Friday, April 29, 2016

Trudeau's Betrayal

To Murray Dobbin, Justin Trudeau is looking more and more like Stephen Harper with each passing month. C-51, BDS, the TPP and so much more. But it's the venal Saudi arms deal, to Dobbin, is the icing on Trudeau's cake:

...the stunningly stupid decision to go ahead with a $15-billion sale of light-armoured vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia has the potential to expose Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a phony.

You could hardly design an issue so perfectly fitted to reveal a government with a progressive public face contradicted by a ruthless disregard for human rights. It raises the question of whether the spin doctors simply misjudged the extent of public revulsion or whether there is something deeper going on. Is it really just about jobs or is there a hard-nosed commitment, inherited from the Conservatives, to a backward Middle East foreign policy?

Foreign Affairs Minister St├ęphane Dion has been severely damaged by his performance on the Saudi arms sale file. First he said the government couldn't get out of the contract, claiming it was legally committed by the Conservative government's actions. That was not true.

Dion compounded his credibility problem with another misleading claim that he was following Canadian law in signing the export permits.

After a Globe and Mail editorial accused him of hypocrisy for approving the sale, Dion attacked the newspaper, claiming that "the Foreign Affairs Minister may block the exports permits at any time if there were serious evidence of misuse of the military equipment." That is, presumably, after our LAV's have been used to attack civilians.

According to Belkis Wille, Yemen researcher for Human Rights Watch, "The Saudis have used such vehicles to violently suppress peaceful protests in eastern Saudi Arabia in 2011 and 2012."

Is there a "reasonable risk" that it will do so again? Everything we know about the new and far more aggressive regime in Riyadh today says yes. In January the regime executed 47 prisoners (most by beheading) on a single day. The regime executed 151 in 2015 -- the most in 20 years.

The Saudi government described those on Jan. 2 executed as "terrorists," but the law defining terrorism includes anyone who demands reform, exposes corruption or otherwise engages in dissent or violence against the government. We don't know how many were executed for acts of violence and how many for "dissent."

And, Dobbin notes, Trudeau has shown himself faithfully Harperian when it comes to Israel:

Trudeau supported a Conservative resolution that would have the government "condemn" any advocacy for the BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) campaign for Palestinian rights. He also opposes the European Union's new initiative that require products from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories to be clearly labeled. And there seems to be little if any movement on Trudeau's commitment to re-engage with Iran.

In short, so far, Trudeau's Mideast policy looks disturbingly like Harper's.

It is the same and again we're reminded that the son is not the equal of the father, not remotely. He seems to more closely resemble the guy we just threw out.


Pamela Mac Neil said...

Rick Salutin on National Newswatch also has an interesting posting about Trudeau today Mound. As to Trudeau, he seems to be retaining not ridding much of what Harper implemented. The question is why?

Lorne said...

The problem with the lofty rhetoric of Trudeau is that when it confronts reality, it leaves in the public an aftertaste of bitter disillusionment and potential massive re-disengagement of the young voters who were attracted by the rhetoric in the last election, Mound. All in all, a disservice to the Canadian public, Canadian democracy, and human rights everywhere.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Pamela - Why is the question, isn't it? I think what we're seeing is clear evidence that Canada remains in the grip of neoliberalism. Trudeau's foreign policy is obviously tinged with neoconservatism. It's pretty rightwing, uncomfortably so for most Canadian progressives.

He's chasing his tail on climate change, unable to walk away from bitumen and hazmat pipelines. On so many of the tough issues Trudeau says all the right things but fails to deliver anything substantive.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Lorne - Trudeau seems to have forgotten the role that BC played in his electoral victory. He likewise courted the young and then returned to something not all that distant from Ignatieff.

Dobbin is right. We have been betrayed.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

I agree Mound that Canada remains in the death grip of Neoliberalism. The liberals do not have solid Social Democratic ideas of which to intellectually challenge Neoliberalism. Salutin is talking today about the British advisor that the liberals brought to their retreat. They wanted him to advise them on how they were doing so far. This is the guy who advised Blair. Salutin calls him a Con. I think it says alot about the liberals seeking the advice of this man.I don't think Trudeau has the intellectual capacity or confidence to ask the right questions. I think he just accepts what his advisors tell him.What stood out for me with his father, is that he believed in his own ability to come to the right decision. He listened to others but he made the decisions himself.His son is malleable.

Gyor said...

Who knew Trudeau was like this? *puts hand up*.

I've been saying it for years as have others, no one listened.


joeboy said...

Seems to me that when this deal was put together, it was all praise for Harper strengthening the Canadian economy; jobs, jobs, jobs. Now that a Liberal gov't has agreed to maintain the arrangement, the focus suddenly shifts to the human rights side of things. Of course the cons and Dippers would love to see the the contract killed, knowing Libs would not get get another London seat in next election. Cons and NDPers don't give a damn a bout human rights; it's just politics as usual, with lefties as gullible as usual.

The Mound of Sound said...

Well, Joeboy, you may recall things that way but you're mistaken. There was plenty of criticism of the LAV deal during Harper's tenure but apparently you missed that. Then again even Mulcair largely ducked it until the very end when he realized he was in such hot water he had nothing to lose by rejecting it. Trudeau was non-committal, saying he'd ensure that it only went through if it met all of Canada's requirements.

Like it or not, Trudeau reneged on that promise and sent Dion to do the dirty work.

Joeboy, the Western nations - the US and Canada excepted - are expressing increasing distrust of the Saudis, their human rights record at home (toward women and Shiite Saudis), and the war crimes they're perpetrating in Yemen against the Houthi population. If you were as informed as you are outspoken you would already be aware of these facts. This conversation doesn't work well at your level.