It was no wonder that Trudeau became a darling of Davos, idolized by a global liberal establishment that felt increasingly besieged by surging challenges from the left and right. The self-awareness about his role was apparent in a moment of unscripted candor, when he told The Guardian, in 2016: “We’re actually able to approve pipelines at a time when everyone wants protection of the environment. We’re being able to show that we get people’s fears and there are constructive ways of allaying them—and not just ways to lash out and give a big kick to the system.” Getting gains for the fossil-fuel industry while hoodwinking popular anger at a hoarding elite: Trudeau had never stated so baldly that his goal was not to transform the status quo, but to smoothly defend it.

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