LETTER: Trump, Trudeau, and social licence

From reader Charles Jeanes...

From reader Charles Jeanes...

Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau, democratically-elected leaders, have a similar problem with social licence. Trudeau admits he needs it for his fossil-fuel development policies such as new pipelines.

Trump does not admit it but he too needs social licence for many of his policies, as Nixon needed social licence in 1971 for his aggressive war-waging policy in Vietnam (bombing the North, Laos and Cambodia with more tonnage than was dropped in the Second World War).

Democracy in the streets is how these leaders will have their social licence tested. As with Nixon and the peace movement, if a leader faces determined, unceasing, vigorous, articulate and legimate (i.e. guaranteed by the rights of free assembly, association and expression) opposition to his acts by masses of citizens in the streets, he will be unable to continue in the acts. Americans who oppose Trump are going to have to give a lot of their free time to political activism to stop his juggernaut of backward movement.

That is how I view street protests in the USA and Canada: expressions of social licence or the lack of it for government policy.

Canada will see environmentalists out in force against Trudeau; however, on his side he will have a solid support base in Alberta and among any Canadians who simply do not see how the “Canadian standard of living” (and the employment that underpins that standard) can be sustained without the economic contribution of oil.

Trump is in search of a social licence that will not be easy to establish for his regressive right-wing policies. And Americans who support him will have to counter-demonstrate when Trump’s foes take to the streets. Are Americans ripe for a conflict bordering on civil war? I have heard and read that opinion. I do not wish it on them; I take no pleasure in their misery.

Young Trudeau, the sunny symbol of liberal values in the Western world, must feel blessed when he considers how relatively “easy” it will be to establish his social licence for petro-economics. I am one who will try to prove to him that he does not have it. Justin, Leave It In The Ground.

Ms. C. Clark in B.C., you do not have the licence, either.

Charles Jeanes


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