Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be up for re-election in October 2019 when his country goes to the polls. In an interview for the Netflix show Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, Trudeau was questioned about his policies on climate change, Quebec’s controversial secularism law, arms sales, and a corruption scandal that has marred his prime ministership.
Trudeau is a vastly popular world leader, known widely for his efforts towards “ensuring a gender-balanced cabinet, welcoming over a 100,000 refugees into Canada, lifting over 2% of Canada’s population out of poverty, and making climate change one of his signature issues”.
Trudeau’s popularity, however, is sliding because of a corruption scandal that has hit his cabinet. In 2015, Canada’s intelligence agency charged an engineering company called SNC-Lavalin with corruption and fraud for allegedly bribing Libyan officials. In 2019, Canada’s Attorney-General Jody Wilson-Raybould testified that Trudeau and his staff pressured her to help SNC avoid criminal prosecution.
Canada’s ethics watchdog ruled that Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act, and the prime minister said that he eventually “assumed responsibility for everything that happened in the office”, but, at the same time, “cannot apologise for standing up for Canadian jobs”. Owing to the allegations, Trudeau’s approval ratings slid from 65% in September 2016 all the way to 32% in July 2019.
Minhaj and Trudeau also discussed the trans-mountain pipeline, and how it contradicts the statements that the Canadian prime minister has made about protecting the environment and fighting climate change. Answering Minhaj’s query on how the new pipeline fits his climate narrative, Trudeau said, “Alternative to transfer of oil by a modern pipeline is transfer of oil by railway or trucks. Our society continues to need oil, so we are putting all our profits from the trans-mountain pipeline into transition towards cleaner energy.”
The episode, which essentially focusses on the “two sides of Canada”, also explores how the country maintains a peaceful stand and takes credit for inventing the concept of United Nations peacekeeping forces, but sells arms to Saudi Arabia and other countries.