Musings —10.31.2016 09:35 PM—
(This is an open letter to my fellow members of the commentariat. The rest of you can read it, too. Ahem.)
Dear Ink-Stained Wretches and Wretchesses:
Look, I share you frustration. About the Trudeau honeymoon, I mean.
It’s gone on for a ridiculous amount of time, I agree. To be this popular, for this long? It’s absurd. It’s enough to drive any self-respecting journalist to drink (which, admittedly, many of us do far too much of already).
A year after vaulting his party from the ignominy of third place (and thirty-something seats) to a commanding first place finish (and almost 200 seats, and a whopper of a majority), the still-fresh-faced Trudeau is even more popular than he was. Pollsters, gobsmacked as they are, prognosticate that Boy Wonder could win more seats in 2016 than he did in 2015.
It’s against the laws of political physics, I know. It is unprecedented, I agree. It defies explanation, yes yes yes.
But it’s a fact. People like the guy. He drives me crazy sometimes, too – the iPhone being locked on “selfie” mode in particular – but the people still think he’s the bees knees.
Those of us who labour in the media trenches are frustrated by this, naturally. Disaster, division and dirt are what make our bells ring. We love conflict, not consensus. If it bleeds, it leads, etc. etc.
So, some dummy on Trudeau’s staff received an invitation from the Canadian Labour Congress to attend their “youth forum.” They looked at that invite, and said: “Hey, this might be fun.”
Or, not. The Canadian Labour Congress is a branch plant of the NDP, basically. It’s “youth” include fully-grown adults who are as old as 35. And it’s “forum” – well, it wasn’t a forum for anything. It was a set-up. It was an ambush disguised as a conference.
Thanks to the dummy, Trudeau went anyway. And guess what happened? The assembled Bolshevik youngsters booed him. They heckled him. They turned their backs on him, after demanding answers to questions that cannot be answered.
The Liberal Prime Minister didn’t lose his cool. He didn’t walk out. He tried to talk to the NDP “youth,” even when they turned their backs on him, like he was a war criminal and they were all in The Hague for his show trial.
Anyway, the whole thing was predictable. Mix one Liberal Prime Minister with dozens of NDP activists, add media, stir, and what do you get? You get boos and heckling, that’s what. You get drama.
And you get the media, lapping it all up. Treating it like it is the Mother of All News Stories.
Even CBC and the Toronto Star got in on the fun, fronting shocked dispatches about the booing and heckling. “Trudeau heckled, booed at youth labour forum in Ottawa!” said the Star headline. “Trudeau gets rough ride from crowd at young workers’ summit,” said CBC, which ran clips of it all over and over, and even convened a couple panels to debate the cosmic significance of it all.
But it wasn’t significant. It wasn’t. Trudeau has been booed before. For speaking English in Quebec City. At the Stampede, a little bit, in Calgary. And in the House? There, he gets heckled all the time. Goes with the territory.
I don’t carry any brief for Justin Trudeau, to put it mildly. I don’t think the sun shines out of his keester, as too many Liberal social media trolls do. I don’t think he is the greatest Prime Minister Ever (my former boss Jean Chretien is that).
But some Dipper partisans booing him at a Dipper pep rally? That’s news? That’s important? That merits the coast-to-coast-to-coast coverage it got?
I don’t think so.
The honeymoon has gone on longer than anyone expected, yes. The gushing international coverage is embarrassing, yes. The saccharine-sweet adulation is enough to put you in insulin shock, yes.
But it is what it is. And a few booing New Democrats at a “youth forum” – you know what that isn’t?
News. It isn’t news.