'It's All About Me Tour': Trudeau Faces Backlash in Canada Over His 'Photo-Op' Europe Trip
Russia has declared Canada an "unfriendly" nation for its “actions against Russian companies and citizens". Canada, like its allies, has imposed sanctions against Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine and supplied forces loyal to Kiev with millions of dollars in military equipment.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing a massive political backlash domestically amid widespread claims that his government has been milking the security crisis in Ukraine to distract the voters’ attention from pressing domestic concerns.
Trudeau’s six-day visit to European countries, including the United Kingdom, Latvia, Germany and Poland, saw the Canadian leader holding consultations over the security and humanitarian situation in Ukraine with the leaderships of these countries.
Additionally, Trudeau also met North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's (NATO) Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and US Vice-President Kamala Harris during his multi-nation tour.
A Canadian government release detailing the outcomes of Trudeau’s visit said that the NATO member state will increase its “military presence” in Europe and “reinforce” the trans-Atlantic military alliance’s eastern flank.
Trudeau announced during his visit to Latvia that his government would be renewing 'Operation REASSURANCE', a NATO mission which is Ottawa's largest international military deployment involving around 500 Canadian troops.
Canada has also earmarked nearly $117 million for its immigration programme in order to ramp up its intake of Ukrainians fleeing the nation, as per another release.
“Canada will continue to stand alongside our European allies and partners to advance our shared commitments to support Ukraine and its people, and defend democracy against authoritarianism everywhere,” Trudeau has said.
However, the Canadian Prime Minister’s pledge to “defend democracy” in Ukraine has become a subject of intense criticism in his own country.
A video posted by Trudeau on his social media account on 12 March to underline the achievements of his multi-nation visit is now being ripped apart.
Looked more like you spent the week posing for photo ops.— Beth Baisch 📸 (@PuffinsPictures) March 12, 2022
Maxime Bernier, former Canadian Foreign Minister and leader of People’s Party of Canada (PPC), accused Trudeau of having misplaced priorities in crushing democracy at home while supporting it in Ukraine.
© Photo : Twitter / @MaximeBernierTrudeau faces backlash
Trudeau faces backlash
© Photo : Twitter / @MaximeBernier
Bernier’s remarks allude to hardline measures adopted by the Trudeau-Liberal government to check the anti-mandate COVID truckers’ protest, which had laid siege to Ottawa and demanded that vaccine mandates be withdrawn.
Trudeau and his family were moved to a secure location as the truckers entered the Canadian capital.
2 February 2022, 19:21 GMT
The Canadian government imposed the Emergencies Act to curb the protests, including ordering the freezing of bank accounts which were believed to be funding the protests. The imposition of a federal emergency was criticised by all the Canadian opposition parties.
Trudeau is also being skewered by many Canadians for turning his Europe visit, which many reckon should have been about Ukraine, into a mere “photo-op”.
© Photo : Twitter / @2smalltowngirlTrudeau faces criticism
Trudeau faces criticism
© Photo : Twitter / @2smalltowngirl
© Photo : Twitter / @PegmenziesCanadian Prime Minister
Canadian Prime Minister
© Photo : Twitter / @Pegmenzies
In fact, a journalist from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) caught Trudeau’s deputy off guard when he pointed it out to her that many Canadians were viewing the Europe visit as a “photo-op” when pressing issues at home weren’t being dealt with properly.
“The only person I’ve heard saying that is you,” Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland replied.
However, several Canadian news commentators as well as social media users have lauded the CBC journalist, Travis Dhanraj, for asking the question which others weren’t asking.
Brian Lilley, a commentator, wrote in the Edmonton Sun on 10 March that Trudeau’s trip was “heavy on photo-ops” but “light on substance”.
He did concede that the Prime Minister’s visit was an important one amid the current security situation in eastern Europe. But also, at the same time, he accused Trudeau of exploiting it for domestic politics.
“None of that means that Trudeau and his team aren’t guilty of exploiting this trip for all it is worth politically, including using photos and videos to sell a message back home,” Lilley wrote.