When Trudeau sold out to the Trumps

In a cunning and probably effective display of diplomacy, the PM handed over his feminist credentials to Donald and Ivanka


With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau now safely back in Canada from his meticulously choreographed and tightly scripted encounter with U.S. President Donald Trump, the fog of carefully practiced briefing lines and talking points is clearing just enough to allow a glimpse of the primary transaction that took place in Washington on Monday.

“It took Nixon to go to China,” and that hackneyed expression applies with an uncommon metaphorical precision to Trudeau’s enlistment in Trump’s otherwise wholly unconvincing escapade in the cause of recasting himself as some sort of sensitive and forward-thinking champion of women’s interests.

Not a month had passed since millions of women were marching in the streets out of anger that a foul-mouthed former beauty pageant impresario, a man who once notoriously boasted about his knack for groping women and getting away with it, had managed to concoct, fabricate and hormswoggle his way into the White House.

And yet there sat Donald Trump on Monday, at a board room table surrounded by competent and powerful women, not least his own daughter Ivanka, and sitting right beside Ivanka was the worldwide poster child for progressive man-feminism, Justin Trudeau. The “human sunbeam,” as New York Magazine’s Claire Landsbaum describes him in an account of Monday’s meeting, under the headline: “Justin Trudeau is Now Part of Ivanka’s Still-Mysterious Plan to Address Women’s Issues”. A fair point, too. It’s exactly what Trudeau made of himself on Monday.

It took Nixon to go to China, and it took Trudeau—the dashing young statesman who has thrilled audiences at Davos, at the United Nations in New York and in Beijing with his stirring “I am a feminist” speeches, his gender-equal cabinet, his determination to put a woman’s face on the Canadian $10 bill and so on—to make Trump look good. Or at least to make Trump, or at least his daughter Ivanka, appear to be genuinely interested in the challenges facing women. Or at least some women.

Most of the headlines were of this sort: Justin Trudeau, Donald Trump team up to support women in the workforce. Trump Joins Trudeau in Vowing Boost to Women in Workplace. Ivanka Trump Joins Justin Trudeau in Women’s Fight. This is a dramatic and almost unimaginable U-turn from the sordid public impression the Trump family and the Trump administration has been giving everybody.

Never mind that nothing was announced at Monday’s “roundtable” meeting that would immediately or substantially ease the burdens facing working women in the United States or Canada. Never mind that only four of Trump’s 25 cabinet appointments went to women.

Thrashing around for something to announce as a joint Canada-U.S. collaboration to mark a ritual high point in the first meeting between Trudeau and Trump, Trudeau’s team came up with a proposal for something called “the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders.” The White House jumped at it. The Trump family brand being what it is, you can understand why.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a business roundtable discussion at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a business roundtable discussion at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

Early on in his presidential campaign, owing to his own reputation for what is known in polite company as misogyny, and his general unfamiliarity with and disinterest in matters related to women’s equality, Trump cultivated the habit of putting Ivanka on various stages and arranging heavily-controlled media availabilities with her. Among Ivanka’s alleged passions is a federally-funded paid maternity leave scheme, so she was useful to the Trump campaign for appearance’s sake.

But then it turned out that the American employees of Ivanka’s own clothing line were obliged to go without any maternity leave benefits, and were expected to return to work a week after childbirth. And for all Ivanka’s claims about caring for the plight of working women, her own racket in women’s fashions turned out to depend on offshore production lines of the kind her “Buy American” president-dad relies on for his Make America Great Again baseball caps and other such bric-a-brac. The women toiling for Ivanka are pennies-an-hour wage slaves in Vietnam, Indonesia, China and Bangladesh.

The usual White House lines between public service and private profiteering have become blurry and contested since Trump’s election.

Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, is a senior Trump adviser, and she and Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald Jr., were supposed to be running his businesses and staying out of public affairs. And yet there was Ivanka in the weeks following her father’s election, attending meetings in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at the same time as her brand was in licencing talks with a firm closely tied to the Japanese government.

More recently, Ivanka’s businesses have suffered badly from a series of boycotts aimed at the retailers that carry the Trump brand lines. When the Nordstrom chain decided to pull Ivanka’s poorly performing merchandise from its shelves, President Trump weighed in on Twitter last week, accusing Nordstrom of treating his daughter unfairly.

