Saturday, December 03, 2016

A Nation Without Vision



Little attention was paid when Justin Trudeau proclaimed Canada the world's "first post-national state." The New York Times reporter interviewing our prime minister found the remark "radical." It was, it is, and by all signs it will continue into our future under Trudeau.

How to make sense of it? What does it mean to be a Canadian in Trudeau's Canada? Well, how did it feel to be Canadian under Lester Pearson? How wonderful did it feel to be Canadian under Pierre Elliott Trudeau? Why does it feel so wretched to be a Canadian under Justin's premiership? Does it ever.

I remember when Pearson made us proud as he earned the Nobel Peace Prize for our nation's development of peacekeeping. We were doing good around the world. And then he gave us our distinct maple leaf flag, devoid of the symbols of another land.

Then came Pierre Trudeau, just in time for our Centennial, who made us prouder of our nation than we ever had been. He pursued Pearson's vision and strengthened it with his own. He fought back the separatists in Quebec. He patriated our constitution. Best of all, Pierre Trudeau bequeathed Canadians the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that has preserved our liberal democracy against the assaults on our democratic rights by subsequent prime ministers, most recently his own son.

Those were prime ministers of courage and vision and belief in Canada and her people. It is by them that we must measure those who follow them, including Justin Trudeau.

In many ways the Dauphin is a smiley-faced continuation of the guy he displaced. Harper had the personality of a cancerous lung. Justin is easier on the eyes, friendlier, nicer and always holding out a welcome promise of sunny ways and better times.

If we were to judge Justin Trudeau by his promises and his assurances he'd be an amazing prime minister but we should never hold those promises and comforting words at higher value than he himself does and that is not at all.

Justin has made a mockery of the Canada of Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. It began with his sale of $15 billion worth of armoured death wagons to the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East; the state that unleashed the most murderous, virulent strain of radical Sunni Islam that it continues to spread in madrassas around the world today; the nation directly responsible for so much suffering and death in Iraq, Syria and Yemen that remains ongoing today. That's not the Canada of Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. That's the Canada of Stephen Harper and, now, Justin.

I had thought Justin would be Canada's last, best chance to implement real action in the fight to contain climate change. He promised we would slash emissions. He promised to clean house at the industry captured National Energy Board. He promised no pipelines without First Nations support and "social licence" which he said could only come from communities. Yet in the span of his first year what has he done? Harper's rigged National Energy Board is now Justin's rigged National Energy Board. First Nations oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline and we hope that their court action will prevail over Trudeau. As for social licence, the communities this pipeline will pass through and where it will terminate and those communities exposed to the risk of an ocean spill have spoken - loudly and clearly - and they stand opposed to it.

What of all those promises that Trudeau's most ardent followers seem to have quickly forgotten? Trudeau's word, so solemnly given, meant nothing. He lied and in lying he betrayed those who believed him and he degraded Canada.

We in British Columbia have had quite a year of Trudeau. From the Site C dam, to the disastrous Woodfibre LNG project, to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, Justin Trudeau and his clown car full of cabinet ministers have supported the environmental degradation of British Columbia. They are Stephen Harper's and Joe Oliver's wet dream. Sitting on our side of the Rockies it's easy to see the other side, Canada, as a predator.

I'm pretty sure that the pipeline secret police Harper created are still in business, that incestuous merger of private pipeline security and intelligence operatives and their federal bedfellows in the RCMP and CSIS. Pierre Trudeau fought to protect the privacy of Canadians. Justin continues Harper's work to eliminate those protections.

The assisted dying law, remember that? The Supreme Court of Canada, relying on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, was crystal clear in the Carter case. It was a per curiam decision, all nine judges speaking with one voice. And what did Justin do when it came time to embody that clear decision in legislation? He placed his government above the law. He put his government at odds with, outside the law. He decided that the rule of law only applies when he chooses to follow it.

Yes, we live in a post-national Canada. That much was made clear when Morneau announced that young Canadians should accept a future of "job churn" and life in the precariat. Why? Because that's the price inevitably demanded of neoliberalist globalization in its advanced stage. Any doubt about that was put to rest when the governor of the Bank of Canada said that the old jobs, the good jobs that built our once robust and broadbased middle class, are gone for good. Poloz said that Canada's future lies in the services sector competing with poverty wage India for outsourced IT work or filling vacancies as chambermaids, restaurant servers and tour guides for the tourism industry.

That isn't accidental. It's not inadvertent. It's the direct and perfectly foreseeable result of globalization that underlies Trudeau's post-national Canada.

