Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister for International Trade’s awkward performance in interview with CNBC from China last week was an embarrassment to Freeland and to Canada. Her prattling like an enthused fan club president over the asinine and probably insulting nickname “Little Potato” that the Chinese have dubbed our Clown Prince (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) was unbecoming. Freeland’s attire was commensurate with a volunteer position at a youth gymnastics competition, not with that of a Cabinet Minister representing Canada on official business. She presented as a featherweight.

 Canada’s gains or losses in the TPP and other reciprocal trade negotiations rest on Freeland’s abilities. Canada’s sovereignty over environmental protection legislation is always nuanced in such negotiations. Other nations will send their brightest and most ruthless negotiators. We’re sending the rookie.

 Chrystia Freeland has the paper credentials to be a worthy understudy to an experienced negotiator. Her years in journalism and Harvard education qualify her as intelligent and worldly. The Conservative’s failed “Just Not Ready” attack ads, aimed at Justin Trudeau during the 2015 Canadian Election, apply to Freeland more than they ever did to Trudeau. He is who he is. Freeland is in over her head and is without competent leadership.

 Chrystia Freeland was one of 13 Canadians banned by Russian President Vladimir Putin from traveling to Russia in 2014 as a statement against western interventionism on the Crimean Peninsula. Then Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird supported Freeland and the others who were named calling the bans “a badge of honour”. Freeland is beyond reproach in this matter. Her stance was in line with Canada’s and Prime Minister Harper had her back.

 Trudeau’s affirmative action policy on Cabinet appointments is wrong-headed. No worthy candidate may be denied an appointment because of their race or gender. Conversely, it is folly to appoint a Minister for International Trade based on race or gender. Trudeau’s appointment of Freeland was reckless. Freeland’s appointment creates the possibility of an incident with Russia. If the Prime Minister is concerned about Canada’s economic future or the reputation of his inexperienced Minister he would remove Freeland from the International Trade file immediately.  

  Trudeau’s obvious narcissism has been indulged by a co-dependant Canadian media. Since his party’s election this sycophantic relationship has grown from embarrassing to dangerous proportions. Trudeau physically assaulted a male and a female colleague in Parliament. His actions should have resulted in charges. Would Trudeau tolerate the use of brute force within institutions under his charge? The media shamefully trivialized Justin’s bullying.  

 Canadians are hockey proud. True Canadians drop their gloves and go toe to toe with a willing combatant. We value this code literally on the ice and metaphorically in our social mores. It is part of the ever elusive “Canadian identity” that we hold dear but seldom articulate. Canadians don’t “stick” our opponents and we don’t hide behind our team-mates.

 Prime Minister Trudeau, if you want to “poke the Bear”, use your own stick.

Paul Bell

Politician Reviews, Canada


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