Some Canadians would really like the United States to stop praising Justin Trudeau.
Rolling Stone ruffled some feathers on Wednesday with its cover story on the Canadian prime minister, which suggested that Trudeau, 45, might be “the free world’s best hope.” Americans have had plenty of praise for the charming leader (HuffPost being no exception), but in Canada the picture is more complicated. Trudeau’s domestic approval rating has fallen by 9 percentage points since last year. As of late June, his approval rating among Canadians was somewhere around 52.7 percent, according to CBC News.
“Yes, he was manor-born, but he actually feels his citizens’ pain because he’s had his own unthinkable personal tragedies,” writes Rolling Stone’s Stephen Rodrick. “A majority of Canadians believe he genuinely has the interests of Canada’s 36 million at heart.”
But that’s only part of the story.
Canadians ― including many who voted for Trudeau ― have expressed frustration over his stance on oil pipelines, his decision to scrap a key promise on electoral reform, and a controversial settlement with Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who spent a decade detained in Guantanamo Bay, starting in his teens, on suspicion of terrorism.
The terms of the settlement grant $10.5 million ($8 million U.S.) to Khadr, who was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan at the age of 15 and sent to Guantanamo. There, he was subject to extreme sleep deprivation. Canada’s Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the Canadian government had violated Khadr’s rights. However, the settlement could deal a blow to Trudeau’s poll numbers. At least one survey shows that 71 percent of Canadians feel the government should have fought the case in court.
Rolling Stone’s profile of Trudeau describes his early life with his father, former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and mentions the “ingenious” detail that even President Donald Trump actually likes Trudeau fils. But the piece doesn’t spend a lot of time on criticisms of the current PM.
Trudeau has charmed the U.S. media, making it easy for Americans to long after the handsome and eloquent statesman.
He addressed the U.S. National Governors Association earlier this month, garnering attention with his description of Canada as a strong, peaceful “moose.” On “Live With Kelly and Ryan” in June, he placed himself at odds with Trump on the environment, scoring points with U.S. progressives. He’s also not averse to taking off his shirt every now and then.
But critics of Trudeau will point out that he’s gone back on his campaign promises to reform the country’s electoral system, prompting protests in Toronto. He’s presented no path to balancing the budget in three years, as he once promised, leading to a projected $20 billion deficit for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. And he’s been pushing for oil pipelines, angering progressives, environmentalists and Indigenous Canadians alike.
Upon publication of the Rolling Stone story, many people were quick to express their distaste for the romanticization of their far-from-perfect leader: