The slow-motion car crash that has been Justin Trudeau’s time as prime minister of Canada appears to be nearing its merciful conclusion. It is difficult to see how he can go on much longer, lurching from one controversy to the next, vacuously mugging for the camera as he muddles through another awkward press conference with his deer-in-the-headlights gaze, repeating himself in French translation to take up more time, ensuring that he says as little as possible to a country that has stopped listening.
Largely insulated from criticism by Canada’s legacy media, especially the state-funded CBC, Trudeau has stumbled through the past eight years as leader of the ruling Liberal party, weathering ever-declining poll numbers as Canada’s economy, along with its esteem in the eyes of world, has slipped. At the last federal election, called while the country grappled with the pandemic, Trudeau managed to cobble together a coalition government with the ultra-Left NDP, having earned fewer total votes than the opposition Conservative party. He is widely reviled across Canada as a performative, lightweight short on common sense and big on showy PR. He evinces, to the best of his limited ability, a carefully crafted media persona designed to appeal to the woke urban intelligentsia.
His policy and personal failings are so numerous that it is difficult to know where to begin. From accusations that he violated conflict of interest rules to his shameful treatment of anti-lockdown protestors, Trudeau is a man wholly lacking in any sense of decency. His most recent debacle, ostensibly in service of his mission to combat climate change, involved pushing through a ludicrous carbon tax only to allow carve-outs once it became clear that the policy was politically unpopular. The reality that Trudeau’s whatever-the-cost pursuit of “net zero”, aimed at appeasing Greta-inspired eco-warriors, is economic suicide must now be painfully obvious even to him.
Along with other liberal democracies around the world, the UK should look forward to the day when Canada returns to its senses in the event that Pierre Poilievre manages to secure a majority for his opposition Conservative party at Canada’s next federal election. Unfortunately, this will not take place until at least 2025, risking that Mark Carney or someone almost as odious as Trudeau could end up holding the reins by taking over the leadership of the Liberal party should Trudeau end up resigning. For his part, Carney already did enough damage to the UK, indulging in climate and anti-Brexit mission creep while failing in his actual job as head of the Bank of England.
Trudeau’s political descent mirrors that of other “progressive” leaders in recent times, notably New Zealand’s Jacinda Arden, Italy’s Mario Draghi and current US President Joe Biden. So Rishi Sunak beware: throughout the world, voters can see through gesture-politics. They are also tired of an ever-growing state forcing its way into their lives as it eats through their hard-earned money with punishing taxes. Globalist vanity projects, including open borders and large scale de-carbonisation, whether adopted by traditionally Leftist parties like Canada’s Liberals, or supposed Right-leaning ones like Sunak’s Conservatives, do not win elections.
Politicians like Justin Trudeau fail because they don’t understand that ordinary people value freedom and the ability to shape their own destiny. Trudeau is not a bad man, nor one suspects, a dishonourable one. But he has been a poor prime minister for Canada. The country deserves better.
David Collins is Professor of International Economic Law at City, University of London, and a Senior Fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute