By Criswell Lavery
Before starting this article, I didn’t know a lot about Justin Trudeau.
Many (white, liberal Americans) think of the young Prime Minister and immediately connect him with the monikers “feminist”, “pro-LGBT”, “pro-choice”, all of which are correct.
But very few know much more about him.
I had seen a few articles floating around talking about his stance on foreign policy, his interactions with the First Nations’ peoples, and his meeting with Donald Trump, but never stopped to read them or look further.
Like many, I was blinded by Trudeau’s liberal social values and his fabulous hair, and thought of him only with a vague fondness.
This is a trap that many fall into, even in our age of easily accessible information.
We see articles about how he’s let over 25,000 Syrian refugees into Canada since he took office in 2015, and don’t see the one about the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).
This agreement was set to reduce 98% of tariffs on trade between Canada and the European Union and cause a small increase in jobs.
It also has provisions which are very similar to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), providing corporations with a huge amount of privileges and legal rights, allowing for them to sue entire governments to change laws and standards that impede their function.
CETA gives Canadian and European corporations these same rights, as well as giving international companies bidding rights to areas in cities, First Nation communities, and providences.
Despite the job growth and tariff reduction, it’s heavily weighted to favor big business, which one would think our Disney prince Prime Minister would be against, right?
Prime Minister Trudeau had been pushing the agreement for months before it was signed in October 2016, and was ratified this February.
It’s been a big part of the reason recent press coverage has turned against Justin Trudeau, changing from their pretty steadily positive reporting to something a little more mixed.
He wholeheartedly supports CETA, which definitely did not fit with the ideal image of him that my little liberal heart had created.
And there’s plenty more where that came from.
A very controversial issue in Canada, just as it is in the USA, is indigenous peoples’ rights.
Like the tribes in the United States, the First Nations have been brutally treated and forced out of their lands since white people first got there, hundreds of years ago.
When Prime Minister Trudeau took office, he promised to bring the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into law in Canada.
This document affixes the inherent rights of indigenous people, including the right to self-determinism and the right to not be forced to assimilate to the incumbent culture.
While the protection of indigenous culture seems like it should be assumed and respected, it’s not currently legally required.
Despite frequent promises to bring this into the new Canadian administration, in July of 2016, Trudeau’s Justice Minister stated that they would not be adopting the UN’s Declaration into law, that it “makes no sense.”
In breaking this promise, Trudeau lost a lot of respect and trust among the First Nations.
In the following year, many new blunders involving the treatment of indigenous peoples have been made, one being the support of the Site C dam, a hydro-electric power generator being proposed to be built on the Peace River in British Columbia.
The dam would destroy ancient burial grounds and threaten traditional hunting and fishing grounds.
In addition, Canada’s energy need hasn’t grown in recent years, and they even have a surplus of clean energy.
The support of this project is another check on a list of broken promises and backtracking.
Here’s the thing, I don’t necessarily think that Justin Trudeau is a bad person.
I can’t make that judgement.
Do I disagree with many of his policies?
Do I agree with others?
I’m not trying to condemn everything he’s ever done, I’m trying to illustrate the very gray nature of politics today, and the dangerous habit people have to put things in black and white.
When we’re distracted by buzzwords and a certain Prime Minister’s blinding smile, we fail to hold people accountable for their actions.
We don’t demand answers or retribution when they mess up or don’t follow through.
As much as we might like to think so, Trudeau isn’t a Disney prince.
He’s human, and a powerful political figure.
Let your ideal go, and demand answers when you have questions, ask for retributions when promises are broken.
Disney princes are perfect.
People are not.
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Cover Photo Credit: Mohammad Jangda/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)