Discover more from Diane Francis
June 5, 2023
In January, most Canadians were embarrassed after their federal government announced that four Leopard tanks would be given to Ukraine as it fights for its very existence, as well as Europe’s. Four more came a month later, but these were measly gifts, considering that Canada is wealthy, home to the second largest Ukrainian diaspora in the world, and America has given disproportionately more to Kyiv. It’s also fair to assume that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not phoned President Joe Biden or NATO or Ukraine offering help along the way, or suggesting that Canada will ship substantially more energy to help reduce energy inflation and replace Russian fossil fuels. Trudeau has been in power since 2015 and yet to meet NATO military spending commitments. He also has worrisome connections with China, has impeded Canadian economic growth with his anti-resource policies, and neglected his country’s military. Canada has the longest coastline in the world and a navy smaller than Sri Lanka’s without a presence in a vast Arctic region that it shares with a militarized Russia.
Trudeau has governed for nearly eight years with little more than one-third of the popular vote by forming a coalition with socialist leader Jagmeet Singh, another privileged, professional politician who never met a payroll. Only two in five Canadians approve of their performance, but the electorate is fragmented. Trudeau’s cabinet totals 35 members and none have domain expertise in the positions they hold. Before winning, most were political operatives or environmental radicals, and, collectively, they lack management, finance, business, military, engineering, geopolitical, resource, or economic skills. The result is that Trudeau’s government this year will spend C$17.7 billion, or two-thirds of what it spends on defense, hiring consultants to tell them what to do because they are clueless.
“Canada doesn’t have the Air Force and Navy to protect its borders anymore,” commented American terrorism and cyber warfare expert Clint Watts last year in an interview. This year, Chinese surveillance balloons over Canada had to be shot down by American jet fighters. Canada’s stinginess and foot-dragging on defence poses a threat not only to itself, but to North America and the Western alliance. Trudeau has never met NATO’s 2-per-cent of GDP commitment to defense spending he promised to fulfil in 2015, and told NATO officials he never will, according to the Washington Post.
Canada’s intelligence capability is also considered substandard and penetrable by members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance. In 2019, Canada’s master spy was arrested and charges still remain secret. In 2020, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, David Vigneault, warned publicly that “the greatest strategic threat to Canada’s national security comes from hostile activities by foreign states” and that China presented “a direct threat to our national security and sovereignty”.
Trudeau adheres to Greenpeace directives rather than to international pledges. This has security implications. That environmental organization’s non-sensical anti-nuclear policy (even though nuclear generates zero emissions) was fully embraced by Germany, which made the country dependent on Russia energy as it closed nuclear plants. This gave Putin leverage over Europe and emboldened him to invade Ukraine.
Even so, Trudeau remains a devotee: His Environmental Minister is a former Greenpeace executive, as was his closest friend and former chief advisor. This environmental zealotry has, as occurred in Germany, impaired Canada’s energy sector, stunted development of its world-class resource endowment, and indirectly impeded the free world’s battle against Russia. Washington had to press Canada to increase oil exports after the war, which it did marginally, and now pressures Canada to remove anti-mining constraints because it is the only Western nation with an abundance of undeveloped cobalt, graphite, lithium, and nickel (plus copper and rare earths) that are essential in the future.
In Trudeau’s Canada, these would remain in the ground as would oil, natural gas, and uranium. He has been impervious to offers by allies willing to pay billions for resource development. In August, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz met with Trudeau and offered to pay the cost of building pipelines, ports, and LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) facilities on Canada’s east coast for export to Europe. Trudeau’s response was that there has “never been a strong business case” for Canadian LNG exports, and yet, days later, Scholz signed a massive LNG deal with Australia. In January, Trudeau gave Japan’s leader the same “no business case” story after Tokyo offered to build multiple LNG plants on Canada’s west coast. And in March, Spain’s energy giant Repsol SA withdrew from a planned LNG project in New Brunswick because Canadian federal government obstacles made its LNG project unviable. “Trudeau’s stewardship is a disaster. Like a dream world,” commented New Brunswick’s Premier Blaine Higgs, an engineer and energy expert.
