DZSURDZSA: On foreign policy, Canada follows the United States’ lead
For a while, Canada has played the “good cop” to the United States’ “bad cop” performance on the world stage.
In the old order of things, Canada was easier to deal with and the softer touch for getting North American interests taken care of on the world stage.
Now fast forward to today, Canada is just short of supporting military intervention in Venezuela and following the US’ lead in our relationship with the formerly friendly China.
Regardless of what you think about either of these ongoing scenarios—I sure have my own opinions about them—it’s important that we ask: how did this change of roles come about?
The old archetype of “peace-keeper” seems to have been shed for something new altogether.
Over the last two decades, Canada’s foreign policy has grown increasingly aggressive and confrontational.
By now, we’ve either alienated former friendly states to save face with the US, or have directly participated in our southern neighbors’ power plays.
Perhaps Canadian political theorist and religious studies professor, George Parkin Grant put it best when he said Canada has become a “branch plant” of the United States.
Despite all of the political rhetoric and grandstanding about how, oh-so different we are from our southern neighbors, when push comes to shove, Canada falls in line with American interests.
Grant, in his seminal essay on Canadian sovereignty, “Lament for a Nation” claimed that this change began to take place after the Second World War.
Following WWII, Canada’s defense became increasingly reliant on the United States. Our integration into NATO, the adoption of NORAD and the Bomarc nuclear question made it clear to the establishment that decisions regarding Canada’s defense would thenceforth be made in Washington.
Every once in a while, we are reminded of how correct Grant was in his analysis of Canada’s post-WWII predicament.
Yet despite our silent acceptance of American superiority, for a while Canada’s approach was starkly different from that of the United States.
We preferred diplomacy and engaged others as a middle power, willing to set aside differences and finding common ground. Take the Suez Crisis as an example.
But all of that seemed to change after Canada’s participation in Afghanistan.
From that point forward, Canada became complicit in the United States’ global policing. Since then all claims towards peacekeeping and mediation have seemed superficial at best.
This was also particularly evident with Stephen Harper’s belligerent attitude when it came to Ukraine. Despite appeals to human rights and international peace and stability, Canada really had no business involved in a civil conflict in Eastern Europe.
While the Liberal government likes to put a clear wedge between themselves and the Harper Conservatives, on the point of foreign policy, they seem to have gone further than Harper would have even dared to.
On the issue of Ukraine, the Trudeau Liberals have sanctioned supplying the Kiev government with small arms, while Harper made it clear that his only intention was to distribute not lethal aid to the beleaguered state.
The reason for the similarities between Harper’s and Trudeau’s approach to foreign policy and defense is simple: it finds its roots in Washington.
No matter the prime minister, on foreign policy and defense, there’s only one way to go and that’s the American way.
American President Donald Trump mocked 16-year-old Greta Thunberg on Twitter Thursday after she was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year.
“So ridiculous,” Trump tweeted. “Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”
In response, Thunberg updated her Twitter bio, noting that she was working on her anger management problems and watching a movie with a friend.
Trump’s son also commented on the selection of Thunberg, arguing that individuals like the Hong Kong protestors deserved the honour far more.
“Time leaves out the Hong Kong Protesters fighting for their lives and freedoms to push a teen being used as a marketing gimmick,” he wrote. “How dare you?”
After a viral video of world leaders making fun of President Donald Trump surfaced, Trump got in a few digs of his own according to The Daily Beast. With several ambassadors over to the White House, he shot back against Justin Trudeau as well as France’s President Macron.
Trudeau had mocked Trump during a “hot mic” moment, and the video circulated widely on social media. In it, the leaders of allied nations gossiped about Trump liking to do lengthy press conferences. “He was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference at the top,” Trudeau said, referring to Trump apparently keeping him waiting. “You just watch his team’s jaws drop to the floor.” Trump responded to the video the next day by calling Trudeau “two-faced”.
Trump said that Trudeau had “no smarts,” “zero toughness”, and that he was “all fluff”, according to a source present who spoke to The Daily Beast. Trump clearly doesn’t like Trudeau, who he sees as phony, and referred to him as “such a child” and a “total baby”.
Many allied leaders purportedly don’t like Trump. When he spoke about Trudeau and Macron, ambassadors to those nations were reportedly “visibly uncomfortable”. Trump was undeterred in his commentary, but senior White House officials reiterated the friendship between allied nations.
