On October 21, Canada will head to the polls. Four years ago, Liberal Justin Trudeau was elected prime minister on the back of a cultivated progressive persona and commitments to match. Seen from Europe, Canada under Trudeau became a key partner in a global context characterised by a turn away from the rules-based international order. With Canada’s political future in the balance, Dominik Tolksdorf and Xandie Kuenning ask whether Trudeau’s record in government stands up to scrutiny and look to where Canada might be heading in the years to come.
It was a roller-coaster of an election that redefined what was possible in Canadian politics. On October 19, when the votes were counted, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau ousted Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. What does this historic election mean for Canadian progressive politics?
Just as US presidential candidates – with the notorious exception of Donald Trump – know that they cannot win without the support of minority voters, the upcoming Canadian parliamentary elections are seeing parties doggedly courting the support of Canada’s minority and immigrant communities. As the Toronto Star predicts, “the big battlegrounds in 2015 will be where the immigrants to Canada have made their new homes in this country.” But who are Canada’s immigrants and why do they have so much influence in the October 19th elections?
Canada’s Conservative government often boasts having one of the strictest national control regimes for military exports in the world. A recent major arms deal with Saudi Arabia - the biggest in Canada's history- tells a different story. If a country like Saudi Arabia is classified as a suitable recipient for arms exports, what country, if any, would be classified as unsuitable?
Canada’s national interest is often said to center around one single objective, namely a close but independent relationship with the United States. In the 90s and early 2000s, Canada's Liberal government begged to differ. During its international heyday, Canada became the patron of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Whatever happened to Canada's commitment to the R2P under Harper's Conservative government?
Since taking office in February 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has focused on turning this northern country on the edge of the Arctic––which possesses the third largest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela––into an energy superpower. The strategy behind this––burn, baby, burn––is the proposed doubling of the extraction of oil from Canada’s bituminous tar sands, located primarily in the western province of Alberta, from the current 2.1 million to 5 million barrels of oil per day.
As the fifth largest oil producer in the world, Canada's domestic and foreign policy is shaped considerably by energy and resource issues. In the nine years under the Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canada has focused primarily on its oil industry and on strengthening its position as an energy power – without regard for the environment and local populations. In that context, the Harper government presented economic growth as being dependent on an aggressive expansion of the energy sector. However, that line of reasoning is now losing its force.
Ahead of the 19 October election, there is a tight, three-way race to run Canada – the world’s second largest country (in terms of land mass) and 11th largest economy. The embattled incumbent -- conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper – is running neck-in-neck with two contenders: Tom Mulcair, Leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberals.
Canada votes on October 19. We spoke with Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for the Canadian Green Party, about Canada’s climate performance, the state of Canadian democracy, and the prospects for her party in the upcoming elections. Elizabeth May enjoys widespread recognition across the political spectrum, and was voted Parliamentarian of the Year in 2012, Hardest Working MP in 2013, and Best Orator in 2014.