4 hard truths about Justin Trudeau

Mara Cepeda
4 hard truths about Justin Trudeau
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has impressed world leaders and swooning girls alike, but he has been hit for his views on climate change and using PR stunts to distract the public

MANILA, Philippines – He is the world leader who dressed up as Superman for Halloween, formed Canada’s first gender-balanced Cabinet, and more recently, ordered burgers at famous Filipino fast food chain Jollibee.

There are reasons behind the frenzy over Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who arrived in Manila on Sunday, November 12 to attend the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

But past his openness to refugees entering Canada and the legalization of medical marijuana, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies for Trudeau when it comes to his stance on the most pressing world issues. 

1. He is criticized for being a “hypocrite” on climate change 

Last year, Trudeau approved the expansion of a pipeline that would link the oil sands in Alberta to a tanker port in British Columbia, as well as pump oil from Alberta to the United States Midwest and beyond. 

This move disappointed advocates who were hoping the Canadian leader would shift its environmental policy to help address climate change.

Activitst and journalist Bill McKibben wrote a scathing opinion piece against Trudeau for The Guardian, calling him a “stunning hypocrite” and a “disaster for the planet.” 

2. Trudeau was non-committal in ensuring Canada will take back its illegally dumped trash in the Philippines 

In 2013, 50 container vans supposedly containing assorted scrap plastic materials for recycling arrived to the Philippines from Ontario-based company Chronic Incorporated.

But the Bureau of Customs instead seized vans carrying various waste materials weighing 1,300 tons, including non-recyclable plastics and adult diapers. 

Trudeau was asked about the illegally dumped garbage when he visited the Philippines for the 2015 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in 2015.

He only said he was aware of the issue and he was told “there is a Canadian solution in the process of being developed.” (READ: Canada PM Trudeau on trash: We’re working on laws for future

Two years later, Canada’s trash remains in the Philippines. It remains to be seen if Trudeau would finally address the issue head-on during the 31st ASEAN Summit.

3. He’s being accused of stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal

Trudeau angered other world leaders for boycotting the planned meeting on the sidelines of the 2017 APEC Summit on Friday, November 10 to discuss the TPP, a trade deal meant to counter China’s growing dominance in the region. 

Trudeau said Canada was not ready to close the deal, as he remains concerned about its impact on the automotive sector, culture, and intellectual property. 

Trudeau’s absence led to the postponement of the TPP meeting, though the ministers of the remaining countries agreed to change certain provisions to accommodate Trudeau’s protests.

4. And his PR stunts continue to captivate the public

Surprise a Canadian family on a hike by emerging from a cave, topless? Check. School a reporter on quantum computing? Check. Jog past bewildered students on the way to prom? Check.

Trudeau is one of world’s most social media savvy leaders – and his public relations (PR) team knows it. But several of these seemingly candid encounters were actually staged by Trudeau’s staff.

The Guardian Canada correspondent Ashifa Kassam warned people not to fall for Trudeau’s PR stunts. These were designed to make the public forget the Canadian Prime Minister’s more controversial policies, including climate change. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.