Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing wonder and awe — the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me. — Immanuel Kant
Sure, once I was young and impulsive; I wore every conceivable pin,
Even went to Socialist meetings, learned all the old Union hymns.
Ah, but I’ve grown older and wiser, and that’s why I’m turning you in.
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal. — Phil Ochs
Frank A. Pelaschuk
He ran full of boastful swagger and showy humility declaring his would be a different and better government, not only cleaner and with set of self-imposed ethical mandates but also truly representative with a gender-balanced cabinet with women playing significant roles. He was a feminist, you see, and wasn’t shy of reminding us — endlessly. As well, without any great public demand for it, with smug self-congratulatory defiant fanfare, he declared 2015 would be the last ever first-past-the-post Canadian election. Sounded good and the public voted; the pure of heart defeated the forces of darkness. Goodby Stephen Harper, hello Justin Trudeau.
The rodomontade promises were excessive, magnified hope and the big-rock-candy-mountain future; in his own words, “sunny ways, sunny ways” were here again, Trudeaumania revived, more potent than ever: peace and love reigned over the world. Well, Canada at the least, Trudeau’s no Trump. But fairy tales are for kids; even so, too many adults wanted to believe, buying in and still do; “give him a chance, give him a chance” say those to the doubters and critics. For some, however, the shock of recognition and disappointment quickly hit, hitting hard, the hopeful wavering, faltering, struck numb: They’re all the same after all, aren’t they.
Trudeau was no naïf nor his crew inexperienced. He knew exactly what he was doing. Most didn’t care but a few did and do. The scales began to fall from the eyes and hands began to wave away the cobwebs. The portrait of the handsome saviour prince and crew slowly emerges, a little clearer and more realistic, of consummate schemers, wheelers and dealers oozing, simply oozing charm, smarm, buzz words tripping off the tongues and attitudes and promises deployed as skilfully as any con baiting traps for lonely, befuddled, gullible prey; when challenged concerns are blissfully brushed aside…”it’s legal”, “we didn’t know the full picture”, deceptions, broken promises, the failures of ethics and stricken expressions of betrayed believers ignored.
Within months if not weeks, there was news, “sticky fingers”, and Trudeau instructing cabinet ministers to repay expense claims to which they were not entitled and defending those routinely breaking conflict of interest guidelines again and again, the justice minister once ludicrously justifying a fundraiser paid for by lawyers with the claim she had attended the event as a member of the Liberal party and not as the Justice Minister! Oh, it may be risible were it not so predictable and offensive; Trudeau, the handsome prince, was to be the exemplar but, as often happens in fairy tales, the prince is not always what he seems, the toad part of him increasingly exposed with each question tossed his way and denial hurled back.
There are always those who believe they are entitled to a free pass and those who always get it. Trudeau is apparently one such. Unfortunately, far too many are willing to play along.
Time and time again he and his gang broke his own loudly ballyhooed ethical mandates. Apparently no one noticed or cared: a flash of smile, furrowed brows, fingers tapping over the heart, and eyes oozing, simply ooze sincerity is all it takes for Trudeau and others like him, those guileful manipulators who know how to work the mob of innocents and/or fools. And Trudeau does. Still, with Trudeau, the “mistakes” occur far too often; one would think that even the half awoke would ask themselves, “Should we trust a man that careless and, if so, how much?”
Well, not much.
If he was to be the shining beacon, he demonstrated that not all pretty packages are that pretty though far too many still refuse to see beyond surface. While I was never convinced by him, I was, if sceptical, still willing to give him a chance. Many of us were. However, his easy dismissal of real concerns regarding conflicts of interest by the newly appointed justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, his own attitude regarding secret fundraising events and his undermining of electoral reform were more than sufficient evidence his promise of “sunny ways” had been a hoax. I find it incomprehensible so many refuse to see him as the charlatan and phony he is. What do they see that I don’t?
When he was forced to rejig the committee looking into recommendations for electoral reform after being called out for stacking it with liberals, we saw clear signs of the machinator at work. Then, several weeks into its mandate, with the committee revealing early signs of a likely endorsement for proportional representation, Trudeau began to pointedly muse that the public was no longer interested in electoral reform. It wasn’t true, of course. What was true was that he was setting the stage without having yet informing the public of his preferred option: the ranked ballot system. Eventually, Trudeau’s preference became public. When it became clear that the committee would deny him what he sought, a voting system that would ensure that only two parties would govern until Canada ceased to be, the public began to stir suddenly aware that what they had long wanted and sought, fair elections, was chimera, a pipe dream. Not all options were on the table and PR was definitely not a possibility for consideration by the liberals. In Parliament, following the reform committee’s recommendation, minister of democratic institutions Maryam Monsef publicly berated the committee in Parliament for “not doing” its job, i.e., giving Trudeau what he wanted. The furor was instant, loud and public, Canadians furious by the shoddy treatment handed the committee. Seeking to repair the damage, the liberals set up a phone-in poll to look into electoral reform. That, too, as with Trudeau’s first attempt to stack the committee, had been designed to lead to a specific desired outcome. So obvious and outlandish was the move orchestrated by the PMO, public rage and the minister’s incompetence led to her removal. It was left to Karina Gould, Monsef’s replacement, to drive the stake through the heart of electoral reform.
While this had been from day one Trudeau’s baby, he had neither the stomach nor the decency to do the dirty deed himself. As a result, this self-declared feminist had left it to two neophyte female MPs to not only discredit the work of the committee but the project itself. Monsef and Gould would be associated with the failure of the reform he had set in motion and then worked to undermine. What a man!
