He was Michelangelo’s David dressed in a Saville Row suit—handsome face, sharp features, charming smile, “big blue eyes and a commitment to … democratic openness”; one about whom Vanity Fair warned people to “have a fainting couch on standby as you watch him in action”. He was also the ideal family man with the right pedigree, the kind whom the cold and conservative Canadians idolised—a devoted wife tagging along, two of the litter rubbing against his knees and one perched on his elbow.
Justin Trudeau was all that and more, till two months ago when his wife of 18 years, who had borne him three angels, walked out on him.
All that can go wrong have since been going wrong for the Prince Diana of Canada. First he didn’t get a bilateral with the vishwaguru who was meeting every Joe, Sunak and Erdogan at the G20 jamboree. When he managed a brief pull-aside, and tried to give Narendra Modi an earful on the Hardeep Nijjar murder, Modi gave him two ears full, asking him to be choosy about the Khalistani company he keeps, and not believe every spooky story that is told to him even if it comes from spies with five eyes. Stunned, Trudeau thought of flying home in a huff skipping a dinner, but his plane wouldn’t start.
Once he reached home after warming his heels in Delhi’s tropical sun as an overstaying guest, things got worse. Instead of keeping quiet, he repeated his charge in his parliament that India had got a Canadian citizen killed on Canadian soil. Instead of getting outraged, the opposition mocked at him for being sissy; in a fit of rage, he expelled an Indian diplomat and blocked all trade talks. India paid back in the same coin, expelled one of his men (wisely), and blocked visas to all Canadians (unwisely).
His 2018 trip had also been a disaster, with no deals to show and having been told that some of his friends were unwelcome to the presidential banquet. Yet he could go back filling a family album with snaps of visits to the right shrines and tombs in veshti and sherwani.
This time Trudeau made it a mess, even putting his friends—those English-speaking allies who think that they are the guardians of the globe—in a spot. He wanted them to blabber out and clobber India; mindful of the delicacies of diplomacy, they hummed and hawed.
The David in Saville Row suit is in a spot.
All the same, let’s be fair. Trudeau is a nice guy, just as most Canadians are—be they Anglo-Saxon, French, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim or of any race or faith. Most are nice and simple people, innocent of the ways of this bad world. They are conditioned to be good—not just genetically but geopolitically, too.
Look at their map. They have no enemies around them who send in infiltrators, secessionists, terrorists or territory grabbers, as we have. Their only border, with the US, is the world’s longest unguarded border. No wonder they championed the world’s weirdest disarmament idea—they asked the world to give up landmines. Poor fellows didn’t know that armies might give up, but terrorists and the Taliban, who don’t sign Geneva conventions and Ottawa oaths, wouldn’t.
In short, they see no evil in anyone or anywhere. The problem is that this blind faith in liberty and decency has blinded them to make laws that are too liberal that they let even Kanishka bombers roam free. They don’t know, or don’t want to know, that their goodness is being made use of by baddies like the Khalistanis, however few they are.
Stay nice and good, David, but bear in mind that your goodness is hurting other people. Kanishka wasn’t an Arthur Hailey novel.