The “Grab Your Wallet” boycott campaign appears to be hitting Ivanka Trump the hardest. Launched by San Francisco businesswoman Shannon Coulter after last October’s release of the scandalous Access Hollywood tapes, with Donald Trump grotesquely bragging about his ability to to grope women with impunity owing to his fame and power, the boycott campaign is starting to bite. National chains, including Neiman Marcus, Belk, Sears and Kmart, have pulled dozens of Trump-brand products. Imports associated with Ivanka Trump’s brand dropped a full 50 per cent in the three months leading up to Feb 1.

It’s not likely to turn things around overnight, but Ivanka Trump’s tarnished brand underwent a radical makeover on Monday. She was hovering around the centre of Monday’s attention, basking in Trudeau’s groovy feminist vibe. With the way things are going around the Trump White House, anything might yet happen, but on Monday, Canada’s well-founded fear that Trump’s belligerent protectionism might wreak havoc on the roughly balanced $660 billion annual Canada-U.S. trade relationship seemed to just melt into the air.

For now, thanks to weeks of effort expended in and around Washington by Trudeau’s team, led by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, the grown-ups seem to have carried the day, even if it’s for the most juvenile kinds of reasons. The scariest thing Trump had to say on Monday was that as far as Canadian trade was concerned, the North American Free Trade Agreement might have to be tweaked a bit. That was pretty well it.

Among the members of the newly-minted Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders are such corporate heavyweights as General Motors board member Carol Stephenson, Accenture North America CEO Julie Sweet, Elyse Allan, president and chief executive officer of GE Canada and TransAlta president Dawn Farrell. Although she holds no official position in her father’s administration, Ivanka Trump was directly involved in selecting several of the council’s members, and Ivanka’s husband Jared Kushner recommended it to Trump enthusiastically.

If spending some of the capital from Trudeau’s progressive brand on an Ivanka Trump vanity project had anything to do with the surprisingly civil tone Donald Trump maintained in his remarks about Canada on Monday, then it was worth the cost.
A cunning game, but well played.


When Trudeau sold out to the Trumps

  1. ‘Or at the least’ it’s “horNswoggle”.

    People are numb from this trainwreck of idiocy driving the American government. The GOP played the long game and got EXACTLY what they wanted. That’s why there’s nary a peep from Congress or the Senate. If a Democratic president had played even 1/8 of the silly-buggers that’s currently happening, the GOP would have had multiple aneurisms by now, with cries of IMPEACH! and DO NOT CONFIRM! Knowing the HUGE conflict of interest that is within the halls of the WH right now and those in power don’t care… doesn’t that say MUCH more than whether or not JT sat at a table?

    Finally, the electorate is getting woke and we’re going to see a shift of power from the Baby Boomers, who have had their day in the sun and are now ending up in long term care homes, to the Millenials, who are finally coming into their own and realizing that no longer will the old guard be there to take care of things (for good or bad).

    The whole election and now 45’s term is a gong show… and we just can’t look away….

    • I and many others share your angst and frustration about Trump.

    • Mary Harrison Well put. I would just like to add that the current situation is a perfect opportunity for the billionaire’s club no matter how played (and the billionaire’s club is notoriously international, they know no borders).
      We normal people better understand the ground rules before we are ground into the dust.

  2. It’s making me dizzy how our national/Toronto media has reversed from non-stop Trump trashing to fawning praise for Trudeau for going and kissing Trump’s feet.

    If they become friends I think heads may explode at the Toronto Star and CBC.

    • They are so far apart on the political spectrum and let’s face it, on the personal spectrum, they could never be friends but Canada and the US are trading partners and The Donald has nothing to gain by bullying an international golden boy. Besides how could the Donald say he doesn’t want women to succeed in business when just last week he sent such a nasty tweeter upon how Nordstroms was picking on poor Ivanka? Ivanka is a bit of a soft spot in the Donald’s armour. According to his other children, she is his favourite, so why not exploit that to Canada’s benefit and of course you’ll notice, Ivanka always dresses like a woman.

      • Gage G. What makes you think you understand the billionaire’s club? Their aim is power, no matter how achieved and they will use any means to further their cause (not understandable by the masses).

        • https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DA9KwljRhuQ

          I don’t need to understand the billionaire’s club. The Donald is quite all there. Canada just needs to survive until he is impeached. Ivanka’s obvious admiration for Justin Trudeau is a way for us to do that. It is a simple strategy but given her looks of longing toward our handsome leader and her daddy’s undying devotion to her, I would bet it might just work. Nothing like stroking a narcissist’s ego and this narcissist had a conversation on the radio with Howard Stern about what a nice piece of ass his daughter Ivanka is so he is very proud of her looks….sick as that might be.

