, 02.05.2019 01:04 PM

Our federal leaders need to stay on social media – they constantly remind us why we need better ones

Social media and politicians. Lets do a roundup,shall we?

The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, was apparently ‎watching TV before Christmas. A charity thing came on. It was raising money to help teach kids in the Third World. Noble cause.

Justin was in a good mood. He picked up his iPhone, and thumbed out a message to the host of the event, a comedian named Trevor Noah.

“Hey Trevor Noah – thanks for everything you’re doing…Sorry I can’t be with you – but how about Canada pledges $50 Million to support education for women and girls around the world?” Trudeau wrote. “Work for you? Let’s do it!”

Work for you? Not really. Didn’t “work” for many other Canadians, either.

In just a single tweet, Trudeau captured everything Canadian dislike about him, pretty much. You know: a preference for American celebrities over ordinary Canadians. A willingness to toss around other people’s money, in a manner that would shame the drunkest drunken sailor. A glib, cloying, puerile approach that is in no way Prime Ministerial.

Oh, and a false belief that he is the master of all social media. That too.

He isn’t.

In that regard, Justin Trudeau is like his principal antagonist, Andrew Scheer. Andrew thinks he’s good at this Internet stuff, too.

He isn’t.

Take, for instance, the Conservative leader’s apparent belief that Google is run by a gaggle of Bolsheviks in a boiler-room somewhere, maliciously manipulating search results to create the impression that terrorists are military heroes.

Seriously, he believes that. Last week, Andrew did a Google search for “Canadian soldiers.” That returned pictures of actual Canadian military heroes. So far so good.

But then the Google elflords offered up a photo of Omar Khadr. Omar, as you may recall, is the youthful al-Qaeda and Taliban enthusiast who killed a U.S. medic while the medic was tending to wounded people during a battle in Afghanistan.

Andrew was outraged by that. He tweeted his outrage to Google, along with a screencap that helpfully pointed to “Canadian soldiers” and “Omar Khadr.”

Scheer huffed that Omar Khadr “is not a victim, nor ‎should he be portrayed in this way alongside real Canadian heroes.” Conservative trolls and pundits, often interchangeable, were similarly outraged. How dare Google do such a thing!

Except:‎ Google didn’t. Google’s algorithim did.

It’s amazing, really, that it needs to be said to a guy who could actually become Prime Minister of Canada and all that, but here goes: that’s not how the Internet works, Andrew. There are no youngsters in a dark subterranean lair at Google’s headquarters‎, drinking fizzy pop and giddily coming up with search results designed to outrage the perpetually-outraged.

The Omar Khadr result comes from Wikidata, which came from a Wikipedia entry, which ‎came from a troll who lives in – wait for it! – Russia.

Yes, the man who would be Prime Minister was tricked by an Internet troll named “Ghuron” in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Oh, and those mysterious “algorithms,” Andrew? Despite the presence of his name in that word, they were not invented by Al Gore.)

Scheer’s tweet illustrated, pithily, why so many Canadians believe the dimpled Tory leader is unworthy of high office: he is terrified that his base will disapprove of him, and remove him.

So he comes up with juvenile, frat-boy memes that appeal to his meat-eating base, and no one else at all. He remains focused, laser-like, on the trivial stuff. He can work at Rebel Media or Breitbart when he loses the next election, one supposes.

His fellow Opposition leader Jagmeet Singh is going to lose, too.

Why? Because the mere suggestion that the New Democratic Party leader makes dumb mistakes is no longer news, sadly. It happens a lot. It is accepted truth.

Like Justin and Andrew, Jagmeet’s ‎mistake was captured in cyber-amber for all to see. A little while ago, Jagmeet tweeted that Canada should side with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Here’s what he said: “The question of who is to lead Venezuela should be in the hands of Venezuelans. All countries should be free to make their own democratic decisions through free and fair elections, independent of authoritative pressure.”

All well and good, except for this: Nicolas Maduro is venal, vicious, human-rights-violating thug. He is a monster who has intimidated, persecuted and prosecuted any Venezuelan who dares to criticize him. His election was a fraud.

Independent human rights bodies have accused him of torturing dissidents, and starving his own people. Amnesty International has reported that 75 per cent of Venezuelans suffer from weight loss and malnutrition due to lack of food.

Why would Jagmeet defend such a creep? Why would he say Canada should support a cruel dictator? God knows. But that single tweet, once again, makes clear that Jagmeet Singh lacks judgment, lacks insight, and lacks what it takes to be a Member of Parliament, let alone Prime Minister.

At the end of all this cyber-stupidity, Canadians might reasonably ask: are any of these men fit to be Prime Minister? And why, pray tell, do they all continue to use social media?

Good questions. Canadians themselves will determine who is fit, and who is not, soon enough.

But should they all stop using social media, given how completely – and how regularly – it proves how unworthy they are?

No. We should be grateful to social media.

Better that we know how unfit they all are, so we can choose better when next given the chance.


