and go and a nation will have ever-changing policies as they do. He said that there ought to be some underlying principles of important policies ~ and he suggested that foreign policy was important ~ that shouldn’t change very much even if this or that government chose to emphasize this or that element. It was Palmerston sort of idea:
Another very senior Canadian, then Prime Minister Paul Martin explained it well in 2005: “Foreign policy,” he said “is how a nation best expresses itself to the world. Our policies as a government, reflecting our beliefs as Canadians, are articulated through the words we speak, the decisions we make and the actions we implement in the name of Canada.” “The words we speak” he said, reflect “our beliefs as Canadians.”
That brings me to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his recent comments about China. I am, regularly dismayed by what Prime Minister Trudeau says. I believe that he is an intellectual featherweight who has no business being anywhere near any high office. But this time I was more than dismayed, I was, literally disgusted; my stomach turned. How, I keep asking myself can anyone, any grown man or woman, actually say something that horrible? I cannot bring myself to believe that he is so morally weak, so unprincipled that he actually believes that drivel. That China is trying to wipe out the Uyghurs, as a people, is beyond dispute. No one with the brains the gods gave to green peppers doubts that for a minute. And wiping out a people is the very definition of genocide. Only complete idiots and spineless Chinese apologists refuse to say that what China is doing is genocide.
So, which is Justin Trudeau? An idiot or a Chinese apologist? Both, I think. The fact that we, 30%+ of us anyway, elected a spineless, amoral dimwit to be our prime minister is our problem. But the fact that he is trying appease China when all the evidence says, loudly and clearly, that all China will accept is abject surrender, suggests, to me, that there is something else at play here. I assert that Prime Minister Trudeau is just a puppet and his strings are being pulled by someone, a small cabal I would guess, of very rich and powerful Canadians ~ a nearly invisible part of the Laurentian Elites ~ who are, in turn, part of a small group of people ~ Westerners (Americans, Brits, Canadians, Europeans, etc), all ~ who have decide, for their own selfish reasons that China must dominate the 21st century and the US-led West must kowtow to it. I do not know, cannot even begin to guess, who those people might be but I have come to believe that:
- First, they exist. Ten years ago I pooh-poohed that notion when it was raised but now I cannot find any other reason to explain the prime minister’s actions; and
- Second, they, not the prime minister and his ministers and officials and political operators, are making Canadian policy.
I know that we did not elect them. I am about 99% certain that no senior officials in the Privy Council Office, the upper echelons of the Global Affairs department or even the Liberal Party of Canada share those views. Those views in our government prevail because the Prime Minister’s Office says that’s the party line. But I am also sure that for about 85% of Canadians appeasing China, at all costs, does not reflect “our beliefs as Canadians” In fact I think that a solid majority of Canadians ~ over ⅔ at a reasonably well educated guess ~ oppose it while, perhaps 20±% are indifferent to foreign policy but, generally, support the Liberal Party and less than 15% actually agree with the prime minister’s appeasement of China.
It is time for a change, a real change, a change back to Paul Martin, back to Brian Mulroney when he opposed apartheid and back to Louis St Laurent when Canada had a principled foreign policy. It is not a partisan issue; it is an issue of values and principles. Just Trudeau has none of either. It is time to elect a government that shares Canadians’ beliefs in decency, honest and democracy.