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JUSTIN TRUDEAU: THE REAL DEAL OR BEST-DRESSED PHONY

Callous greed grows pious very fast. – Lillian Hellman

I once said cynically of a politician, “He’ll double cross that bridge when he comes to it.” — Oscar Levant

Frank Pelaschuk

While Trudeau was on the campaign trail he was very much like Donald Trump promising whatever he believed the audience before him at the time wanted to hear. The voters lapped it up. Almost a year into his mandate, he has kept a few of them going so far with one promise as to seem to be washing his hands of his role as Prime Minister of Canada.

The promises he did keep were easy because most Canadians supported them: welcoming over thirty thousand Syrian refugees; bringing back the long-form census; raising taxes on those making over two hundred thousand and lowering taxes for the those in the middle class; following through with the promise to set up an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women; allowing government scientists to speak; forming a committee to look into electoral reform; pulling Canada out of bombing missions against ISIS; and, because so patently unfair, prejudicial, offensive, and often ignored, the punitive Conservative mandatory victim levy which placed a greater burden on poor offenders than on those with money. These were good promises when made and good promises when kept. But they were also easy promises because so widely embraced.

But it’s the other promises, the big promises, the promises not kept, easy to make when one has no intention of keeping them or not on the public radar thus easily ignored or unnoticed when quietly dropped, that must be reckoned with. How faithful has he been to honouring those promises, the promises of more honesty, openness, and transparency?

Well, not very.

What is certain is this: On the big promises, the ones that really matter, Human Rights, climate change, the anti-terrorism bill, the disability pension for our vets, Trudeau has failed. He misled, lied and fudged offering examples aplenty of clear failures and a willingness to equivocate, to make excuses, to justify and to blame. While we are seeing many younger faces, we are subjected to the same-old same-old that caused the Liberals so much difficulty and left them in the political wilderness for almost ten years. Yes, many new and younger faces but all pros, already, at playing the game. We saw it then from the Liberals and we see it now from the Liberals: the shameless hubris and belief of entitlement. That it happened so quickly and so easily, this slippage into bad habits and behaviour is almost shocking. Almost. Watch Trudeau closely. When he walks, it is not confidence one notices but swagger, the strut of arrogance and smugness: Here I am, look at me.

It is not enough to look at him; one must see him, really see him.

MONEY FOR THE TAKING

Early in the Liberal mandate we saw signs of equivocation when it came to transparency and honesty. That was when the newly appointed Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould attended a fundraiser put on by a prominent law firm. She said that she attended as a Member of Parliament not as justice minister. That’s splitting hairs and they are not, they cannot be, mutually exclusive. That, notwithstanding Trudeau’s approval, was a clear breach of conflict of interest guidelines. It didn’t bother the justice minister and it didn’t bother Trudeau who merely shrugged it off. It bothered me. It should you.

We have a Minister of Environment, Catherine McKenna, who attended a climate conference in Paris who had no difficulty in claiming expenses for a professional photographer that cost Canadians over $6K. Press from around the world covered the event; even so, McKenna needed her own private photographer. Why? Because she could and on the public dime?

We have the health minister, Jane Philpott who several times attempted to stiff the public with expense claims, which, upon coming to light, were repaid. First it was $3700 for luxury limousines (she quibbled over the word “luxury”). Then she charged $520 for a pass to Air Canada executive lounges. And then $202 for a suitcase and $178 for a Nexus pass. I suspect she will keep on trying until she gets it right and no one notices or no longer cares.

We have Chrystia Freeland, International Trade Minister, who cancelled a government plane that was to take her home to make a detour on another plane to LA for an appearance on a TV show. That cost taxpayers almost $20K. While campaigning, she charged Canadians $500 for her grooming. A few years ago, Freeland wrote a book on plutocrats. Now she acts like one, another on the public dime.

And then we have the cost of relocating 49 government staffers for $1.1 million. Two staffers to the PMO cost a total of $220K for relocation expenses including “discretionary” costs. Both of the staffers, Gerald Butts and Katie Telford are personal friends with Trudeau. While both repaid some money, saying they did not feel comfortable with some of the claims to which they were entitled (if so, why make the claims and why the discomfort only when the expenses became public?). Trudeau’s attitude regarding these claims was one of justification and fingerpointing. They were allowed to make the claims and they were simply following the rules set up by Harper’s government. Besides, others did the same in the past. That was Trudeau’s response. That is the kind of response I expect of a man who has issues with ethics (for himself and his), a man all too willing to resort to legalese to justify questionable behaviour. If I can, why shouldn’t I? And why not for as much as I can and as often as I can?

