, 06.18.2019 06:58 AM

Five free comms tips for Justin Trudeau

The Gettysburg Address it was not.

Standing on the picturesque shores of some picturesque lake in Mont-Saint-Hillaire, Quebec, Justin Trudeau was asked what he and his family had done to cut single-use plastics out of their lives.

Here is what he said, verbatim.

“We…uh…uh…we have recently switched to drinking water bottles out of…water out of when we have, uh, bottles out of, uh, plastic, sorry, away from plastic towards, uh, paper.  Like, drink box water bottles sort of things.”

The Liberal Prime Minister’s was so proudly unintelligible, so defiantly incomprehensible, it instantly went viral, supplying fodder for dozens of anti-Trudeau memes across the Internet for the next 100 years.  It was mocked and maligned from coast to coast to coast, including by people who actually still sort of like Justin Trudeau.  Heck, the clever Sodastream beverage people even put together an ad about it, with the tagline: “Justin, just say Sodastream.” Trolled by a big international company: ouch.

It reminded all and sundry that Gerald Butts has indeed left the building, and that Justin Trudeau has started to sound like Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, except way worse.  Or Zoolander, even, but on a bad day.

How did the oxymoronic brain trust in Trudeau’s PMO not see that coming?  How did they not supply the Actor-In-Chief with an answer to one of the three most enduring political questions, namely: “Do you practice what you preach? (The other two being: “What did you know and when did you know it?” and “Why did you party on that boat with a bunch of topless co-eds?”)

Since it is becoming evident that Chief of Staff Katie Telford and Liberal campaign manager Jeremy Broadhurst couldn’t communicate their way out of a moist, environmentally-friendly paper bag, it is incumbent upon the rest of us to provide Prime Minister Chewbacca Socks with some communications guidance.

Herewith and hereupon, the Hill Times’ Five Immutable Comms Rules, gratis.

  1. Don’t mangle the message, man.  Last week, in the wake of the important report by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Justin Trudeau declined to say “genocide” had taken place.  A few hours later, he flip-flopped and said genocide had taken place.  Then, a couple days later, he changed his mind again, and said it wasn’t genocide, but “cultural genocide.”  In the process, Trudeau sounded like the aforementioned Messrs. Gump and Zoolander.  As such, it was essential that Trudeau’s Great Big Announcement about single-use plastics be clear, consistent and coherent.  It wasn’t.
  2. Don’t sell snow shovels in June.  Or, in this case, don’t make a Great Big Announcement – and we know it was a Great Big Announcement because your office had been telegraphing that for days – when the biggest sporting event in Canadian history was also taking place.  You know: that little match-up between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors.  It was in all the papers, Katie and Jeremy: it was kind of a big deal, in the immortal words of Ron Burgundy.  Pro tip, Justin: if you are proposing something to fundamentally change the way millions of Canadians will live their lives, don’t do it when Canadians are paying attention to someone who has fundamentally changed the way millions of Canadians now live their lives, cf. Kawhi Leonard.  Just don’t.
  3. Don’t wait too late.  In slightly more than 100 days, the writs will drop for the 2019 Canadian federal general election.  Why, why, why did the Trudeau Party wait untilnow to make their plastics announcement – when the European Union, among others, had done likewise long ago?  Announcing something this big, this late, convinces the few folks paying attention (see point two, above) that it was a cynical, desperate move to halt the undeniable momentum of the much-admired Liz May.  Because it was.
  4. Don’t forget to make it relevant. The banning of plastic straws became an early and frequent target of Trudeau’s announcement.  Parents of autistic kids, for example, reminded Trudeau that their kids needed such straws to, you know, consume liquids.  Why, then, didn’t Trudeau focus on the number one source of single-use plastic pollution.  Namely, cigarette butts.  They’re unsightly, they’re ugly, and they’re universally disliked.  They’re made out of cellulose acetate, which is plastic.  But Trudeau’s press release didn’t even mention them.  Dumb.
  5. Don’t be a hypocrite.  Mere moments after Trudeau said what he tried to say, the Internet was flooded with recent photos of the Prime Minister swilling water from plastic bottles – and it was reported that Trudeau’s family had spent $300 in a single month on water in plastic bottles.  Hypocrisy, thy name is Justin.

Anyway.  Will Justin Trudeau listen to all that excellent free advice?  Not on your life.

Because, these days, there’s no one who personifies the phrase “single-use plastic” better than the guy who, you know, made the announcement.



  1. John Matheson says:

    When you are subject to ridicule, it really is the end. There is no way out of it. The best thing you can do is step down and let your party try to carry on. Several MPs have announced they are not running again, which means he is losing the confidence of his trained seals. Now with the Green Party going ahead of the NDP, all bets are off in terms of trying to calculate marginal seats. There are no historical data to go by in this case.

    • Walter says:

      Note that so many Liberals are not running again – but not a single one has come out against Trudeau, and by extension the Liberal Party. I read this as these MP’s do not have the moral corruption that will allow them to run again for a Trudeau government. But it also means they feel that Trudeau still has a chance of winning and they don’t want to burn their Liberal bridges.

  2. Craig Chamberlain says:

    Nailed it, Warren.

