Trudeau will pay the price if he wavers on Trump: Martin, Hébert, Glavin – The Globe and Mail
2017/02/01 Leave a comment
Tricky balance for the government to navigate, one that will likely only become more challenging:
Exaggerators, overreactors, alarmists, wolf criers. They make up the ascendant, paranoid right in politics. Canadians, by contrast, show an opposite lean. We’re more inclined to equanimity, seeing things in the round.
It’s one of our finer qualities and it was manifest following Donald Trump’s action against Muslims and refugees, as well as the Quebec murders allegedly perpetrated by a lone-wolf screwball.
Justin Trudeau was out before other world leaders with the message that the excluded were welcome here. Many Conservatives, Jason Kenney included, took issue with the Trump edict as well.
Following the horror in Sainte-Foy, there were no overheated calls from Mr. Trudeau or opposition leaders for a security crackdown on freedoms. Instead, there was this statement by the Prime Minister: “We will not meet violence with more violence. We will meet fear and hatred with love and compassion. Always.”
That, of course, runs directly counter to the Archie Bunkerish proclivities of the new U.S. President and his Visigothic sidekick, Stephen Bannon. Mr. Trump has just come to power and already cross-border relations are rocky. We should get used to it. A long run of bilateral warfare is likely in the offing.
The initial idea, a reasonable one, was to wait before jumping to conclusions about where Mr. Trump was headed. Maybe a lot of his campaign demagoguery was just P.T. Barnum bluster. But it took only a week of announcements – Mexican wall, Muslim wall – to show that he was fully intent on implementing his agenda.
We’re in completely new territory with this U.S. administration. There has never been one like it – and never one so unlike our own. The John Diefenbaker and John Kennedy fissure was based on less. So was the split between Richard Nixon and Pierre Trudeau. The divide today extends to trade, immigration, climate change, social justice, foreign policy and much else. It also extends to temperament, world view and philosophy.
Some say we should bury our differences because relations with Washington are simply too important to let sour. Others say you can suck up to power or you can stand on principle. The Trudeau government would like to find a middle ground. It may be able to work out an accommodation on trade issues. But events are dictating – and likely will continue to dictate – a wide divide.
Global protests greeted Mr. Trump’s actions, with Mr. Trudeau being saluted for his initial statement. Many see Canada as playing a leading role in countering “America First” naiveté.
The country is well-equipped to take on such a challenge. Our unity has rarely, if ever, been stronger than it is today. Regional discontent is at one of its all-time lows. The spirit of positivism that Justin Trudeau has ushered in to contrast the bunker mentality of the Conservative decade has weakened somewhat owing to his recent stumbles.
But to get the measure of how well, comparatively speaking, this country is doing, one need only look at what have been seen as the big controversies stirring in Ottawa. There was the Prime Minister’s Christmas holidaying with the Aga Khan. Horrors. There was his self-admitted slip-up in answering a question in French instead of English. A barn burner, to be sure. There’s been the endless, tedious debate over the issue that most Canadians could not care a fig about. Electoral reform.
Many times in the past our government has had to stake out positions running directly counter to Washington’s. Jean Chrétien’s run-ins with George W. Bush are one example. Pierre Trudeau’s handling of Mr. Nixon constituted another. On neither occasion did we pay too big a price. As for Mr. Trump, he can’t put up walls everywhere. He can’t go about alienating every economic partner.
Mr. Trudeau should make it clear in his coming meeting with him that there will be no relenting on Canada’s contrary beliefs. He and the President are going to have to agree to very much disagree.
If he sells out to Mr. Trump, Canadians will make him pay. And so they should.
Chantal Hébert in the Star:
Canada would not even beg to differ in public with Trump’s outlandish assertion that keeping out refugees, visitors and immigrants including green card holders from some Muslim-majority countries was necessary to keep the U.S. safe from attacks.
Given that we share the same continent, it is hard to think of a government leader better placed to offer a rebuttal of that narrative than Canada’s.
But while Trudeau and many others in his government spent the past weekend reaffirming their attachment to Canada’s diversity and their determination to continue to enrich it, they all steered well clear of rebutting the premises of the U.S. ban.
That task fell to non-Liberals such as former Conservative immigration minister Jason Kenney. In a series of tweets on Saturday, he described Trump’s executive order as “a brutal ham-fisted act of demagogic political theatre” and called on Republicans in the American congress to challenge it.
In a statement issued on behalf of all Canadian universities on Sunday and calling for the ban to be ended immediately, their association pointedly noted that this was an issue “that was too important to stay quiet on.”
Asked point blank to address the ban issue in question period on Monday, the prime minister skirted NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair’s question and stuck to touting Canada’s diversity.
The problem with Canada’s tongue-biting approach is that some actions speak louder than others, especially when they are those of a U.S. administration that is using the office of president as a bullhorn to equate Muslims with security threats.
The refusal to engage beyond the very narrow scope of securing Canadian exemptions from measures that have negative planet-wide implications leaves the field wide open to those — starting with the new administration — who are only too eager to distort facts for their own purposes.
Surely Trudeau did not see the White House’s appropriation of the Quebec City tragedy as fodder for its controversial entry ban coming. Chances are this will not be the last time he is blindsided by his U.S. vis-à-vis.
It was always a given that there would be limits to the lengths the Trudeau government could go to in its quest for a transactional relationship with the Trump administration. But few expected those limits to be reached over a matter of little more than a single week. And yet they have.
And Glavin calls for action on Syrian refugees turned away by Trump:
This is just one small, brave thing that Canadians can do that would be rather more useful than being entertained by their politicians composing tweets about what a nice country Canada is. We could take in at least some of those refugees that Trump has turned away.
Over the Christmas holidays, Hussen’s predecessor, John McCallum, quietly capped the 2017 quota of privately sponsored Syrian refugees at 1,000—this after Canadians privately sponsored nearly 14,000 Syrian refugees in 2016. There are about 25,000 Syrian refugees still in the backlog for resettlement in Canada in 2017. Hussen could lift McCallum’s cap on private refugee sponsorships. This is more or less what the Canadian Council for Refugees proposed on Sunday.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, roughly 18,000 Syrian refugees were resettled in the United States during Barack Obama’s presidency. Canada has taken in more than 40,000 since November 2015. The United States was set to take in 3,566 Syrian refugees during the first three months of this year. According to the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, 1,318 Syrian refugees were resettled in the United States between Jan. 1 and last Friday, when the American door slammed shut. That leaves 2,248 innocent Syrian refugees immediately “stranded,” indefinitely, by Trump’s idiocy. We could take them, at a minimum. We could do this.
Either Canadians are the big-hearted and welcoming people our politicians claim we are, or we’re not. Either diversity is our strength, or it is not.
Piety is one thing. Brave policy is quite another.