Opinion | Has Justin Trudeau been ‘Americanized’ — or is he just left-wing?

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Canadian political culture often has the character of a stern, middle-class dad: “I don’t want to hear any more complaining! You kids don’t know how good you’ve got it!”

Thus goes the increasingly fashionable rebuttals to the activist administration of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — a man now routinely portrayed by critics as an ungrateful ignoramus obsessed with picking at problems that don’t deserve attention in the first place.

What makes the phenomenon tendentiously Canadian, however, is that such criticisms are routinely bound up in allegations that Trudeau has been “Americanized” — that the problems he believes to be plaguing his country are actually esoteric American problems with no relevance to Canada, resulting in a prime minister whose priorities are geographically oblivious at best and unpatriotic at worst.

“At this point, I don’t see why Justin Trudeau doesn’t resign and simply run for office in the United States” was how conservative activist Aaron Gunn put it.

After the leak of a draft ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court suggesting a majority of justices were poised to revoke Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion, Trudeau abruptly ratcheted up his pro-choice rhetoric, and his government announced vague promises to make universal abortion access more legally enshrined than ever.

This was preposterous, argued John Ibbitson in the Globe and Mail, given even Canada’s Conservative Party supports unrestricted abortion. “There is little threat of abortion being banned in Canada,” agreed Brian Lilley in the Toronto Sun, but Trudeau’s party “will drag that bogeyman north of the border for their political advantage.”

Trudeau ran for his third term on a platform vowing to combat “American-style gun violence,” but it took back-to-back mass shootings in New York and Texas before his administration truly exerted itself, introducing a freeze on handgun sales, a ban on magazines capable of holding more than five rounds, and a mandatory buyback program for certain “assault-style” rifles. Once again, the prime minister’s critics saw a thankless politician indifferent to what his country had already accomplished.

In the Globe and Mail, Stephen Marche said that under Trudeau, “Canada’s national tendency to import our neighbour’s crises is growing more and more ludicrous,” given that Canadians already “have sensible and meaningful gun laws that largely prevent the kind of regular mass shootings that afflict America.” Tristin Hopper in the National Post went further, chronicling in explicit detail “(since Trudeau apparently forgot)” the many “sharp differences between Canadian and U.S. gun laws.”

That so many allegations of Americanization are being flung at Trudeau is a testament to the long-running anxiety among Canadian intellectuals that Canadian minds are in danger of being colonized by American thoughts. Accusing a prominent Canadian of being a Trojan horse of “American ideas” is a tradition as old as Canada itself, and a remarkably flexible one. Over the course of centuries, dangerous “American ideas” have included…

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