America as we knew it is no more; Canada still trying to figure how out to spread our sunny ways around the world - one selfie at a time?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

December 25th, 2017



No discussion of the highlights of 2017 would be complete without mention of the Donald Trump effect. Despite great resistance by just about everyone, Trump has been largely successful in re-positioning the US globally and within. For example America has forever lost its time honoured reputation as the great global melting pot. Muslims and Latinos, in particular, are no longer welcome to Trump’s land of “America First”.

UN vote 129-8

United Nations held emergency General Assembly session Thursday over Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Member nations voted 128-9 with 35 abstentions on a resolution regretting ‘recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem. Canada abstained.

By isolating itself from the rest of the world on issues including preserving the planet’s climate and Middle East politics, Trump’s America has been refreshingly liberating – unleashing former reliable partners which once looked to America for direction and leadership. Last week’s UN motion opposing Trumps’ decision to locate his embassy in Jerusalem was a case in point. Despite his administration’s threats to cut off aid to those voting for the motion, he lost overwhelmingly. Indeed his threats likely only served to mobilize many still sitting on the fence.

Tillerson and Frieland in Ottawa

Minister of Global Affairs Chrystia” Freeland and US Secretary of State, Tillerson at a meeting in Ottawa last week.

But Canada was not one of those. There is no question that Mr. Trudeau damaged his international rock star reputation, and may have lost us another chance to get on the Security Council, by abstaining. Earlier this week the US Secretary of State, Tillerson, flew up to Ottawa, presumably to make sure Canada toed the line and didn’t vote against its big neighbour.

One should wonder what price Canada charged for compromising our integrity and political independence. Perhaps Trump won’t be tearing up NAFTA after all now. But wait didn’t the US trade junta just reduce the countervail duties payable, on those Bombardier airplanes which Delta had purchased, from a whacking 299% down to a more reasonable 292%? Is that all we got – seven percentage points?

Trudeau breezed into office with almost impossible expectations and it should not be surprising that we’d be witnessing the inevitable climb down. Sure there was the dream, which became a broken promise, that he’d reform our system of governance to make it more representative. And then he stumbled on another promise, this time about tax reform.

AJAX -- Liberal leader Justin Trudeau gave a press conference at a home in Ajax Monday morning, while on the campaign trail. August 17, 2015

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau on the campaign trail promising real change for the middle class.

Trudeau may genuinely be fighting for the middle class but nobody sees him as one of them. Everyone knows he has family money and rich friends living on tropical islands in the ocean somewhere. So targeting those who are actually middle class for tax avoidance by merely ‘income spreading’ – well no wonder he and his financially well-endowed finance minster ended up with bloody noses.

Chances are the PM’ll be staying home this Christmas after all the fuss over his last Christmas holiday with the Aga Khan. And besides he already got to play a generous and obviously confused Santa Claus this year, giving $10 million to a convicted terrorist – instead of that proverbial lump of coal for the naughty.

Still Canada’s economy is booming and even Alberta is bouncing back. In fact Alberta and Ontario are leading the country in growth. And much of that credit has to go to our federal government, and of course the lower Canadian dollar. Still trade issues threaten to cloud those big blue economic skies – NAFTA of course. And we’re without any possible trade deal with China. Mr. Trudeau apparently couldn’t get the right terms – better no deal than a bad one.

Mr. Trudeau has been rewarded for his stewardship of the economy by scoring two by-election converts, the most recent in B.C.. Though polling generally shows his party running pretty much neck-in-neck with the Tories and their new leader Andrew Scheer. But interestingly neither Scheer nor the NDP’s Mr. Singh got a bounce in the polls following their leadership victories.

Canada and the Middle East

Canada is respected and listened to in the Middle East.

We always live in interesting times and the next year will be particularly challenging for our federal government. For example, how do we respond when Mr. Trump offers us a new free trade pact, one without Mexico? Assuming war with North Korea is inevitable, would it be prudent or provocative to join the US in a continental anti-missile shield? Given our warm relations with Israel and the US what will be our position should they preemptively attack Iran, Syria and perhaps other middle-eastern nations?

Next week we’ll look at the provincial picture.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington in 1995.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers


Background links:

Liberal Popularity –   Trudeau’s Bahama Christmas –    Khadr

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3 comments to America as we knew it is no more; Canada still trying to figure how out to spread our sunny ways around the world – one selfie at a time?

  • D.Duck

    Oh, forgot

    12) Trudeau’s love of China and his willingness to allow the sale of Canadian companies and their proprietary assets without appropriate due diligence

    Ok, now done, I think

  • D.Duck

    1) Negated many election promises (reform election process, curb Stock Option tax loopholes, etc)
    2) Going ahead with two pipe-lines……..Harper would be so proud
    3) Taking credit for our economy when perhaps the ground work and balanced budget was by the PC’s
    4) Hides his wealth in a trust fund then goes after small business corporations with a Minister of Finance whose family company will profit
    5) Ethic spanking……..Aga Khan, billionaire Chinese donation to Family foundation, 2 gov’t paid nannies till caught
    6) current not in the TTP???????
    7) Capitulated with the bully down south by abstaining from a critical UN vote which at the least, tells Trump we are weak and the most, tells Trump we are his lackey…………NAFTA good luck
    8) Veteran issues, an election promise, still an issue and now has brought back his Father’s pacifist Blue Helmet UN tours (which do have risks)
    9) Kahadr pay off, though appropriate, was a bomb making teenage terrorist (Parental influence) who the Liberal gov’t should have allowed the American widow to sue for restitution
    10) Liberals allowing known Canadian ISIS terrorists back into the country…….will we pay for their PTSD??
    11) $250,000 per day skating rink and an out of control debt and deficit

    ALL the party heads are young and most without international experience. But wealth and entitlement with an inflated ego is an issue when the pretty-boy is non compose mentis. Maturing would be a great start but without personal insight, this is a fruitless wish.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Holidays and Best of the Season to All.

  • Alide Camilleri

    Your little piece is a bit confusing. Tillerson’s visit was planed long before the Jerusalem debacle happened. So, he didn’t come to have us toe the line over that. When it comes to the Security Council seat, whichever way we voted, it would have been in question. As for that regrettable $10 million payout, it was the cheapest way out of a sticky problem. As for that forever cheerful looking ‘elf Scheer, most of us surely know he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. As for our PM, his personal choices simply reveal he is still inexperienced and has to mature more. As for NAFTA, let’s just hope Trump gets the boot in 2018, though Pence is not much better. So, how do we play the diplomatic game with such youthful players in our government? I don’t think either Singh or Scheer would do any better when it comes to dealing with the elephant south of the border. They are too young, too eager, and have no international experience.