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GEORGE: Trudeau's socks? What is truly important and why do we never discuss it?

February 27, 2018 - 12:00 PM

OPINION


Remember the 2015 federal election?  That was the one that could be pretty much summed up in two words: "Stop Harper".

Substantive discussion of the issues wasn't really on the table. Oh, we went through the motions all right. Candidates read their platforms (or eagerly awaited them at the eleventh hour) and dutifully doled them out to anyone who would listen.

But inevitably all we would end up talking about was Harper. Mission accomplished, Mr. Harper.

Frank Zappa quipped that "Politics is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex." I think you can tell if politicians have been doing their job if we are talking about anything but the substantive issues before us.

Which brings me to Trudeau's socks.

Much hay was made over the prime minister's family wardrobe during his recent visit to India. Even media from other parts of the world had a bit of a laugh. Interestingly, that seemed to be all that anyone from either side of the political spectrum could talk about this week.

No critique of the economy. No discussion of NAFTA. No pontificating on the sham of a C-51 review. No criticism of the government's position on the TPP or what is happening with the economy.

Just Trudeau's socks.

As long as we are talking about personalities, we aren't talking about political promises, integrity, policy decisions, or pretty much anything else that actually matters. That is pretty useful if you are the party in power.

Why the party in opposition and the media help them get away with it is something that needs thinking about. These two examples have been a big part of Canadian politics for the past decade or so.

A slow news week during the previous regime's time in power would see articles criticizing Harper for a long list of superficial things. The same has been true during the first two years of Trudeau's reign.

We aren't talking about his about-face on proportional representation. But we do have column inches to spare for his choice of wardrobe. No one is holding his party to account on any of their promises. They are all too busy smirking. 

My problem with Trudeau has far more to do with his lack of integrity than with his lack of fashion sense. Never mind campaign from the left and govern from the right. We're used to that from the Liberals. We're also used to broken promises. But the last election was all about personality, more than most others in recent times.

The Liberals absorbed platform promises from the Greens and the NDP, including proportional representation. They also rode the "Stop Harper" sentiment hard, positioning themselves as the ones to get the job done.

But it was Trudeau as compared to Harper that put them in power. Electing the Liberals expecting "sunny ways" was foolishness. What we got was a continuation of Harper era policy on the environment, trade, and especially pipelines.

I will acknowledge that Trudeau has been nicer about it, but the priorities remain the same. The partisan rhetoric that defines the border between Liberal and Conservative is wearing awfully thin these days, at least when we are talking issues that matter.

But have you seen Trudeau's socks? (snicker).

The reason our expectations were so foolish is found in the history of the parties. In reality, the difference between the two main parties has never been that great. At least not if you step back and look at what they actually do when in power compared to what they say when they're not.

Conservatives, for example, claim to be good financial managers and espouse dedication to curbing government. Turns out that they aren't that great at either thing. Liberals, of course, claim to be that natural governing party of Canada, based on some nebulous idea that Liberals are more tolerant, more progressive than the Conservatives.

The myth is that Liberal positions are more in keeping with how Canadians, in general, feel about the world and our place in it. It is total bullshit of course. The actions of both while in power say something different.

Calling the current government out over ethics or a lack of integrity is not a winning proposition. Not now, at least. 2019 is coming and with it a chance for Canadians to hold Trudeau and the Liberals to account for their performance during their kick at the cat.

I can hear the Conservatives firing up their war machine already. It would be nice if the media and the opposition would actually start doing their jobs.

Oppose the government and start holding its feet to the fire now. And stop assisting the Liberals with their distractions by falling for it.

I want to hear more fire and thunder about what the Liberal's are doing now. And a whole lot less about Trudeau's socks.

— Chris George believes one measure of a just society is found in how well it balances fiscally conservative economics with social responsibility and environmental soundness in all of its living arrangements.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2018
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