THE BIG PROMISES NOT KEPT

During the Harper years, the Temporary Foreign Workers Program enraged Canadians when it was revealed that the government allowed foreign workers to be paid 15% less than Canadian workers, that 200 workers from China were granted permission to work a mine up north while Canadian miners were turned away because they couldn’t speak Mandarin, and that RBC had Canadian workers train foreign workers to do jobs that would then be exported overseas. The Liberals appeared incensed and the NDP really were. The Harper gang, bowing to public pressure, made changes promising to scale back the cap of low-income workers from 20 per cent to 10 per cent. Once in office as prime minister however, Trudeau ignored the Harper cap and kept the level of foreign workers to 20 per cent. In other words, Trudeau, as did Harper, is working with business. As if Canadian workers do not have enough to worry about than having the added burden of their own government working with Big Business to suppress their wages. That disturbs me deeply. It should you as well.

Remember veterans? Remember how Trudeau, riding the wave of support for better treatment of our vets, promised to reopen the nine offices closed by Harper and to return the life-long disability for vets and do away with the one-time lump sum payment? Well, the government has opened some offices and may open all though that is still unclear. What is not unclear, however, is how badly the Liberals betrayed vets with disabilities as a result of their service. Instead of reinstating the life long disability pension, the Trudeau welshers have simply increased the amount of the one-time lump sum payment. Once again veterans have experienced the bitter sting of betrayal by their own government. Liberals and their staffers pillage the coffers with outrageous expense claims and sorrowfully nickel and dime military men and women. Nice.

When Harper’s regime introduced Bill C-51, it was loudly condemned by almost every sector including the NDP, jurists, lawyers, scholars, activists and concerned citizens. The BC Civil Liberties Association points out the bill expands the definition of “terrorism”, it gives security agencies too much discretion, it “criminalizes speech acts that have no connection to acts of violence”, it will allow sharing of personal information with agencies having nothing to do with security (BCCLA, March 11, 2015). The Liberals supported the bill on the whole but expressed some concerns regarding certain aspects. But, in power, they are doing absolutely nothing. Well, not quite accurate. They are consulting with Canadians online. But the information offered and the questions asked are insufficient for uninformed respondents to give any other outcome but one that is skewed and likely to satisfy the Liberals, i.e., allow the bill to remain almost as Harper’s Conservatives envisioned it.

Should we be concerned that Canadians are asked to have input on the bill when experts in security and the law have denounced it? What does Joe or Jane Average know that those in the field don not? It’s insane. Trudeau and his government want lull Canadians into believing they are offering meaningful input and that they will be listened to. Not so. This is Trudeau’s away of absolving himself when the bill eventually creates real problems and it will. It’s not me, he can aver, it’s the citizens who made the final decision. He is a coward and certainly no leader.

Trudeau did promise to consult. And he has ad nauseam on almost everything one can imagine even when the public likely has little to no knowledge and experience regarding the issue at hand. That’s not governance, that’s abdication of responsibility.

But if Trudeau has proven himself shifty regarding some of his promises, he has also demonstrated he is as hypocritical as any other politician. He had, while campaigning, declared his desire to regain Canada’s seat on the UN Security Council. To that end, he made clear that Human Rights were a priority of his government. Well, that was an absolute load of rubbish, which he proved with his government’s signature completing the trade deal initiated by the Conservative government allowing for the export of light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. He not only went against UN but also Canadian regulations regarding international trade with Human Rights abusing nations. Saudi Arabia is among the world’s worst offenders.

When the Canadian Streit Group allowed for shipment of LAVs to Libya from its facilities in the Mideast, breaching an international embargo, the Liberal response from Global Affairs was that the vehicles, while manufactured in Canada, were shipped from the United Emirates “which is outside of Canada’s export-control jurisdiction” (The Globe and Mail, Steven Chase, April 5, 2016). Legalese again. Cowardly and dishonest. But when money is at stake, the Liberals are quite willing to place Human Rights at the back of the line for consideration “at another time”.

And then we have the environment.

