When it comes to world politics, you seldom get to see a face and persona that work as well together as Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister. His policies seem to be exactly what his country needs, and something the world could learn from – He’s promised to ease up on marijuana laws, he’s an outspoken feminist, and his Defense Minister is a Sikh man named Harjit Sajjan. All of which you’d assume come together to form a liberal, sensible and – dare I say it – environmentally conscious leader.
But as with all things governmental, you can’t look at him through a single lens without feeling a prick in your eye. Most world leaders have a carefully crafted, massively tailor-made public image, and Trudeau’s no exception, considering some of his lesser known decisions.
1. Trudeau’s devastating environmental policies on the Alberta Tar Sands
Alberta, Canada, has a 50,000 square mile reservoir of heavy crude oil, that’s around 173 billion barrels of recoverable oil which Canada wants to dig up and sell. The process to do this is energy intensive and would spell disaster for the environment. It would pollute rivers, lace the air with toxins and convert farmland into wasteland. If they go through with it, they will use up a third of the earth’s remaining carbon budget. Coincidentally, Trudeau was recently applauded at a Houston petroleum industry gathering for saying, “No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there.”
2. For all his talk of peace, Canada’s arms dealings show no sign of slowing down
Under Trudeau, Canada has been selling arms more aggressively than earlier, even though for all outer appearance, they seem to have scaled down their warmongering ways. In fact, they’re now the 2nd biggest arms dealer in the Middle East, apart from supplying to Nigeria, the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, Colombia, Peru, and Turkey. Canadian arms dealers even enjoy more freedom under Trudeau. Considering that several international watchdogs like Amnesty International have frequently given warnings about the rampant human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, deals such as a $15-billion sale of fighting vehicles to them is indeed worrisome.
3. His feminist claims don’t exactly hold merit
He’s been outspoken about being a feminist as well as his support for gay rights, and no doubt, that’s had a positive effect on the world at large. Curiously though, he never seems to call out the staggeringly misogynistic human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, even though he frequently berates China. Why? Because, Saudi Arabia’s one of their largest arms customers. It’d be bad for business.
He’s also done close to nothing to improve abortion services in areas of Canada such as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, areas that could really do with an easing up on social stigma. Yes, women’s representation has increased, with them having the first gender balanced cabinet in Canadian history, but there’s still a massive gender wage gap. Child care costs in the country are also exceedingly high. There’s also been little progress in terms of promises made to indigenous women and girls.
4. His decisions have led to large-scale tribal displacement and health costs
Tribal and First Nation communities living in and around the Tar Sands report higher levels of rare cancers and autoimmune diseases. When you consider that Tar sands oil, or bitumen, have been considered by critics as among the dirtiest fuels on earth, that kind of makes sense. Because of this, there’s a high level of displacement of these indigenous communities as well.
Basically, it’s safe to assume that while Trudeau’s done a lot of good at large (legalising marijuana being one of them), he’s not the revolutionary blessing he’s been made out to be.