  1. Robert White says:

    Let us assume correctly that few politicians in CANADA actually have the experience of our host when it comes to Social Media or the MSM. Moreover, these politicians are not experts in terms of cybernetics or Social Psychology. They are not Sociologists or full time Journalists. Their scope is academically dissimilar to that of journalistic punditry and as such should not be evaluated by the same yardstick.

    Politicians are human with all the errors that amass from living a life as a political party leader or follower of party formatting & protocols. In Scheer’s case he is pandering to his base and that of the populists that are singularly purposed with a one-track mindset. Scheer’s sloganeering does not have to actually make sense to find appeal to his base. In Trump’s case South of the border he told populists that he could shoot someone on the streets of New York and still get elected. Populists say stupid things so that the dumb & ignorant base understand they can say similar inanities to rile opposition.

    Trudeau has been our youngest PM too. Is he not entitled to be young and somewhat naïve at times? Should Scheer have the same level of political gravitas as a veteran lawyer/Journalist that worked Parliament in the 90s and then moved on?


    • Jim says:

      Is this comment intended as satire? Justin Trudeau is almost 50 years old. He’s slightly older than me, and I haven’t been “young and naive” in decades.

      Regardless of age, both men are leaders of Canada’s two main political parties so, yes, they should have gravitas and, no, they aren’t entitled to be “young and naive” .

      I really, really hope you were kidding.

    • David Bronaugh says:

      I’m younger than he is. I can easily see what’s wrong with many of his decisions. I can see upsides, too, to many of them, but to me, the downsides are frequently outweighing the upsides.

      The particular incident Warren calls attention to sounds like a gross breach of fiduciary duty, a lack of due diligence, and in general seems to be a Prime Minister who wants to act as a leader without any of the responsibility. You want to spend $50m on that? Fine, but you’d better be ready to prove *why* that’s where you should spend that $50m. None of that is on display here.

    • Montréalaise says:

      These men are not running for the position of local dog-catcher – they’re aspiring to be Prime Minister of Canada! So no, none of them are entitled to be naïve or clueless.

  2. William R Morrison says:

    Trudeau is closing in on fifty. He’s entitled to be young, once, but that was 25 years ago. Now he’s middle aged, and, as Warren says, he’s glib, cloying, and puerile.

  3. Jack says:

    We all know that these leaders aren’t *actually* the ones managing their social media accounts, right? Or does that need to be said?

    Trudeau’s account is managed by his D-Comms, as is the same with Scheer and Singh.

    If anything, their Twitter avatars are reflections of how their staff want you to view their respective leaders.

    Take that for what you will.

  4. the salamander says:

    .. a fine article.. really !
    I suspect many commenters can supplement or buttress your perspective.. but one can also point to complete hysterical fails in all three cases.. and reason to lower expectations. the Trudeau example BTW was new to me.

    Singh I keep pointing out has never exemplified ‘leadership’, so why expect it now? He did great at selling retail Party memberships.. so he won a strange ‘popularity’ contest (much like Patrick Brown)

    Scheer should be ashamed of his hysterics. His vapid pontifications are insulting, and to pretend he’s ‘middle class’ is to laugh. What middle class Canadian has net worth approx 10 million & has been housed and fed by Canadian tax payers for approx 10 years now? He is rolling in luxury on our dime ! His ignorance re the Khadr facts astonish. Has he never read Sandy’s Garossino ? Or testimonies of senior American officers on site for the arial bombardment with attack helicopters, gunships, laser guided 500 lb smart bombs, the firefight with morters and final Special Forces assault ? Or that The Sgt Laine Morris who was blinded in one eye by stone chps or shrapnel had been airlifted out 2 hours before.. that Khadr was covered in rubble, unconcious and shot twice in the back at extreme close range. Never mind rhe conspiracy by Harper and McKay to use him as a whipping boy

    Deary me.. these ‘leaders’ go into verbal contortions, banal talking point pronouncements and fiction.. All three parties are so full of themselves and/or faux evangelism & they think they can get away with being posturing, preening fake ‘public servants’

  5. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Contrast that with Harper’s 3.5 billion maternal, newborn and child initiative and Trudeau’s pledge is almost peanuts. Of course, Harper’s plan had zero dollars for abortion services or contraception…

  6. Pedant says:

    With the social media bosses intent on de-platforming conservative voices while allowing far-left nutcases like Kathy Griffin to threaten children with violence (re: Covington kids), Twitter and elsewhere will become an echo chamber of leftists swapping kale recipes and pontificating the advantages of open borders, mass immigration, more taxes for the plebes outside their gated communities.

  7. Derek Pearce says:

    Social media, especially Twitter, is for twits. I refuse to join it. I guess I talk to friends on Facebook but ignore politicians on social media.
    I try to pay attention to real issues, such as Scheer’s pathetic sucking-up to separatists by offering Quebec a chance to hold almost 30% of the government’s revenue hostage if it so feels. Now THAT is the kind of thing that makes him unfit to be PM. Trudeau’s a big disappointment but he doesn’t fall for that continual Con trap of thinking footsie with the separatists is a legit path to power.

