The Kiwi Trudeau

By   /   February 24, 2016  /   25 Comments

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After years of the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, Canadians voted for the Liberal Party lead by Justin Trudeau. Trudeau shows the value of a progressive party uniting under a charismatic leader with a core message – that diversity is a strength and Canada’s common uniting feature.

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In 2015 I returned back to Aotearoa after working for many years abroad.  I was lucky to work in different countries with some incredible people, but nothing beats coming home.  This is a wonderful country with people up and down the country contributing to their communities in various, positive ways.

But, it is hard not to notice the creeping in of the “me” culture.  This sense of entitlement and disregard of others, absent compassion, is an unfortunate yet unavoidable aspect of living in this country today.

It appears in work conversations, at social events, and is all too evident in the mainstream commentary where selfishness has an unusual and bizarre dominance.  Ultimately, this is driven by self-interest and greed, but it is also driven by an element of fear.

These driving factors also reflect the economic orthodoxy that we follow in this country.  The mantra of the free market, unrestricted by government influence, is the cure to all evils, economic or otherwise.  The free market, driven by self-interest and greed, is supposedly the answer.

Yet, in 2008, we saw the fallacy of this orthodoxy.  The global financial crisis, caused by self-interest and greed, saw even Alan Greenspan concede the flaws of this model.

What surprises me, then, is the almost complete failure in the Anglo world to respond to this failure with an orthodoxy placing people and communities at the centre of desired outcomes.  The excel spreadsheets and target driven policy development demanded by the adherents to the free market deliberately ignore social realities and differences too inconvenient to be understood by accountants.

Instead, we have continued to see conservative parties across the Anglosphere prosper under an unproven assumption that they are better at running our economies.  This assumption is driven by the marketing skill possessed by the conservatives with public relation strategies overcoming actual policy development and thought.

One response from academia has been to focus on inequality.  Guy Standing’s work on the Precariat shows a class of predominantly young people in precarious work.  There is no job security, meaning no financial security.

Standing’s work sits alongside economists such as Piketty and Stiglitz (plus many more) in highlighting the flow on effect of trickle up economics.  Oxfam’s recent publication showing that a mere 62 people own the wealth equal to half of the world’s population confirm this incredulous outcome of self-interest and greed.  Inequality, it seems, is just too entrenched meaning that self-interest and greed wins out.

But, in 2015, Canada became a beacon of hope.

After years of the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, Canadians voted for the Liberal Party lead by Justin Trudeau.  Trudeau shows the value of a progressive party uniting under a charismatic leader with a core message – that diversity is a strength and Canada’s common uniting feature.

Trudeau’s cabinet reflects that diversity.  He has installed a “man-ban” with success, and when confronted about why he chose a cabinet with gender equality, he simply stated “because it’s 2015”.

This lead to a movement in social media in Canada – #becauseits2015 – where Canadians were able to express their pride in their new government.  In a way, Canadians were feeling proud again to see their values being espoused by their leader.  Rather than being driven by fear and division, the call to embrace diversity had won out.

In short, Canadians could be Canadian again.

Trudeau has increased Canada’s commitment to take on more refugees.  In fact, when the first Syrian refugees to arrive in Canada under Trudeau’s leadership landed in that country, Trudeau was there to greet them at the airport.

He has also set out his desire to begin a conversation based on equity and dignity that actually incorporates, rather than patronises, First Nations people.  No one can dispute that Canada has a long way to go in this conversation, but Trudeau has expressed its central importance to his Prime Ministership.

For me, these are the issues that we want people to lead on.  Leadership is about brave, but tough, decisions.  We need bravery on long term decisions that are important for our children, our health, our education, our economy, our environment, and our actual lives.  It is not easy, but that is what real leadership demands.

But, hey, we’re pretty relaxed about all of that, aren’t we?  As long as we have a new flag and Max Key posts something on Instagram, then why bother actually looking at all of that hard stuff?  I mean, we’re just too small to matter anyway, right?

Globalisation does not mean an absence of decision making.  We still need brave leaders in this country and, in my view, we deserve them.

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About the author

Michael Timmins

Michael Timmins is an expert in international human rights law. Specialising in refugee rights, Michael has worked in Egypt, the United States, Australia, Thailand, Pakistan and his home country of New Zealand across roles in advocacy, academia, and government. He is also a member of the Child Poverty Action Group’s Management Committee. Michael’s writing covers international human rights, counter-terrorism, international environmental law, rule of law and accountability issues, as well as anything interesting happening in international relations.

25 Comments

  1. Afewknowthetruth says:

    Almost immediately after his election Justin Trudeau demonstrated the utter hypocrisy and empty rhetoric of his narrative by complaining about the US rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, which was to allow for continuation (dare we say expansion?) of the most environmentally unfriendly energy extraction known on this planet.

