OPINION: Justin Trudeau created his own problems


Ricky Barker, Columnist

After a rough term, Canada’s once well-loved liberal prime minister is facing consequences from his false promises.

 In a contentious election, Liberal Party incumbent Justin Trudeau won re-election against conservative opposition. He did so just barely, completely losing the majority in government.

Elections in Canada are split into 338 electoral districts. Districts vote for a House of Commons member, who are essentially congressional members. Each member represents a party; there are two major ones and a couple lesser ones, and are elected after a 40-day election period. The party with the most seats selects their party leader as the new prime minister. So, the general public does not vote directly for the prime minister, but vote for a member of a party leader they like.

The most recent election cycle ended on Oct. 22. The Liberal Party barely had the most members, grabbing 157 of the 338 seats, allowing Trudeau to remain for another term.

This may seem like good news for liberals around the world, but it’s actually a very poor performance for the once immensely popular prime minister. Despite the Liberal Party still having the most seats, the party lost the 170-seat majority in the House of Commons. This may be what Trudeau deserves, considering his behavior during the last two years of his term.

Four years ago, Trudeau was a phemon in Canadian government. An up-and-coming young liberal politician, good looking and the son of immensely well-regarded Canadian politician, Trudeau ran on a campaign of big promises.

He focused on environmental protection, government transparency, indigenous rights, feminism and other social issues. Trudeau made huge gains for the Liberal Party in 2015, changing their measly 37 seats in the House of Commons to 184. Trudeau was immensely popular and had the winds of optimism and change on his back.

However, during his four years as prime minister, the vision he promised began cracking. His government purchased the Trans Mountain Pipeline for $3.4 billion in 2018 to ensure that its expansion. 

Environmentalists, who Trudueu previously appealed to in his original election, quickly criticized the move. Not only does the pipeline cause deforestation and lead to possible oil spills, it also moves through indigenous people’s territory. The move was, to many, blatantly disrespectful to the values Trudeau previously pushed.

 In another major betrayal, Trudeau demoted Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould, a major member of his cabinet during his original campaign. Wilson-Raybould is the first indigenous person to hold that position. 

In January, Wilson-Raybould was charging Javelin, a construction firm, for multiple cases of corrupt dealings. Normal punishment for such actions would be a ten-year federal contract ban. But, Trudeau did not want to lose the jobs, and helped pass a law that allowed companies in Javelin’s position to merely pay a fine and continue to work. 

However, Wilson-Raybould and other prosecutors rejected Javelin’s request to pay the penalty fine on Sept. 4. Ten days later, Trudeau essentially kicked her out, shuffling her out of the attorney general position to a lesser role, an incredibly bad look for the candidate who promised government transparency.

Finally, on Sept. 18, Time Magazine published an anonymously sourced picture of Trudeau at a party in 2001. He was wearing full brownface. There was major backlash. If that wasn’t enough, more photos surfaced, and Trudeau gave the careless response that he’s always been “too enthusiastic” about costumes in an interview.

After considering all of Trudeau’s major missteps, it’s no surprise that he’s facing  consequences in the polls. Trudeau may still be in power, but right now he’s facing dismal results of his own making. Maybe losing the majority government will give Trudeau the wake up call he needs to stick to his original promises, but that could prove difficult without 170 supporters.