Tag Archive: Justin Trudeau
Can the politicians tell the police to take down the barricades?
If not, why not?
Those are the two questions that have been mooted for more than two weeks now. Around the nation’s water coolers, in just about every Tim Horton’s, frustrated and angry Canadians – Indigenous and otherwise – have been wondering what, if anything, can be done. What can be done to make the trains run on time again? What can end this?
There haven’t been as many questions about the legitimacy of the protests, or the efficacy of our political leaders. A majority of Canadians apparently regard the barricades as worse than illegitimate – they see them as illegal.
And our political leaders? On that, there is consensus, too. Not one of our leaders has looked like they know what to do. Not one.
Justin Trudeau spent a few days pleading for “patience,” and – when it became evident that he did not possess a clue about how to actually solve the crisis, and finally reconcile with Indigenous Canadians – he did a volte-face and said he wasn’t going to be patient anymore. No, sir. The Prime Minister wanted the barricades down “now.”
That, ironically, was Andrew Scheer’s position. The soon-to-be-former Conservative leader wanted the barricades carted away “now,” too. But he stopped short of saying the police should be, you know, ordered to do so.
And, when he said what he said, the aforementioned Trudeau petulantly refused to invite Scheer to a meeting in his office with all of the other leaders of political parties. (Seriously.)
From the Liberals, then, inertia and platitudes. From the Conservatives, lots of tough-guy talk (as leadership contender Peter MacKay was, in a tweet applauding vigilante action) – but, um, not too much of it (MacKay later deleted the tweet).
From the other political leaders, much of the same. Words and contradictions. Piffle and bafflegab. But not a single, sensible suggestion about what to actually do.
An Ipsos poll suggested Canadians themselves were similarly conflicted. Said Ipsos: “As the indigenous blockade of key transportation corridors in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation continues for another week, a majority of Canadians [61 per cent] say they disagree that the protestors are conducting justified and legitimate protests.”
But the other hand, said Ipsos: “Most Canadians recognize room for improvement: three quarters agree that the federal government must act now to help raise the quality of life of Canada’s aboriginal peoples, which is up 12 percentage points since 2013.”
Get that? Around six in ten Canadians say the protests are illegitimate. But around seven in ten also say Indigenous people have legitimate grievances, and deserve better.
Out of all this confusion, out of all the maddening political double-talk, one question persisted: can the police be ordered in?
Well, no. Not by the politicians, anyway.
For much of the country, the RCMP is the police force that would be called upon to shut down the barricades and arrest the protestors. And the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, section five, acknowledges that the commissioner of the force is indeed appointed by the relevant cabinet minister.
But then section five goes on: only the RCMP commissioner “has the control and management of the Force and all matters connected with the Force.” Not, it should be emphasized, the politicians.
Last year, during LavScam, the Conservatives seemed to understand this distinction. They seemed to accept that no politician should ever, ever order police or prosecutors to do (or not do) something. This year, they have forgotten all that, because it is politically expedient to do so.
The Liberals, meanwhile, spent much of 2018 and 2019 attempting to bend the law to suit their political purposes. In 2020, not so much. With a straight face, they now insist they cannot tell the police what to do. Which is why nothing was done for weeks.
They’re right about that much, at least. If the standoff between police and Indigenous people during the 1995 Ipperwash crisis taught us anything, it is this: permitting politicians to order around the cops can have fatal consequences. In that conflict, former Ontario Premier Mike Harris was alleged to have said to the OPP: “I want the fucking Indians out of the park.”
So, an Ontario Provincial Police sniper team was dispatched to Ipperwash. Ojibwa protestor Dudley George was then summarily shot. The OPP thereafter stopped George’s family from taking him to the hospital, and he died.
If you think Canadian police officers didn’t learn a valuable lesson from the killing of Dudley George, you’d be wrong. They carefully studied the voluminous Ipperwash Inquiry report, and have heeded what it had to say.
Twenty-five years later, as more Indigenous protests (literally) grip the nation, Canada’s police forces are the only ones in authority who have conducted themselves with anything approaching caution and consistency. They, more than anyone else, know that someone could be killed. And that, frankly, should matter more than anything else.
As the 2020 barricade crisis drags on, the cops look like adults. The politicians look like idiots.
Trust the cops.
But Trudeau won’t listen.
