Pope Francis has seen enough. From populist movements rising across Europe and the U.S., electing one of the most grotesque leaders in modern history, to the horrendous human rights violations occurring in Ukraine, Syria and Iraq — he clearly cannot tolerate the atrocities anymore.
So much, in fact, that a recent statement regarding Indigenous rights directly implicates American President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as subjects of his condemnation.
According to CBC News, Pope Francis asserted that:
“Indigenous people must give prior consent for any economic activity on their ancestral lands.”
These comments followed a meeting between the Pope and a group of Indigenous representatives who attended a United Nations agricultural meeting. As they took to the global stage to fight the North Dakota, Keystone XL, and similar pipeline projects which infringe on Indigenous lands and rights, the Pope listened, and understood.
He acknowledged the difficulty in reconciling “the right to development with protection of their cultures and territories” but ultimately believes that without the consent of Indigenous communities, development projects should not proceed.
The discussion is especially important given the renewed commitments to stomp on Indigenous rights by governments both here in Canada, and in the U.S.
In December after months of brutal conflict between Aboriginal communities in Standing Rock protesting the Dakota Access pipeline, the Obama administration temporarily halted the pipeline advancement efforts. It was a tremendous blessing given blistering temperatures and horrendous reports of police brutality.
The “Water Protectors” of North Dakota knew, however, that their work was far from over. In January, a new President was sworn into office whose personal financial interests made him a clear proponent of the project. Selecting an ex-Exxon Mobile, Oil and Gas mogul to head the State Department likely didn’t inspire much confidence, nor, for that matter, would claims that climate change is a hoax. Now, however, they’ve been made to clear out.
Despite how Canada likes to think highly of themselves because of the progressive nature of our leader, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, compared to the xenophobic, misogynistic orange sh*t stain known as Donald Trump — Canada is not in any way better than the U.S. in this regard.
Canadian treatment of Indigenous persons has been absolutely horrible historically, and continues to be today. From controversy over whether the government should even launch a national inquiry into the missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls, to the third world conditions on many Canadian Aboriginal reserves, Canada kind of, well, sucks.
That said, Trudeau made a lot of promises. He promised renewed dialogue and respect for Aboriginal communities, and he assured many environmental advocates he believed in climate change and would be a climate champion in Parliament.
None of these things happened, however. Trudeau rubber stamped the Keystone XL pipeline in late January despite a lack of a proper and thorough environmental assessment review, and Aboriginal communities saying “no way!”
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair aptly pointed out that even in terms of economics, the Keystone XL makes no sense for Canada:
“It’s not clear why Justin Trudeau is pushing to revive a pipeline that will export Canadian jobs and has never been properly reviewed.”
So what is worse?
A man who has no qualms about being an all around sh*tty person, or one who tries to pretend they are progressive, all about equality and human rights for everyone, only to stab them in the back when he gets into office?
Perhaps Trudeau fans would say: well the Liberals identified their positions on the pipelines prior to the election, so he didn’t mislead anyone. While it could be understood where these hypothetical arguments come from, they are profoundly misguided. Trudeau’s alleged commitment to climate advocacy, listening to Canadians and improving the relationship between Indigenous communities and the federal government, and safeguarding their rights were much more dramatic pillars of his campaign than his pipeline support.
Pipelines are not inherently bad, in all cases. What is bad, is a lack of information, a lack of obtaining proper consent, a lack of communication, and a lack of adequate, bipartisan evidence. That is not what we would ever expect of President Donald Trump, but it was what we expected of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and damn — did he ever disappoint.
At the end of the day though, if the Pope is calling you out, you’ve gotta know that you’ve done something really wrong.