Comedian Hasan Minhaj is known for sharp current affairs commentary, and he didn’t hold back when interviewing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the latest episode of his show “Patriot Act.”
The host starts out pretty tame, commenting on Trudeau’s conventionally attractive looks and then making him play a game to decide if he was looking at a photo of a world leader or one of Minhaj’s friends’ dads.
But then Minhaj gets into the nitty gritty, pointing out that Canada’s upcoming election has international consequences. As the episode’s title points out (“The Two Sides Of Canada”), the country is full of contradictions — and so is Trudeau, despite his global reputation as a progressive politician.
Minhaj brings up Quebec’s new secularism bill in this segment:
And even does a decent job explaining the SNC-Lavalin scandal:
The episode touches on other issues, including many Canadians opposing the entry of more refugees, and Canada touting itself as a peacekeeping country yet making money off the sale of arms to Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt, Libya, and Iraq.
Minhaj even presses Trudeau to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia, pointing out that Canada has condemned that country for its involvement in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trudeau responds by saying Canada takes breaking contracts and its legal responsibilities seriously.
But the biggest topic in the episode is pipelines. Canada sells itself as a leader when it comes to climate change, but also has the third largest reserve of oil in the world, and “refining it causes a lot of pollution.”
Minhaj outlines the Liberal government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion to ensure its expansion is built, and asks the PM about the contradictory message it sends from a leader who put fighting climate change in his election platform.
Trudeau defends the decision by saying society still needs oil and pipelines are the best way to move it — adding that the profits will go towards transitioning to cleaner energy.
“What you’re saying sounds like trying to whiten your teeth by drinking wine at every meal,” Minhaj tells him.
Earlier on HuffPost: Trudeau explains how Trans Mountain expansion will help expand Canada’s efforts to fight climate change. Story continues below.
Three years after first interviewing Trudeau, Minhaj points out how Canada isn’t on track to meet its Paris Climate Accord goals, nor has the PM followed his election promise to not force pipelines through Indigenous land.
Minhaj pokes fun at opposition leaders too, describing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer as a doll from “The Conjuring,” and responding incredulously to a survey that asked Canadians which party leader is most ethical.
“How does my man [NDP Leader] Jagmeet Singh only have six per cent? He has no scandals! People in Winnipeg are like ‘I don’t trust him, I don’t know why. I just can’t put my turban on it — finger, I meant finger,’” Minhaj jokes.
Minhaj acknowledges that while Trudeau and his Liberals aren’t the shining progressives people might have hoped, the Conservatives are worse when it comes to the issues he’s just covered. The host points out that Stephen Harper’s government cut spending to support refugees, withdrew Canada from the Kyoto Protocol, and called Greenpeace violent extremists.
Trudeau is ‘White Panther’
The episode has its lighter moments. Minhaj compares Canada — and its progressive health care and immigration policies — to the fictional comic book country of “Wakanda,” featured in the Marvel superhero film, “Black Panther.”
He proudly dubs Trudeau “White Panther,” noting that the PM is from a country that seems futuristic to Americans and is the son of one of its former leaders.
But even if Trudeau is the only realistic option for Canadian voters looking to fight climate change, according to Minhaj, some things need to change.
“At some point, political pragmatism has to reckon with the reality of climate change. You can’t negotiate with science. You can’t meet it halfway. Shit is melting fast, especially in Canada which is warming at twice the planet’s average rate,” Minhaj says at the end of the episode.
“If Trudeau’s gonna be the best choice on carbon emissions, he’ll have to step up and be the climate hero that he has claimed to be.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Hasan Minhaj’s name.
Also on HuffPost: