The end of ‘Trudeaumania’

Canadians have had enough of Justin Trudeau’s empty gestures.

Kevin Yuill

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Topics Politics World

‘Congratulations to Canada’s first black prime minister’, said more than one wag on Twitter after Justin Trudeau, the erstwhile darling of liberals everywhere, just managed to scrape his way back into power this week.

Trudeau first became internationally famous for photographs of him shirtless and later infamous for photographs of him wearing blackface. But his love of dressing up was not the only thing to undermine ‘Trudeaumania’ – a term coined when Justin’s father Pierre Trudeau was prime minister in the 1960s and 1970s.

This week’s election had no real winners. Trudeau’s Liberal Party lost 27 seats in the House of Commons. His share of the popular vote also dropped – by 6.4 percentage points, from 39.5 per cent in the 2015 election to 33.1 per cent in this year’s. The Conservatives won the largest share of the popular vote this year – 34.4 per cent – but came second in the seat count. The New Democratic Party, under Jagmeet Singh, who surged in the polls as the election approached, was down 3.8 percentage points from 2015. Bloc Québécois and the Greens, however, both gained around three percentage points.

Trudeau sought to consolidate liberal support by legalising marijuana and imposing a carbon tax. He gained from the relative buoyancy of the US economy, with which Canada’s economy is closely intertwined. He promised ‘sunnier days’ when taking office. He was the master of gesture politics, famously appointing a gender-balanced cabinet ‘because it’s 2015’. And as Donald Trump promised to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, Trudeau tweeted: ‘To those fleeing persecution, terror and war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcometoCanada.’ Thousands of Haitians and central Americans took him at his word, crossing the US-Canada border that year, largely into Quebec, fuelling the resuscitation of the near-dead separatist party, Bloc Québécois.

These gestures ensured the support of liberals abroad – Barack Obama, for instance, expressed his support for Trudeau in the run-up to the election – but not Canadians. The blackface scandal made the press throughout the world, but Canadian voters also had the SNC-Lavalin scandal on their minds. Jodie Wilson-Raybould – who Trudeau, as he appointed her, boasted was the first indigenous Canadian attorney general – resigned from the Liberal Party after she claimed Trudeau subjected her to ‘inappropriate’ lobbying aimed at preventing SNC-Lavalin, an engineering company and Liberal Party donor, from facing a criminal trial over alleged corruption. Wilson-Raybould, standing as an independent, handily won the Vancouver Granville seat, despite a huge effort by Liberals to retain it.

One of Trudeau’s favoured gestures is the meaningless mea culpa. Rather than apologising to Wilson-Raybould – which would have had some meaning – he much prefers apologising for incidents with which he has little connection. Within six months of taking office, he said sorry for the 1864 hanging of five Tsilhqot’in chiefs; he said sorry to passengers of the Komagata Maru, a ship transporting people from the Indian subcontinent to Canada who were denied entry on racial grounds in 1914; and he convened a national inquiry into unsolved killings of indigenous women. After the inquiry, Trudeau entered the realms of conspiracy theory by accusing the Canadian government of ‘genocide’. (As a police report noted in 2015, almost all killings of indigenous women are by an intimate or by someone known to the victim.)

Many of Trudeau’s symbolic gestures have exacerbated the fault lines between First Nations communities and others. Public meetings in Canada now open with a statement of acknowledgment that the meeting is occurring on land formerly held by indigenous people. But this has done nothing to help these communities today. A pre-election poll found support for the Liberal Party among First Nations peoples had halved from 40 per cent in 2015 to 21 per cent. Such gestures did not endear him to the majority of Canadians, either.

The dog that didn’t bark in this election was the much-feared ‘populism’. The People’s Party of Canada (PPC) clinched no seats and attracted less than two per cent of the popular vote. Party founder Maxime Bernier, who left the Conservatives last year, blamed ‘nasty and shameless attacks’ from opponents for the PPC’s poor showing. There may be some truth to those claims. The Globe and Mail reported that a strategist, Warren Kinsella, had been hired by the Conservatives to ‘seek and destroy’ Bernier’s upstart party and portray its supporters as racist.

But Bernier was most likely hoist with his own petard. Many of his policies were the same as the Conservatives’. The only real difference concerned immigration. Despite Canada being a nation of immigrants, with many being recent immigrants, Bernier tried to hype up fears of immigration. He even promised to build a Trump-style fence along parts of the Canada-US border to thwart irregular migration. But the idea of having a fence along the largest land border in the world is frankly ridiculous and Canadians know it.

