I have an ambivalent relationship to the statement “fuck Trudeau.”
On one hand, yes, fuck that guy. The government of Justin Trudeau has overseen the collapse of Canada’s healthcare system across multiple provinces – in part due to the complete failure of Canada to set safe COVID-19 policy or to effectively communicate those policies that were set. The abdication of COVID policy to provinces was one of many failures of inaction. Another cogent example has been the failure of the Trudeau government to meaningfully address contaminated water in First Nations communities or to respond meaningfully to the multiple discoveries of mass graves on residential school properties. Further failures of the Trudeau government include out-of-control inflation leading to a Bank of Canada response that deepened the ongoing national housing crisis and a blind eye to monopolistic practices by Canada’s two largest grocery conglomerates and a general abdication of foreign policy to the United States and a failure of Canada as a reasonable diplomatic intercessor – as the Trudeau regime has largely fallen in line with American neo-cold-war policy.
With that being said I haven’t a single good thing to say about any person who sticks a “F(maple leaf)ck Trudeau” sticker on the back window of their car – this political expression maps almost as closely to crypto-fascist politics as the thin blue line flag icon. This is ultimately because the ultra-conservatives who advertise their desire to enter into carnal relations with Justin Trudeau fundamentally misunderstand the problem with Canadian politics.
The issue isn’t that Justin Trudeau is an incompetent, blundering, indecisive toady to the United States nor is it, as some conservatives might imply, that he’s a secret communist trying to sell Canada to the Communist Party of China. Rather it’s that Canada is an undemocratic systemic failure. These conservatives misapprehend that the problem with Canada is Justin Trudeau and if they could just get their guy in (be it Pierre Poilievre or Maxime Bernier) then things would be peachy.
Of course the best case scenario from a government headed by Poilievre or Bernier would be more of the exact same failures demonstrated throughout Trudeau’s tenure as prime minister. the worst-case scenario would be an acceleration to the same sort of open fascism that now characterizes the politics of the United States. This is not the sort of decision matrix that any decent Canadian should wish to see.
Canada, in 2023, is a neoliberal experiment in government by and for a vanishingly small number of resource extraction enterprises. Canada isn’t a society; it is ten mining companies, three telcos and two groceries in a trench-coat and all the policy positions of both the Trudeau government and their predecessors – the Harper-led Conservatives – make sense in that context. The remarkable continuity of these governments, divesting themselves of foreign policy decisions in favour of key trade partners, safeguarding mining and extraction at home and abroad, allowing unchecked monopoly power over food and communications all while sitting on their thumbs while all matters that can reasonably be described as provincial jurisdiction get perpetually more broken across the country isn’t a matter of Liberal / Trudeau policy nor of Conservative / Harper policy. There is a broad bipartisan consensus on these issues. The function of the two parties is to provide each with an easy scapegoat for the continuation of their shared policies. The collapse of healthcare? Don’t blame the Liberals! Blame those conservative governments at the provincial level with their unreasonable demands. And as for all the economic fallout of the bungled COVID-19 response? Well, “fuck Trudeau.” Parties in Canada are top-down affairs. The government is commanded by party leaders and the parties exist merely to amplify the will of these leaders. All the while these petty dictators in democratic guise bellow, “more of the same!” Their followers are contented merely to hate each other.
There is an imaginary in which there might be some cultural difference between Conservatives and Liberals which might serve as justification for personal grievance. The Conservatives are bigots, anti-vaxers and racists, right? But as the conservatives love hypocritically pointing out, the Prime Minister, a former drama teacher, just seems to love getting done up in cultural costume or even straight-up blackface. Ultimately the overt bigotry of the conservatives and the polite bigotry of the Liberals serves the same function: to divide the working classes against each other. This is why we must oppose bigotry in all its forms – only by overcoming homophobia, transphobia and racism can we form the sort of mass movement necessary to destroy the real enemy: Canada.
Because this is the real truth that the patriots on both sides fail to see. The problem isn’t Justin Trudeau nor is it Pierre Poilievre. The problem is Canada. Canada is a neoliberal playground for the rich and the various political figures are just distinct heads of a single hydra. A real democratic nation would depend on the elimination of Canada. It must be built, first and foremost, on a recognition of the treaties signed between the colonial powers who created Canada and the First Nations they sought to supplant and reparations for violations thereof but beyond that we must create a society which is not a neoliberal state but a post-state democratic culture in which the voices of all Canadians govern themselves rather than taking marching orders from party heads. This will not happen within Canada as it exists today because states are all perpetually terrified of their own mortality. Canada will cling to its neoliberal undeath until we drive a stake through its heart.
This is to say, while Trudeau can get fucked what we really should be saying is fuck Canada.