In Order to Be a Progressive World Leader, You Need to Make Progress

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

By Nicole Masaki

When you look at political leaders of North America, there’s really no comparing Donald Trump to Justin Trudeau. While it may be difficult to evaluate the structural make up of Canada’s government compared to that of the United States, we can still consider where President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau stand on issues. Let’s look at a recent area of major interest: the Paris Climate Agreement. Initially, former President Obama signed it and so did Prime Minister Trudeau. However, Donald Trump backed out of the Climate Agreement soon after he began his presidency. Many U.S. citizens were outraged at Trump’s apparent lack of accountability or care for the environment, as well as a of representation for the people. Despite Trump's decision, Trudeau remained in the agreement.

But what does this actually mean for Canadian citizens? First of all, it shows that their country’s leader actually cares about the environment and the role Canada plays in contributing to greenhouse gases. However, the information outlined in the Paris Agreement is not being strictly enforced–they simply serve as goals for countries in the hopes that they will take a more active role in their contribution to global climate change. While Trudeau did sign on, there is still so much hypocrisy surrounding it. In fact, since November 2016, Trudeau has even authorized the construction of two different pipelines aimed to help Alberta take on a more prominent place in the global oil market. On top of that, Trudeau has claimed that there is no conflict between increasing production and growth of the tar sand industry and efforts to tackle climate change. Are you kidding? Prime Minister Trudeau, you can’t claim to be pro-environment and then promote environmentally harmful industries like tar sands and oil pipelines.

Following the election of Trump, Trudeau tweeted that those banned under Trump’s Muslim travel ban were welcome in Canada because diversity makes them strong. But what power does a tweet actually have? If I tweeted at Prime Minister Trudeau that I was facing persecution under Trump's regime for being a woman, would he reply with a message like, “Sure, come to Canada!” and that would be all I’d need to immigrate to Canada? No. I would still need to fill out all of the necessary forms and pass all of the necessary tests. I can’t just up and move to Canada for fun. After a brief look online at the Canadian Immigration website it would help if I had a Canadian Job offer or received some kind of education in Canada or even if I had immediate family to sponsor me. However, I have none of these so it would be still a long and difficult process. If you’re looking to escape from war or other serious political unrest, this extensive process could take far too long to complete. It's great to show support for marginalized groups, but if you can’t take the steps to make it easier for said groups to enter your country, tweeting about your support does little–if anything–to help.

Trudeau is the darling of the internet. With his Pride socks and charming smile, it's easy to see him as the politician we all crave. However image is much different than policy. And when discussing Trudeau we need to look beyond what he puts on social media into his actual actions, and judge him based on action rather than adorableness. 

Overall, Canada has been known for being a more progressive country than the United States. Whether it be universal health care, rights for marginalized groups orgestures by their political leader in support of LGBTQ+ Pride, Americans seem to constantly glamorize Canada. However, a majority of these things happened before Trudeau became Prime Minister in 2015. The real measure of a political leader’s progressive policies are in how they continue to help a country grow and improve after being elected, not in their ability to keep current liberal policies.

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