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Singh and Trudeau NATO fallout

LEFT JAB by John Bell

December 5, 2019

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was stupid enough to let himself be filmed dishing the dirt on Donald Trump at the NATO summit. His smirking audience was Britain’s carbon copy Trump, Boris Johnson, and France’s Emmanuel Macron, about to face a massive strike wave for trying to steal the pension funds of his country’s workers.

The footage caused Trump to call out Trudeau as “two-faced”, and leave the summit prematurely. It was one thing to be flipped off by the Prince of Wales but being dissed by an Obama-endorsed Liberal was simply too much for him.

On Fox and Friends morning show, White House gas passer Kellyanne Conway defended Trump, but rightly noted that Trudeau’s complaints were not directed at Trump policies. “It was about the fact that President Trump commands a room; and he does, and maybe that makes a couple of people jealous and churlish.”

Trump surely “commands a room”, if by that you mean he is liable to drop a flagrant lie or a demented digression without warning. Or in this case, a shocking truth – but more of that below.

Here at home, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh responded to the Trump/Trudeau tiff: “I think it is very problematic, very horrible, the treatment of people who are fleeing persecution, asylum seekers, kids being ripped out of the arms of their parents – those are horrible things and they can be criticized. The fact that Mr. Trump gave billions, maybe even trillions of dollars to the wealthiest in tax cuts – that’s wrong. We should be investing in people. There are certain things that I would criticize, but making me late for a cocktail party would not be one of them.”

But, Singh went on, Trudeau is indeed two-faced. “For example he talks about the importance of Indigenous relationships being a priority, in public, but in private in a closed-door fundraiser with wealthy donors he mocked and made fun of activists who were complaining about a legitimate concern about clean drinking water and mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows.”

Singh was absolutely right, as far as he went. Trudeau is a phony “progressive” in rhetoric, but his actions betray him: he condemns Andrew Scheer for homophobia, but won’t allow gays to donate blood; he refuses court ordered compensation for Indigenous kids and their families, while talking about reconciliation; he poses as a champion in the fight against climate change, but is forcing the completion of the Trans Mountain pipeline to exploit the tar sands.

Then there’s that little matter of repeated appearances in blackface – how much more literally two-faced can you get?

No to NATO

A chorus of loyal Liberals is using social media to slam Singh for speaking the truth. Some play the “we need more decorum” card. Some admit Singh has a point, but now is not a good time to make it. Nonsense, it precisely Singh’s job to stand up for the victims of Trudeau’s hypocrisy, and now it the time to do it.

But it annoying to have to waste words defending Singh, or even responding to this nonsense. The real story about the NATO summit goes untold, and questions about Canada’s participation in this imperialist bloc go unasked.

The scandal of this particular summit wasn’t Trump and Trudeau acting like toddlers. It was how Trump responded to a question about his betrayal of the Kurds in Syria: “We have taken the oil. I've taken the oil. We should have done it in other locations, frankly, where we were. I can name four of them right now, but we've taken the oil ... our great soldiers are right around the oil where we've got the oil.”

Previous US administrations conjured up elaborate lies to hide the fact that their wars were for oil. And governments like Canada’s abetted them.

But here Trump is proudly proclaiming that he authorized the ethnic cleansing of a former ally – a war crime – to get access to oil.

This should have been the headline – not petty nonsense about cocktail party gossip.

Shame on Trudeau, who was sitting not five feet away from Trump as he made this remarkable statement, for not denouncing him on the spot.

And honestly, shame on Singh for not doing it later, when he had the chance.

As it stands, Canada contributes about $20 billion annually to maintain NATO. That equals about 1% of GDP. The nation’s actual commitment is 2%. Trump isn’t the first US president to call on Canada to double its NATO spending – Obama did it too.

Canadians should be questioning why we waste our resources for a seat at the NATO table at all. It is objectively an outdated cheering section for US imperialism, at a time when even the US is shifting its sights from Europe to inter-imperial rivalry elsewhere, with China.

Continued membership in NATO is not in the interest of ordinary Canadians, facing a loss of public services, precarious work and a growing gap between obscenely rich and working poor. No to NATO!


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