sexta-feira, 16 de dezembro de 2016
Justin Trudeau: 'Globalisation isn't working for ordinary people'
Justin Trudeau: 'Globalisation isn't working for ordinary people'
Exclusive: Canada’s prime minister tells the Guardian why, in a world where populism, divisiveness and fear are on the rise, he’s taking the opposite approach
Justin Trudeau on climate change, the economy and Canada’s future
Ashifa Kassam and Laurence Mathieu-Léger in Ottawa
Thursday 15 December 2016 10.30 GMT
Ordinary people around the world have been failed by globalisation, Justin Trudeau has told the Guardian, as he sought to explain a turbulent year marked by the election of Donald Trump, the Brexit vote and the rise of anti-establishment, nation-first parties around the world.
“What we’re facing right now – in terms of the rise of populism and divisive and fearful narratives around the world – it’s based around the fact that globalisation doesn’t seem to be working for the middle class, for ordinary people,” the Canadian prime minister said in an interview at his oak-panelled office in the country’s parliament. “And this is something that we identified years ago and built an entire platform and agenda for governing on.”
Last year, at a time when Trump was being described as a long shot for president and the threat of Brexit seemed a distant possibility, Trudeau, 44, swept to a majority government on an ambitious platform that included addressing growing inequality and creating real change for the country’s middle class.
One year on, what has emerged is a government that seems to go against the political tide around the world; open to trade, immigration and diversity and led by a social media star whose views on feminism, Syrian refugees and LGBT rights have provoked delight among progressives.
But as he enters his second year in power, Trudeau – a former high school teacher and snowboarding instructor – is under pressure to show the world that his government has found an alternative means of tackling the concerns of those who feel they’ve been left behind.
He cited the signing of Ceta – the free trade deal between the EU and Canada – and a hotly contested decision to approve two pipelines as examples of this approach.
“We were able to sign free trade agreement with Europe at a time when people tend to be closing off,” he said. “We’re actually able to approve pipelines at a time when everyone wants protection of the environment. We’re being able to show that we get people’s fears and there are constructive ways of allaying them – and not just ways to lash out and give a big kick to the system.”
Canada has not remained immune to such pressures, he said – despite what the fresh wave of interest in migrating to the country in the wake of Trump’s victory and the Brexit vote would suggest. “I think there’s a lot of people saying ‘oh well, Canada is a special place,’ and we are,” said Trudeau. “But we are subject to the same kinds of tensions and forces that so much of the world is facing right now.”
Trudeau said he is keenly aware that the world is watching. “I think it’s always been understood that Canada is not a country that’s going to stand up and beat its chest on the world stage, but we can be very helpful in modelling solutions that work,” he said. “Quite frankly if we can show – as we are working very hard to demonstrate – that you can have engaged global perspectives and growth that works for everyone … then that diffuses a lot of the uncertainty, the anger, the populism that is surfacing in different pockets of the world.”
In January, Trudeau’s government will face off against its greatest challenge to date: a Trump presidency. When it comes to US relations, few countries have as much at stake as Canada – last year saw nearly three-quarters of Canada’s exports head to the US while some 400,000 people a day cross the shared border.
Trudeau’s father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister during the late 1960s, 70s and 80s, once likened living next to the US to sleeping with an elephant. “No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt,” he told the Washington Press Club in 1969.
Nearly five decades on, his son is poised to weather what will probably be one of the toughest tests of this sentiment. The prime minister and the president-elect seem to have little in common; Trudeau is a self-described feminist who appointed his country’s first gender-balanced cabinet, while Trump’s campaign saw more than a dozen women come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct. Trudeau has sought to champion trade deals such as Ceta, while Trump has threatened to rip up Nafta and bury TPP.
The contrast was captured last December after Trump and Trudeau catapulted into global headlines within days of each other over their response to the Syrian refugee crisis; Trump, who had called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US, suggested that families fleeing war could be Isis infiltrators; Trudeau, in contrast was at the Toronto airport to greet the first wave of the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees airlifted to Canada in the past year.
Trudeau skirted past these differences, instead highlighting the links that bridge both administrations. On Syrian refugees, for example, Trudeau pointed to underlying concerns around security. “Certainly in a world where terrorism is a daily reality in the news, it’s easy for people to be afraid,” he said. “But the fact is that we laid out very clearly – and Canadians get – that it’s actually not a choice between either immigration or security, that of course they go together.”
The two governments are also keen to create policies that address those who feel that globalisation and trade have failed to benefit the middle class and those working to join it, said Trudeau. “There are differences in the policies, the solutions for it, but I know that when we talk about making sure there are good jobs for the middle class, that is a place where we are going to be able to find agreement and alignment on.”
A silver lining for Trudeau may lie in Trump’s pledge to resurrect plans for TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. When the Obama administration rejected the plan last year, Trudeau said in a statement he was “disappointed” in the decision. When Trudeau called Trump to congratulate him after the election, the two briefly spoke about Keystone, said Trudeau, adding that it remains to be see how the US will move forward with plans for the pipeline.
Any reticence to move forward on climate change south of the border could be a boon for Canadian companies across various sectors, said Trudeau. “I know Canada is well positioned to pick up some of the slack and when people finally realise that it’s a tremendous business opportunity to lead on climate change, Canada will already have a head start.”
But he also cast doubt on Trump’s ability to completely derail US efforts towards combatting climate change. “You know quite frankly at the subnational level in the United States, states, municipalities are already showing that they understand that climate change is real so that the potential for the federal government to ease off on actions is not total,” he said.
Trudeau has previously said he was ‘disappointed’ in Obama’s decision to reject the plans for TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. Photograph: LM Otero/AP
Last week’s announcement of a national carbon price is a key part of Trudeau’s environmental policy – one that has been derided by environmentalists for enabling the expansion of fossil fuels, compensated by initiatives that include investments in clean tech and promises to phase out federal subsidies for oil and gas companies. The policy saw Trudeau recently approve a liquefied natural gas project in British Columbia as well as two pipelines that will offer Alberta’s oil sands nearly a million barrels a day in increased capacity.
The approvals have sparked broad opposition among environmentalists, some First Nations and several of the communities affected by the planned infrastructure projects. “There is a number of people out there who’ve always [believed] if you stop pipeline, you stop the oil sands,” said Trudeau. “Well, actually as we’ve seen, it doesn’t work that way and what we end up with is much more oil by rail.”
The discontent has chipped away at Trudeau’s unprecedented political honeymoon, along with revelations of fundraisers that offered access to Trudeau and his ministers for a price, a government decision to push forward with a C$15bn ($11bn) deal to sell weaponised military vehicles to Saudi Arabia amid outcry by human rights organisations as well as speculation that his government is moving away from a promise to reform the country’s voting system. Still, recent polls suggest that were Canada to hold an election today, Trudeau’s team would earn an even greater proportion of votes than they did last year.
The government’s environmental policy takes a long view on the transition to a carbon-free economy, said Trudeau. “It’s not going to happen in a day, or in a week, but it will happen over years and perhaps a decade or two,” he said. “I know there are people out there extremely passionate about the environment, who don’t think I made the right decision on approving a couple of pipelines. But I think that everyone can see at least what it is we’re trying to do and that we’re consistent with what I’ve always said which is, you protect the environment and you build a strong economy at the same time.”
The double-barrelled approach, said Trudeau, echoes his government’s broader effort to address the tensions currently wreaking havoc on the political status quo around the world. “People get that we need jobs, we need a protected environment,” he said. “On the other hand, if people have no jobs, if they have no opportunity, they’re not going to worry about protection of the air and water if they can’t feed their kids.”