Having failed to secure a parliamentary majority, Trudeau will now have to broker a deal with the left-wing NDP or the Bloc Québécois. The most likely ally for Trudeau is the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, who has made commitment to climate-change targets and funding healthcare key requirements for their cooperation. But such an alliance could provide the Conservatives with more support in the future.

Trudeau’s ‘sunnier days’ have clouded over. Even though he has clung to power in this election, his days are surely numbered. Gestures can only get you so far.

Kevin Yuill teaches American studies at the University of Sunderland. His book, Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalisation, is published by Palgrave Macmillan. (Buy this book from Amazon (UK).)

Picture by: Getty.

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Comments

H McLean

24th October 2019 at 11:12 pm

Being Australian, before Trudeau came on the scene I’d never really followed Canadian politics. I knew of Harper, of course, and got the impression that for many he represented the mean-spirited and penny-pinching side of conservative politics. While Trudeau was able to coast to victory on the back of disillusion with Harper’s government and his own dishy looks sweeping female voters off their feet and into the ballot booth, since then he has been shown to be a shallow fraud and entirely corrupt.

His repeated blackface transgressions alone should have done him in but it only proves again the old maxim about people on the left having disposable principles. Imagine the outrage if it was revealed that someone like Trump (or any politician right of centre) had dressed up in blackface not just once but, like Trudeau, several times. There would be a public outcry like never before, there would be million-strong marches demanding resignations. But with Trudeau there is not even a raised eyebrow. People on the left say they care but their actions show it’s all theatre and their principles are reactive depending on who has committed the sin.

Then there’s the SNC-Lavalin corruption. That Liberal voters can ignore such a villainous betrayal of public office speaks volumes. Trudeau should be tried and imprisoned for his actions – on multiple fronts, really. but especially for his treatment of Jodie Wilson-Raybould. It really was that serious.

The Conservatives can only blame themselves. Under Trudeau the Canadian parliament has been a wretched hive of scum and villainy so winning should have been an open goal. Andrew Scheer had his moments but they were too few and far between, and more than once he showed himself to be too small-minded to be genuinely up to the task. They have their work cut out.

The only good news is the Liberals and Trudeau, without their super-majority, will probably face some push-back especially on their rampant and profligate spending. Canada has some of the world’s most eye-watering debt that many pretend to ignore but it will cost them dearly in the long run. One upside is Trudeau’s second term as Prime Minister will most likely be a short one as Canadian minority governments tend to fizzle within a year or two. He can’t go soon enough.

Neil McCaughan

24th October 2019 at 8:09 pm

That anyone should vote for such a simpering cretin beggars belief.

Amin Readh

24th October 2019 at 10:07 pm

I hope it really craws!

Ven Oods

24th October 2019 at 6:41 pm

He’s just a nice woke bloke: why’s everyone being nasty to him?

Jerry Owen

24th October 2019 at 12:51 pm

A Readh
As long as you know what you are on about that’s fab !

Amin Readh

24th October 2019 at 10:06 pm

@ Jerry Owen

Class As only. You? Have you read a book yet? Do you wan me to recommend you one? In fact, I can set out a complete syllable for you.

Paul Evans

25th October 2019 at 7:19 pm

No thanks. I don’t think we “wan” you to recommend anything to civilized people, especially somebody who doesn’t know the difference between a syllable and a syllabus. Now go back to your third world country and stop trolling parasite.

jessica christon

24th October 2019 at 12:02 pm

There’s no two term limit in Canada like the US is there? If not then he could be around for much longer!

Michael Lynch

24th October 2019 at 10:39 am

What is it with people that they keep voting for creeps like Trudeau? The man is an outrageous fraud, a mere self promoter who is only interested in himself. Empty gestures combined with fake sincerity always seem to win over the crowd. It’s a phenomenon that’s always bemused me. It’s like my Aunt, who lived in America for over 40 years, she hates Trump but loves the likes of Bill and Hillary Clinton. I told her to watch the PBS documentary about the Monica Lewinsky affair and other Clinton scandals. It was a truly shocking bunch of revelations about the pair of them and clearly demonstrated their abuse of power. Especially him having to fight dirty legal battles against several sexual allegations. The way Lewinsky was treated was downright criminal; bear in mind that he was the President at the time. Despite watching, my Aunt still declares her enthusiasm for him and blames Lewinsky!

