A New World Leader …

Today, I would like to pay tribute to our neighbors to the north by sharing the work of one of my favourite New York Times columnists, Nicholas Kristof.  His words need no further introduction from me.

Thank God for Canada!

Our boring neighbor is a moral leader of the free world.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

February 6, 2019

After the Canadian foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, tweeted concern about Saudi Arabia’s imprisoning of a women’s rights activist, the crown prince there seemed to go nuts.

Saudi Arabia announced that it was expelling Canada’s ambassador, halting flights to Canada, ending purchases of Canadian wheat, recalling students from Canada and selling off Canadian assets. Did the United States or other Western countries stand up for an old friend and ally, Canada?

Not a bit.

“The United States doesn’t have to get involved,” Heather Nauert, then the State Department spokeswoman, told reporters.

Yet Canada stuck to its principles. When a young Saudi woman, Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, fled to Bangkok last month and warned that she would be murdered by her family if she was forced home, it was Canada that again braved Saudi fury by accepting her.

Freeland was at the airport to welcome Alqunun as a “very brave new Canadian.” And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t mince words, saying, “We’ll stand up for human rights and women’s rights around the world.”

Canada may be one of the world’s more boring countries, as yawn-inspiring as sensible shoes — wake up, reader, I know you’re snoozing!— but it’s also emerging as a moral leader of the free world.

There’s no one else. The United States under President Trump is on a nationalist tear. Britain’s leaders seem determined to drag their people over a Brexit precipice. France is distracted by protests. Germany is preparing for succession.

So Canada is stepping up.


Jessie Thomson, left, and Amany Alhadka, right, were among the countless Canadians who helped Syrian refugees acclimate to their new country.CreditCreditJustin Tang for The New York Times

During the worst of the Syrian refugee crisis, President Barack Obama admitted just 12,000 Syrians and provoked a furious backlash, including Trump’s Muslim ban. Canada accepted 40,000 Syrians, with Trudeau appearing at the airport to hand out winter coats to these new Canadians.

All around the world, doors to refugees were clanging shut. But Canadians were so eager to sponsor Syrians that organizations were clamoring for more of them. Canadian politicians are mostly rewarded for showing compassion.

Trump gets headlines with his periodic threats to invade Venezuela to topple President Nicolás Maduro, but Canada has been quietly working since 2017 to help organize the Lima Group of 14 nations pushing for democracy in Venezuela. When Canada recognized the opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president, he won credibility because nobody sees Ottawa as an imperialist conspirator.

Canada has spoken up about the mass detention of about one million Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China even as Muslim countries have mostly kept mum, and it detained a Chinese executive at the request of the American government. China retaliated by arresting Canadians and sentencing one to death, but Canada is sticking to its guns — even as Trump undercut Canada by suggesting that the case against the executive might be dropped for political reasons.

For aid programs in the developing world, countries usually try to finance big, glamorous projects that will get lots of attention. Instead, Canada champions programs that are extremely cost-effective but so deathly boring that they will never be discussed on TV — initiatives like iodizing salt to prevent mental impairment.

Reader! Wake up!

Still, Canadians can be devious. A couple of years ago I sought an interview with Trudeau for a piece about Canada’s successes — and he kept stalling. Aides explained that praise from an American might damage his relations with Trump. That may have been the first time I’ve had a leader resist laudatory coverage.

Whenever I say something nice about Canada, I get indignant emails from Canadian friends pointing out the country’s shortcomings (which are real). Fortunately, Canadians don’t seem capable of mean emails. Not even of mean tweets. One study found that Americans’ tweets are loaded with curses and words like “hate”: Canadians’ tweets are larded with “awesome,” “amazing” and “great.”

(Note: Ignore all the bits about Canadians being nice when playing hockey with them. In the rink, they’re brutes.)

Off the ice, Canadians pursue policies that are preternaturally sensible. Canadians regulate guns, oversee the banking sector so as to avoid financial crashes, and nurture entrepreneurship and economic growth without enormous inequality.

Typically, more Canadians use mass transit, and the country has better traffic safety laws, so that the vehicle fatality rate there is half that of the United States’. If the United States had Canada’s traffic death rate, we would save more than 20,000 American lives a year.