The Social took the opportunity last week to get behind Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after he was caught making fun of US President Donald Trump to other world leaders, framing it as Trudeau facing “a bully”, and that we, as Canadians like to “play clean”.
“Sometimes you have to face a bully with a squad,” said Melissa Grelo on the show. She referenced French President Macron’s attempts to push back against Trump’s comments on Isis fighters.
Do Canadians believe that Trudeau’s jokes about Trump were part of a meeting of leaders, coming together to face off against an unfair adversary?
It’s hard to paint talking behind someone’s back as the act of confronting a bully. On the flip side, it isn’t hard to imagine President Trump as a schoolyard bully while watching him troll French President Macron about Isis fighters. Just watching their body language provokes the image of one kid trying to get a rise out of another.
Self-described gossip expert and The Social co-host Lainey Lui commented that “what they were doing was exchanging information… gossiping is a form of communication… I’m so tired of gossip being given this bad name.” While it would be easy to dismiss this as nonsense, gossip does, in fact, create bonding among the people who share in it. Creating an “us” and a “them” brings the “us” closer together. Trudeau’s little schoolyard circle of gossip may very well have strengthened relations between Trudeau and the foreign leaders he shared it with.
Of course–there’s a reason why gossip has a bad name. It’s risky, in that it will damage the relationship with the person being gossiped about, if it is found out–as Trudeau has discovered. As far as strategy goes–it’s probably not a good idea to take any risks with our single largest trading partner.
Then there is the high road–the refusal to take part in gossip. If you’ve ever met someone with this level of character, you’ll know that there isn’t the easy bonding that comes from sharing cheap shots on someone who isn’t there to defend themselves. But, when it’s clear that you both have the same frustrations with that other person, it’s not hard to develop a deep respect for those who abstain from gossiping. After all, with that comes a trust that they won’t be talking behind your back, when you’re not around.
Hence Trump’s comment about Trudeau being “two-faced”.
At the end of the day, all world leaders need to be strategic in their relations with one another. They each need to behave in whatever way best serves the interests of their countries. Whether they choose trolling or gossiping or stately reverence, what matters is managing relationships in a way that enables them to get the job done.
But aside from all that–what was even said? I think Melissa Grelo summed up the whole issue best when she said, “this is not particularly salacious stuff–although when videos like this leak out, it sure becomes salacious.”
Perhaps it was the giddy tone in which Trudeau talked about Trump behind his back that caught the attention of top Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign team so much so that they decided to use it in an attack ad. It also probably didn’t help Canada’s relations with the US that Saturday Night Live–which Trump claims he doesn’t watch, but feels the need to trash on Twitter from time to time for its routine lampooning of him–did a whole opening sketch on Trudeau (Jimmy Fallon), French President Emmanuel Macron (Paul Rudd) and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (James Corden) belittling Trump (Alec Baldwin) in a high school cafeteria.
Donald Trump Jr. trashed Canadian PM Justin Trudeau via Twitter on Friday, citing job growth in America in comparison to job losses in Canada.
“For perspective the US is about 10X the population of Canada so this would be the equivalent of America shedding 700,000 jobs. Yikes,” tweeted Trump Jr.
“Maybe Justin should watch @realDonaldTrump & learn how to create jobs… or go back to being a substitute drama teacher,” he added. “Either way Canada wins!”
This tweet came as U.S. President Donald Trump boasted adding 226,000 jobs to the American economy this month, while Canada lost 71,200 jobs.
This put America’s unemployment rate to 3.5 percent, while Canada’s grew from 5.5 to 5.9 percent.
This point of heightened tension between Trudeau and Trump comes as a video emerged of the latter mocking him on camera. In response, Trump called Trudeau “two-faced” on camera.
“Well, he’s two-faced… And honestly with Trudeau he’s a nice guy, I find him to be a very nice guy. You know the truth is, I called him out that he’s not paying two percent [GDP on military] and I guess he’s not very happy about it,” Trump said at a NATO press conference on Wednesday.
Lately, Trump also shared a Facebook post ridiculing Trudeau for his job loss.
Leaders from both sides of the aisle, NDP and Conservative, criticized Trudeau’s remarks at the summit.