You may be asking yourself: Why am I reading this? Is it hockey season? Was there a strike at the maple syrup factory? Why should I care about America’s hat? Where is Canada on the map? These are all undoubtedly valid concerns. However, something happened on Monday that signaled a seismic shift in Canadian politics.
After nearly nine years of rule, Canada’s Conservative government has fallen like a house of cards. The Guardian reports, “Polls had only just closed in Ontario and Quebec when the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation called the election for [Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party], based on a near-wholesale collapse of support for the left-wing New Democratic party (NDP), as well as a powerful Liberal surge.”
The Liberal Party will now be tasked with forming the government, a tall order in the midst of a recessionary cycle. Other than a dynastic name, Justin Trudeau, the leader of the new party in charge, is perhaps one of the least experienced politicians in Canada. Trudeau will be the second youngest Prime Minister in the country’s short political history. He is the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, a name enshrined in Canadian liberal lore.
Trudeau is essentially a celebrity prime minister-designate, a Canadian Kennedy who promises Camelot. Unfortunately, the privileged heir of Pierre is far from a prudent prince. The court jester lacks the experience, maturity, and acumen to govern one of the world’s leading economies. “The Liberal leader was asked which nation he admired most. He responded: "There's a level of admiration I actually have for China. Their basic dictatorship is actually allowing them to turn their economy around on a dime," reported CBC.
Bloomberg notes, “Trudeau’s victory marks one of the biggest political rebounds in Canadian history. The Liberals become the first third-place party to win an election, and the party’s seat gain may be the biggest ever. The Liberals, who governed for about two-thirds of the 100 years before Harper came to power, won just 34 districts in the 2011 election, the worst result in their history.” The parliamentary leader of the Liberal party won a surprise majority, taking 184 of the 338 seats in parliament with representatives in every province and roughly 40% of the popular vote.
This rebound, however, is not without consequences. A staunch supporter of Israel and anti-terrorism legislation, Stephen Harper was a bane to the Canadian left. He even won a humanitarian award from a leading Canadian Jewish organization for his unequivocal defense of the Jewish state. “What is the difference between Hamas and Israel, and ISIS and us? There is just one thing. Hamas is a lot closer to Israel than ISIS is to us. Israel is the front line of free democratic nations, and any who turn their back on Israel or turn a blind eye to the nature of Israel’s enemies do so in the long run at their own peril,” said Harper at the award ceremony hosted by the Jewish Community Council of Montreal.
"Trudeau told an Islamic conference in Mississauga that 'Liberals believe in a Canada that is united — strong not in spite of its differences, but precisely because of them."
The Times of Israel explains, “Under Harper’s Conservative government, in power since 2006, Canada has taken a steadfastly pro-Israel line, vehemently supporting the Jewish state on the world stage and continuing to ostracize Iran even as the Islamic Republic makes inroads with the West. Harper has largely backed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on the Iran crisis and during multiple rounds of fighting with Hamas in Gaza.” Additionally, Harper’s government upgraded its existing bilateral trade deal with Israel, bolstering economic ties with the two countries. In defiance of American nuclear negotiations with Iran and imminent easing of trade restrictions, Harper’s foreign minister, Rob Nicholson, vowed to hold the Canadian embargo on Tehran.
In contrast, Trudeau has invoked the politics of multi-culturalism. “Conservatives promise to continue funding an agency devoted to combating cancer while the Liberals and New Democrats talked about repealing Conservative citizenship and terrorism laws,” reports The Star, a Canadian news outlet, “Trudeau told an Islamic conference in Mississauga that 'Liberals believe in a Canada that is united — strong not in spite of its differences, but precisely because of them.'” Accordingly, the new Canadian government will act to scrub away the country’s anti-terror laws, measures it views as overly excessive. The Star continued, “Trudeau says a Liberal administration would repeal the Conservative government’s citizenship law so all citizens are treated equally.”
On the heels of nepotism, the fresh-faced Trudeau may indeed compromise Canadian-American relations. With joint military operations abroad, NORAD, NAFTA, and now the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP linking the two countries, a Trudeau government may pivot toward regressive isolationism as opposed to globalized free trade. While Harper appeared to support the Keystone XL pipeline project, Trudeau may have reservations, pandering to the environmental left.
And yet, Canadian politics operates on a different spectrum than American politics. Harper was not a true conservative, in the American sense. “Trudeau…pledged to run small budget deficits and spend on infrastructure to stimulate economic growth, which has been anemic for years. He has also promised to raise taxes on high-income Canadians and reduce them for the middle class,” says France 24.
The House of Harper has been on stilts for months now, walking on shaky political terrain. The election appeared to be more of a referendum against Harper than an endorsement of Trudeau. Similar to the United States, and much of Western Europe, the Canadian electorate has been growing weary of its government. An anti-establishment fervor has been steadily building for months now.
It didn’t help that Harper ran a shoddy campaign. “Harper’s tactics, referring to his challenger condescendingly as “Justin” and campaign ads that poked fun at his “nice hair,” found no grip among a section of the electorate that wanted the Conservatives out at all costs, and increasingly saw Trudeau as the best chance of achieving that,” suggests The Guardian, adding,'"in what some saw as a last-ditch move to energise his base in suburban Toronto, Harper made his final pitch on Saturday night to the former crack-smoking mayor Rob Ford, Ford’s brother Doug and their supporters – the so-called 'Ford Nation.'”
“Political pundits have already began to speculate on the makeup of a Trudeau government while pondering what caused the downfall of Harper, 56, who has been criticized for his aloof personality but won credit for economic management in a decade of global fiscal uncertainty,” says Breitbart.
When in doubt, blame Nixon. In fact, it may be entirely his fault. The man did have a prophetic gaze. It wouldn’t be the first time the 37th president indirectly welcomed a liberal to the corridors of political power. The BBC recounts, “When Justin Trudeau was just four months old, then-US President Richard Nixon predicted the infant would one day follow in his father's footsteps. At a gala dinner during a state visit to Ottawa in 1972, Mr. Nixon addressed his Canadian counterpart: 'Tonight we'll dispense with the formalities. I'd like to toast the future prime minister of Canada: to Justin Pierre Trudeau.'"