Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is undoubtedly an amateur when it comes to foreign policy. Canada has lost ground not only amongst its conventional friends and allies, but also in the eyes of some of its political adversaries. The US, Saudi Arabia, India, and China are some of the countries with which Canada’s relations have weakened since Trudeau took power.
During the US election season, Trudeau invited Barack Obama to a state dinner. At this point of time, Obama was immersed in campaigning for Hillary Clinton, who ultimately lost the election to Donald Trump. Trump has since not even been invited once for a single state dinner. While ideological differences between Trudeau and Trump overshadow their relationship, Trudeau should have realized that at the end of the day, no matter how much he may dislike Trump, America is Canada’s largest trading partner.
Coming in to office, Trump visited Canada in less than a month and around this time, praised Canada’s pipeline purchase while also possibly suggesting a bilateral trade negotiation with Canada. Trudeau proceeded to try to show himself as the “bigger of the two” by, for example, trying to demean Trump for pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords, targets for which Trudeau himself hasn’t even been following.
Trudeau’s attempt to belittle Trump without realizing the consequences led to a horrendous diplomatic blunder in the shape of the USMCA trade deal in which Canada was effectively left out of Mexico-US negotiations and had to “accept what it was given”.
By eroding Canada’s dairy protections and farmers, carrying on with high steel tariffs, adding a “Sunset clause” and raising the cost of pharmaceutical drugs, the deal was mostly a disaster for Canada. So much so, that Research In Motion co-founder Jim Balsillie said “This is a bad deal for Canada’s plans to build a 21st-century economy”. The final “Chinese Sunset clause” is effectively a warning for Canada as it states should Canada choose to engage in a trade pact with a “non-market country” (codeword for China), Canada will face Trump and the US’ “Fire and Fury”.
Trudeau’s other failure comes from the entire debacle with Saudi Arabia. Leaders from the Conservatives and the NDP both criticized Trudeau for carrying on with Saudi arms deals, a nation that beheads the very feminists and LGBT persons Trudeau stands for, while engaging in blatant war crimes in Yemen. Some even point out that Trudeau’s damp criticism for Saudi Arabia came only after the diplomatic debacle began, effectively singling him out as an ideological hypocrite.
One of Trudeau’s most “colossal failures”, was his trip to India. Trudeau is suspected of being cozy with Sikh separatists (pro-Khalistanis), especially after photos emerged of his wife and other Liberal ministers with Jaspal Atwal,. Trudeau was hence on received by India’s Junior Minister of Agriculture when he landed in New Delhi, in contrast to a week later when Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally received the Jordanian King at the airport for his visit.
Trudeau’s India trip sprung out only a $1 billion investment deal, which is miniscule compared to the size of deals other nations have been able to nurture with India. His overdressing and lack of work ethic drew criticism not only from Canadian media, but also from the Indian media, which also mocked him diligently. In contrast, Andrew Scheer visited India where he met with far more important dignitaries than Trudeau while being respected by Canadian, Indian, and other foreign media.
The nail in the coffin comes with the People’s Republic of China. Under US pressure, Canada detained Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou. She was being detained for “fraud in a scheme to violate American trade sanctions against Iran” and the US ordered her extradition. She was released on a $10 million bail with 24/7 surveillance and travel limitations to only within Vancouver; she has subsequently sued RCMP and the Canadian Border Service Agency for what she describes as “violations of her constitutional rights” during her arrest.
In retaliation, China arrested two Canadians and raised the sentence of a third to capital punishment. When Trudeau said China was arbitrarily applying this punishment, he was told by the Chinese foreign ministry to “stop making such irresponsible remarks.” The US also has not helped Canada in this diplomatic crisis, even though Canada worked with the US in detaining Meng. This weakness of Trudeau in front of both the US and China cost him his relations with the US, his trade pact with China, and his respect for failing to secure the rights of Canadians abroad.
As is thus evident in Andrew Scheer’s latest criticism, Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy has been abysmal. So much so, that he has earned himself the nickname of “Little Potato” in China. By losing out to his allies and adversaries, Trudeau has set Canada’s foreign policy on a crash course; recovering from it will require intense diligence, experience, and hard work.