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  • Hugh Smiley

Two-faced Trudeau and the threat to Indigenous peoples

Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada. If I were asked to summarise him as clearly as possible, I would simply say if world leaders were in a boy band, Trudeau would be the pretty one with very little talent, lucking his way to the top.

The son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Justin Trudeau first flew onto the scene with great esteem due to being the supposed poster boy for progressives. A strong win for left-wing values, in a time of resurgence for the right across the western world. However, transformative is certainly one word not used to describe his premiership. One particular area where the public was expecting action was climate change, an issue which Trudeau has brought up passionately on numerous occasions. He even went so far as to attend a recent climate protest in person, making a speech arguing for the need for new policies and reforms. He did this whilst Prime Minister... specifically at a protest against his own policy. A truly phenomenal display, one of the most refined and pure examples of a lack of self-awareness in our times.

But what was this policy that the protests were so vehemently against? The Trans-Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project. A means of transporting an estimated 800,000 barrels of oil from Alberta to Vancouver, it represents a big economic opportunity for the government, an exciting way to boost the industry in Canada, and a massive threat to the lives of indigenous peoples across the nation. Of the 117 indigenous groups consulted on this policy, just under two-thirds were strongly opposed to the pipelines expansion. A single accident could render dramatic sections of Squamish territory uninhabitable as well as posing a great risk to the Salish sea, with very little guarantee from either the oil industry or the government that such an incident won’t happen. Even if one ignored the present climate change issues, which clearly are dramatic, it's difficult to ignore the dangers this pipeline poses to the First Nation members of Canada. A councillor for the Squamish Nation, Khelsilem, described the situation as ‘catastrophic for our communities, our economy and our home as a Squamish people’.

This issue is further enflamed by the shoddy means in which Trudeau has handled it. Not only has he pushed this policy through, in the face of overwhelming unpopularity, he has also shown a very deceitful attitude, lying on numerous occasions. First by promising to uphold indigenous rights, something which he has backtracked on several times including the attempts to block compensation to indigenous children for discriminatory practices. He then promised the pipeline policy would go under a new review, which never happened. Perhaps Trump’s jibe that Trudeau is two-faced is more accurate than first assumed. All this frustration at Trudeau’s bending of the truth, came to a boiling point when he attended the protest for the pipeline and his other environmental policies. If he truly wanted to do more, he simply could.

If this piece has achieved anything, I hope it is to bring awareness to the plight of indigenous peoples, not only in Canada but across the world, who are thoroughly and systematically ignored at every turn. If that manages to sink through and there’s space for one more message, let that be to not believe Trudeau’s progressive façade. He is not who he pretends to be. Despite his rhetoric, he cares little for those who he claims to save. A politician who holds public opinions and contradictory private opinions is not one to be trusted, least of all supported.

Image - Flickr (Jason Woodhead)


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