I don't know if Justin has taken a good, hard look at the world around him, the world to which he wants to shackle Canada in his post-national nightmare. It's a world neck deep in social, political, economic and environmental turmoil and upheaval. Liberal democracy, in nations once beguiled into swallowing the same elixir that has taken hold in Justin, is in retreat.

Dark nationalism (as opposed to the positive, progressive nationalism we knew under our great prime ministers of the past), is taking hold from America to Europe to the Middle East and into Asia Pacific. One response to this is the wave of rearmament spreading through the Middle East and Asia.

Meanwhile dark winter heatwaves underway in the Arctic reveal that we may have crossed or stand on the verge of crossing no fewer than 19 climate tipping points that, collectively, may launch the world into unstoppable, runaway global warming.

Military commanders from around the world including groups within the United States itself are frantically warning of imminent climate crises that dramatically raise the risks of uncontainable warfare.

Even though we're having a hell of a time in the Arctic, Canada is one of just a handful of countries, all of them northern, that are uniquely advantaged to sustain what is coming. Yet Justin is oblivious to that and, instead, wants to bind us ever tighter to the world of turmoil and conflict.

That Justin Trudeau has shown his hand so blatantly, so quickly is remarkable. That too is a warning. Those who ignore it may come to regret it and sooner than they imagine.

Justin has no vision. Those who embrace globalisation and the post-national state eschew vision. Like cattle swept away by a raging river, they're resigned to go with the flow.

Many of us smugly dismissed Harper as an aberration. We were wrong.



17 comments:

Toby said...

Was Justin Pierre's disappointment? He does seem rather shallow. I am not sure he knowingly tells lies. I suspect that he simply prattles away believing whatever comes out at that moment even though it conflicts with something he said previously and then he doesn't see the conflict. Take, for example, his stance on climate change and building pipelines for dilbit which he persists in calling oil. Many knowledgeable people have told him that he can't have both but he refuses to accept the evidence. Is he lying or stupid. I'm thinking the latter. However, several people around him do know and they are lying.

The Mound of Sound said...


I don't know, Toby. Does it matter?

Toby said...

Mound said, "Does it matter?"

It's probably worse because people with agenda are lying to him and he doesn't seem to know. He seems to want most that everyone get along, that there be no confrontation.

Justin reminds me a lot of Ronald Reagan who was everyone's friend, who could easily glad-hand a room, who was comfortable in front of a crowd and who used meetings to gather a consensus. Who ran the Reagan White House? Probably not Reagan. In the same way, I don't think Trudeau junior is running our government.

Northern PoV said...

Toby
I think he is crack smart both on IQ but esp EQ.
I'm sure Butts runs things day to day and does much of the strategizing.
But this boy seems to have 'purpose' and I'm not sure that's going to be a good thing for us. It's looking a lot like the arc Tony Blair made.

Anonymous said...

@ Toby.
Who ran the Reagan White House? Probably not Reagan. In the same way, I don't think Trudeau junior is running our government.

The same can be said for 90% of current and previous heads of state.
Trudeau has similarities to Trump in that they are both in above their heads; so who is actually running North America?
I would suggest, Wall Street, the City of London and the munitions industries.

TB

Marie Snyder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marie Snyder said...

ICYMI The Tyee had an opinion column on largely the same concern. (Posted previously with a dead link - hopefully this one works.)

The Mound of Sound said...

It's becoming something of a theme out here, Marie. Trudeau is under no illusions about what he said, what he promised. He knows he's broken his word and is now breaking faith with those out here who relied on his word. Then there's justice minister Jody who denounced the Site C dam when she was a First Nations leader and Harper was PM but showed herself to be a shameless shill when she pushed it through for Trudeau. Jody, Garneau, Carr, Trudeau remind us of the bad old days of Harper, Oliver and company. The big difference is that the Trudeau gang are far more efficient at steamrollering British Columbians than Harper ever was.

Glen said...

It took a majority mandate of Harper before enough Canadians recognized the dangers, saw that Canada was being fundamentally changed, and made sure he was no longer in command. The signs were there long before proroguement 1, never mind 2. with the Afghan detainee scandal, the documents for which have not been tabled in the House to this day. Harper had zero social graces so he didn't pretend he did. He went along his way deconstructing Canada and its institutions for the future of rapacious trade deals like CETA and TPP. Canada has had its Bush/Obama election, and the results look the same. Same smiles, same promises, same catch phrases. Also the same results. More oppression. More ignoring what is not wanted to be heard. More black/white propaganda, there is no middle ground. I just hope Canadians don't wait a decade before getting rid of this neoliberal destroyer

Pamela Mac Neil said...

"That Justin Trudeau, has shown his hand so blatantly, so quickly is remarkable." I agree. I expected his deceptions to take much longer to come to the forefront.

