The View From Here – US politics may be a distraction working in the prime minister’s favour

Tom Henihan
In the US, the president is reviled for attempting to keep his election promises while in Canada the prime minister receives little censure for not keeping his.

Though a number of Canadians made the effort to travel to Washington to protest Donald Trump’s right to exist, Canadians are surprisingly indifferent to the shortcomings of their own prime minister.

The theatre of the absurd playing out in the US is a constant, all-consuming distraction that favours Trudeau, as current issues here in Canada are a footnote to what is happening in Washington.

To say that Trudeau’s visit to the White House was a non-event is to say it was a great success.

Dealing with someone as erratic as Trump and avoiding any compromising incidents is a diplomatic triumph.

Of course, Trudeau owes more to Canadians than flaunting his debonair style and international celebrity and at the very least, he should use that cache not on selfies but on building meaningful relationships that further Canadian interests.

I am not saying the prime minister is beyond redemption and there are certainly aspects of his leadership that represent Canada well, such as when he addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France marking the passing of the Ceta.

However, Canadians should be more vocal when Trudeau circumvents the issues or reneges on his promises.

In recent months, Trudeau has had a steady series of transgressions.

Regardless of what side of the electoral reform issue one comes down on, it was a seminal election promise that at first was tepidly pursued then summarily abandoned.

Trudeau’s interminable town hall forums are a platform for the former drama teacher to savour the sound of his own voice.

He seems to imply that without having to listen to Canadians, he knows what they are thinking and can govern by osmosis.

Believing he has all the answers led Trudeau to voice one of his most egregious statements during a discussion he held at the University of Saskatchewan.

In response to a question from Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief, Felix Thomas as to why most of the money promised to First Nations has not materialized, the prime minister attempted to trivialize the practical and social needs of First Nations communities.

As if that wasn’t offensive enough, the champion of multiculturalism and inclusivity then resorted to paternalism and stereotyping saying First Nations leaders didn’t know the needs of aboriginal youth like he did and that the young people he spoke to “want a place to store their canoes and paddles.”

The federal governments $372.5 million give away to Bombardier pleased no one except maybe the Bombardier family.

In Quebec, the “loan’ was seen as too small while in the rest of Canada it was seen as excessive and poorly advised, given Bombardier’s dysfunctional reputation.

Canadians should not permit US politics to deflect attention away from domestic issues and allow the government to act with relative impunity.

That Trudeau shines favourably when compared to Trump and that his transgressions appear venial alongside the blundering, dark objectives of the mad man in the Oval Office should not be seen by Canadians as a reason to celebrate or to be complacent.

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