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Manley says Canada not ‘useful’ globally under Trudeau


Justin Trudeau fancies himself a champion of human rights, but his delusions of grandeur have finally caught up with him. Now, his own Liberal party has punctured Trudeau’s puffed-up posturing. In a blistering takedown, former Liberal foreign minister John Manley has exposed the vast gap between Trudeau’s self-righteous rhetoric and his abysmal failures in global affairs. Trudeau’s insufferable moral preening, Manley charges, has rendered Canada irrelevant.

Manley reveals how Trudeau has frittered away decades of Canadian prestige through a toxic mix of empty sermonizing, boneheaded blundering, and half-hearted measures on the world stage. This sweeping indictment paints Trudeau as a puffed-up pretender who lectures but does not lead.

What does such scathing criticism from a former high-ranking Liberal minister say about the Liberal leader’s rapidly diminishing standing, even among his fellow Liberals? Trudeau’s house of cards appears to be crumbling.

Former Liberal foreign minister John Manley has criticized the Trudeau government for lacking substance and influence in international affairs.

For decades, Canada prided itself on being a major player on the world stage. Canada wasn’t a superpower like the United States, but consistently punched above its weight in international affairs.

Before Trudeau Canada had a reputation for principled foreign policy and quiet diplomacy. Canada was respected as an honest broker that could talk to countries on both sides of an issue. Other nations saw Canada as a constructive partner whose voice carried weight in international institutions.

All that has changed under Justin Trudeau. Nowadays, the world sees Canada as a preachy complainer that lectures them but doesn’t do its fair share. The time when Canada was known for quiet, helpful diplomacy is over. Now there is a lot of big talk and grandstanding from Trudeau, who wants praise from Canadians. He does this by criticizing both Canada’s allies and rivals, even though it damages relations.

Just look at Canada’s deteriorating relationships with China and India, two of the world’s emerging superpowers.

Under the Liberals, ties with Beijing have frayed over the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and the subsequent arrest of two Canadian citizens in China. Did the Trudeau government have a strategy to manage this crisis deftly behind the scenes? No, they resorted to megaphone diplomacy by publicly demanding the release of the two Michaels and enlisting allies to pressure China. Not surprisingly, Beijing dug in its heels. Contrast this clumsy approach with the quiet diplomacy Canada employed to secure the release of dissident Yang Jianli from Chinese prison in 2002.

With India, Trudeau made a diplomatic blunder during a 2018 visit by publicly supporting Sikh separatists. Relations with New Delhi cooled considerably afterwards. Last year, Trudeau doubled down by accusing India of being behind the attempted murder of Canadian Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar by Indian intelligence. But the PM made this explosive allegation without any concrete evidence. It seemed like more virtue-signaling intended to win votes in Canada’s politically influential Sikh community.

Under the Liberals, Canada seems to have lost the art of discreet behind-the-scenes diplomacy that allowed it to punch above its weight in the past. Now Canada either remains silent or provocatively amplifies public accusations of wrongdoing against other countries. Not surprisingly, Canada has lost influence with major powers like China and India under Trudeau.

Beyond bilateral ties, Canada’s reliability as an ally has suffered under the Liberals. Our NATO and Five Eyes partners feel let down by Canada’s failure to meet defense spending commitments. Australian officials have questioned if Canada is pulling its weight within the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. The Americans notice that despite endless talk about feminism and diversity from Trudeau, Canada falls short on tangible contributions like military capabilities.

With defence spending at just 1.29% of GDP, Canada sits well below the 2% target for NATO members. The Canadian military is so starved of funding that more than half of our fighter jets and warships are in a state of disrepair.

Canada was unable to make any substantial military contribution when the U.S. and Britain helped Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion. Our allies are rightly disappointed by Canada’s lack of follow-through when the chips are down.

This goes back to a key point former Liberal minister John Manley made recently. He criticized the Trudeau government for being long on finger-wagging but short on concrete contributions to global affairs. Lecturing others might make some feel virtuous, but it doesn’t get tangible things done. It’s easy to call for more UN peacekeepers from the sidelines. It’s much harder to commit a battle-ready battalion and fund their operations for several years. This government prefers rhetoric over real action that entails costs and risks.

Increasingly under the Liberals, Canada has become a small-minded scold toward India. The Canadian government finds it easier to criticize the actions of the world’s largest democracy rather than provide solutions that accommodate the challenging realities India faces as a pluralistic nation.

But moral posturing alone will not resolve complex issues like the rise of Hindu nationalism in a diverse country like India. Simply accusing India of human rights violations or calling for sanctions against officials provides no meaningful path forward. If Canada wishes to constructively engage with India, it must make greater efforts to understand social tensions between religious communities in the country and acknowledge India’s legitimate security concerns. Moral grandstanding wins plaudits at home but alienates potential partners abroad.

Canada needs the wisdom to recognize the limits of finger-wagging toward India if it wishes to sustain ties with this important Commonwealth nation. Canada’s stance toward India must evolve from self-righteous criticism to nuanced diplomatic engagement.

Quiet pragmatism has been replaced by empty idealism under Trudeau. His government claims to support a “feminist foreign policy” but was unable to secure the election of a Canadian candidate as Secretary General of la Francophonie, losing out to Rwanda’s candidate. So much for making gains through this simplistic theory.

Canada appears to have lost its maturity and nuance in international affairs under Trudeau’s virtue-signaling Liberals. Canada lacks the gravitas once displayed by statesmen like Lester Pearson who settled the Suez Crisis through diplomacy by creating the first UN peacekeeping force. Or Jean Chrétien who kept Canada out of the disastrous Iraq War by resisting misguided American pressure.

No wonder fewer countries now turn to Canada for level-headed counsel and quiet diplomacy. Canada has abandoned the foreign policy tradition of Thompson, St. Laurent, Pearson, and Axworthy. In its place, Canada has a government fixated on trendy progressive talking points instead of concrete outcomes. The Trudeau Liberals prefer rhetoric over action and risk-taking on the world stage.

The era of constructive Canadian diplomacy is over under Trudeau. Canada’s allies feel let down while countries that could benefit from discreet Canadian counsel tune us out. This hurts Canada’s long-term interests but the Trudeau government seems oblivious as it continues lecturing others, warring with major powers, and failing to contribute robustly on defence and security.

To restore Canada’s influence, Canada needs a government that focuses less on sermonizing and more on finding pragmatic solutions. One that builds respect through consistent contributions rather than empty words. A government that measures its success by thawed relations with rivals rather than likes on social media.

The next election is a chance for Canadians to demand maturity over virtue-signaling in foreign policy. To reject the self-righteousness and selective outrage that has made Canada irrelevant. The Liberals under Trudeau are long on posturing but short on the quiet diplomacy and realism that empowered Canada in the past. It’s time for a change.

The era of Canadian diplomacy as a respected, pragmatic influence on global affairs has ended. Under Trudeau, Canada lectures but no longer leads. Moral grandstanding has replaced maturity and nuance. Rivals tune Canada out, allies feel betrayed.

The hour grows late but it is not too late – Canada’s time on the world stage need not be over. But it will require maturity and vision to regain Canada’s stature. The upcoming election offers a pivotal chance to reverse Canada’s decline and restore the gravitas Canada once commanded abroad. The future, both for Canada and the globe, hangs in the balance.

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