Toby said...

As with the previous government I wonder why Trudeau's Ministers are so willing to sacrifice their principles. For what? I wonder. The Justice Minister always looks unhappy. Does the Environment Minister truly believe that we can meet 1.5 and peddle tar? Etc. There are a couple of arch cons amongst them but several really look to be uncomfortable. So why not a palace revolt? Of course there won't be. They will keep on keeping on with shafting the people who elected them.

So, what does Trudeau hold over their heads? What is the club? Is it Trudeau who wields it? Is there some unseen power? Is having a title really that important?

The Mound of Sound said...


Glen, I felt that the LPC became tainted during the Ignatieff years. Iggy's political compass was calibrated during his years in the US before he returned to Canada to be annointed Liberal leader and opposition leader. An example was his fondness for what he described as a "muscular foreign policy" which translated into the use of military force as a preferred instrument of foreign policy. So typically American.

Ignatieff had no time for liberalism in Liberal policy. He brought no liberal policy or liberal vision. Just as Harper sought a Republican reformation for Canada, Iggy was more Democrat than Liberal.

When I saw progressivism discounted to irrelevance by the Liberals I parted company after more than 40 years. At first I thought Trudeau might be different and I pondered returning to the fold. Trudeau's backing for Harper's C-51, the Liberals shameful denunciation of the BDS movement, the Saudi death wagon deal, all of these things confirmed that whatever the Liberal Party may be today, it's anything but liberal.

Trudeau is a devout disciple of neoliberalism in both its political and economic dimensions. I don't think most of the Liberal party faithful mind, one way or the other. All three mainstream parties depend on members who have joined a team for whom policy comes a distant second. "My party, right or wrong" sort of thing. The party leaders know it and count on it.

The Mound of Sound said...

Toby, we'll have to wait a few days but there could be an announcement from the Liberal MP for Burnaby early this week. Beech spent the weekend meeting with angry constituents. There've been so many he had to see them in batches and he still won't get around to them all.

Could he cross the floor? I don't know. The Liberals 17 BC MPs have a better sense of the constituents' outrage over Trudeau's dishonest and incredibly clumsy decision. Trudeau bungled it, at least out here where it matters most. He betrayed the people of British Columbia and our First Nations. He betrayed the people of Canada by undermining his promise to slash carbon emissions. He had to choose between doing the right thing and keeping his already damaged integrity somewhat intact or doing the neoliberal thing and he did the latter.

Trudeau did some good things when he took office - the census, allowing federal scientists to speak out (they've since been gagged again), the inquiry into Aboriginal women, re-opening a Coast Guard station in Vancouver - but those were all the easy things, the low-hanging fruit.

When it has come down to the hard decisions, where spine is required to do the right thing, Trudeau has buckled at every turn and opted instead for the neoliberal option.

Anonymous said...

I too missed the news proclaiming Canada the world's "first post-national state." My bet is that the vast majority of Canadians are not ware of this truly radical remark as well.
Our junior skipper does not have what it takes to steer the "post-national state" in the ocean full of nationalism.
A..non

The Mound of Sound said...

A..non, I agree. On what basis JT took it upon himself to pronounce Canada post-national is something I don't understand. He seemed to say that we're not defined by core values, a point I'm not ready to concede. For the reasons I've already enumerated in this post and elsewhere I no longer trust this prime minister. Perhaps if he was of the Conservative Party he would be easier to accept.

John B. said...


The mentorship to which Justin has been subjected has obviously persuaded him that he too has the potential to become a visionary figure such as his father was. It must have been intoxicating. His "post-national" abstraction struck me from the day he first used the term as just a smiley version of Harper's "enlightened sovereignty" with the libertarian edges obscured by so many connotations of the multi-culti carnival that they might not be detected.

Bill Morneau's advice may be fine for some, but it's not working out for me. When I told a local service sector wealth creator that on Bill's advice I wished to apply for that position serving salads and chicken wings to the new gentry and the tourists, I was way too late. I was advised that the position was a "first job" designed for someone entering the workforce or just looking for some pocket money while sitting in his parents' basement contemplating the next post-graduate certificate program to waste his money on.

The Mound of Sound said...

John, I've tried to discern in Trudeau any trace of vision and I come up empty. Vision is something apparent from an obvious coherence in what a person writes, says and, ultimately, what that person does. I just don't see that coherence in Trudeau and at times he must wonder at how he says assuring things he doesn't intend to see through.

Some people think he has a true intellect. I don't see it. I see a grade school drama teacher. I'm convinced the Trudeau the Liberal faithful wanted was the youngest son, Michel. I think that's why Pierre Trudeau was never the same after his death.