He doesn’t like strong women who talk back.
Peter MacKay has hit a rough patch.
Weird social media. Policy incoherence. Crummy French. Interviews going awry.
Sure, he’s coughed up the big entrance fee, and proffered the requisite number of signatures. Came up with a nice logo. Attracted the support of smart backroomers, and figured out how to avoid angering both of the Conservative Party’s warring tribes on the Left and Right – no small thing (ask Jean Charest and Pierre Poilievre).
But…it’s looked amateurish. It’s looked chaotic. It’s looked positively Stockwell Dayian, even.
Could a wounded, desperate political party rally around MacKay? Or is all hope lost?
Well, no. Ten reasons.
1. MacKay is likeable. Half the job in politics is being a HOAG – a Hell Of A Guy (or Gal). MacKay has that Earthy, aw-shucks, regular schmo thing down pat. He’s a HOAG.
2. MacKay looks the part. The other half of the job, when one is a political leader, is to appear Prime Ministerial. Not too regal (like Michael Ignatieff did), and not too stern (like Joe Clark or Tom Mulcair did). A Prime Minister needs to be capable of being suitably serious (say, when sending troops into battle) – but a PM also needs to know how to do cheery retail (say, when pressing the flesh on the hustings). It isn’t hard to imagine Peter MacKay doing either.
3. MacKay’s timing is good. Politics is like comedy – success depends more on timing than content. MacKay has come along at precisely the moment that his party is desperately in search of middle ground – and a leader who knows how to bank Left or Right, as circumstances warrant. One, too, who has been away from politics long enough to seem new – but who was also there long enough, in senior roles, to look experienced.
4. MacKay isn’t Justin Trudeau. Governments defeat themselves, and the Trudeau Liberal government has shown itself quite capable of doing so – taking a for-sure majority second term and reducing it to a timid, tentative minority. For voters scanning the horizon for an alternative to Justin Trudeau – and in October 2019, most Canadian votes were – Peter MacKay seems a sensible alternative.
5. MacKay isn’t a crypto-Nazi. Let’s face it: the Trudeau folks sought to portray Andrew Scheer as a knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, red-necked troglodyte, one who hated gays, women and refugees. And they were wildly successful – but only because Scheer became the embodiment of Hidden Agenda (dual citizenship, tongue-tied on social issues, not-an-insurance-broker). Scheer allowed the Grits to define him before he could define himself…
6. …but MacKay is defined. He’s a known quantity. He’s been a cabinet minister and an MP. He did stuff, and nobody ran him out town on a rail. He may be remarkably unremarkable – like that old pair of slippers you resist throwing out – but you generally know what you are getting with the tall, grinning, Nova Scotia guy.
7. MacKay is a conservative, but not too conservative. As shocking as it may sound to the prototypical angry Conservative – Langstaff 7832269, with a Twitter profile of a Viking holding an assault rifle – most Canadians are not as conservative as they are. Calling them “Libtards” and “Lieberals” does not tend to encourage middle Canada to vote Team Blue. Also helpful: MacKay thinks women should be able to decide what happens to their own bodies – and, also, that LGBTQ people should be allowed to be just as miserable as straight married people are.
8. MacKay is from the Atlantic region. Conservatives do not have a voting base that is as “efficient” as the urban and urbane Liberals do. To win majorities, Tories need to capture support in every region, not just the prairies. MacKay is a native son of the Atlantic, and he accordingly has the best shot at stealing needed Atlantic seats away from the Grits.
9. MacKay isn’t angry. Stephen Harper was Mr. Angry, sure, but he only won a majority in 2011 because Jack Layton surged in the final stretch, and snatched multiple seats away from the aforementioned Ignatieff. Before that, Canadians kept Harper on a minority leash because he too often appeared to be a misanthrope with control issues. MacKay doesn’t look angry. In fact, MacKay looks like he’s never been angry. About anything.
10. MacKay is a compromise candidate. For a country weary of Justin Trudeau (who too often seems all sizzle, and no steak) – and wary of Stephen Harper (who, as noted, too often seemed like a rageaholic encased in cardigan) – Peter MacKay is a reasonable compromise. He’s likeable, he’s a known quantity. He’s not a maniac. He’s not despised, from sea to sea to sea. He’s not unpopular.
