‘Why I believe Trudeau is a joke’

True dat, Trudeau: The Canadian prime minister on a state visit to India with his wife. © Getty
by Stephen Daisley

A self-described “cheerful pessimist”, Stephen Daisley is a Scottish journalist who writes for The Spectator and Scottish Daily Mail. He spent five years as digital politics and comment editor at STV.

Traditional dress, the Golden Temple, and an awkward dance: Justin Trudeau has returned from India. For Stephen Daisley, it was an embarrassing show of the very worst of liberalism…

If your week was less than fun, spare a thought for Justin Trudeau. The Canadian Prime Minister’s seven-day visit to India went down like an undercooked biriyani on the subcontinent.

When he landed in New Delhi last Saturday, Trudeau was greeted on the tarmac, not by the prime minister or foreign minister but by the junior minister for agriculture and farmers’ welfare. Other world leaders have been given a personal welcome by Narendra Modi.

The prime minister, Mr Modi, failed even to note Trudeau’s arrival on Twitter, though on the same day he found time to tweet about plans to unveil a new shipping container terminal. He did not acknowledge Trudeau until five days later and only met him the day before the Canadian prime minister and his family were to return home.

He seems to have picked up his political philosophy from Saturday morning cartoons: I am Captain Snowflake.

Why were the Indians so frosty in their reception? They suspect Trudeau’s government of private sympathy for the Khalistani separatist movement, which wants to form a breakaway Sikh state in Punjab. Thankfully, Trudeau didn’t do anything to inflame those suspicions. Well, unless you count inviting a notorious Khalistani separatist to a reception. And then to dinner.

But there were still a few Indians unoffended by the image-obsessed Mr Trudeau and he quickly remedied that. He turned up for one event in a gaudy golden kurta, churidars and chappals. At another, he broke into the traditional Bhaṅgṛā dance. Only after the local press pointed out that this was a little condescending was Justin-ji finally photographed wearing a suit.

At least he achieved his goal of bringing Indians and Canadians closer together: both have spent the past week cringing at this spectacle.

I want to like Justin Trudeau. I really do. He’s a centrist liberal in an age where neither the adjective nor the noun is doing very well. Trump to his south, Brexit and Corbyn across the water, Putin beyond that: Trudeau should be a hero for liberal democrats.

Instead, from his Eid Mubarak socks at Toronto Pride to his preference for “peoplekind” over “mankind”, Trudeau presents like an alt-right parody of liberalism. He’s gender-neutral pronouns. He’s avocado toast and flaxseed soy smoothies. He’s safe spaces and checked privileges.

And all that would be fine. In fact, it would be a hoot to have a liberal standard-bearer who could troll the 4chan pale males. But far from an icon for the middle ground, Trudeau is the sort of right-on relativist who gives liberals a bad name.

He has spoken of his “admiration” for China’s dictatorship. He called Fidel Castro “a remarkable leader” who showed “tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people”. Trudeau’s government refused to accept the Islamic State’s ethnic cleansing of the Yazidis was a genocide until the UN formally recognised it as such. In 2016 he issued a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day neglecting to mention Jewish victims of the Shoah, and the following year unveiled a memorial plaque with the same omission.

Trudeau’s problem is that he always agrees with the last good intention he encountered. He seems to have picked up his political philosophy from Saturday morning cartoons: by your powers combined, I am Captain Snowflake. There is no spine of policy, no political compass, no vision beyond the next group hug or national apology.

The centre ground needs a champion and instead it got an inspirational quote calendar with abs. Trudeau’s not a Grit, he’s pure mush.

This article was originally published by The Spectator. You can find the original article under Become An Expert.

You Decide

  1. Do you like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?

Activities

  1. Trudeau and his family often wore traditional dress during their visit to India, as in the picture at the top of this article. Some accused them of “cultural appropriation”: when someone adopts something (such as clothes, food, or music) from a culture that is not their own. Have a class debate: Is cultural appropriation always wrong?

Word Watch

Narendra Modi
India’s prime minister since 2014.
Khalistani separatist
“Khalistan” is the proposed name for an independent Sikh country in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. The separatist in question, Jaspal Atwalis, a former member of an extremist group, was convicted of attempting to assassinate of an Indian cabinet minister in the 1980s.
Kurta, churidars and chappals
Items of traditional Indian dress.
Centrist liberal
The adjective, centrist: someone who is neither to the left, nor right of politics. The noun, liberal: someone who believes in individual freedom and equality in politics.
Alt-right
A nickname for a group of far-right beliefs, including white nationalism, which are often expressed online.
4chan
A popular message board for many people in the alt-right.
Fidel Castro
The Communist prime minister and president of Cuba, who was in power between 1959 to 2008. He was criticised for human rights abuses by the UN and others.
Ethnic cleansing
It is not known how many Yazidis were killed or kidnapped by Islamic State, but it is estimated to be around 10,000.

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