The week in commentary: Trudeau's honeymoon is over, again

First, there was the bizarre statement on Fidel Castro’s death. Then, the rest of the week happened.

The prime minister seems to be stepping on the same rake wherever he goes

Justin Trudeau had a tough week. Another one. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

It turns out Pandora's Box might have actually been an emergency preparedness kit for women in politics. Sure, they have to deal with endless sexism, but at least none of it is self-inflicted. That's not the case for Trudeau, who seems to keep stepping on the same rake wherever he goes. At this point, one could be forgiven for thinking he comes closer to resembling a Looney Tunes cartoon than a prime minister.


First, there was the bizarre statement on Fidel Castro's death. Trudeau wrote that, "While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro's supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for 'el Comandante.'" [citation needed]

Trudeau picked the wrong time to be nostalgic, but we need to remember the entire apparatus around the prime minister enabled his whim. As Robyn Urback writes for the CBC, "governing through platitudes" is nothing new for the Liberals, but it's not like the communications office was only reading up on the dictator after he died. Still, it's fun to imagine: "<Frantic Googling at the PMO>: 'Christ, Castro did what?! Karen, did you already send out the statement? Karen? Karen!'"

Even the usually friendly international press took note of our very own "useful Idiot," as the Los Angeles Times put it. It's notable because that kind of attention is usually reserved for when Trudeau hikes topless.


A scathing auditor general's report got buried under pipeline news this week. In a press conference equivalent of "Look over there," Trudeau announced the fate of three pipelines instead of, I don't know, addressing the failures of his government. There are two approved projects, Line 3 and the Trans Mountain Pipeline, but we shouldn't necessarily count on the latter being built.

As Karen Mahon writes for the Vancouver Sun, granting a permit is the easiest part. "Just look at B.C.'s history. A permit was issued approving Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline over two years ago and no shovel has ever broken ground, and none will. In Clayoquot Sound, the government of the day issued logging permits catalyzing mass public protests — and those forests are still standing today."

Pictured: Canadian politics distraction device. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

Even if we do grow Canada's tiny network of pipelines, it will be reliant on the U.S., our biggest client. "Our only foreign market for crude oil and natural gas is the United States. A one-customer business model is obviously risky for any supplier," say Jock Finlayson and Denise Mullen in the Vancouver Sun. Perhaps pipelines are nothing but a pipe dream.

Canada's Christmas gift to the world: coal

Promising to end Canada's reliance on coal by 2030 sounds good on paper, but it also means covering other countries with our own soot. As an editorial in the Calgary Herald notes, we would still be sending coal overseas. "It's fine for Canada to demonstrate leadership in banning the use of coal-fired electricity plants, but our high-minded rhetoric is stained a little when our country facilitates the fuelling of operations elsewhere. It's a bit like a cook selling food to his customers that he would never dream of feeding to his own family."

There's another snag in ending our coal production: What's the transition plan? Many small rural communities depend on jobs from coal plants. Chris Varcoe, in the Calgary Herald, highlights the small town of Hanna, Alta. "The mayor understands why officials in Ottawa and Edmonton want to curb emissions from coal operations," Varcoe writes. "But he's worried they're doing so with no clear path forward for communities such as Hanna, or for the people who rely on the sector for a paycheque."


Migrants are good. Ontario's approach to hiring contractors is comically bad. The CBC needs an update. Saying the CBC needs an update is elitist. The CBC should trade ads for Hamilton tickets. Just like the rest of us, electoral reform is doomed.

This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section,  please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.


Jane Lytvynenko is a freelance reporter and editor. Her work has appeared in BuzzFeed, Maclean's, CANADALAND and other publications.


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