    “We are disappointed by the decision but respect the right of the United States to make the decision,” he said in a statement….

    We know that Canadians want a government that they can trust to protect the environment and grow the economy. The government of Canada will work hand in hand with provinces, territories and like-minded countries to combat climate change, adapt to its impacts, and create the clean jobs of tomorrow.”

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-keystone-pipeline-trudeau-obama-1.3307458

    Is there any politician in the western world who is not a hypocritical liar?

    Of course the Canadain economy has been circling the drain and much of it is now disappearing down the plug hole.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-11-02/forget-china-extremely-developed-country-just-suffered-its-biggest-money-outflow-eve

    • fatty says:

      “Is there any politician in the western world who is not a hypocritical liar?”

      Yes, but we have to look to the far left to find them. Centrist liberals like Trudeau off us nothing more than capitalism with a human face (and great hair).

      Eco-capitalism is impossible, or as you put it: ‘protect the environment and grow the economy’. It simply can’t happen. So called ‘environmentalists’ now dominate the left and right of mainstream politics. Time to swing left…way to the left

  2. Kate Kate says:

    Yes, yes, YES! I’m proud of Trueau and I’m not even Canadian. Good post Michael thanks.

  3. Steve says:

    John Key is New Zealand’s Trueau.

  4. Gosman says:

    Yet Canada signed up to the TPPA as well. Go figure that one out.

    • Brigid says:

      But that’s good isn’t it? It’ll make Canada rich wont it?

    • Theodore says:

      So, Gosman, what you’re saying is that the Left isn’t necessarily anti-TPPA?? Actually, just what the feck are you saying? Hard to fathom you out sometimes, boy.

  5. CLEANGREEN says:

    Canada is now reviewing and prepared to drop out of TPPA so remember history repeats itself.

    As a Kiwi I entered the Canadian workforce in Ontario when Pierre was voted in to power ending years of stifling Conservative rule and Canada flourished under his reign as it will Justin’s his sonms’ time.

    Now back in NZ I feel trodden on by this repressive junta that tramples on the rights and suppresses the peoples voice also.

    Yes we need to follow Canada and rid NZ of years of cruel divisive separation as you say;

    “Rather than being driven by fear and division, the call to embrace diversity had won out. In short, Canadians could be Canadian again.”

    I to feel proud to be a Canadian passport holder as an adopted Canadian from my NZ birthplace, so shame on you Keyster and his club.

    Great Blog Michael.

  6. Andrew says:

    I wish Canada well but if I was a citizen of that country I would be concerned about my prospects given the country is being managed by a part time drama teacher and snow board instructor whose only qualification for the job was being the son of someone famous.

    I would also be concerned with a leader whose response to a sensible question was “because it’s 2015”, indicating an inability to present a reasoned argument in favour of his tokenism.

    My conclusion: It’s early days but I suspect it won’t end well!

  7. PB says:

    you might have missed your Trudeau’s actions against BDS. Another blow struck for the glory of the racist, tyrannical Israeli regime.

  8. Julz says:

    Andrew – do your homework before making such glib comments about Trudeau. He has had years of working in the area of social justice. And he was a full time teacher – you might not admire teachers but some of us feel they do one of the most important job our society needs.

    Now John Key – what did he do for a career? currency trading hmmm….

  9. JonL says:

    Who T. F. is Max Key?

  10. Korakys says:

    “Look at all these economic problems,” I here you say.

    And then you talk about social improvements, identity politics.

    This is why the left fails, it doesn’t have an economic alternative that it can even vaguely agree on.

    • Andrew says:

      Canada is currently facing a financial catastrophe: It’s main exports are all in a severe downturn and thousands are currently being laid off as a result.

      It will take more than feel-good and tokenism to turn that ship around!

      It may be that Harper dodged a bullet: whoever presides over this will get the blame.

  11. Sable says:

    Heres the facts. Canada still signed the TPPA. Canada took away war planes from Iraq and replaced them with special forces. Tradeau also said “no” to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

    Where’s this shining beacon you are referring to?

  12. Helena says:

    I think Trudeau is more clued up than “cabal” media reports allow. He knows that full Constitutional rights are about to be restored to the U.S., and he knows the grip the Monarchy/Vatican has had on Canada and the U.S. (Harper will be charged publicly at any time with genocide, a matter on which he has already been found guilty in the ICJ. ) Trudeau also knows about N.E.S.A.R.A. and GCR/RV and on that point anyone interested can read the latest:
    http://inteldinarchronicles.blogspot.co.nz/2016/02/jenga-anonymous-intel-sitrep-2-24-16.html
    Hmmm…I wonder which Central Banks refused to comply – I note our exchange rates on certain currencies haven’t moved. I liked the postscript about holding back on credit card/mortgage clearances.