Ottawa | One hundred days after Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government was sworn in, the still-popular Canadian prime minister faces mounting criticism, against the backdrop of a floundering economy and terror fears. The 44-year-old Trudeau a former school teacher and the son of a popular prime minister immediately saw his international profile rise upon taking office on November 4, and he still enjoys strong support at home. He has touted a multilateral foreign policy, and a more transparent governing style than his predecessor Stephen Harper, who was seen as prickly, awkward and more at home plowing through economic theory than glad-handing voters.
Canada is back! the youthful-looking prime minister with a broad smile, a twinkle in his eye and a thick mop of curls told world leaders at summits, looking to recast the image of the world’s fifth-largest oil producer from climate laggard to environmental champion. UN chief Ban Ki-moon is expected to praise Canada’s shift in a visit to Ottawa on Thursday.
The economy, however, has cast a pall over Trudeau’s self-professed sunny ways. Canada emerged from a mild recession in September in the middle of the election campaign, but consumer confidence soon faded as oil prices and the Canadian dollar sank to new recent lows, leading to thousands of job losses in the country’s oil and gas sector.
Attacks in Jakarta and in Burkina Faso in January that left seven Canadians dead, meanwhile, raised fresh security concerns. The new government was forced to backpedal on its pledge to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2015 and on its fiscal plans, while taking heat over its climate and counterterrorism strategies. In parliament, opposition leader Rona Ambrose accused the government of stepping back from the fight against the Islamic State group when our allies are stepping up.
The reality is that when we talk about Canada’s new approach to fighting ISIS, Canada is not back, Canada is backing away, she said. The husband of a Quebec woman shot dead by Islamist gunmen last month in Burkina Faso hung up on Trudeau when he called to offer condolences, while criticizing the prime minister’s dovish world view in the local press.
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