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.