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Kamloops News

ANDERSON: Trudeau vs. Trudeau, a fading of promise

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June 26, 2019 - 12:15 PM




At a recent Silga Conference in Penticton in April, I had the honour of listening to the keynote speaker, Joe Roberts, recount his transition from an addict on Vancouver's skid row to the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company and ultimately founder of “The Push for Change Foundation,” which involved him crossing Canada from east to west on foot pushing a shopping cart to bring awareness to homelessness.

He presented a Powerpoint of his 16 month trip through rain, hail, snow and smoke, and when he arrived at the centerpiece frame he paused, clearly expecting a burst of applause. After a moment's hesitation at the smattering of half-hearted clapping and tittering, he laughed awkwardly and said, “well, that used to get quite a different reaction, um...,” he paused, “...before.” And everyone laughed.

The frame in question? Joe being greeted on Parliament Hill by Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada. “Before” was a time left undefined, but it takes no leap of imagination to conjure up halcyon visions of “sunny ways,” flowing locks, pretty socks, and endless selfies. “Before” was a time of promises and dreams and brave new worlds, where women would thrive and men would behave and all the world would stop and gape in awe because “Canada was back.” Gone were the dark days of the dread Harper, who boringly led us through a Great Global Recession we barely felt, because now the good times were rolling, a new day was upon us, and all wonderful things were possible, even probable. 

But many of us saw something missing, being the cynics that we are. Through the haze of virtue signalling we perceived a lack of substance. I wrote at some point in Trudeau's ascendancy:? Young, hip, sunny and pretty, aflutter on the pages of Vogue and its European counterparts, Trudeau the Younger promenades across the international stage, a princeling in a tailored suit. Fashion is taking the western world by storm this season, and Trudeau exemplifies our Antoinettian age of political whimsy.

All would be well if the world were but a catwalk.

In fairness, Trudeau might still be in the superstar stratosphere had he settled for catwalking, but he made promises too, as if he were a serious politician. He claimed to be a “feminist,” he claimed to be the harbinger of open doors and sunny days, a new type of politics, a guru of diversity, a saviour of the environment, a bringer of weed. He was, in the “before,” something of a tabula rasa and therefore all things to all people, but above all an emblem of hope, promise, and hip. A veritable 21st century Canadian Napoleon.

And then, one day, “before” was gone.

Unlike Napoleon, who began with nothing and gained an empire before losing it with a world-historical bang, Trudeau began with his father's empire and lost it in a gradual progression of folly that started almost as soon as he was elected.

It's received wisdom these days that the Indian fiasco was the moment the Trudeau ascendancy ended, but it wasn't really. The India trip simply marked the moment a heretofore fawning Canadian press – including even the CBC, itself existentially dependent upon the Trudeau machine – could no longer choke back its collective gorge and keep protecting him from his own actions. Especially once the international press caught wind of it and exposed our Prime Ministerial diplomatic slapstick to billions of people.

It's also customary to point at the Wilson-Raybould Affair as the final gasp of the Trudeau PMO, but it wasn't really. The regime was on faltering life support by the time Wilson-Raybould failed for the last time to save the PM from himself.

And that brings up another point. If India was Trudeau's retreat from Moscow and the Wilson-Raybould Affair his Waterloo, there is an important difference between Trudeau and Napoleon: Both lost, but Napoleon faced both the Russian winter and Wellington, and Trudeau faced only himself.

Far from being the turning points they are perceived to be today, the India trip and the Wilson-Raybould Affair were simply markers along a crumbling path of Trudeau's own making. Simply put, Trudeau's downfall was an incremental fading of promise.

More about that next week.

— Scott Anderson comments and analyzes from a bluntly conservative point of view.

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