Not yet, anyway.
Is Justin Trudeau sad?
He sure looks sad. He looks positively dejected, in fact.
In his few public appearances since the election, Trudeau has radiated none of the boyish charm that was the signature of his first term in office. Gone are the selfies, the costumes, and the maddening preoccupation with social media.
In their place: a grown-up Prime Minister, kind of.
The beard, the flecks of grey, the downcast eyes: all of it combines to give the Liberal leader the gravitas that he has lacked for far too long. He may be ineffably sad, but the sadness sits well on him.
Plenty of folks have similarly been struck by how changed Trudeau now seems to be. And – ironically, and whatever is the cause – that it has matured Trudeau.
It may sound a bit like Kremlinology, but it can’t be denied that Justin Trudeau is different, now. Even his detractors say so.
One of his biographers, the CBC’s Aaron Wherry, has observed that Trudeau is showing more introspection, and more humility, than ever before. He seems “less youthful,” declared The Economist.
“Humble,” agreed someone at the Toronto Star. “Sombre,” they said. Even card-carrying Trudeau critic Rex Murphy has acknowledged it: “There has been a change in his manner since the election.”
Now, it’s not as if Trudeau lacks justification. Raging wildfires in Australia, dozens of Canadians killed by Iranian missiles, crippling weather, an impeached and distracted president, climate change and economic uncertainty, a coronavirus global emergency: 2020, the experts agree, has deeply sucked, and it is only days old. There is little about which any Prime Minister can celebrate.
But there’s something else at work here – something that is not easily attributable to 2020’s bleak headlines. More than current events explains the change in Justin James Pierre Trudeau, PC, QC.
The conservative rageaholics tweet wild speculation about Trudeau’s personal life. All of it is fair game, to them. And all of it is is mean and lacking in proof.
The answer, like so many things in politics, may be hiding in plain view. It’s not a mystery.
Justin Trudeau is downcast – humble, sombre, older, changed, and all of the things the commentariat say he is – because he lost the election.
Because, you know, he sort of did. Everyone, including his opponents – particularly the Tories, who selected Andrew Scheer because they thought he’d be a reasonable placeholder leader, until someone better came along – believed Trudeau was preordained a second Parliamentary majority. It was his birthright.
And he didn’t get one.
Blackface, LavScam, Aga Klan, GropeGate, deficits, the Griswolds Go To India: all of it came together to bring Justin Trudeau down Earth. And at the worst possible time, too. An election.
It can’t be denied, of course, that Scheer and his campaign manager ran one of the worst election efforts in recent memory. Jagmeet Singh lost half his caucus. Elizabeth May could only add a single, solitary seat to what she had.
Trudeau did poorly in the 2019 federal general election, bien sur. But he knows he is only Prime Minister because his adversaries did a lot worse.
So, he’s sad. He looks humbled. He’s seemingly older.
Canadians like it. An Abacus poll conducted a few days ago concluded that “a clear majority see him doing an acceptable or better job.” His party is more popular than it was, and Trudeau’s negatives – while still a bigger number than his positives – are shrinking.
We don’t know why you’re so sad, Justin Trudeau.
But we’re kind of happy about it
And I’m amazed CNN spelled “doughnut” correctly. Usually they spell it like these guys do.
PS: this proves that (a) we’re lucky that this counts as a scandal, when you consider what is going on right now in the U.S. Senate and (b) the world is crazy.
Washington (CNN) — A photo of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a Winnipeg-based doughnut shop has proved to be a lightning rod among pastry-enthusiastic onlookers online.
The confectionery controversy began when Trudeau tweeted a photo of himself carrying boxes out of the Oh Doughnuts shop in Winnipeg. “Picked up some of Winnipeg’s best to keep us going through another full day of Cabinet meetings,” the Prime Minister wrote. “Thanks for the fuel, @OhDoughnuts. #shoplocal”
The doughnut shop responded to Trudeau’s post with its own tweet thanking him for his visit. “We can confirm he carried these out the door. Pretty sure Health Canada would agree everything is okay in moderation,” the shop said.
Some rushed to praise the Prime Minister, celebrating his support for a local business. Others criticized him for what they viewed as an overly “expensive” doughnut purchase.
