Both of us find that laughable, believe me. So there’s at least one thing we agree on.
Something on which we likely wouldn’t agree is this: the problem caused by the reappearance of the Creston Valley Advance – from so far away, from so long ago – simply isn’t going away. If just yesterday’s Washington Post, CNN and others are any indication, the groping story is worming its way into the popular consciousness, and getting bigger.
Trudeau and his senior team obviously believe otherwise. That’s why they have continued to rely on a lawyer’s slippery sophistry – that Trudeau doesn’t recall any “negative interactions” – in the face of ridicule and disbelief, even from Liberals. But it simply isn’t working. It isn’t.
For staff, stories like this are very difficult. Talking to your boss about policy and politics is easy. Talking to him about how he conducts himself in private – talking about sexual conduct – is very, very awkward. I feel sorry for the staffers who have been assigned to deal with this mess.
So, to those who are trying to put out this dumpster fire, here’s some advice, gratis.
- It’s never the break-in, it’s the cover-up. The victim wrote that editorial, and it went unrebutted for almost two decades. It is fact, now. Efforts to deny it or dilute it won’t work. Claiming she doesn’t want to talk about it – and insisting that we should all therefore drop the subject – won’t work either. The issue is the conduct of the Prime Minister of Canada.
- Lawyers stink at comms. Everything he says needs to be run past the lawyers, yes, because we are (a) ostensibly talking about what is considered criminal offence and (b) there is no statute of limitations on same. But the lawyers should not be deciding what is effective communications strategy – because they mostly all suck at it. (Don’t believe me? Consider how effective the “don’t recall negative interactions” line has been in putting out the dumpster fire.)
- Falling on one’s sword, in politics, works – as long as you are not doing it every day. There is a lot of affection for Trudeau in this country, still. He needs to take control of this, personally. He needs to say only one thing.
- This is what he needs to say, straight to camera – no staff, no lawyerly talking points. “Eighteen years ago, my Dad was dying. Eighteen years ago, I went to an event to receive a donation because my brother had been killed. I went to that event, and I was not in a good frame of mind. I drank too much. I don’t recall doing what this woman said I did, at all – but if she says I did it, I did it. I apologized to her then, and I apologize to her now. I am ashamed of my conduct. I am embarrassed. I am disgusted by what she says I did. I have reached out to her, and spoken to her directly, to apologize and tell her that I intend to take proactive, positive steps to address my conduct and ensure this never happens again. That includes not drinking alcohol.”
- He then needs to disappear for the rest of the Summer, and get some counselling. That isn’t comms advice, but it’s what a man who aspires to be a feminist should do.
Will he? Beats me.
But he should.