    • Derek,

      In case you’re interested, the present Quebec Premier is one breath away from being a sovereignist. It gets to be Trudeau’s choice whether he will cozy up to him. Poor Justin, he doesn’t have the premier hostage. That only worked with the last guy.

      • Derek Pearce says:

        The Liberal poll #s are practically at double the Conservative or Bloc numbers in Quebec and the NDP is at or below 8%. Trudeau doesn’t need to suck up to Legault and has stated that he’d never propose Scheer’s plan and that Scheer’s plan is a terrible idea.

        • Derek,

          Federal poll numbers are irrelevant.What counts is Legault’s polling and what he does with it after this Prime Minister tells him to take a hike re: Quebec’s traditional constitutional demands.

          Unlike his predecessors, Legault has the private-sector cred to win a sovereignty referendum. Meanwhile, English Canada and Ottawa remain in their habitual comatose state.

        • Miles Lunn says:

          Quebec is quite fickle and can change on a moment’s notice. Legault has the highest approval rating of any premier. Yes he is now in his honeymoon phase and there is a good chance that will have worn off by October, but if it hasn’t, things could get interesting. Lets remember if you look at past polling, 20 or 30 point swings between when writ is dropped and e-day are not uncommon in Quebec and unlike in the rest of Canada where you don’t see this. NDP in 2011 entered the election with poll numbers in the mid teens in Quebec, but got 43% on election day. In 2015, NDP had a 30 point lead at beginning of campaign in Quebec but lost that mostly to the Liberals.

          Now on Quebec, I like the idea of a single tax form, filling out two would be a real pain, nonetheless probably better if they just have it done federally like the other nine provinces do. On taxes I have long thought a simplified tax system with 3 brackets and no deductions is the way to go in the long run. Mine would be 10% for bottom, 20% for middle and 30% for top, while if provinces could align with 5% bottom, 10% middle, and 15% top that would make our taxes both lower for middle and lower income while competitive for top and a lot simpler thus easier to catch the tax cheats.

          • Miles,

            In Quebec, symbolism is almost everything. Only here would filling out one tax form be seen as a federal concession (victory) as regards the division of powers. But of course, that concession would have to be revenue-neutral otherwise the feds would never go for it. In other words, Quebec would have to pass on Ottawa’s share of tax revenue in an expeditious manner. No farting around or chantage allowed.

    • The Doctor says:

      You’re so right with that. I won’t touch politics on social media with a barge pole. And those of my friends who do politics on social media look like hysterical, partisan buttheads.

  8. Gord Tulk says:

    Sean Penn is that you?

    The socialist/communist totalitarians in Venezuela are 100% to blame for what has happened.

    How much money do you think Maduro and his predecessor on their own have stolen from the citizens of Venezuela?

  9. The Doctor says:

    Maduro’s human rights record is atrocious, and he has zero respect for democratic institutions or civil society. End of story.

  10. Montréalaise says:

    So what you are saying is that Amnesty International and other human rights organizations are lying about what is happening in Venezuela, and that Maduro is really a gentle, kind soul who is only concerned about  the welfare of his fellow citizens?

    • Fred from BC says:

      Maduro is a former bus driver who now has a net worth of two million dollars. Coincidentally, Hugo Chavez’s daughter is also the richest woman in Venezula…

  11. Montréalaise says:

    Mediocrity after mediocrity. Having to choose from among the crop of current leaders in the upcoming federal election feels a bit like being told you’re going to be executed and you have your choice of the method – firing squad, guillotine or electric chair – but that letting you live is not an option.

  12. Miles Lunn says:

    Two problems I see with the choices are:

    1. What happened to the centre? 20 years ago you had the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives who were both near the centre but if someone showed me Trudeau’s platform without mentioning the party I would think it was an NDP platform while for the Tories, theirs is far more like the Reform Party than the former PCs. Much of our success is because usually our PMs regardless of party are near the middle, but today that seems to vanishing.

    2. Negativity and lack of strong leaders – Considering the amount of hate and negativity, the best leaders don’t bother going into politics anymore and instead have a career in the private sector which both pays more (if successful) and you aren’t reviled by more than half the country. Both John Manley and Frank McKenna in recent interviews even admitted that if things were like today’s environment when they went into politics, they wouldn’t have gone in. Thus that explains why we have the weak leaders we do.

    Had Liberals wisely chosen Marc Garneau (Martha Hall Findlay would work too) and Tories wisely chosen Michael Chong (Erin O’Toole and Lisa Raitt would do too) we would have had two strong moderate centrist choices. Those were my first choices for both leadership races, but it seems Liberals preferred celebrity and name recognition to qualifications while Tories preferred someone who could appeal most to their base rather than broaden their appeal.

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