An open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

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Dear Justin,

Roughly this time last year, I wrote in these hallowed pages about my admiration-verging-on-mancrush for you. I came to Canada shortly before you were elected and initially came to view your synthesis of Liberalism, liberal ideals and inclusive patriotism as a success.
Outside Masjiid al-Salaam, I wondered how you maintained your wavy hair so well—seriously, what conditioner are you using?—and I pondered if you’d recreate that trick where you can fall down stairs without hurting yourself.

You had my unconditional love. My friends wanted to get me a Justin Trudeau candle for my birthday (I beat them to it), and this Christmas my family cut out a picture of you and framed it for me.

I was just wondering whether you think you’ve lived up to all the expectation, and  fulfilled all the promises that you originally posed? To invoke the great Josh Skinner, what grade would you give yourself?

Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Prime Minister, I’d still be well up for a pint some time, but my answer to the aforementioned question would be have to be ‘no’. My love has become conditional.

You are still a source of hope though, so my car is still parked in your lot. The world for us small-L liberals has become a scarier place and your world leadership is more necessary than ever. The other folk like us need you now, but we’ve gotta hold you to account as well.

I asked two of my friends about how fair this letter is on your time in office: one friend thought I hadn’t been critical enough and the other said I should talk more about the good stuff. So, I am pretty darn confident that I’ve got you pegged absolutely right. You’ve done alright so far.

The investigation into missing and murdered Indigenous women was opened and you seem to have cultivated a very positive, inclusive form of patriotism and national pride. Coming from Europe—which is increasingly murkier rather than Merkelier—this means a lot.
There is a long way to go, as I’m sure many Indigenous people would attest. But back home, we have a Prime Minister who was responsible for vans displaying posters that told people to “go home”.

Hate crime, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism have all risen sharply. We are being led out of the biggest market in the world because of jumped up immigration fears (at the expense of 90% of people who wanted to stay in the single market). The press is rife with anti-Muslim smears, too. The Times was forced to retract a claim that “enclaves of Islam see UK as 75% Muslim”: they made their claim based on a report that said Asian school’s pupils thought the UK was “50-90% Asian”.

This is why your brand of patriotism is so important.

In today’s stormy seas of illiberal populism and lazy political metaphors like this, the good ship Canada has basically stayed the course—there’ll be no rubbish political allegories about the Nazis and the 1930s here. All the small stuff like photo ops and selfies and because it’s 2015s is refreshing in a world of potential Muslim registries and banning immigrants’ children from education.

But Justin—Justin—there could be so much more. It is time you step up. Enforcement of marijuana offences is reportedly up, despite your promises on evidenced policy. Electoral reform is a mess: at home in the UK we would probably call it a “complete balls-up”. The carbon tax is debatable at best, but the pipeline really makes your position on the environment look a bit sketchy.

Uh, the pipelines. I get why you’ve done what you’ve done, but it is a complete farce that you can approve a pipeline that threatens Indigenous land rights while there are still reservations without running water. It is 2017: this should not be happening.

You couldn’t attack Castro for any of his sins, nor stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia: even America managed to put a halt on that. I and many others believed in you and you’ve not really delivered yet. Sure, things in politics take time, but you seem to have traded in a cup of idealism for a beaker of realism. Crucially, we do still believe in you, partly as the best hope out of a poor crowd and partly out of genuine approval.

But this belief is waning.

You aren’t like all the other politicians are you, mate? Tell us you won’t just be a better looking version of Tony Blair. The honeymoon period is over and it is time you start making babies. Otherwise, you’ll find we’ve taken the dogs to our friend’s for the weekend: let’s not start thinking about who gets the CD collection.

As Arthur co-editor Yumna Leghari offered: “From a personal perspective, I have been quite let down. My faith in politics has always been dwindling, of course, but Justin Trudeau represented something I could get behind. As a Canadian who has seen NOTHING from his end, it is quite upsetting.”

Keep failing to live up to your promises and you’ll have to face our righteous, furious apathy. I really hope you read this.

If you do, it will be a good start in fulfilling the promises that you posed: that you are fundamentally a good guy with time for his people (even if I am a Brit).

In troubling circumstances this past week or so—in response to Trump’s ban and the Quebec terrorist attack—you have teased us with the world leadership you could offer.
Good luck, we are all counting on you.

-All the best,
Dan Morrison
(age 21 ¾)

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I am a 20 year old exchange student from the UK, majoring in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. My main interests are Middle Eastern politics and anything 'progressive', and I have spent most of this year being puzzled by the weather and falling in love with this country.