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The disappointment of Justin Trudeau

In November, the Canadian government offered $85 million to the victims of Canada’s “gay purge” which started in the 1950s. The purge, which targeted LGBTQ persons in the Canadian government and military systems, was a government program conducted by Canadian Mounties. They did surveillance, made threats, shamed and punished gay people.

According to the New York Times, the program “…lasted for more than 30 years and ended only in the 1990s, caused thousands to lose their jobs and sometimes face prosecution because of their sexual orientation. The policy affected Canadians in the military, the public service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.” Trudeau apologized for the program and “Canada’s role in the systemic oppression, criminalization and violence” when presenting the compensation.

This is just the most recent of many very liberal, feel-good political moves by Canada’s much-loved prime minister. In July, Rolling Stone featured Trudeau on the front page with an article titled “Why Can’t He Be Our President?” Many Canadian citizens, however, do not share the same love for their prime minister as Americans seem to.

Many initial supporters of Trudeau are frustrated by his neglected campaign promises and how he dodges issues. According to Huffington Post, Canadians “have expressed frustration over his stance on oil pipelines, his decision to scrap a key promise on electoral reform,” and some of them aren’t putting up with it any longer. Canadian citizens Alex Ayton and Kathleen Olds, two students at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, asked Trudeau for a group photo when they saw him at a coffee shop. As the three posed, one of the women asked Trudeau about implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, one of this campaign promises. The UN declaration recognizes indigenous peoples’ basic human rights, as well as their right to self-determination, land, language and equality. When Canada officially declared support for the declaration in 2016, it was a huge win for indigenous and First Nation communities and activists.

As predicted, Trudeau dodged the question with a quick “absolutely, yes, for sure” before leaving. This was in February, when Canada’s Prime Minister boasted approval ratings around 48 percent.

The New York Times describes Trudeau’s popularity as follows: “Trudeau has charmed the U.S. media, making it easy for Americans to long after the handsome and eloquent statesman… But critics of Trudeau will point out that he’s gone back on his campaign promises to reform the country’s electoral system, prompting protests in Toronto.”

Many Americans love Trudeau because we only hear about the big PR campaign events that his administration organizes. Canada’s compensation for the LGBTQ community hurt by past policies is a nice step in the right direction, and a perfect comparison to how poorly the U.S. is handling issues of discrimination and systematic oppression. And yet, the American love for Trudeau is unwarranted. Trudeau and his administration need to buckle down and start making good on campaign promises before he loses his chance.

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