10.31.2016 09:35 PM

This week’s column: boo! Heckle!

(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.

Yours sincerely,



  1. monkey says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Chretien’s numbers were this high pretty much during his whole tenure. Now Trudeau is no Chretien and I don’t expect his numbers to stay this high, but not totally unpredecented. Besides most Canadians like a strong opposition so much like with Chretien I suspect many who lean Tory or NDP but like Trudeau will swing towards them if it is clear he is on his way to win a landslide just to ensure there is some opposition much like you saw in 1997 or 2000. Also I believe Brad Wall managed to keep 60%+ approval ratings until this year and of other premiers, Gary Doer, Danny Williams, and Ralph Klein all maintain high approval ratings for a long time. So not unheard of nonetheless as someone who is not a Trudeau fan I do have to wonder if they will stay this way for another year or not. I think it go either way although I suspect the fact Trudeau is the opposite of Trump and most Canadians hate Trump is probably helping him somewhat.

  2. pat says:

    It was probably uncomfortable for Trudeau, more uncomfortable for the unemployed, working poor, underemployed, and underpaid – they’re clearly more uncomfortable than Trudeau because with them it’s food, clothing, shelter, and for him image, but it wouldn’t have happened with anybody else, so at least he had the guts to show up. And you know curing the world of what ails us takes more than a year. At least he’s trying, while others would just ignore folks who have it hard, and fuss over people having it easy.

  3. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    I’ll bet you that that dummy has contributed to Trudeau’s numbers going up even further. Some dummy!

  4. Jim Keegan says:

    I think that Trudeau displayed a high level of naïveté to attend a town hall type meeting in front of the Young Marxist wing of the CLC. Also, his decision to attend shouldn’t be blamed on a dumb staffer; as prime minister, he should be able to make up his own mind as to which speaking invitations to accept (as an aside, wouldn’t the acceptance of any speaking engagement have to cross Butts’ desk?).

    Trudeau seemed genuinely shocked by the reception he received, as he had likely thought the audience would be fawning all over him, with lots of softball questions and selfie requests.

    • monkey says:

      The fact they had a hammer which looked like the hammer from the Soviet flag as the backdrop should have been the first red flag. Even most NDP supporters don’t want to be associated with communism so yes reach out to the youth but stay away from fringe groups that are outside the mainstream. It’s much the same reason you won’t see Trudeau going on the Rebel Media as he would look silly as well there.

  5. pat says:

    A politician who seeks only adulation is blind to the world around them. At least he felt their pain, if only for a short time –

    • terence quinn says:

      Their “pain” is that they want it all on a silver platter. I have seen no evidence that people who truly want to work and be productive cannot find a job. These unionized characters think the world owes them a living. JT did not diss them and did listen to the rationale ones.

      • pat says:

        That isn’t true, and I doubt you’ve looked very hard for any evidence. Lotta people with lots to offer are desperately seeking work, and the longer it takes the harder it gets because they discriminate against folks with “gaps” in their resume. And unless you’ve experienced poverty, you’d be clueless to understand the challenge of finding meaningful employment from a serious disadvantage with, or without a solid education. Even with experience, and very solid education it can be extremely difficult when you aren’t connected to the right “network” –

      • pat says:

        Maybe the problem is that people like you know a little too much about silver spoons and silver platters –

  6. Obsequious says:

    Justin is golden, he’s golden I tell you ….. soooo obvious

  7. pat says:

    Whatever – you have to have thicker skin than to cry about a bad day. Oh the horror of discontent – what’s so shocking about educated, and innovative people pissed off because they get fucked over, and fucked out of the economy – wow that’s a shocker – But, again, to Trudeau’s credit at least he showed up. A good scolding is a good thing, even for good people, to keep them grounded – taste the dirt and then you can talk about it.

  8. Ron says:

    I’ve seen 12 other PM’s come and go, yet even I recognize that this is the computer age, the information age, the selfie age.

