“Optimistic” against populism, Trudeau believes in citizens


In the face of the rise of populism, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is still “optimistic”, having faith in the citizens; a speech much less alarmist than that of European leaders like Emmanuel Macron or Angela Merkel.

“We see a rise in populism, xenophobia, the various challenges between nations, including the challenges to multilateralism,” he said in an interview with AFP Monday in Paris.

“But I also think we can be optimistic, because the citizens” show “a certain enthusiasm for the future,” said the Canadian leader, present in France for commemorations of the armistice of the Great War.

At 46, he embodies with Emmanuel Macron or Angela Merkel these Western leaders opposed to the offensive against the multilateral international order launched by a growing number of populist or nationalist leaders, with Donald Trump in the front line.

Europeans play on record of worry: Mr Macron mentions the risk that the world “sinks into a new mess,” Merkel notes that “peace is far from obvious”, the UN Secretary-General , the Portuguese Antonio Guterres, fears an “invisible gear” recalling the “30s”.

Mr. Trudeau shows him a certain serenity.

“We are obviously in a moment when, 100 years since the armistice, we must reflect on all the lessons we learned in the course of the 20th century,” says Trudeau in a lounge of the Canadian Embassy in Paris, a few hours before flying to Singapore.

“High expectations”

But it feeds “high expectations” on citizens, “their ability to engage in sometimes difficult, sometimes complex discussions” and “draw the right conclusions”, not to embark on the path of populism that “Has only simplistic and erroneous answers” about the evolution of the world.

Mr. Trudeau believes it is possible to appease the wrath of the Western middle class, weakened by the economic and cultural consequences of globalization. “They need to be reassured,” said the leader of the Liberal Party (centrist), in power since late 2015 at the head of an economically prosperous country.

The answer is primarily economic for Mr. Trudeau. “We are creating an economy where everyone has a real chance of succeeding,” and “this allows us to reverse this tendency to cynicism about our institutions and our governments,” which is the bed of nationalism. .

Even if populism tends to progress in Canada, the phenomenon does not have the same extent as in Europe, where the economic and migratory situation is different, and where the leaders of formations hostile to multilateralism, the European integration, or Free trade is on the rise, winning election victories or rising to the doors of power.

“I am facing elections in less than 12 months (federal legislative elections scheduled for October 2019, ed) and these same trends – populism versus progressivity, trust in citizens versus fear and division – are playing out in Canada “Says Trudeau.

In Quebec or Ontario in particular, recent local polls have shown that the country is won by nationalist or populist ideas.

The new Quebec premier, François Legault, elected in early October, for example, campaigned on a promise to reduce immigration by 20%, despite a context of full employment and labor shortages. Felicitated by Marine Le Pen, he immediately rejected “any association” with the leader of the French far right.

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