How “inspiring” is Trudeau’s “feminism”?

by Barry Weisleder
Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised the tens of thousands of people who participated in the Women’s March across Canada, including over 60,000 in Toronto, on January 21.

“Congratulations to the women and men across Canada who came out yesterday to support women’s rights. You keep your government inspired,” Trudeau wrote on Twitter.
Around the world millions of women marched in solidarity with 500,000 in Washington D.C. in opposition to Donald Trump’s presidency.

Trudeau claims to be a “feminist”. He talks a good game. But how can a politician be a feminist if he pays only lip service to equal pay for women? Women in Canada are paid, on average, 30 per cent less than their male counterparts.

How can he be a feminist if he opposes raising the minimum wage right now, at least to $15/hour? How can he justify taking no action to abolish post-secondary school tuition fees and the burden of student debt that weighs so heavily on young women? What kind of a feminist serves an economic establishment that profits from the exploitation of female workers by dint of precarious employment, unpaid internships, two-tier wages, shrinking health benefits, and unavailable employment insurance?

How does Trudeau’s “feminism” stack up against the lack of affordable, national childcare? The Liberal Party’s Canada Child Benefit does not come close to covering the costs that young parents face, adding to the double burden on women — unpaid domestic labour, and often no services to mind children so women and men can equally pursue good paying, full time jobs.

Although abortion is legal in Canada, northern and rural women often cannot find safe, quality medical treatment where they live.

The lack of decent, affordable housing is a crisis in Canada. It harshly affects women and children. Frozen welfare rates compound the problem. Growing inequality and poverty, so blatant in indigenous peoples’ communities, belie Trudeau’s sanctimonious pledges to realize reconciliation with First Nations. At the same time, he approved new gas and oil pipelines that violate native land rights, steps that accelerate the oncoming climate catastrophe. Violence against women persists. It is not mitigated when there is woefully inadequate funding for women’s shelters, and where the courts disbelieve most sexual assault complainants.

Trudeau’s trade policy, reflected in the efforts of his Foreign Affairs (and former Trade) Minister Chrystia Freeland to salvage the odious CETA and TPP deals, puts big corporate investor interests far ahead of the interests of women and workers generally. Ottawa’s devotion to NATO, its promotion of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, and its deployment of armed forces in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa have nothing to do with women’s rights, and everything to do with imperialism and the maximization of profits for the merchants of death.

If feminism is more than an opportunist’s slogan, if it is an agenda for social justice, then Justin Trudeau is a proven fraud. The feminism that craves action for the vast majority — socialist feminism — requires mass independent working class political action – not to “inspire” Justin’s government, but to remove it.