    I’d add a#6 – kinda tied to #5 but it can stand on its own:

    If you’re seen as not the middle class family guy you want to be known as, if you’re vulnerable on that, try to have relatable middle class family experiences to draw from – you know – authentic ones.

  3. Pedant says:

    They should have asked him why he and his family consume bottled water. Is he scared of tap water? Does he not trust the quality standards of Canadian water-treatment plants?

    Re: straws and autistic kids – reusable stainless steel or disposable paper straws work perfectly fine. I realize that sometimes accommodations have to be made for disabled individuals but I think in this case it’s reasonable to expect people to bring a straw from home if they absolutely MUST use one. I have poor distance vision. I don’t expect theatres to hand me a free plastic-rimmed pair of glasses every time I go see a movie.

    Re: the polls – I am surprised at the resilience of the Conservative lead. In most polls, it really hasn’t shrunk at all. A consistent 4-6 points. The clock is ticking too. Pretty soon we will no longer be able to shrug off the polls with “yeah well, the election is still far off….etc…..”.

  4. Peter says:

    I find it intriguing that his book, interviews, etc. show how much he reveres and adores his father’s memory, but he is proving to be almost the polar opposite. Much more like…well, you know who. Even Trudeau Sr.’s adversaries acknowledged he had a steel-trap mind. Indeed, it was his intellectual arrogance and obstinacy that got him into trouble periodically. He never tried to pretend he was just an ordinary joe–his advisers had to push him to show the common touch, with decidedly mixed results. He certainly was not one to jump recklessly onto popular bandwagons or scour the country looking for new groups to apologize to. He was a bit of a gadfly on foreign policy, but he did manage to avoid publicly pissing off a succession of powerful countries. I wasn’t a big fan, but I am very sorry I never got to enjoy watching him respond to anyone accusing him of being an architect of genocide.

    • The Doctor says:

      I thought that was a great headline in the National Post the other day: “Someone tell Trudeau he can’t be a reconciliation champion and the overseer of genocide at the same time.”

      His father would have been smart enough to understand that.

      • Peter says:

        Very true, but several of my progressive friends seem to think they can. They seem to have talked themselves into thinking that confessing to genocide is a sign of solidarity with indigenous people.

  5. the real Sean says:

    I see this week two more Liberal M.P.s have made the responsible decision to abandon the suicide cult’s campaign for corruption.

    • Mark says:

      Just two comments on this. About 3 weeks ago, Eric Grenier pointed out how the number of government MP’s “abandoning ship” is right on average or even slightly below average at that time, so 2-3 more MP’s doing so is not an indicator of doom. Second, all this talk of “suicide cult” is a bit silly. Nobody I’ve seen, heard or read thinks the Libs will lose more than 40-50 seats, which would still put them 30-40 seats ahead of where the Cons are today after the October election.

  6. whyshouldIsellyourwheat says:

    The House of Commons debates and declares a National Climate Emergency.

    Justin Trudeau plays hooky and attends a parade in Toronto.

    Must not really be a crisis.

    • Max says:

      JT had “Tom Ford” sunscreen on. SPF 100. He was parade-protected from UV during the parade. By the way, he looked goofy and out of place on stage with the Raptors. Not at all G7 like. Felt kinda bad for the guy. Like he got a ticket but wasn’t invited, but went anyway.

  7. Hi Warren, Speaking of Comms advice, who is advising Doug Ford these days? Showing up at the Raptors gig at City Hall yesterday was a big mistake, no? Surely someone in this office could have predicted that a huge crowd of Raptors fans was not a good venue? Given the polls, shouldn’t Doug be lying low and making the odd reparation to his slash & burn campaign? Sorry, but his smiling countenance is beaming down upon me from the right side of your web page as I type.

  8. Gilbert says:

    Here’s another piece of advice for PM Trudeau. Make sure that your questions are pre-screened, or if they’re not, think in advance of what possible questions you’ll be asked and prepare answers.

  9. Peter Puusa says:

    Perhaps JT was channeling Dilbert, being the ‘Wally’ he is . . .


  10. Elected, appointed, and hired modern leaders must be taught how to use the technology resources that we supply them with to work smarter.

    We, the People of the World, can demonstrate how to collaborate and innovate to take constructive actions to solve the problems such as inappropriate waste management.

    The link to the web-based “Everyone Counts Game Show” can be found on the Wellness Weavers website or via social media.

    Instead of expecting our leaders to be perfect and have magical instant solutions to everything, we merely must train them to admit the truth and become teachable Co-leaders that use citizens & all resources correctly.

    • Peter says:

      RE: “Instead of expecting our leaders to be perfect and have magical instant solutions to everything, we merely must train them to admit the truth and become teachable Co-leaders that use citizens & all resources correctly.”

      So shipping water ‘in a box’ is something our leaders need to know isn’t a solution. Thank God, we have ‘teachable Co-leaders that use citizens & all resources correctly.’ Or where we would we be now? Back to bottles? I’m guessing water balloons would be a good idea until the kids saw the display. Shipping could also be an issue . . . I’m getting real tired of stupid. I know! There’s no cure but it should be painful.

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