Later, battered from the fallout of free gifts, secret fundraisers, conflicts of interest, and electoral reform, he set about to refurbish his image with town hall meetings across the country. He swaggered before the crowd loudly and defiantly boasting of not regretting walking away from electoral reform (and those countless others whose hopes he had destroyed). Shame? Not a whit. His brainless supporters lapped it up. None of them saw that smiling, smiling toad prince facing them with thumb to nose and fingers waving: SUCKERS!
So, does Trudeau believe in anything? Probably only in the things that serve him and his interests. He easy bromides appear to comfort those seeking comfort. This is a man who cares. Until he doesn’t. He believes human rights is a priority unless it conflicts with Canadian business interests as he demonstrated by signing off on Harper’s Light-Armoured Vehicle deal with human rights abuser Saudi Arabia; he believes conflicts-of-interest are major issues except when he or members of his party routinely engage in the practice. The Aga Khan Foundation still receives millions from Canada while Trudeau receives a lukewarm warning from the ethics commissioner for breaking the rules and a minor fine for accepting a pair of expensive sunglasses. Trudeau receives a pass and there’s not even a hint of shame.
But what about his feminism? We know he’s a feminist; he screams it out at every opportunity. Yet, when offered opportunities on several occasions by reporters to denounce Trump’s misogynistic comments which were made public as Trump ran for the presidency, Trudeau remained tellingly mute except to declare, “Canada does not comment on American politics” and “Everyone knows I’m a feminist”. But do we? Does saying something make it so? And why, in god’s name, does he conflate standing up against misogyny as interference in American politics? Some have suggested that his stance was “prudent”. What they meant is this: For god sakes, don’t jeopardize NAFTA by annoying Trump. That’s the stand of cowards and for folks with fluid ethics: do the right thing only when there is no possibility of it biting you. That about sums up Trudeau. Unfortunately, kissing ass isn’t always a winner with Trump; he could still dump on you. Ask Trudeau.
I have always been wary of those who noisily insist we accept their public persona of themselves as the real deal. Perhaps that is why I have never bought into Trudeau’s “feminism”; it was too showy and utterly unconvincing. It’s much like Trump’s insistence he is a smart man; where’s the evidence?
Even so, I was mildly surprised by recent reports of a nearly 20 year old groping allegation which led to a community newspaper editorial at the time. Not only does the Creston Valley Advance piece cast doubt to the strength and sincerity of Trudeau’s claim to feminism, it also suggests the feminism may be dependent on the status of the parties involved. In the opening lines of the editorial, Trudeau had apologized, if that’s what it was, with the following, “I’m sorry. If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward.” According to the young reporter at the time, who was also on assignment for the National Post, she had been groped by the future world’s most famous self-declared feminist. Mind you, in those days, all she likely knew then was he was just the son of a more famous Trudeau. It was the PMO that responded to the allegations. Trudeau could not recall any “negative interactions” at the time words, as some have pointed out, with a lawyerly ring to them. Days later, on July 1, he spoke for himself. He could not recall any “negative interactions”. Sounded familiar. Feeble, certainly, and no outright denial. On July 5, perhaps aware that his response was inadequate, following a meeting with Doug Ford, Ontario’s new premier and Trumpian-lite cretin clone of the North, he responded more fully. Said he, “I do not feel I did anything untoward. Often a man experiences an interaction as being benign or not inappropriate and a woman, particularly in a professional context can view it differently (CBC National, July 5, 2018). Weaselly legalese. Inadequate. And no firm denial.
Clearly Trudeau holds himself to a standard less than he demands of others as when, upon taking leadership of the party, he swiftly and brutally booted two members from the caucus. Not only had he offered them no opportunity to a fair hearing, he had named them and kept from the public the allegations made against them. Trudeau would later claim that his zero-tolerance policy would even apply to him. Really? Judge for yourself. He gives to himself an exemption denied Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti, the two Liberal MPs against whom the allegations were made. Look again at the opening statement of the Creston Valley Advance editorial: by his own words, if the reports are accurate, he thought a reporter of a small community paper was fair game as opposed to one from a national paper. That statement years ago may be forgiven as an ill-conceived apology by a young man but when coupled with his July 5th statement, one cannot help but wonder if his is indeed a deep-rooted belief regarding women and status. “Often a man experiences an interaction as being benign or not inappropriate and a woman, particularly in a professional context can view it differently.” Why “particularly in a professional context”? Perhaps menials as well as the less educated and sophisticated, as with small town reporters, are viewed as not only incapable of awareness of sexual harassment when inflicted on them but also as fair game: all hands on board!
The reporter of years ago has made clear that Trudeau did apologize as reported. She has also made clear that, for her, the matter is closed, a part of her past she has no interest in revisiting.
But voters do have a right to know of this episode and to question and challenge Trudeau’s credibility regarding his feminism and apparent double-standard regarding zero-tolerance when it comes to harassment.
He has set himself up to holding a standard that he has demanded of others. When they have failed or have been seen as failing, he has punished them. Yet he apparently is immune; for him, the bar is lower if non-existent. He is fond of legalese and weasel words and they, as much as his failures in ethics and keeping promises and his oozing, simply oozing sincerity, tell us all I need to know about the man. I see no charm, no saviour prince, no man of deep-rooted integrity. I see a phony. I see a toad.
Folk with fluid ethics and easy virtue almost always resort to legalese: “what I did was legal”. Is it really too much to demand that they also be honest and ethical?
But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine
They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. — Benjamin Franklin