Friday, April 21, 2017

Justin Trudeau is Not the Political Dream That Many Believe Him to Be

I was very happy when Justin Trudeau was first elected as Canada's Prime Minister, back in the autumn of 2015. He seemed to represent a positive shift for Canada, from the more conservative, borderline neocon shift that the country had seen under Stephen Harper before him.

Then, when the United States decided in last year's presidential election that Donald Trump, of all people, was fit to lead the country, Trudeau began to look like a very solid leader, one who was almost too good to be true.

Here was a leader who was young, energetic, and idealistic, much like John F. Kennedy was. Plus, he came from a wealthy family and thus, exuded an image of success, like the Kennedys did. So, I began to view this as Canada's answer to the Kennedy political dynasty.

Also, he seemed to be on the right side of most issues. He was taking in immigration at a time when the United States seemed to be turning more xenophobic. He seemed to be working for the middle class in Canada, at a time when Americans seemed to be turning to billionaires who gave lip service to the middle class, but predictably actually worked hard to provide real tax breaks and other benefits to the very wealthiest Americans. Plus, Trudeau's administration had called for even stronger environmental standards during the Paris Environmental Accord than most countries, particularly industrialized nations, were willing to go.

Now, I have long had a fascination with Canada, dating back decades now. Being a Franco-American, there is a natural appeal towards a country that seems to beautifully blend some of the best of both French and American culture, as well as a British influence mixed in. Of course, Canada is Canada, and not some replica version of France, Britain, or the United States.

For quite some time, I was tempted to try and live there. Hell, I even filled out an application once, although there was never any reply or so much as an acknowledgement of it from their end. But Canada always seemed like an ideal country, well ahead of the United States in many important respects. More and more, it is becoming clear to many that Canada is where the United States should be on a lot of issues.

So, Trudeau's rise to become the leader of the Canadian government was not all that surprising, and many Americans (and others) rejoiced. Plus, he is a good-looking guy, perhaps the most attractive world leader in history, based on how much people talk about it. Indeed, a lot of people seemed completely fixated on his looks.

But here's the thing: Trudeau is far from perfect, and while paying lip service to action on climate change, he is being quite hypocritical on many levels.

This is particularly true when it comes to combating climate change, because while he and his administration pay rich lip service to taking serious action towards limiting carbon emissions to curb global warming, he is also a strong advocate for mining and selling crude Canadian oil from Alberta. The type of crude oil that we are talking about is very damaging to the environment, and it is this oil that is to be transported through those controversial pipelines in the Midwest, right through the  water of the Standing Rock reservation, where there were all of those protests.

It seems that Trudeau is all for fighting climate change, unless potentially highly polluting Canadian companies can specifically profit from it.

That sounds a little too convenient for those of us with an ounce of common sense. Either you are committed to reducing harmful emissions, or you are not. There are no double standards that should be permitted allowing Trudeau to talk about stronger terms for combating climate change on the one hand, with people swooning over him, and then turning around and trying to get some of the most polluting crude oil around sold, just because it happens to come from Canadian soil.

Indeed, a lot of Americans seem to really like Trudeau quite a bit. I mostly do, as well, although his position on the Canadian oil, and thus, by extension, on that pipeline that would run through Standing Rock Reservation's waterways, was more than a little troubling. And his advocacy for selling that oil relentlessly, come what may, is going to potentially do a lot of damage to the environment, and hasten climate change.

So, I still like Trudeau, but his environmental hypocrisy really bothers me to the point where I cannot help but think of this hypocrisy when I see or hear about him. True, most Americans seem to hold favorable views of him, although this might just be because his name is not Donald Trump. Frankly, not having the name Trump associated to him is a plus, but it is not enough to qualify him of the unconditional ardour which he has received.

There are many issues that Trudeau champions which I agree with, and overall, he seems like a better Prime Minister than the one who came before. He speaks about some issues with a degree of knowledge and care that seems fairly genuine, and again, there is that young and idealistic, Kennedy-esque quality that is hard to dispute.

Still, we need to hold him to account when he does things that do not make sense, and hypocrisy certainly would be one of those things. Especially on such a critical issue as climate change, where we will not get second chances.

Trudeau needs to remain consistent, and if he wants to champion climate change, then do so. If he just wants to sell Canadian oil, however much it will contribute to pollution, then he needs to be recognized for what he is - a major polluter, and a Prime Minister with a blemish on his record!

Here is an article that explores this subject further, which I highly recommend!

Stop swooning over Justin Trudeau. The man is a disaster for the planet Bill McKibben

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