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World’s hottest leader is in hot water

Canadians may be polite, but they’re not pushovers.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

In the halcyon days of 2015, Justin Trudeau was our new Canadian bae. But now a creepy clown is in the White House, no one says “bae” anymore, and Justin Trudeau is, in many ways, just another disappointing politician.

The second-youngest PM in Canadian history, Trudeau’s good looks and progressive cred helped sweep him into office, but he almost immediately fell short of his promises around the environment and reconciliation between the government and First Nations.

In November of last year, he approved construction of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion an enormous disappointment for many of the very people who got him elected. The Trans Mountain expansion is opposed by over 150 First Nations and tribes across the U.S. and Canada, all signatories to the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion. Seven of those First Nations have now been forced to take the federal government to court to stop the project.

And that’s how twenty-year-old Hayley Zacks and 24-year-old Jake Hubley found themselves posing as journalists to access a U.N. conference last week, the only way they could find to get face-to-face with Trudeau.

Two anti-Kinder Morgan pipeline demonstrators interrupt Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for several minutes during a peacekeeping press conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, before security escorted them out and Trudeau thanked them for their “activism” (David P. Ball/Metro)

After successfully slipping in with the press, the two stood up during a Q & A to ask Trudeau what the hell had happened. “We voted for you in our first election, and we were so excited for you to be prime minister,” Zacks told him, “but then you went and approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline.”

After being removed by private security, the two were questioned by police and released without charges; for Trudeau’s part, he thanked them for their activism and moved on.

Compared to what happens when you protest the most powerful man in government in the U.S., it was downright laudable. But compared to the standards of common decency Trudeau himself set, it’s sorely lacking.

One of two protesters opposed to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion who interrupted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s news conference is escorted out by a member of the security detail during the 2017 United Nations Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

But for Trudeau’s unexpected turn as a bad guy, there’s an unexpected good guy. The government of British Columbia — which, as a provincial government, shares power with, but is largely independent from, the federal government led by the PM — has officially joined the movement against Kinder Morgan’s project.

George Heyman, British Columbia’s Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister, said in August: “We have been clear and consistent that we will use every tool available to defend B.C.’s coast, and that is what we’re doing,” announcing that the government had hired a former B.C. Supreme Court justice to assist in the legal challenges to Kinder Morgan.

They’ll need that high-level legal help and more to stand up to the federal government and Kinder Morgan at the same time. B.C. is keeping its promise; most recently, Kinder Morgan went running to the National Energy Board when the City of Burnaby refused to rubber stamp construction permits to suit the corporation’s timetable. But the federal government, increasingly showing its hand, has stood its ground too, maintaining their position on Kinder Morgan’s side rather than open a good-faith dialogue with the huge number of First Nations who were steamrolled by the company.

But the PM and Kinder Morgan are increasingly outnumbered; just look at these polite but firm Canadians:

#DearJustin: Sending a message to Justin Trudeau

Join our #DearJustin Team — https://www.stand.earth/dearjustin?ms=fbpageHow do people feel about Trudeau's support for pipelines? We went to the streets to find out — with a cardboard cutout of the Prime Minister.

Posted by Stand on Thursday, June 15, 2017

Trudeau should probably come up with something better than “thanks for your activism but I’m ignoring you,” because the movement against this pipeline is only getting more powerful. More than one First Nations activist has referred to it as “our Standing Rock.” Trudeau and the corporate overlords at Kinder Morgan don’t seem to have any idea who they’re messing with.

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