During the Harper years, our perpetually anxious media would weep and wail about how Prime Minister Hair-In-The-Fridge was ruining our country’s sainted International Reputation despite a complete lack of evidence to support that contention. Now that Trudeau is Prime Minister, it’s suddenly everyone else’s fault that nations around the world are annoyed with us.
The same newspapers that chided the CPC for not groveling before China and India are going out of their way to defend Trudeau after his disastrous performance in those same two countries. Harper’s pro-Israel tilt was blamed for Canada’s middling-to-low standing in Muslim-majority nations, but when Saudi Arabia threatened to 9/11 Canada last week the press quickly stopped concern trolling on behalf of Middle Eastern dictatorships.
Harper was no legendary diplomat, but Trudeau makes him look like Henry Kissinger. And it’s entirely down to the fact that this ridiculous government insists on smugging it up on the world stage as though they have some place lecturing world powers on how they should conduct themselves just because Canada has a health care system and a 22% firearms ownership rate.
The fact that strongmen like Trump and Mohammad Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia see Trudeau as an easily bullied weakling doesn’t help matters. It’s worth remembering that George W. Bush never tried to steamroll Harper the way he did with Tony Blair. Compare this with the time Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi berated journalist Amanda Connolly for raising the issue of a Canadian jailed by his government for espionage, as Stephane Dion stood lamely by. We don’t know if Yi threw his tantrum because he’d read about how Trudeau admires China’s basic dictatorship, or because the world is a different place than it was before 2015, but the fact is that more nations seem to feel that they can push Canada around and get away with it.
For his part, Trudeau hasn’t offered any rationale for why he refuses to do more to fight back against the bullies of the world beyond poking them with passive-aggressive tweets and fight-me assertions that Canada will always stand up for human rights. By contrast, when Harper did get into a dispute with another country, he usually managed to give as good as he got without playing the injured victim.
He was a key player in getting Russia booted from the G7, told Putin right to his face to get out of Ukraine, and blasted a Russian law banning the promotion of homosexuality. (For his trouble, the Globe wondered aloud why Harper was angering the Russian bear.) Harper also defied Chinese leadership by meeting with the Dalai Lama and taking Tibet’s side during a 2008 uprising there, while restricting Chinese investment in the Alberta oilsands. Despite this, Harper managed a successful visit to the Middle Kingdom in 2014, where he appeared to have earned a modicum of respect from Beijing and inked a trade deal or two. That’s far more than Trudeau accomplished after his most recent trip there.
When it came to our largest trading partner and ally, attempts by Harper’s haters to blame him for “wrecking Canada-US relations” what looked like the failure of the Keystone XL pipeline after Obama rejected an application to build it were hilariously premature in 2012 and look even more over-the-top today. Not only is Keystone alive and well, but a line like “No foreign leader, but especially not the Canadian prime minister, can afford to be seen to meddle in American domestic affairs,” coming from the union mouthpieces at the National Observer, sounds utterly wild in an era where lefties cheer Trudeau’s subtweeting of President Trump.
When it comes to nations like Japan and Australia, however, Trudeau can’t fall back on the excuse that he’s standing up for human rights or that he’s pushing back against a populist leader. Irritating these allies make even less sense when you consider that Harper enjoyed warm relations with both countries, especially Australia, mostly by maintaining the status quo.
If the difference between Trudeau and Harper can be summed up in one clear contrast, it’s that Harper understood that taking calculated risks — even ones that didn’t always pay off — would get Canada what it wanted on the world stage and keep a reasonably good reputation in the process, while Trudeau seems to want to aggressively virtue-signal and “restore” Canada’s reputation when it didn’t need all that much restoring — probably because he believes everything he reads in our media.