Canada is picking up the political radicalization bug from the U.S., new report warns

A US research group specializing in geopolitical risk assessment says Canada is showing the same signs of political contagion and polarization that have plagued US politics.

The warning is contained in Eurasia Group’s annual “Top Risk” report for the new year, released on Tuesday.

Although Canada is not in the consultancy’s “Top 10” in terms of geopolitical risks or instability, the group has produced three stand-alone sub-reports on countries affected by global political turmoil: Canada, Japan and Brazil.

The No. 1 geopolitical threat to the planet is Russia finally becoming the world’s most dangerous rogue state, the New York-based organization’s president Ian Bremmer has said.

While the Kremlin has been careful to limit its war in Ukraine, Bremmer and the group’s chairman, Cliff Kupchan, co-author of the analysis, said Moscow’s strategy of dividing the West was not working – and that Russia could abandon caution and start issuing more explicit messages. threats to use nuclear weapons.

In its analysis, the group sees most of the risk to Canada stemming from political convulsions in the United States – which Bremmer has described as the “Divided States of America”.

He said the toxic political culture in Washington and across the United States was spilling over the border and was likely to get worse in the coming year.

“The media environment in Canada and the social media environment in Canada increasingly resembles the media and social media environment in the United States,” Bremmer said Tuesday.

“It’s dysfunctional. It’s plagued by misinformation. It’s deeply polarized. [The online discourse] is a group of people who do not reflect the average Canadian, do not reflect the average American in either country. »

Political issues, especially energy and climate change, are being weaponized in Canada for political purposes to the detriment of national unity, he added.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre greet each other in the House of Commons on September 15, 2022. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

“The realities of media and social media business models in both countries move people and empower those who engage with the radical right and left,” Bremmer said.

“And so that means people are describing Trudeau as a socialist. That means the new Conservative leader is being presented as MAGA Trump. None of those things are accurate.”

The good news, he said, is that Canada remains “an economically stable and well-functioning political democracy.” But Bremmer said he envisions a scenario where provinces like Alberta and Ontario seek closer ties with like-minded U.S. states at the expense of Canadian federalism.

And Bremmer warned that Canada should not be complacent when it comes to threats against politicians.

“Canada is probably heading – even if you don’t have as many guns as the United States – towards more political violence,” he said.

Police pin down and arrest a participant in a protest against pandemic restrictions and President Xi Jinping in Shanghai on November 27, 2022. (The Associated Press)

The group cited as its second most alarming source of geopolitical risk the consolidation of power in Beijing by President Xi Jinping.

Eurasia Group’s third main area of ​​concern is the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to manipulate people and disrupt society. The group predicts that 2023 will be a tipping point for this trend.

Despite the warnings and overall gloomy outlook, Bremmer and Kupchan said there was good reason for optimism: Many of their organization’s worst-case scenarios from previous years did not materialize.

“On the bright side,” Kupchan said, “threats to the future of democracy, which seemed dire last year, seem overstated now, given the glaring leadership weaknesses evident in Russia, China and Iran.

“In Europe, there is greater cohesion in EU policy-making, and in America, the midterm elections took place with little of the tension we saw in 2020.”

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