He haunts us still.
Remember that? That line – “he haunts us still” – is the very first line on the very first page of a terrific book about Pierre Trudeau. The book won all kinds of awards and accolades, but it is that first sentence which has come to sum up Pierre Trudeau rather well.
Whether you loved him or you hated him – and there were plenty of Canadians on either side of the divide – on one thing we all could agree: Pierre Trudeau looms like a giant, still, above the Canadian political landscape. Nobody is neutral on the subject of the former Liberal prime minister. Everyone has a view.
So, too, is the case with his eldest son, who is now a Liberal Party leader like his dad. And, if the polls mean anything anymore – a big if – the man most likely to be our next prime minister.
That famous line about “haunting us” doesn’t quite apply to the son, however. He doesn’t haunt us, not yet. Instead, Justin Trudeau mainly taunts us.
Trudeau Junior defies the consensus of the pundits and the politicos. He does the unexpected. He remains more popular, durably popular, than any politician in recent memory.
I’m a Liberal type, and a student of politics, but the more I see of Justin Trudeau, the less I think I know. He is even less conventional than his unconventional father.
In the year since he became Liberal leader at a lackluster, poorly attended affair in an Ottawa convention hall, Trudeau has made enough mistakes to kill off any other politician’s career.
He made a joke about what is happening in the Ukraine. He has said he admires a “dictatorship” for being one. He has said he wants to understand the feelings of terrorists.
Along with the mistakes, there have been plenty of contradictions, too.
He has embraced pipelines and pot, almost simultaneously. He has promised open nominations, and then giddily manipulated them.
He has sounded like a Quebec nationalist in unguarded moments, and then gone on to bravely defend federalism. He has sounded blasé about a Liberal senator who was under police investigation, and then he summarily expelled 32 Liberal senators who were not.
And with all those mistakes – with all those contradictory moves – this has been the impact on his popularity:
Zero. Zippo. Zilch.
Justin Trudeau – for all his faults, for all his inexperience and his youthfulness – is overwhelmingly the guy Canadians want as prime minister. Still.
They know he isn’t perfect. They know he probably makes far more rookie mistakes than his opponents. But they don’t care. Voters want Justin. Not Stephen, and not Tom.
He’s arrogant, sure, but all the great leaders usually are. He’s cocky, certainly, but that didn’t hurt him when he faced off in a boxing ring with a Conservative senator with a black belt, did it? He’s a bit too melodramatic – but having a flair for the dramatic never hurt anyone’s political career (just ask Ronald Reagan, the actor).
Personally, I can say that Justin Trudeau occasionally ticks me off. He takes unnecessary risks. He doesn’t listen to advice too often. He frequently seems more arrogant than any previous Liberal leader, and that’s no easy thing to do.
But the fact remains Justin Trudeau is the most popular leader Canada has seen in a long, long time. And, barring a disaster between now and 2015, the experts say he is going to be our next prime minister.
He doesn’t “haunt us,” not yet. But if there has ever been a politician who defies the predictions of the political scientists and the pundits – if there has ever been a leader who “taunts us” – Justin Trudeau is it.
What a picture.
“…Their SOUND was forever first and one-two-three-foremost within their arsenal, but the band’s look posture, taste, aroma, and very thorn-in-the-craw omnipresence offered vital inspiration, and delivered desperately needed hope by the dumpster-load, to all of us who just refused to take Frampton Comes Alive or even Rumours lying down.” – Gary Pig Gold, fufkin.com, July 2002
That’s a tiny quote from one of the early stories about the gas plant/email “scandal.” In the avalanche of hysterical, over-the-top coverage that has happened since, it would be easy to miss or forget that little bit of information, wouldn’t it?
I went to law school; I love the law. When you go to law school, you are taught to (a) look at a bunch of facts, and then (b) apply the accepted rules – case law, statute law – to those facts to (c) determine and/or analyze what kind of problem you’ve got, and what you should do about it.
The facts are these: political staff deleted some emails and stuff on their computers. They sought outside help in doing that. Happens all the time – even, I can assure you, in the offices of the OPP and the Opposition.
The law is this: nada. As per the headline to this post, there is no law, and nothing that carries any penalties. Nothing.
The analysis is this: lacking an actual law, the OPP – which has been giddily leaking to the Ottawa Citizen, Gomery-like, about their “investigation” for weeks – has decided there was a “breach of trust” here. Can’t find a law to charge someone with? Then say there’s been a “breach of trust.” It’s an all-purpose, catch-all. But no less than the Supremes have said that, to make it stick, there has to have been “corruption, partiality (or) oppression.” I don’t see that here. Not even close.
