PM warns of dan­gers of na­tion­al­ist lead­ers

In­ter­na­tional lead­ers re­new calls to quash fes­ter­ing ten­sions

The Peterborough Examiner - - Canada & World - JOR­DAN PRESS With files from the As­so­ci­ated Press

PARIS — A se­ries of in­ter­na­tional lead­ers used a global com­mem­o­ra­tion of the end of the First World War to warn about the risk politi­cians who call them­selves na­tion­al­ists pose to a frag­ile peace, in a mes­sage aimed at the U.S. pres­i­dent.

What started with the French pres­i­dent say­ing that na­tion­al­ist lead­ers threaten to erase a na­tion’s mo­ral val­ues by putting their own in­ter­ests first re­gard­less of the ef­fects on oth­ers, ended with Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau say­ing vot­ers will turn for easy an­swers and scape­goats.

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in re­cent weeks de­scribed him­self as a na­tion­al­ist and has fre­quently sparred with the me­dia, whom he has la­belled as “fake news” and the en­emy of the peo­ple — both of which were on dis­play last week in a free­wheel­ing news con­fer­ence af­ter the U.S. midterm elec­tions.

Speak­ing at a peace fo­rum or­ga­nized by French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron, Trudeau said at­tacks on the press are a lever some use to fuel anx­i­ety about au­to­ma­tion of jobs, in­ter­na­tional trade and ul­ti­mately “un­der­mine our trust in in­sti­tu­tions and in­crease our cyn­i­cism.”

A bul­wark against that was a “ro­bust, re­spected me­dia” that is un­der stress, Trudeau said to about 150 peo­ple.

“At­tacks on the me­dia are not just about get­ting your pre­ferred po­lit­i­cal can­di­date elected, for ex­am­ple, they are about in­creas­ing the level of cyn­i­cism that cit­i­zens have to­wards all au­thor­i­ties, to­wards all of the in­sti­tu­tions that are there to pro­tect us as cit­i­zens,” he said.

“When peo­ple feel their in­sti­tu­tions can’t pro­tect them, they look for easy an­swers in pop­ulism, in na­tion­al­ism, in clos­ing bor­ders, in shut­ting down trade, in xeno­pho­bia.”

Macron, Trudeau and other lead­ers came to Paris hop­ing to use the 100th an­niver­sary of the end of the First World War to re­new calls to quash fes­ter­ing ten­sions across the globe.

Macron warned how frag­ile peace can be in an age where the ten­sions that gave rise to four years of bloody bat­tle, cost­ing mil­lions of lives, ap­pear to be fes­ter­ing again. He told the as­sem­bled masses that the “traces of this war never went away.”

He urged the lead­ers present to prom­ise their peo­ples that the resur­gent “old demons” would not be able to re­turn, sow­ing “chaos and death.”

Though Trump sat mostly stone-faced as he lis­tened to Macron’s words, he had left by the time Trudeau be­gan to speak at a me­mo­rial at a U.S. mil­i­tary ceme­tery out­side Paris. At the event, Trump said it was “our duty to pre­serve the civ­i­liza­tion” downed sol­diers fought to de­fend, “and to pro­tect the peace they so nobly gave their lives to se­cure one cen­tury ago.”

Yet at al­most the same time, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, in her open­ing speech at the peace fo­rum, spoke about how lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and an un­will­ing­ness to com­pro­mise can have dire con­se­quences for coun­tries — again in a veiled mes­sage to­ward Trump.

“There is a gen­eral sense and de­sire among many coun­tries, in­clud­ing Canada, to do what­ever is pos­si­ble to sus­tain the in­sti­tu­tions of the in­ter­na­tional or­der and prac­ti­cal, mul­ti­lat­eral co-op­er­a­tion. And so you see that in Canada, you see that in Ger­many,” said Roland Paris, Trudeau’s for­mer for­eign ad­viser.

“Macron (is) es­sen­tially mak­ing that point: that we can sus­tain co-op­er­a­tion, we must sus­tain co-op­er­a­tion.”

Trudeau, who is on a 10-day trip across Europe and Asia, will come face-to-face with three of the na­tions sow­ing ten­sion: Trump, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping.

Trudeau sat be­side Putin at the peace con­fer­ence and the pair briefly chat­ted at the open­ing ses­sion of Macron’s peace sum­mit on Sun­day. Trudeau’s of­fice said he ac­knowl­edged the Rus­sian peo­ple’s sac­ri­fices through the two world wars and re­it­er­ated the im­por­tance of Rus­sian rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Paris to talk about peace.

Ear­lier in the week­end, Trudeau spoke with Trump at a din­ner Macron or­ga­nized on Fri­day night — although govern­ment of­fi­cials wouldn’t say the ex­act topic of con­ver­sa­tion.

Trudeau has had to nav­i­gate the mer­cu­rial U.S. pres­i­dent, and talked point­edly about him on Sun­day af­ter­noon, but never men­tioned Trump by name.

Trump did not shake Trudeau’s hand when he ar­rived with wife Me­la­nia at the iconic Arc de Tri­om­phe for the Nov. 11 cer­e­mony. Nei­ther Trump nor Putin walked a bit of the Champs-Élysées with other lead­ers af­ter church bells rang out as the hour turned to 11 a.m. lo­cal time, mark­ing the mo­ment the guns fell silent across Europe a cen­tury ago.

France’s am­bas­sador to Canada de­scribed the peace fo­rum as a way to am­plify the voices of non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions and prod po­lit­i­cal lead­ers present to com­mit to Macron’s call for peace.

“If you’re not backed up by the high­est po­lit­i­cal au­thor­ity, noth­ing will hap­pen,” Ka­reen Ris­pal said Fri­day.

“You have to get the real com­mit­ment from the po­lit­i­cal lead­ers.”

Ris­pal also said Trudeau’s ap­pear­ance at the Arc de Tri­om­phe cer­e­mony would be a re­minder of Canada’s con­tri­bu­tions dur­ing the war, which aren’t al­ways rec­og­nized in Europe.

Some 650,000 Cana­di­ans and New­found­lan­ders served in the First World War, and more than 66,000 of them lost their lives. About 172,000 more were in­jured.

Oth­ers served be­hind the front lines, work­ing with lo­cals to aid the war ef­fort.

“We as French, we as Euro­peans — I think we don’t value enough the ef­fort made by the Cana­di­ans,” Ris­pal said in an in­ter­view Fri­day.

ADRIAN WYLD THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron greets Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau as he ar­rives at the Palais de l'Élysée in Paris, France, Sun­day.

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