          • Why would you assume Ivanka admires our surfer dude. I think she admires smart people!! By the way, the first thing young Justin did when he sat nest to her at the Women’s Conference was to stare at Ivanka’s chest. The station I was watching caught that and said “That won’t go over well when he gets home tonight!!”

          • You obviously didn’t look at the posted photos I sourced if you didn’t note Ivanka staring at “our sufer dude” with something akin to love in her eyes…I believe it is called a crush. You just contradicted yourself. You called Justin Trudeau a surfer dude and then said Ivanka admires “smart people”…..hello! Is Justin a surfer dude or is he smart? So they had a mutual physical admiration society going on…aka…flirting….. whatever gets the job done for Canada.

      • You’re right “they are so far apart on the political spectrum”. Trudeau is being led by the nose by Gerald Butts who took Wynne down a huge economic sewer in Ontario and now he’s doing the same with Mr. Selfie. Trump has policies that will grow the US economy and the markets love it with both the DOW and TSX soaring to record highs since he won the election.
        Ivanka is a very bright, articulate successful woman. Anyone would be proud to have her as his/her daughter.

        • I believe you skipped one part of my comment…the part where I said that the Donald and Howard Stern discussed that Ivanka was a “nice piece of ass.” They never discussed how she was a “bright, articulate, successful woman”, although the Donald did say she had always been voluptuous. Get a clue Jerome. The man is a sexist pig.

          • You obviously didn’t watch his introductions of Ivanka during the campaign. He said the words I noted and sure looked justifiably proud to me.

  3. I didn’t see it the way the author does, Trudeau said he is a feminist for all women no matter what side of politics they are on, and he put it on display. I thought it was very genuine of Trudeau speaking for all women, and more of a dig at Trump, than a sellout. Whether you like Ivanka Trump or the Donald, or not, the fact that Trudeau brought a bunch of high minded business women in a room, with a goon, and not a Miss Universe contest, in order to show how smart and savvy that today’s women are, is a win, for any women in the world today. This message was for womens ears and eyes, not men.

  4. Good start with mainly positive outcomes from the first meeting face to face between PM and the new US President. Lets hope for the best in future dealings with a very unpredictable President.

    • Trump is not unpredictable at all. He campaigned for 18 months displaying warts and all and on January 20 he was elected President of the United States. And, unlike most leaders, including our own, he is doing exactly what he promised he would do if he got elected-THERE ARE NO SURPRISES.
      For those who say “but Clinton won the popular vote”, that only happened after California was added to the numbers. The Democrats should anoint her as the Queen of California and move on and stop their sour grapes protests.
      As for the current generation of young people, if they go to university in the US, 10 out of 11 professors are liberals and teaching these kids not to accept any views other than those they’ve been brainwashed with. We’re headed for a real mess!

      • The problem is Trump is leading a nation as POTUS exactly the way he campaigned…..his warts are really large and they are erratic and unpredictable.

        • He’s is implementing EXACTLY what he promised that he would.. Those promises got him elected since he was viewed to be more capable of fixing the mess that Obama created than Hillary was. That mess includes:the largest debt in the history of the US; the worst race relations since the 60’s; failed foreign policy around the world and the largest number of Americans on welfare ever-to name a few. But Obama was a nice man!!

  5. ““It took Nixon to go to China,” and that hackneyed expression applies with an uncommon metaphorical precision to Trudeau’s enlistment in Trump’s otherwise wholly unconvincing escapade in the cause of recasting himself as some sort of sensitive and forward-thinking champion of women’s interests.”

    Fascinating to compare the way Duopoly Cartel Dynamics and Politics can be compared and contrasted among North American states signatory to NAFTA. After the wreckage of mis-directed invasion of Iraq in 2003 to topple the Arab regime that was fiercest in its suppression of AL QAEDA\ISLAMIST CALIPHATE REVIVALISTS as Washington’s Neo-Con led and Neo-Lib enabled retaliation for the 9-11-01 terrorist attacks and the furthering of the Reagan-Bush begun Privatization and outsourcing of the National Security State to the likes of Booz, Allen, Hamilton (employers of total access employee and contractor Ed Snowden and Harold T. Martin) even the far right wing GOP\Tea Party turned out to change the guard over to a half African-American Constitutional Law lecturer at Ivy League schools turned Chicago Community Organizer turned Jr Senator in that Mecca of Institutional Corruption. Obama being among the rare congressional votes in 2003 to deny the Cheney-Bush-Greenspan-Rummy-Powell regime the funds to invade Iraq even with “slam dunk CIA confiration of Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction.

