If the government generally was playing it straight and not trying to gain re-election by defaming its opponents, Trudeau could have expressed regret, claimed he’d learned and moved on
The election campaign to date has been an exercise in idiocy and cowardice. It is obviously embarrassing for Justin Trudeau to have had to admit to attending an Aladdin-themed party in 2001 made up to look like Aladdin (although Aladdin was an Arab not an African, and blackening his hands was oddly laborious). But Maxime Bernier is right that Justin is not a racist, just a hypocrite. As Tucker Carlson, the Fox News commentator, said on Thursday night, the prime minister’s conduct is “sort of like finding out your super-sensitive brother-in-law, the one who tells you he’s a feminist, the one who’s always scolding you for your sexism is, in fact, hitting on the babysitter.”
The story broke in Time magazine and the spectacle of the United States splitting its sides laughing at a Canadian politician as they did over the late Toronto mayor Rob Ford is distressing to most Canadians. They rejoice in mocking American leaders; the reverse is mortifyingly embarrassing.
In fact, there was probably no intent to mock any racial or ethnic group in the several incidents that have been revealed (after Justin said on Wednesday night that there had only been one other in his life). This propensity for absurd costumes, from Superman and Lawrence of Arabia to the Afro wig and features, and the dreadful fiasco in India where he inflicted subterraneanly silly costumes on his entire family, is affected and worrisome.
He was a drama teacher and his father liked exotic costumes and foreign lands, but poncing through India in traditional outfits was like the prime minister of France and his family coming to Canada dressed like Jacques Cartier in frilly shirts and voluminous breeches, buckled shoes and three-cornered felt hats.
Justin would not have felt scatologically self-reproachful (“pissed off at myself” will not do as a public reflection from the leader of a serious country), and promised the media that there would be confessions to his children, if the entire Liberal campaign were not a systematic character assassination of Conservative candidates. One candidate at a time and a new one almost every day has been smeared with malicious tittle-tattle and innuendos that Liberal mud-slingers represent as proof of homophobia or misogyny.
This propensity for absurd costumes, from Superman and Lawrence of Arabia to the Afro wig and features, and the dreadful fiasco in India where he inflicted subterraneanly silly costumes on his entire family, is affected and worrisome
The Liberal campaign was planned as Justin was plying the country displaying his sunny ways and avoiding any serious discussion of issues while the Liberal hit squads incinerated the reputations of dozens of respectable Conservative candidates with spurious splicing and decontextualizing tactical slime from outdated remarks. It is all intended to portray reasonable people as monsters, and the Conservative party as led by and composed of feudal reactionaries and superstitious bigots.
It is the ultimate hand-me-down of the sleaziest American political skullduggery. This is from the rule-book of leftist 1960s urban guerrilla Saul Alinsky to his acolytes, Hillary Rodham (before she became Mrs. Clinton), Barack Obama and David Axelrod, the mentor of Justin Trudeau’s minder, Gerry Butts. Gerry Butts holds himself out as the continuator of Jack Pickersgill and Jim Coutts, chiefs of staff or close associates of Liberal prime ministers Mackenzie King, Louis St. Laurent, Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. They were charming scoundrels but civilized men at the reform edge of the political mainstream.
Butts imported Axelrod to assist in riveting on the back of Ontario for four terms the catastrophic government of Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne. Butts took the high jump in the midst of the SNC-Lavalin debacle, but instead of falling on his sword, he was just hiding behind the curtain. He designed a campaign, not of wit and stratagem and agility, as Pickersgill and Coutts did, but a cynical and sinister assault on honest electioneering. This was from the same version of public spiritedness that inspired Justin Trudeau to lie to Parliament about SNC-Lavalin, and prosecuted Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, with no evidence, and tried to starve him into submission, and then folded when show-time came in court, and finally bought the admiral’s discretion with hush money. The former commander of the Royal Canadian Navy committed the sin of trying to prevent the navy from degenerating into a coastal force with no ocean-going capacity. A government that would treat a patriotic officer with an unblemished career who worked his way up through 33 years in the navy so nastily cannot run an honest election campaign.
Here is the problem. Justin Trudeau is, as I have written here before, a pleasant and benign man, but not a strong leader, and his minders have a little of the complacent charm of the old Liberal wheel-horses and fixers, but they are hard, morally corrupt, cynical men practicing the politics of smash and grab, to hell with the practical consequences.
Foreign investment in Canada has declined by 75 per cent in five years while Canadian capital investment in foreign countries has approximately tripled. The storm signals are everywhere and the bell is tolling, and this government’s re-election program is to destroy the official opposition with false charges of racist, sexist and sectarian malice. It is an evil campaign. Justin isn’t the author of it, but he can’t escape responsibility for it.
The related problem is that this government cannot run on its record. In subsequent weeks, I will review the main policy arguments, but what we have had is colossal mismanagement of native people’s issues, absurd obsession with gender issues, and alarmist hysteria about climate and the outright oppression of the oil industry and of the province of Alberta. (The Alberta provincial Liberals harvested a sizzling 0.08 per cent of the vote in the election earlier this year; any Albertan who votes Liberal is a psychiatric case.) And there is the divertissement of legalized marijuana, but in a framework so heavily regulated that the legal providers of marijuana are not price-competitive with the illegal sources. This series of egregious policy failures has been funded with fiscal recklessness — high taxes and large deficits — the perfect consummation of fiscal incompetence. This is the government’s record and the election strategy is to distract attention from it by tarring and feathering the opposition.
If the government generally was playing it straight and not trying to gain re-election by defaming its opponents, Trudeau could have expressed regret, claimed he’d learned and moved on. The regime is creating a poisonous climate. The leader of the opposition, Andrew Scheer, is not a stem-winder and will not be teaching charisma studies as a post-political university career, but his calm response to the Aladdin incident was to criticize Trudeau, but leave the heavy criticizing to the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh. Scheer gives some promise, if elected, of leading what Orwell called “a government of decent men.”
On Wednesday night, the airwaves were crowded with representatives of ethnic and cultural minorities claiming Canada is wracked by “profound and systemic racism.” This is bunk and the country should not accept it — people may say what they wish but this is one of the most tolerant countries in the world and the best possible outcome of this election would be the cleansing of this steadily worsening ambiance of back-biting and imputing base motives to almost everyone. No one really cares about Justin making an ass of himself at parties years ago or even in India (though it embarrassed Canada). But the country cannot tolerate sanctimony from someone who hurls rocks at opponents who are good people, even if they are not overly exciting. This is the electoral process of a very civilized and relatively tranquil G7 country, not a re-enactment of the decline of the Weimar Republic.
Conrad Black is the founder of the National Post. His columns regularly appear in the National Post on Saturdays. For more opinion from Conrad Black, tune into The Zoomer on VisionTV (a property of ZoomerMedia Ltd.), Visiontv.ca.