This affair is a load of bollocks. “That act is not a criminal statute and carries no penalties.” That’s what you need to know about this “scandal” – namely, there isn’t one.
Oh, and the geniuses who sent out the Premier of Ontario no less than three times, yesterday, to deny any and all knowledge of this gas plant/email stuff?
They’re the Paul Martin crew (one presently a Newstalk 1010 host), who piloted the Liberal Party of Canada into the ditch in 2004-2005. They sent Martin out multiple times to deny any and all knowledge of the sponsorship stuff, too. Remember that?
Didn’t work, as I recall.
Dear nice Toronto media people:
None of the candidates mentioned the word “crack” because I suspect the research shows, consistently, voters don’t want candidates talking about crack instead of the many other issues.
In addition, I also suspect the research shows that the media’s ongoing preoccupation with crack, to the exclusion of any other issue, is one of the reasons why voters still cast a sympathy vote for Rob Ford.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: OLIVIA DOMINATED DEBATE
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26 2014
The second hour of the Toronto mayoralty debate was a lot like the first: Olivia Chow dominated!
The pundits agree that Olivia Chow was the only candidate who took on Rob Ford directly. Meanwhile, all the other candidates tried to take on Olivia – and failed.
Don’t just take our word for it – here is what the pundits and the press have to say:
“I thought she had a very strong performance. She was the only one going after Mayor Rob Ford.” – John Stall, 680 News
“Tory replies with a major nose stretcher – [says] he’s never backed any [revenue] tools.” – John Lorinc, Globe & Mail
“Ford: ‘We haven’t had one union strike.’ False. There was a library workers’ strike.” – Daniel Dale, Toronto Star
“I thought [Olivia] was best when she set herself up as the defender of the city.” – Charlie Gillis, Macleans
“Ford: ‘We’ve created 57,000 jobs.’ Misleading. Jobs # was up 57k last year, has since dropped by about 50k – now just 6,000 jobs.” – Daniel Dale, Toronto Star
“Tory says he’ll have a complete plan later.”- David Nickle, Toronto Community News
“Yikes, #RobFord again exaggerates his record on keeping taxes low. Untrue Toronto’s have been kept lower than any other city.” – Robert Benzie, Toronto Star
“Ford: ‘We have the lowest tax increase’ of any North American city. False.” – Daniel Dale, Toronto Star
“Tory double speak.” – Greg Elmer, Research Chair, Ryerson University
“I think Olivia connected. A lot of people were thinking the same thing. [Rob Ford], you’ve got to go.” – John Stall, 680 News
“Chow ends: ‘Time for change.'” – Daniel Dale, Toronto Star
Don’t just take my word for it:
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: OLIVIA BEGINS FIRST MAYORAL DEBATE ON A WINNING NOTE
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26 2014
In the opening 23 minutes of CityTV’s first mayoral debate, journalists, columnists and pundits across party lines agree: Olivia has already demonstrated to Toronto that she is the only candidate that can beat Rob Ford.
Here’s what they said:
“First zinger of night. Chow tells ford his gravy train has become a train wreck.” – Elizabeth Church, Globe & Mail
“I grew up taking #TTC and I still do. @oliviachow immediately differentiates herself from the crowd.” – Joanne Deer, CTV Truth North political panelist
“Martineau begins with a “full disclosure” note that Tory sits on Rogers board – which is something the Chow campaign wants people to know.” – Daniel Dale, Toronto Star
“Olivia Chow questions John Tory’s courage to stand up to Ford’s positions.” – CBC Toronto
“Chow hitting Tory, saying the city hasn’t even put in an application for the federal funding Scarb subway advocates counting on.” – Oliver Moore, Globe & Mail
“Ford says the Scarborough extension costs “$5” per household. Incorrect. It’ll be $40 per year as of 2016 for about 30 years.” – Daniel Dale, Toronto Star
“John Tory is referring to Ford as Rob.” – Jon Lorinc, Globe & Mail
“@oliviachow leading CityTV’s viewer poll of trust on transit with 40 per cent.” – Laura Kane, Toronto Star
“Most viewers of [the] debate rank Chow [as] the person they trust most on the transit file.” – James Armstrong, Global TV
“It’s pretty obvious – the only person who has the facts and not the anger is @oliviachow.” – Joanne Deer, CTV Truth North political panelist
“Why do John Tory and Rob Ford hate buses? Poor sad buses.” – Antionia Zerbisias, Toronto Star
“Mr. Ford is actually right.” – John Tory, 5:23 p.m.
“Tory agrees with Ford that TTC service hasn’t been cut. Which, again, is wrong.” – Jonathan Goldsbie, NOW Magazine
As the debate continues, Olivia will continue to show her challengers – and the people of Toronto – that she is the top candidate for a better city.