Trudeau’s commitment to the environment and climate change seems about as steadfast as his commitment to Human Rights as demonstrated by his willingness to trade with rogue abusers such as Saudi Arabia and China.

Not only did Trudeau approve permits for the go-ahead of the Site C dam in northern British Columbia, he has also given the green light to the Pacific Northwest LNG export terminal off the BC coast at the mouth of the Skeena River. Yes, it will create jobs and will certainly go over big with Christy Clark the premier of British Columbia who grants private meetings to special interests provided they hold in their hands $10K, $20K, $30K and whose Liberal government will be facing an election during 2017. But, if the project creates jobs and helps another Liberal government get re-elected, it will also be a vast emitter of carbon waste thus seriously undermining Trudeau’s much vaunted commitment to reducing carbon emissions. The project, which will be operated by natural gas rather than electricity, will pose a huge risk for the salmon habitat and industries in the area.

Nothing like friends helping friends, eh.

There are folks out there who love Trudeau. Well, he’s personable, why not? The thing is, his behaviour and his acts suggest he’s a phoney. He’s bogus. Oh, yes, he’ll keep his undertakings on the small things but, when it comes to the big prize, getting re-elected, gaining power and keeping it, when it comes to entitlements and getting away with what one can, well, Trudeau is your man all the way. The Liberals, the profligate Liberals are back. And we are lapping it all up, the handsome prince mixing with the gushing public who are only interested in snapping selfies with his arm around them. They have met the prince and he has touched them. They do not think; they react. They stare at him with mouths gaping and lips drooling but, I suspect, failing to notice he has no clothes, that there is no there there. He is straw and air. Oh, it’s a beautiful chimera but reach out to touch it and – poof – it’s all air. Nothing.

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin

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About Frank A. Pelaschuk

I am the author of two works of fiction reviewed by Brian Porter, author of Lonely Together and The Atlas Proxies. He called the novel, Serpent in the Garden, "A convincing, seductive tale of coming home to the enemy". Of Ambiguities of Love in Six Stories, he wrote, “Moving, intelligent, and thoughtful storytelling." Both works are available on Amazon as soft cover or e-book where the full reviews also appear.

2 responses

  1. “Yes, many new and younger faces, but all pros, already at playing the game.” I observed that also Frank. The words that popped into my head when I did make that observation were, “that was fast.” The invisible crown that they wear to show their sense of entitlement was worn almost out of the starting gate.

    Once they got elected, they went rogue. Trudeau’s foreign policy and his economic/political, domestic and global policies, are right out of Harper’s playbook. Trudeau and his party are completely subservient to American and global neoliberal interests. This is seen with the green lighting of the deal to export light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, the approval of the Pacific North West pipeline and Trudeau’s support of the conservative motion against the BDS movement,(a complete violation of Canadians right to free speech). The liberals complete support of the US’s world imperial agenda and the lies that go with it, has been totally embraced by Trudeau, no questions asked. Non of these deals and decisions, benefit Canadians, especially in the long term.

    Canadian interests mean nothing to them, in fact many of their policies violate Canadian interests and rights.

    We don’t have governments any more, we have criminal cabals and in the liberals case, Trudeau is their front man.

    His speeches are pure public relations, completely lacking in serious political ideas. When he speaks, I feel like I’m back in great 8 soon to enter high school and I’m listening to our class valedictorians platitude filled speech, telling us about the great changes that await us.

    You’ve also picked up on his arrogance, which few people have. It’s like he is smugly saying, Canadians may not like my policies, but I’m implementing them for your own good. As absurd as that is I think he really thinks of himself as having to make the tough decisons and that he knows what’s best for Canadians.

    The question you asked in your title is the question every Canadian should be asking.

    Trudeau is neither a man of intelligence, nor of integrity. That much has been shown even in these early days.

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    • Thanks for your comments, Pamela.I agree with much of what you say. It was fast and very disturbing how easily the Liberals have slipped into the old attitudes and habits. I do think he is intelligent in his usage of media and his own image; too, he has the old guard and sharp backroom hacks who clearly know what they are doing. But the sad thing is is that what the Conservatives and Liberals have got away with since the founding of this nation is old hat and the public still falls for the same lines and promises; when they do show signs of waken up, they buy the fear mongering image of what terrible things will happen if the public splits the vote so they reject change out of fear of what might happen by voting for another party when for 150 years with each election, they erase what they do know and act as if new born innocents.

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