    Similarly, the Trudeau and Liberal Party Machine in Canada had so committed to the Neo-Liberal E-CON model that the Harper Conservatives on the national level and the Toronto Ford Family political machine moved the Center of Canadian Economics and Politics way further to the Right Wing end of the spectrum. Both nations repeated the disastrous socio-economic outcomes of the Reagan-Bush Morning In America years of trying to outspend the Soviet Union into Cold War bankruptcy. The national debt overhang especially to U.S. college students and the boost that Shadow Banking (via de-regulation and self-regulation of financial services industries) got to gobble up more national resource capital in non-productive capital flight systemic corruption resulted in Canada and U.S. resembling Mexico (and Brazil) more than NAFTA helping bring Mexico into some degree of compliance with hemispheric Feudal Financial norms.

    It took a nominally Liberal heir to the Bank Modernization Act to advance de-regulation after the Reagan-Bush baby steps led to the cataclysmic SAVINGS & LOAN COLLAPSE across the U.S. Starting with the President’s son and Silverado Bank of Colorado CEO Neil Bush’s bad loans to Central American-based businesses owned by Texas associates that the U.S. Justice Department had to sue to recoup at least part of the TAX-PAYER BAIL OUT led by William Seidman’s RESOLUTION TRUST CORP. No Republican after the outcomes of Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan advised de-regulation could get away with what the HOUSE OF CLINTON was called upon by Wall Street’s fraudulent business modelers to approve.

    And so the regime of the House of Clinton-Greenspan-Rubin (see Mexican Peso Bail-Out) -Summers left their eight year return of the U.S. Budget to a balanced position in the black after a decade and a half in the red after Reagan-Bush-Greenspan’s Neo-Liberal\Neo-Con Daddy Warbucks Convergence. That Clinton balanced budget came on the backs of the already sliding Working Class with African-American communities bearing the biggest brunt as a result of Clinton Neo-Liberal “market-based solutions” to market-caused problems.

    It also took the GOP Arch Conservative Patriotic drafters of the bill signed by Clinton on his way out the door in 1998-99, namely Phil Gramm the Texas Flag-Waving America First Arch Conservative (TEA-PARTY APPROVED) Senator who soon after drafting with two other Free Trade Fundamentalist De-Regulating Republicans in Leach and Bliley took a job for bigger money than the U.S. Senate could pay by getting a job for himself and his wife, the enterprising Mrs Gramm on the Board of Directors of UBS (Union Bank of Switzerland, Shadow Banking’s Bank Secrecy Laws EU HQ).

    Clinton’s passing of the 1998 dis-assembly of the Great Depression’s Wall Street Reconstruction and Protection Glass-Steagal Act of 1933 led directly to the Cheney-W. Bush-Greenspan regime of FINRA (the Feudal Financial Lords self-regulating system) proving the degree to which Cold War fantasies like “FREE MARKETS” or “UN-FETTERED CAPITAL and LABOR” had been planted within the American psyche with the help of regulatory capture and the reinforcement and distraction provided by the corporate-captured News Broadcast Media in the U.S. But what was Canada’s excuse? Naomi Klein and others had been doing Cost\Benefit Analyses of Neo-Liberal E-CON for a decade as the Harper Cons went further right from the Right of Center jumping off point of Trudeau’s Liberals. Does the NDP offer any more careful scrutiny of these disastrous outcomes? Or were Canadians simply willing to let the Global Cash Dispensing Machine under Fort McMurray’s Alberta Tar Sands lull the nation into social safety net slumber to the tune of Ka-Ching, Ka-Ching, Ka-Ching?

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  6. Canada has never had it easy living next to the 800 Pound Elephant in the room that is the United States and it’s leaders.
    America is still a super power though with Donald Trump in power and the proclivity to make up non-existant events such as the Bowling Green Massacre.
    The ability to take serious America and the President of the United States has evaporated into thin air.
    Trudeau delt with Trump as less the President of the United States and more like a late night infomercial huckster which is what Trump’s Presidency is…a Tom Vu real Estate infomercial from the Eighties than a episode of The West Wing.
    Trudeau knows as does any stand-up comic or actor…you play to the audience;not the audience has to play to you.
    Which is why Trudeau is making other trade deals such as CETA…
    You can’t hedge your bet on trade with the Americans as a sure thing anymore and that it is best to make backup deals elsewhere