Western Canada is the fourth largest producer of oil in the world — 5.43 million barrels of oil a day and lots of natural gas — and exports most of this to the United States. But it could produce and export much more energy if foreign environmental groups hadn’t spent billions on litigation and lobbying to stymie and strand its oil and gas reserves. In 2017, a pipeline to bring Canadian oil and gas from Western Canada to Eastern Canada’s coast was proposed and killed by Quebec, environmentalists, and Trudeau. If allowed, it would have brought Canadian oil to its eastern regions, where OPEC oil is now imported, and facilitated the creation of an LNG hub in Eastern Canada. The result of cancelling the inter-continental pipeline was that 18 LNG projects were nixed and the only LNG project underway is in British Columbia where it has been delayed and dogged by excessive political, legal, and regulatory interventions.
By contrast, the United States has revolutionized its natural gas industry in response to the Russian war as well as to global demand for cleaner energy. There are more than 140 LNG processing plants and ports in America with more on the drawing boards. America is now the world’s biggest LNG exporter. If Canada’s east-west pipeline hadn’t been sabotaged by Trudeau, environmentalists, and Quebec, the two countries would have replaced all Russian gas exports in Europe by now and helped many developing countries, and Eastern Canada, replace dirty coal-burning power plants with cleaner gas-fired ones.
Trudeau’s slavish adherence to Greenpeace is damaging enough, but his coziness with China has become a national issue in recent weeks. Press reports, based on intelligence leaks, claimed that Beijing meddled in Canada’s 2021 election to help Trudeau’s party. A full-blown public inquiry was demanded but, in response, Trudeau appointed a family friend, David Johnston, to determine whether a public inquiry was warranted. A China booster himself, Johnston predictably stated that a public inquiry was unnecessary and impossible because this would require disclosure of documents in breach of secrecy laws. He then went further and said that he looked at classified documents, found no wrongdoing, but couldn’t say why because he’d signed the Secrecy Oath. It was high-handed and disrespectful.
Naturally, Parliament’s opposition parties demanded Johnston’s resignation, but he refused. Some demanded an in camera judicial inquiry, but have been stonewalled. And Trudeau refuses to comment and or respond to requests that laws be put in place that would require foreign operatives to register and that would prevent election meddling, as Australia and others have done.
This political snafu is only a glimpse into the fact that Trudeau and his Liberals are infested with, and driven by, a business, investment, political, and personal network that is heavily invested and aligned with China. For example, two years ago Beijing kidnapped two innocent Canadian businessmen and canceled billions of dollars worth of trade contracts to force Canada to release a Huawei executive arrested under an extradition warrant by the United States. Trudeau did not retaliate and instead appointed as Ambassador to China another friend, Dominic Barton, who was too close to Chinese officials after serving as Chairman of McKinsey & Company and opening dozens of offices across China. Eventually, the Canadians were released but only after America negotiated a prisoner exchange.
The list of Liberal China lackeys is long. Trudeau’s closest friend and cabinet minister, Francois-Philippe Champagne, bought two apartments in London UK with mortgages from the Bank of China valued at C$1.8-million. He never disclosed this, as required, but confirmed the transactions after they were leaked and never resigned. Trudeau’s Family Foundation has received large sums from Chinese donors. And Trudeau’s mentor, former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, has family connections to Power Corporation of Montreal which has billions in assets in China and close ties to its political and business elites.
Domestically, Trudeau’s Canada loses ground economically. An OECD report in October 2021 predicted that Canada will be the worst performing advanced economy with the worst economic growth from 2030 to 2060. “In other words, Canada will be dead last not only for the next decade, but also for the three decades after that,” concluded the OECD.
Fortunately, Canada remains a pleasant country to live in with sensible gun controls and a good universal healthcare system that predates Trudeau’s tenure. But it’s now a chronic underachiever. Canada suffers from “state capture” by an anti-business Liberal and socialist elite and by foreign countries and non-state players. The country is fragmented, regionally and linguistically, which has led to this weak, anti-business coalition government that stonewalls Canadian voters and doesn’t pull its weight internationally. This is, more than a handful of tanks or an inadequate navy, the greatest embarrassment of all.