It was one of those “you had me at hello” moments, listening to Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talk about a world where “you don’t have to choose between the identity of our parents and being a full citizen of Canada” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week.
I could almost see his hair blowing in the wind and the reflection of the crowds in his crystal blue eyes…
Wait a minute! This is sounding a bit like the 1908 play by Israel Zangwill, “The Melting Pot.” It was quite the Shakespearean Tale: David and Vera Russian immigrants — one Jewish, the other Christian — show transcendence of love through diversity… that is, until David finds out that Vera’s Dad was the officer that sent David into the pogrom during the Russian Empire and was responsible for the deaths of his family members.
Of course, this was not Shakespeare, so after her father confessed his sins the couple then reunited — no mass suicides. The play ends with the two of them watching the sunset over the Statue of Liberty and David remarking: “It is the fires of God round His crucible. There she lies, the great melting pot — listen! Can’t you hear the roaring and the bubbling? There gapes her mouth, the harbor where a thousand mammoth feeders come from the ends of the world to pour in their human freight.”
Okay, so maybe not as sexy as Trudeau’s explanation, but it’s a concept that began with multiculturalism and in the early 1900s and transformed into cultural pluralism later that century, as the United States was becoming an immigration hotspot. At the time of the first World War, tensions between our Anglo-American and German-Americans was at its highest. Referred to as the “Red Scare,” was a campaign that caused an influx of xenophobia. Is it just me, or does this sound a bit familiar?
Trudeau was touting the Canadian public school system during his speech explaining that in their public school system they use education to experience other cultures in a natural environment, where, as he puts it, “the range of experiences become the mainstream.”
Sounds lovely doesn’t it? Trudeau also announced that he will be raising his children, who include his daughter and two sons, as “feminists.” Is he just a pretty face or is there more to his rhetoric than meets the eye?
He went above and beyond to bring various members to his cabinet in November 2015, labeled the most diverse in Canadian history — including half men and half women, two aboriginal politicians, two persons with disabilities, three Sikhs and more — and essentially made achieving equality and positive multicultural relations with other countries one the forefront of his agenda.
As a matter of fact, he promised in October to pull out the fighter jets responsible for airstrikes in Iraq and Syria to combat ISIS. Canada also has decided to lift the sanctions on Iran. Could he be a handsome humanitarian? A knight in shining armor, if you will?
Well, maybe I’m just a skeptic, but there are still some issues that need to be tackled.
First, let’s not forget the policies surrounding Bulgaria and Romania. If Canada doesn’t remove its visa requirement on citizens of Romania and Bulgaria — which are the only two remaining European Union members without visa-free travel to Canada — the E.U. might have to require visas for 26 E.U. countries and four non-E.U. countries. That would put quite a damper on tourism, not to mention the ongoing refugee crisis.
And until his policies surrounding Palestine and Israel change, I’m holding my breath. As recently as November, Trudeau voted against all U.N. resolutions that would limit Israel’s power, including one to “promote the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination, to support the achievement without delay of an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and of the two-state solution on the basis of the pre-1967 border.”
Mr. Trudeau must have missed the memo. In order to stand for inclusion, multiculturalism and humanity, you have to side with those that encourage it not slaughter it, like the current Israeli government. Another failed resolution stated that there is; “grave concern about the extremely detrimental impact of Israeli settlement policies, decisions and activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, including on the contiguity, integrity and viability of the territory.”
That’s a politically correct way of saying that the apartheid state of Israel and the genocide of the Palestinian people might destroy their future existence as a people, while annihilating those now living the territories — and rejecting it doesn’t exactly make him sound like a humanitarian.
So it’s easy to get lost in his Betty Davis eyes and wispy hair, but in reality, Trudeau’s government has demonstrated that his lack of movement in international policy is more or less the same.
For now, my skepticism remains — whether that’s justified will be determined by Canada’s forthcoming implementations of his proposed plans.
Will he continue to cherry-pick who is included in his vision of the “melting pot?” One can only speculate on whether his sincerity transcends archaic international policy that devolves the human race or if he is bold enough to actually surpass the tsunami of indifference.