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G7: Trudeau, Trump, and the charade in Charlevoix

Kevin Taghabon

June 9, 2018

Leaders from seven of the world’s most prosperous countries are retreating together in the idyllic town of La Malbaie, in the Charlevoix region, two hours northeast of Quebec City. Officials from from Japan, the US, Germany, the UK, Italy, and the European Union will attend, all totaled representing nearly half of the global economy. Following in Stephen Harper’s footsteps in 2010, Trudeau has placed the G7 summit far from the prying eyes of a city dense with people, media, and dissidents. The five themes, set by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government include security, growth, gender equity, jobs, and tackling climate change.

“Working together on climate change”

The most glaring of these hypocrisies is, predictably, their position on climate change. The G7s public engagement paper, Working Together on Climate Change, Oceans, and Clean Energy betrays the priorities of the Liberal government. After a few paragraphs of reasonably progressive rhetoric on this issue, we are reminded that our priorities must include “driving new solutions for the sustainable extraction and use of fossil fuels.” This is the only mention of fossil fuels in the entire paper - let alone any discussion of tar sands bitumen.

The Liberal government has just purchased a $4.5 billion pipeline that oil mega-corporation Kinder Morgan considered too risky to move forward with. This will cost Canadians an additional $7.4 billion to expand. For some perspective, the average cost of a year of healthcare in public funds per person is $5,988 annually. $12 billion of public funds could cover the cost of 2 million people’s healthcare. The fact that we have a new fossil fuel infrastructure purchased with public funds as opposed to a federal green jobs program or any myriad of improvements to social programs encapsulates our government’s vapid commitments to progress.

Question number 3.) in the engagement paper is “What are the most important issues facing our oceans and coastal communities today?”. The image of filthy oil destroying the beautiful west coast and the waterfront of Vancouver is unbearable for many. Not our government however, which has made it clear that it is more important to bail out an oil company. As such, Canada now leads the G7 in fossil fuel subsidies. So much for the Paris Accord.

“Building a more peaceful and secure world”

Canada’s public engagement paper on this topic is perhaps the most hawkish of all five sections of their G7 agenda. According to the paper, we face, “a shifting global balance of power, a growing trend towards authoritarianism, and persistent and challenging security crises.” A child could tell our government that the “authoritarianism” referred to here is first and foremost the government of Donald Trump. Last summer Trudeau said that Trump “really listens” to opposition viewpoints in good faith.

The paper also throws hostility at the governments of Venezuela. Justin Trudeau’s government has continued Harper’s fetish with regime change in Venezuela. Admonishment was also thrown at Russia - likely the input of Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is barred from entering the country. This huge diplomatic hindrance is opposed by no one in the Trudeau government. Additionally, it has become clear over the past few years that NATO allies have been positioning themselves aggressively against Russia in a new Cold War.

The most dangerous episode in this saga was in April of this year. The US, UK, and France launched air strikes against the Assad regime in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria. This attack brought threats of “consequences” from the Russian ambassador in Washington: “We are being threatened. We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences. All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris.” These air strikes were supported by Justin Trudeau’s government.

It bears repeating simply: three months ago a military action that Canada supported brought two nuclear armed powers (the US and Russia) to the brink of war. The Canadian government has never condemned the ongoing US-supported Saudi-led genocide against the Yemeni people. Justin Trudeau infamously sold $15 billion of weapons and military gear to Saudi Arabia as one of his first international actions after being elected. The UN is now estimating that 18.4 million people will starve in Yemen by the end of the year, representing a staggering two thirds of the country’s total population.

This does not yet even mention the massacres that the Israeli state is gleefully carrying out against a grassroots Palestinian uprising. Israel has proclaimed that the targets are killed by their snipers deliberately. “We know where every bullet landed,” said the IDF spokesperson in a now-deleted tweet. This necessarily includes journalist Yasser Murtaja (who was wearing a clearly marked PRESS jacket) and 21-year-old medic Razan al-Najjar, alongside scores of other people. Our government has never condemned these atrocities, playing the same “both sides” game that Trump played when a right-wing terrorist killed Heather Heyer in Charlottesville. Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland have no business engaging in the construction of a “more peaceful and secure world” - nor do the warmongers from Europe, Russia, Syria, and the US who brought the world to the brink of war in April.

Safe playground for power

Canada’s hosting of the G7 summit this year will also be the first time that President Donald Trump visits Canada - the longest time it’s taken a new President to visit Canada in 40 years. Trudeau sequestering the summit to a far corner of Quebec was shrewd. Within days of Trump’s victory in the 2016 US election, there were spontaneous protests which brought out thousands of people in Canada.

It is no stretch to assume that if the summit were held in a major city, the entire city would be shut down as during Harper’s 2010 G20 summit—or the 2001 Quebec City protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americans. Trump infamously cancelled his visit to the UK last year after Britons promised there would be a large mobilized opposition ready to greet him with due hostility. Trudeau invited him to Ottawa then as well, which he declined. The handful of the most powerful people in the world have been given a safe area to make worldly decisions by Justin Trudeau.

Movements speak real politics

We live under a government that has decided it is better to use public funds to build climate-killing economically precarious fossil fuel infrastructure instead of helping its people. The Trudeau government has decided that decisions about the wealth and power of half of the planet should be sequestered away from public view. Trudeau won’t be taking any selfies with fans today; instead people are marching in Quebec City against the G7 charade.

We have seen what a sustained movement can do to halt and perhaps even cancel a planet destroying project. Kinder Morgan was brought to its knees by an Indigenous-led climate justice movement that is just gearing up for the next leg. United in mass movements we can force the government’s hand in our favour, until it is our hands building society without them.

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