For the near decade in which the Conservative Party was in office, Canadians were forced to watch as Stephen Harper and his government laid ruin to the country’s global reputation.
Whether it was by reducing Canada’s peacekeeping contributions and shunning the United Nations, to kowtowing to the United States in their hostility to Venezuela, all while offering his unwavering support to apartheid villains (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) and human rights abusers (Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah), Harper significantly diminished Canada’s global image through his litany of imprudent, often nefarious actions, while in government.
Eager for a restoration of Canada’s previous prestige (unfounded or not) millions of Canadians cast their ballots for Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party, who vigorously campaigned on a promise to “make a real and valuable contribution to a more peaceful and prosperous world.”
Among other things, the neophyte Liberal leader vowed to “move forward with new investments to support United Nations peacekeeping efforts – with more help to advance the women, peace, and security agenda; support conflict prevention and peacebuilding; and respond to grave human rights abuses.”
It was exactly the type of promise that progressive Canadians yearned to hear from their political leaders, which helps explain why the Liberals’ campaigned on such a message, and why voters later rewarded them with a commanding majority government in the 2015 election.
Fast forward six years, and Trudeau is once again in the midst of a fierce election campaign. This time, though, it is he, not his political opponents, that have a tarnished record to answer for.
And answer for it he must.
After almost six years in office, Trudeau has been anything but the standard bearer of global peace and security that he promised voters he would be. In fact, since becoming Prime Minister, Trudeau has arguably done just as much to undermine global peace and security as he has to advance it.
Take for instance his government’s record on arms sales.
Under Trudeau’s watch, Canada’s arms exports have risen dramatically – eclipsing even that witnessed under the Harper Conservatives – and increasing higher than at any other point in the country’s history. So significant is our export of military equipment, that we now rank in the top echelon of arms suppliers in the world – a most depressing achievement.
And that’s not even the half of it.
Not only is Canada now one of the world’s leading arms suppliers, but it is actively supplying those arms to some of the world’s leading conflict zones.
Among the many destinations that our arms are sold is Saudi Arabia, home to one of the world’s worst human rights abusing regimes – and a key perpetrator in the deadly and devastating war in neighbouring Yemen.
Another is Israel, who continues its illegal expansion into Palestinian territory, all while systemically displacing and disposing millions of Palestinians in an appalling, unrelenting system of oppression and apartheid.
Then there is the Trudeau government’s record on peacekeeping.
After incessantly trumpeting the importance of peacekeeping, and pledging that, if elected, he would re-establish Canada as a leading contributor in the field, Trudeau has completed reneged on his word. Notwithstanding Canada’s one-year mission to Mali, Canada’s global peacekeeping contributions have plummeted under the Trudeau Liberals.
Finally, no account of the government’s record on global peace and security would be complete if it did not include the Liberal’s despicable foray into South American politics.
In contrast to countries like Norway and Mexico, which have tried to facilitate peaceful negotiations between Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his political opponents, the Trudeau Liberals have actively sought to destabilize Venezuela’s UN-recognized government by siding with the U.S. in their undemocratic efforts to depose Maduro and install their own marionette – the military coup leader, and self-declared “interim president” Juan Guaidó. Their actions in “propping up repressive, corrupt and illegitimate governments in Haiti and Honduras” have been similarly deplorable.
Thus far in the campaign, there haven’t been many issues that have stirred the Canadian electorate out of their sleepy, summer complacency. Perhaps that’s to be expected from a totally unnecessary election campaign, built around the egotistical whims of one man’s political ambitions.
Nonetheless, Canadians should not take for granted the opportunity they have at hand to make their voices heard on who their next government should be, and what kind of foreign policy they will pursue.
It is an opportunity that many around the world would eagerly clamber for, as they themselves know better than anyone the long-lasting, often disastrous repercussions of Canada’s so-called contributions to global peace and security.