Most Canadians think differently about political and economic issues. Some prefer an increased role for the state, while others desire smaller government and less intrusion. Some support higher taxes and more public services, while others want lower taxes and more private sector involvement. Some trust the free market economy wholeheartedly, while others are more skeptical. Some believe our country to be more involved in foreign policy matters, while others feel we’re too involved as is.
You get the drill.
When it comes to national safety and security, there has historically tended to be a meeting of the minds. Most Canadians believed the government in charge, be it Liberal or Conservative, was committed to protecting our nation’s borders. That they opposed totalitarian states, rogue nations and terrorist organizations. That they would always defend the cherished principles of liberty, freedom and democracy.
All of this changed soon after Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister.
In March 2016, Stéphane Dion, a former Liberal leader and Trudeau’s first foreign affairs minister, spoke at the University of Ottawa about his government’s approach to international affairs. “The guiding principle that I will follow in fulfilling this mandate is something I call responsible conviction,” he said. Dion claimed his government “shares the same conviction as the previous government, but it assesses the consequences of its chosen method of promoting this conviction differently.”
Trudeau and the Liberals would maintain some policies that former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives championed in office, but would move away from the “disengagement” position. Early foreign policy goals included: a renewed focus on multilateralism and the United Nations, recognizing that severing ties with Russia and Iran had had “no positive consequences for anyone” and needed to be re-opened, promoting the fact that “human activity-induced climate change is one of the worst threats humanity is facing,” and taking a different tactic to fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Dion was replaced in Feb. 2017 by Chrystia Freeland, who is now the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. She was followed by François-Philippe Champagne, Marc Garneau and, most recently, Melanie Joly. Through it all, the ridiculous, obtuse concept of “responsible conviction” has continued to permeate in Liberal-minded foreign affairs. That’s why Trudeau and his ministers have fumbled this file time and time again.
Here are some examples. The Liberals refused to support the Conservative motion that ISIL’s actions should be declared a genocide until the UN report about the Yazidis confirmed the obvious. The Trudeau PMO crafted a eulogy of Cuba’s Communist tyrant Fidel Castro that depicted him as a “remarkable leader” and “larger than life leader who served his people.” Trudeau and his family embarrassed themselves in India by taking photo-ops with costume after costume. Ottawa wasted inordinate amounts of time trying to get a UN security council seat in 2020, and failed. Trudeau has had strained relations with two U.S. Presidents, Donald Trump (Republican) and Joe Biden (Democrat). Canada was left out of the important AUKUS security pact between the U.S., Australia and UK.
What’s been happening with Canada-China relations has been equally abhorrent. This includes Huawei Technologies and the Meng Wanzhou affair, the two Michaels and the PM’s uncomfortable tete-a-tete with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 in Bali, Indonesia.
There’s also the ongoing saga of accusations of Chinese interference in our democratic election process in 2019 and 2021. It’s been a mess for months, including the removal of Liberal MP Han Dong from the party caucus and the short, disastrous stint of former Governor General of Canada David Johnston as an independent special rapporteur.
Look at what’s happened to Conservative MP Michael Chong, too.
In early May, the Globe and Mail’s Robert Fife and Steven Chase published contents of a July 20, 2021 Canadian Security Intelligence Service report. It revealed Canada was viewed as a “high-priority target” by China, and mentioned that an MSS officer had attempted to obtain information about an MP’s relatives “who may be located in the PRC, for further potential sanctions…to make an example of this MP and deter others from taking anti-PRC positions.” Fife and Chase revealed that Chong was the unnamed MP.
Trudeau was asked by reporters about this. “We asked what happened to that information, was it ever briefed up out of CSIS? It was not,” he said on May 3. “CSIS made the determination that it wasn’t something that needed (to) be raised to a higher level because it wasn’t a significant enough concern.” Chong would have none of this. “I have just been informed by the national security adviser that the CSIS intelligence assessment of July 20, 2021 was sent by CSIS to the relevant departments and to the national security adviser in the PCO,” he told Parliament on May 4, “This report contained information that I and other MPs were being targeted by the PRC. This contradicts what the Prime Minister said yesterday.”
When reporters went back to Trudeau, here’s what he said: “I’m not going to go into details on that. I shared the best information I had at the time both to Chong and to Canadians.”
Yeah, sure he did.
Here’s the $64,000 question. Do the Trudeau Liberals truly believe they’re protecting Canada’s safety and security? They may think they are, but the political record tells a very different story.
Michael Taube, a longtime newspaper columnist and political commentator, was a speechwriter for former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.