A few folks, mostly Liberals, referred me to Justin Trudeau’s response to yesterday’s federal budget. We at Daisy were all too busy actually reading the thing, so we missed his scrum, which did not impress many of my correspondents, among them formerly elected Liberals.
I honestly don’t think how the Liberal leader spoke all that problematic. And – while the talking points he used weren’t in any way new – what he said is what concerns me the most.
To make my point, I refer you to one Michael Ignatieff. As everyone knows, the Conservatives spent around $5 million to broadcast ads that promoted the notion that Ignatieff was “just visiting.” The ads worked, and dramatically so.
The anti-Iggy ads worked, in part, because of the word that was missing from the “just visiting” tag line, not the words that were actually present. The word that was missing was “Canada.” How could Michael Ignatieff profess to care for Canada – and want to lead it, and have a vision for it – when he hadn’t lived in Canada for more than thirty years?
The Conservatives, in effect, cleverly took the one word that appeared in every single sentence that Michael Ignatieff uttered – “Canada” – and rewrote its meaning. They made viewers, and voters, feel that Michael Ignatieff was completely, utterly, fundamentally unfamiliar with the very thing that Ignatieff talked about the most: Canada.
So, too, Justin Trudeau’s much-repeated “middle class” nostrum. He says “middle class” all the time, just as he did in the clip above. When in a tough spot in a scrum about the economy, for instance, he will always reach for a reassuring line or two about the “middle class.”
The problem, of course, is that many Canadians suspect that Justin Trudeau isn’t middle class. He may know how to say those words, but he’s never lived those words. And that’s clearly why, inter alia, Stephen Harper has taken to reminding Trudeau that he is a trust fund kid, and why he resents the fact that Trudeau is a charter member of the lucky sperm club. To wit: Stephen Harper’s the Tim Horton’s-loving Hockey Dad Everyman, and Justin Trudeau has never had to worry about paying the rent or putting food on the table. Ever.
Rosedale and Westmount have taken over the Liberal Party of Canada – again. And you can reasonably expect Mr. Harper to remind us about that, over and over – and Mr. Mulcair will be doing likewise.
Think I’m wrong about my “Just Visiting the Middle Class” theory? I refer you to another case of a rich guy who talked a lot about the middle class – Mitt Romney. He certainly knew how to pronounce “middle class,” but he had never experienced “middle class.” And voters voted accordingly.
I strongly suspect the Conservatives are readying to do an Ignatieff on Trudeau – they getting ready to turn Trudeau’s own words/life against him, and at precisely the wrong time, too. Just as Michael Ignatieff could not change the fact that he had lived outside Canada for three decades, Justin Trudeau can’t change the fact that he grew up at 24 Sussex, the son of a millionaire. And the Conservatives are planning to draw attention to that fact, over and over.
Will that sort of attack work? Who knows. But it sure did against Messrs. Ignatieff and Romney, didn’t it?