Today there’s a vacuum of constructive global leadership. Canada may be incapable of a mean tweet, but it’s tough when necessary — and it may be the leader the world needs.

I want to move to Canada!!!

18 thoughts on “A New World Leader …

  1. Meanwhile, Trudeau gets accused today of trying to influence a court case involving a super big (for Canada) engineering firm. I truly hope he did not, but there is one person who knows for sure, our ex-Justice Minister. She got demoted in the last cabinet shuffle. Could she be looking for revenge? I hope not, but I do hope the truth comes out. Meanwhile, if Canada loses Trudeau, and the election is lost because of that, Kristof will have to change his opinion of Canada, because a mini-Trump will be taking over, and that will be good for no one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I missed that one … hadn’t heard a word of it! Like you, I hope it isn’t true, for I really like Trudeau and think he’s been good for your country. When you say a mini-Trump will be taking over … do you mean Doug Ford? Perish the thought!!!


      • Worse, Andrew Scheer. He is new on the federal scene, but he sounds just like Trump. Divide. Divide. Divide. No idea what his party platform is. If it is Liberal, it is no good. Surprised he isn’t trying to make Canada great again.Oh, yeah, we never said we were…

        Liked by 1 person

        • I knew nothing about Scheer, so I took a quick look and you’re right … many of his ideas are aligned with Trump’s, especially in areas of climate change, gun regulation and economic policies. In my quick read, I saw a number of times where he referenced that he would reverse policies put in place by Trudeau, which reminds me of Trump trying his best to reverse everything Obama did. Let us hope he doesn’t get his chance.


  2. Nicholas Kristof Is My Favorite New York Times Columnist! I would sooner miss my morning coffee than miss a column by Kristof, and that’s not bloody likely to happen…ever! In my comment on your post, State of DISunion, I almost asked if you had read yesterday’s column by him titled “Here’s Your Chance to Spend $5.7 Billion or if you had watched his Facebook Live take on Trump’s State of the Union address. I have read every book that he and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, have written. They were the first married couple to win a Pulitzer, that for the early 90’s “China Wakes : The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power” about their experiences while living in China as journalists for five years. My favorite and most recommended is the 2014 “A Path Appears : Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity” that I’ve read two times and loaned to many others. Kristof writes with spirit and heart, as the column in your post proves. He is journalism at its best! It goes without saying that Trudeau is more of a leader than Trump could ever hope to be. Thank-you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did see the interactive about spending the $5.7 billion, but haven’t tried it out yet … greatly reduced energy levels this week … but I didn’t see his Facebook response to the SOTU! I wonder if it’s still available … I’ll have to check it out! I must admit that, while I try to read all his columns, I have not read any of his books, so thank you for the recommendations! I shall put them on my list! He is an excellent journalist, but more importantly, a true humanitarian. Wonder what the country would be like with him as president?


  3. Yes can we share Trudeau as well. I know he is not universally liked and has a few negative headlines about him. But he’s not a shambling buffoon, so he’s a massively significant upgrade on our government. Having said that a sloth would be an upgrade to. But I think Trudeau really understands the big issues facing our society today.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have much respect for Trudeau, and most of my Canadian readers seem to also. As we both know, you can’t please everyone, so there will always be some nay-sayers, but overall I think he’s intelligent and his heart is in the right place. Plus, he’s not too hard on the eyes 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jill, I would trade our leader for Trudeau or several others in a heartbeat. It is interesting that Trudeau said that about laudatory press. When any of Trump’s team or former team takes credit for anything, it is a bur under his saddle. That is the sure fire way to lose your position with him. Tillerson was getting some acclaim on diplomacy mopping up after Trump and the latter did not like that at all. He was also furious about the accolades from General Mattis after Mattis quit. The President’s ego is larger than any of us could possibly imagine. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • Heck yes … I would trade our ‘leader’ for a Corgi puppy!!! He’d have better manners! His ego is, indeed, bigger than we imagined. When he was running for office, I said he was an egomaniac, a narcissist, but he has exceeded even those adjectives and I think new ones will need to be invented to cover him. I don’t think any of us, in our wildest imaginings, envisioned what was to come.


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