Liberalism in Canadian politics is not the same as liberalism in U.S. politics. The Liberal Party in Canada, founded in 1867, has historically taken a more centrist approach to governing. The New Democratic Party (NDP), formed in 1961, represents a more left-wing ideology similar to liberal-minded American politicians. The Right-wing of Canadian politics is represented by the Conservative Party (a.k.a. Tories), which has taken various names with common agendas since 1942.
At the conclusion of the federal elections last October, Canadian Conservative leader, Stephen Harper (who served as prime minister from 2006 to 2015) conceded to the victorious Liberal leader, Justin Trudeau. As a result the slightly left of center Liberal Party earned more seats in Parliament. Immediately following the election, U.S. media began a budding love affair with Trudeau as the newly elected Prime Minister of Canada.
Based on the outcome of the 2015 elections, the Liberal Party currently holds a majority of parliamentary seats in the House of Commons (182 out of 338). Liberals secured 21 out of 105 seats in the upper house of Canada’s parliamentary Senate. The Conservative Party now holds 97 seats in the House of Commons, and 41 Senate seats. The New Democratic Party has just 44 seats in the House of Commons and no seats in the Senate. This gives you an idea of where Canada, as a whole, stands in terms of political views and policies: while the centrist Liberals gain more footing in Parliament, the true left of center NDP appears to be losing the fervor and influence of its constituency.
Prior to Trudeau’s win, The Canadian Progressive had warned of his character and moral shortcomings. Trudeau’s truancy with respect to voting and his lack of support on progressive issues were outlined in this article. On the day of the inauguration, Trudeau introduced his Cabinet consisting of 15 men and 15 women–the first gender equal team appointed by a prime minister: “Because it’s 2015.” However, during the summer Olympics he referred to the Canadian women athletes enthusiastically as “girls“. It was not meant to belittle the female Olympians, but it was still a subtle perpetuation of sexism. His seemingly patronizing ‘get to know me’ fundraiser in 2013, intended for women to get to know the Liberty Party leader at “Justin Unplugged” for $250 per person. Many Tories and NDP members criticized the venue as a sexist ploy. Liberals who backed the event claimed it was a unique way of reaching out to female voters; something their opponent’s leaders could not or would not do… and they were probably right. In May, his careless elbow to the chest of Parliament member, Ruth Ellen Brosseau, during a heated exchange in the House of Commons, coupled with ‘ladies night’ invitation in 2013 did not help his image as a self-proclaimed “feminist“. Notwithstanding Trudeau’s gender-even Cabinet, other arguments have been made regarding his perception as a feminist versus what his broader recorder shows in this article.
Justin Trudeau has been outspoken about zero tolerance for violence against women. While the Liberal leader has spoken strongly about guarding women from abuse, he has subtly correlated domestic violence with racism. A month before Trudeau was elected, he made racist inferences in an interview on Up For Debate linking the ills of misogyny, pornography and the lack of father figures to “certain types of music” which Desmond Cole, Toronto journalist, questioned as “a very careless nod to anti-black stereotypes.” Canada, like the United States, is not immune to the discriminatory plagues of white male privilege, sexism and racism.
One can argue the ailments of the aforementioned elitism and prejudices are not as prevalent in Canada as they are in the United States. For example, with regards to gender equality: prior to the U.S. elections in November, there were 20 women serving in the U.S. Senate: out of 100, or 20.0%. And there were 84 female members in the House of Representatives: out of 435, or 19.3%. In comparison, there are 43 women serving in Canada’s Senate: out of 102, or 42.2% (minus three vacancies). And there are 88 female members in the House of Commons: out of 335, or 26.3% (minus three vacancies). On the other hand, Canada is ranked 30th in the world based on the gender gap report in 2015 issued by the World Economic Forum. United States did not score much better, finishing 28th. Canada still has much fewer women than men represented in Parliamentary standing committees. It is also worth noting, during the 2015 elections, NDP had the highest percentage of women running in their party (43%). Liberals had fewer than one in three women (31%), and the Conservatives had less than one of five (19%). Bottom line: neither the U.S. or Canada are close to achieving gender equality.
Actions speak louder than words… On the concerns regarding land and water conservation, Trudeau had vowed to “protect the environment”. Yet his apparent assurance to environmentalists and Canadian’s First Nations people gave way to a steadfast determination to dig up Alberta tar sands and support major pipeline projects, which will further undermine Canada’s fragile ecosystem. And it validates the concerns raised by The Canadian Progressive in October 2015. Precious Canadian wildlife is in peril, and it is dwindling, in large part, due to a proportionally greater impact from climate change north of the Arctic Circle (66.5°N to 90.0°N). Canada’s previous Prime Ministers and Parliament have done their part in contributing to the acceleration of climate change. After one year in office, Trudeau has shown to be no different in neglecting the environment he had promised to preserve.
http://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/is-justin-trudeau-a-fake-feminist/ (September 8, 2016)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1A-XyHdRJ4 (May 7, 2016)
https://newrepublic.com/article/123186/why-canadas-liberal-party-so-dominant (October 22, 2015)