Justin Trudeau loves hurting himself. Even when his assorted failures at home are depleting his support base in Canada, prime minister Trudeau is adding more to his inventory of troubles, at home and away from home. As a proof, Mr Trudeau lit the fuse on September 18th when he charged India of killing Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen who is a known Khalistan secessionist. India said this was a wild allegation. https://poliphoon.com/the-price-of-playing-politics/ 

At once, the accusation set off a major diplomatic row between India and Canada, triggering a chain of tit-for-tat reactions from the two. Diplomats were expelled and visa services suspended. Yet, Mr Trudeau has not been able to enthuse his local Canadian constituency. Global support too has not been wholehearted. Absence of enthusiasm at home is largely because of Mr Trudeau’s mounting failures on the domestic front. https://edition.cnn.com/2023/09/20/india/india-canada- hardeep-singh-nijjar-explained-intl-hnk/index.html

A Grand Tool of Distraction

Unfazed and tactless, Mr Trudeau is bent upon taking on the Indian government for its alleged role in the killing of Mr Nijjar. Informed politicos in Canada insist that this is a strategy. Embattled at home, both on economic and non-economic fronts, Mr Trudeau seems to be using his row with India as a grand tool of distraction. However, this is bound to prove counterproductive as Mr Trudeau is using his allegations as a diversion tactic. Diversions are known to be lousy politics.

No amount of distraction can take local Canadians away from their domestic woes. Mr Trudeau’s efforts to distract will only increase their suspicions that their prime minister is not keen on solving their domestic ills, but more interested in vote-bank politics. Perhaps such politics is the reason why shoddy info was enough for Mr Trudeau to level allegations against a foreign nation. This is seen by many in the West as being reckless. https://www.reuters.com/world/shared-intelligence-five-eyes- informed-trudeaus-india-allegation-ctv-news-2023-09-23/

Video Courtesy: YouTube/CTV News

The Canada-is-Broken Catchphrase

Reckless also because Mr Trudeau is lighting an external fuse when many fires are breaking out at home. For starters, he is keen on his fourth term after the current tenure comes to an end in September 2025. This eagerness is astounding as every time he got re-elected it was with a truncated lead. As his political support base kept shrinking, Mr Trudeau landed himself in the Canadian parliament, heading a minority government finally in 2021.

Such is Mr Trudeau’s minority mess that even the support from New Democratic Party, which is meant to last until 2025, may evaporate before that date. This is a possible scenario as Mr Trudeau’s approval ratings, which are in decline mode, are at an all-time low of 27 per cent now. Mr Trudeau’s loss has been his Conservative opponent Pierre Poilievre’s gain. Mr Poilievre’s Canada-is-Broken political catchphrase is already a hit with Canadians. https://www.cp24.com/news/pierre-poilievre-wants-to-rebuild- a-broken-canada-but-first-must-fix-his-own-image- 1.6516601?cache=

The Headache of Unaffordable Housing

Even many outside Canada seem to believe Mr Poilievre. Their belief is based on worrisome conditions in the areas of domestic inflation, general prices, cost of living and housing in Canada. These issues are making life more difficult for Canadians now. Many Canadian nationals find it very challenging to buy a home in their own country. This is expected as the home cost-income ratio in Canada is at a high of 45 per cent when the average is 25 per cent for similarly-placed nations.

Unaffordable housing is a serious headache for Mr Trudeau. The headache has been made more acute by squeezed per-capita housing supply. The thorny issue of migration is aggravating the housing crisis further. As Canada has a liberal visa policy, inward arrivals of migrants are growing alarmingly. Despite the fears of local Canadians, Mr Trudeau seems to be in no mood to check the rising immigrant inflows. On the contrary, he is keen on inviting more immigrants. https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/immigrants- students-fueled-canadas-population-jump-2023-statscan-2023- 09-27/

Climate-Change Worries are Peaking

Such unchecked immigration and a liberal visa policy are putting enormous pressure on Canada’s already inadequate free State-funded universal health-care system. Waiting lists for major treatments are lengthening and many Canadians are spending their entire lifetime without having a single family doctor. Many Canadians, particularly those clued in, have even begun to question Mr Trudeau government’s outlay on health-care infrastructure.

The climate issue too is hurting Mr Trudeau’s poll prospects. As Canadians are seriously worried about climate-change consequences, it has become a major concern for Mr Trudeau. Carbon tax is slated to rise to 170 Canadian dollars per tonne in 2030, from the present 65. This will add to the inflation woes of Canadians. Add to this Mr Trudeau’s inability to do anything major to check forest fires, Canadians’ persisting climate-change worries are peaking. https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/carbon-tax-hike-new- climate-plan-1.5837709

Foreign Policy Woes Show Up

As if troubles at home are not enough, Mr Trudeau is causing heartburns with his flawed foreign policy. The current spat with India is emblematic of such flaws. NATO partners complain that Canada is not spending enough on defence. Ties with China are at an all-time low after the arrest of two Canadians in China for espionage. Mr Trudeau levelled allegations against China then. He is doing the same with India now.

Mr Trudeau’s foreign policy woes are now beginning to show up in Canada’s relations with Saudi Arabia. Again, the strain has been caused by Canadian criticism of Saudi Arabia’s human-rights history. The criticism was made by Canada’s deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland. This ended in the expulsion of the Canadian ambassador, the sale of all Saudi Arabian assets in Canada and an ignominious end to Canadian wheat imports. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-canada- criticizes-saudi-arabia-over-another-jailed-female-activist/

Bangladesh Too is Miffed

Meanwhile, Bangladesh is accusing Mr Trudeau and Canada of providing asylum to its former army officer Nur Chowdhury, the primary assassin of the nation’s founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975. Bangladesh is miffed at the idea of a murder criminal being sheltered by a liberal rules-based Western democracy like Canada. The killer has been living in protective Canada for nearly three decades now. There must be a domestic political compulsion here, which the Asian nation is trying to figure out. https://idrw.org/after-india-now-bangladesh-says-canada- becoming-hub-for-wanted-criminals/

The Poliphoon’s Last Word

Strangely, in global ties and dealings, Mr Trudeau is guided by his domestic political compulsions. As he pursues vote-bank politics, regardless of global opinion and health of international ties, he has pushed Canada into a diplomatic quagmire. In the process, he has turned himself from being a famously hopeful leader into an egregiously hopeless politician. As prospects for Mr Trudeau and his Liberal party fade, he is unable to do anything more than distractive jousting.