News World How the world fell out of love with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau

How the world fell out of love with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau's fall from grace
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is under pressure. Photo: Getty
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Justin Trudeau won Canada’s 2015 general election on a wave of optimism, and became a global sensation with his blend of youthful looks and progressive stance on everything from feminism, legalising marijuana to indigenous rights.

But 3½ years on, the love affair with the 47-year-old looks more like a fling after a series of public scandals and missteps, with some critics calling for the resignation of the man who could once do no wrong.

This week, even the fling looked to have run its course as Mr Trudeau faced the biggest political scandal of his administration over allegations of political pressure and corruption.

His former attorney-general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, was allegedly improperly pressured by some of his closest advisers to prevent the prosecution of a large Canadian engineering firm over accusations of fraud and bribery.

A Forum Research Poll published on Saturday in Toronto’s The Star found more than half – 55 per cent – of the 1301 surveyed Canadians felt the situation had “worsened” their opinion of Mr Trudeau.

A December poll showed Mr Trudeau’s approval rating was at its lowest level since his election in 2015, with just 35 per cent of those surveyed approving of the PM’s performance. That’s down from the 63 per cent rating he commanded in his first month on office.

Canada’s Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer has said Mr Trudeau had “lost moral authority to govern and “must resign”, while five former attorneys generals also added their voices to that call this week.

Fallout from SNC-Lavalin affair

The calls for his resignation follow allegations of political interference in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, a major Quebec-based engineering firm.

Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper reported sources close to the government said the Prime Minister’s Office had allegedly attempted to influence Ms Wilson-Raybould’s decision concerning the firm’s request for a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA).

Former Canadian Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould testifies about the SNC-Lavalin affair before a justice committee in Ottawa on February 27. Photo: Getty

Mr Trudeau’s principal secretary, long-term friend and closest adviser, Gerald Butts resigned two weeks ago while denying he or anyone else in the Prime Minister’s office attempted to influence Ms Wilson-Raybould.

On Wednesday, Ms Wilson-Raybould testified she was inappropriately pressured to prevent the company being prosecuted in a case which alleged it had paid $CD48 million ($51 million) in bribes to Muammar Gaddafi’s family in Libya, to secure lucrative contracts between 2001 and 2011.

Mr Trudeau and his office have repeatedly denied there was inappropriate pressure and said they were considering the impact of a criminal conviction on the company – which could include a 10-year ban from lucrative government contracts – and the potential loss of 3400 local jobs.

Trudeau’s pray love

Images of the blue-eyed Canadian during a 2018 trip to India wearing traditional garb at the ashram where Mahatma Gandhi lived, was widely ridiculed and considered more cringe-worthy than cultural.

Justin Trudeau and his family at the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar in 2018. Photo: Getty

Mr Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire and their children, Xavier, 10, Ella Grace, 9, and Hadrien, 3, dressed in bright colours and traditional head-covers and garb.

Justin Trudeau and his family with Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan in Mumbai. Photo: Getty

The tour with his family was expected to be a diplomatic trip to India, but is remembered by his growing lkegion of critics as a wince-worthy series of cultural photo opportunities.

“One need only to refer to ‘that India trip’ and for the foreseeable future we’ll all know exactly what that means,” commentator Rob Breckinridge wrote.

In the Washington Post, India-based journalist Barkha Dutt wrote: “Suddenly, all that charisma and cuteness seems constructed, manufactured, and above all, not serious.”

A new NAFTA agreement

President Donald Trump (C) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sign a new free trade agreement in Buenos Aires. Photo: Getty

Mr Trudeau’s efforts in agreeing to a new trade agreement with US President Donald Trump in October last year has also been met with disappointment.

The free-trade deal – the US-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement (USMCA) – is aimed at bringing more jobs into the US, while Canada and Mexico accepted more restrictions.

The move has incensed dairy farmers who held Mr Trudeau to a pledge to protect the industry from cheap milk in the US, but the agreement has yet to be ratified.

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