Let’s try this again

Over the past few years alone, the concept of feminism has morphed and changed exponentially. Although the key to feminism simply being ‘equality for all, no matter their gender’ has remained the same throughout generations, how that is viewed in the eyes of society has all but remained fluid. For this, look no further than our current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

When Trudeau was elected in 2015 after Stephen Harper’s nine years in office, many people felt that he was a breath of fresh air. A platform putting emphasis on equality for women was just what the people wanted after a Prime Minister who would dodge the chance to talk about women’s issues every chance he got. To add to this, when Trudeau promptly appointed half the positions in his cabinet to women after his election, it really did seem like Canada had gotten a feminist Prime Minister. After all, someone who bears the term ‘feminist’ as proudly as he surely must live up to it, right?

Unfortunately, given recent events and the unfolding of the SNC-Lavalin/Jody Wilson-Raybould scandal, the legitimacy and sincerity of Trudeau’s feminism has been called into question. Is Trudeau really as much of a feminist as he likes to claim? Or is there more to it than that? Is he really just putting out this image to get on the public’s good side?

The appointment of the Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould as the new Justice Minister and Attorney General shortly after Trudeau’s election was not only a testament to his ‘feminism’, but also a step forward for women and Indigenous people’s rights as it was the first time a woman of Indigenous heritage had held the position. However, about a month ago Wilson-Raybould revealed that our Prime Minister and other top government officials frequently pushed her to interfere in the recent SNC-Lavalin scandal. The attorney general later testified that her refusal to do as they said led to her being shuffled to the veterans affairs portfolio. Not a great look for a PM who so strongly prides himself on giving women a fair chance in political positions, even as he denies that anything improper ever occurred.

As more members of Trudeau’s parliament began to follow in Wilson-Raybould’s footsteps and resigned, things weren’t looking good for him. Things only got worse during a debate over the recent corruption scandal where the House Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Candice Bergen called Trudeau out for being a ‘fake feminist’. In this debate, it was quite amazing to see these important government officials act with the manners and actions of rowdy school children as they jumped down each other's throats and verbally attack one another. But the arguments for the Liberal party and the Opposition were very clear: the latter wanted to know why Trudeau was trying to sweep the scandals around him under the rug even if it meant silencing and yelling at women, and the former found that the Conservatives had absolutely no room to talk.

Should Trudeau really be shutting them down so harshly? He got his party cheering behind him as he listed off how he fights for empowering women and fighting for their reproductive rights, but is that really something he should be bragging about? The debate over abortion and women’s reproductive rights has been around since the 19th century, and Trudeau is not the only politician to take a pro-choice stance.

And as for empowering women? Well, just look back at the previous example of Jody Wilson-Raybould. She didn’t follow Trudeau and his buddies’ peer-pressure and she got shuffled because of it, and then he refused to waive solicitor-client privileges, silencing Wilson-Raybould from speaking publicly. And let’s not forget that his office began to spread rumours that the former Attorney General was “difficult” and “untrustworthy”. More than likely, this was just an attempt to damage Wilson-Raybould’s reputation. A poor one however, as calling a woman in a position of power ‘difficult’ has been known to be a sexist way of saying she’s outspoken, passionate, and opinionated.

Ergo, Trudeau may be for empowering women; so long as they’re quiet and go along with whatever he and his buddies say.

So, if Trudeau’s not sincere about being as supportive of women as he claims, then how come he’s so passionate about being such a ‘feminist’? Why does he keep bringing up his commitment to empowering women if his actions don’t back him up? Why is he so eager to shut down the Conservative party and compare each other in order to prove he’s the bigger feminist?

Well, let’s put it into perspective. In the few years Trudeau has been in office, he’s blatantly gone back on everything he claimed he was for and would protect. He’s done very little to help Indigenous people and our relationship with them like he said he would do, he lied to veterans when he said he would improve service delivery and reinstate lifelong disability pensions for them, and he’s failed to live up to his many environmental promises. Trudeau’s running out of ways to look good in the public’s eyes, so what does he do? Play up the fact that he’s a ‘feminist’. After all, if he’s a feminist than he must be a good guy, and thus a good leader.

He’s weaponizing feminism to better his public image and look good in front of voters. But he cannot live by false promises alone, and he can’t put himself on a high horse when he hasn’t done anything to deserve it. If he truly wants to be the feminist he so claims to be, he needs to live up to his words and actually empower the strong, opinionated type of women that should be in government, instead of shoving them around and silencing them.