Trudeau appeared to be carrying five large boxes of doughnuts with two smaller boxes on top. According to Oh Doughnuts’ website, an assortment of 12 “regular doughnuts” costs $35 Canadian ($26.61 in US dollars), with assortments of 12 “specialty doughnuts” running as high as $47 Canadian ($35.73 USD).
Those prices rattled some social media users, who chided the Prime Minister for not favoring a cheaper alternative.
The Conservative Party – back when it knew how to win, and when it was preoccupied with winning more than whining – was pretty good at symbols.
Symbol-wise, ten years ago, the Conservatives’ communications strategy always came back a single theme: that Michael Ignatieff out-of-touch and from Mars – while their guy, Stephen Harper, was intimately familiar with the day-to-day reality of an average Canadian’s life, and was in fact just like the guy next door. “Everything they do, every speech, every photo-op, every avail, everything they do every single day – it’s all aimed at making people feel Harper understands their life, and Iggy has never lived their life,” I said to some Iggy folks.
For example, I said, look at the Conservative regime’s laser-like focus on (the cherished Canadian sport) hockey – and (the cherished Canadian coffee and doughnut franchise) Tim Horton’s. Harper seems to be obsessively preoccupied with both, even though he had been photographed furtively drinking Starbucks on the campaign trail, and no can recall ever seeing a photo of him in a pair of skates, ever.
“They’re political Everyman symbols,” I said, “and he’s brilliantly swiped both of them. He’s an economist, for Chrissakes – he’s just as much of an intellectual as Ignatieff, but he’s terrified of people finding that out. He wants our guy to be the brainy geek; he wants our guy to be the snob. So he goes after Joe and Jane Frontporch with hockey and Tim’s, and it works. Tim Horton’s hockey Dads, voters get. Harvard human rights professors, who don’t do sports and who hangs out with other pinheads, they don’t get.”
None of this was new, or exceptionally insightful. As early as 2007, smart folks were noticing how Harper was fixated on political symbols like hockey. The progressive folks at Straight Goods, for instance, wrote back in 2007 that “hockey is an important part of the frame of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Since , Harper has strived to court for the vote of the urban working middle class – people earning under $50,000 in trades, service industries, small business or sales. Establishing himself as a hockey-loving tough guy is intended to play to this demographic.”
To that end, Harper was frequently photographed cradling a cup of Tim Horton’s at hockey rinks, or chumming with National Hockey League all-stars. He even let it be known that he was writing a book about hockey, even though I can’t remember if it ever came out.
None of this happens by accident. Symbols aren’t part of politics – symbols are politics. Pierre Trudeau’s rose and pirouette; Jean Chretien’s Shawinigan handshake; Justin Trudeau’s baby-balancing and whatnot.
So, accordingly, I understand why many Conservatives dislike Justin Trudeau so much. First, Trudeau is way better at symbols than them. Way. And, second, Trudeau swiped symbols from them. It drives them crazy.
In their effort to get back at him, Cons overreact. They see a beard, they start posting memes that his father was Fidel Castro. They see him carrying doughnuts for his cabinet, and they actually go on websites to calculate (falsely) how much the doughnuts cost and (without proof) claim he expensed them. They see him periodically without a wedding ring, and spin tales about the state of his marriage. And so on.
I’m not saying political symbols don’t matter – they do, a lot. It’s just that you shouldn’t be swinging at every damn symbol that comes along, like some latter-day Don Quixote. You shouldn’t treat every photo op as a war crime.
Pick your targets. Keep your powder dry. Don’t overreact.
Symbols matter, a lot. But not everything is a symbol.
Now go eat a doughnut.
Does this mean Jean Charest is in or out? Does this mean Team Mulroney is going elsewhere? Does this mean Stephen Harper will not support anyone in the race, because none of them are him?
Who knows. But he’s in, he says. Here’s a quickie take on MacKay, pro and con.
- Was a senior Minister, seen as competent
- Helped unify the warring factions of the Right
- Nice-looking family, nice guy
- Crown prosecutor, smart lawyer
- Knows how to raise dough
- Knows the Atlantic region probably the best
- Seen as too Red Tory by New Conservatives
- Seen possibly as yesterday’s man
- Seen as sometimes enjoying the high life a bit too much
- Not seen as having a stand-out big achievement as Minister
- Can be remarkably unremarkable sometimes
- Why is he running?