    It might occur to some on the CPC side to consider electing a leader who poses for the odd selfie. Doesn’t seem to hurt the PM.

    But maybe not. When you look at the choices the CPC has right now, they hardly look like selfie people.

    Nobody can take a selfie with the current crop of old Harperites recently chiselled from their grip on the alternate reality
    of The Harper Government™ . Certainly not on purpose.

    Even Tony Gazebo figured that out.

    • Vancouverois says:

      Choosing a leader with the aim of out-Trudeauing Trudeau would be a foolish mistake.

      By the time the next election rolls around, the public may well be fed up of JT’s public image management. The Tories (and the NDP, for that matter) should choose their leaders based on other criteria – preferably more substantial criteria that will resonate in 2019.

      As Gretzky says, you don’t go where the puck is. You go where it’s going to be.

      • Ron says:

        Maybe you missed the point of the post.

        This is the Information Age. It is not going away regardless of whose ‘face’ it wears.

        • Vancouverois says:

          So you believe all elections from now on are going to be based on image rather than substance?

          • Ron says:

            From now on ?

            If Nixon’s five o’clock shadow hadn’t made him look like a character from the Untouchables, he might have won in ’60. That was a a razor thin victory for JFK.

            Ronnie the Lifeguard was all about image. The Presidency was the biggest part he ever played.

            Trudeau Mk I with the buckskin jacket and the birch bark canoe.

            Why does Vlad the Imposter ride horses without a tarp ?

            Margaret Thatcher became ‘The Iron Lady” with the help of Leopoldo Galtieri. Galtieri tried to polish his Junta’s image by ‘conquering’ the Falklands, and Thatcher
            made her tough gal image by booting him off the islands. She was not doing well before Leo lept into his own frying pan.

            And so it has gone. The more types of media we have acquired, the more image has mattered.

            You think Drumpf isn’t cultivating an image ? He has to. His constituents don’t read books that don’t have lots of pictures.

  9. P. Brenn says:

    Trudeau came out of that session looking fine ..not big news but he stayed …most of electorate know there is elements of goonerism on left and right …having these folks turn their backs on anyone is expected…

  10. Maps Onburt says:

    Trudeau’s popularity is against a Conservative opposition leader who doesn’t want the top job and an NDP leader who’s own party threw him out. Big challenge. It’s easy to run around taking selfies and smiling but when the rubber hits the road he’ll start pissing his own supporters off (as he’s done with CETA, C-22 and the pipeline) and the shine will wear off that pony. That said, I agree with everything you wrote (except for Chrétien being the best PM of course).

    • pat says:

      Yeah, and the reason those parties are in disarray is because Trudeau wiped the floor with them, and he started in third place.

  11. Kev says:

    I don’t think the Prime Minister of Canada has any jurisdiction over the photo mode on other, private citizens’, iPhones.

  12. The Doctor says:

    There’s a big difference between media attention that actually gets the attention of John and Jane Q. Public, versus perfunctory media attention that only gets the attention of news hounds and political junkies. This was the latter.

    Besides which, it’s inevitable that Trudeau is not going to hold the support of the hard-left wing of the NDP. To the extent those people voted for him, it was to get rid of Harper. Now those types are on to their next mission, the Glorious Workers’ Revolution and the overthrow of the capitalist running dogs.

  13. dave constable says:

    A half dozen or so of the people who turned their backs have an article over on The Tyee website, explaining the ‘why’ of their action.

    Of course, they are wrongly labeled here as ‘Bolshevik youngsters,’ ‘NDP activists,’ ‘Communists,’ ‘Young Marxist,”hard left wing,’ because, obviously, they are Putinists, dupes of Voldamor Putin, the gangrenous dictator of Russia stretching his evil grasp tight into our dear Canada.
    (I hope I’m not allowing my Clinton campaign approach to taint my perceptions.)

  14. Matt says:

    Do we know for sure Trudeau wasn’t warned against attending and decided to go anyway?

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