Jim Lawrie

24th October 2019 at 1:46 pm

A lot of women are suckers for pretty boy smarm.

Second, there are those who see him as maintaining their interests, most of whom are in the public sector, or live well on contracts from there.

Third, there are the ethnics whose sense of entitlement and grievance is nurtured and indulged.

If the New Democrats in Canada were serious about carbon cuts, they would halt oil and gas exports to The USA. That would collapse the economy overnight and reduce Canada’s own emissions to a fraction of the present.
It is fossil fuels that are paying for all this grandstanding. Like the UK, instead of rebuilding the country with the oil wealth, they are squandering it. The energy security provided by Canada is allowing the USA to withdraw from the Middle East.

Michael Lynch

24th October 2019 at 2:19 pm

You’re spot on about the pretty boy smarm. I watched no end of girls chasing after these types in my youth. It was so embarrassing to watch them fawn over guys like that. They’d get their fingers burnt by them and the spend the rest of their lives condemning all men!

You obviously know a lot more about world economics than me, but it’s also a bit like the Australian lot I think. They sold millions of tons of coal to China and then try to put themselves off as so concerned about the climate. The hypocrisy of Western establishments is staggering to behold. It’s the same with the Public sector; we pay for them and yet they are intent on spitting in our faces all the time. As long as I live I’ll never understand human behavior. I’m afraid that’s why we will be ultimately stuffed as a species. Let’s all face it, if 650 people in Parliament can’t agree over Brexit then how do Western establishments expect 7 billion people to agree action over climate change?

Amin Readh

24th October 2019 at 10:13 pm

@ Jim Lawrie

“Third, there are the ethnics whose sense of entitlement and grievance is nurtured and indulged.”

Up speaks our resident White Racist.

USA was NEVER dependent on ME for energy. Look it up rather than spouting that old rubbish. US always has had the capacity to produce mor energy than required. Not always the political will for various reasons, but the capacity ceratinly.

Amin Readh

24th October 2019 at 10:09 pm

@ Michael Lynch

Because Bill was actually competent politician – despite being rapey. You have got a f*cking nerve! Waves that Trump hat about whilst trying to speak about fake self-promoters.

Michael Lynch

25th October 2019 at 12:36 am

What’s not competent about Trump? Booming economy, no wars, no rape allegations and no dreadful identity politics. He’s not pretentious like that clown Trudeau either. I suspect you don’t like him because he’s an old white man. By the way, I don’t use profanity to goad others so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t either.

William Murphy

24th October 2019 at 9:33 am

My favourite comment on the Trudeau victory came from Mark Steyn:

“blackface beats no-face. [UPDATE: Or two-face.]”

https://www.steynonline.com/9791/the-banana-vote-song-tallying-time

jessica christon

24th October 2019 at 11:56 am

Mark Steyn fan here; he outdid himself with that one!

Jerry Owen

24th October 2019 at 12:50 pm

Jessica Christon
Ditto
Pure coincidence I watched him this morning talking about Trudeau before I saw this article.
His books are a great read if you haven’t already !

jessica christon

24th October 2019 at 1:14 pm

@ Jerry I havent read any of his books, I’m just a YouTube follower but I’ll look on Amazon to see if I can get any of them in audio format (read by him would be an added bonus). The man is sheer brilliance and each time I think “Oh he won’t be able to top that one”, he does!

Jerry Owen

24th October 2019 at 3:18 pm

Jessica Christon
Try :-
‘After America’ .
‘The Undocumented Mark Steyn’ .
‘From Head to Toe’, which is hilarious ( to me anyway ), more non political , if that’s possible !
He did one on climate change a 101 PHD scientists debunking M Mann’s hockey stick graph. Although interesting after a few scientists views it gets a bit repetitive and i never did finish it.
He writes like he speaks.. Audio would be even better !

Michael Lynch

24th October 2019 at 2:31 pm

Brilliant. Best laugh I’ve had in ages. Thanks for the link.

Jim Lawrie

24th October 2019 at 9:31 am

He is for blacks, against Whites.
For women, against men.
For identity, against merit.
But most importantly he is for his own class against all others, making temporary, tactical alliances with the lickspittles for so long as they know their place.

There will be be a few Canadians regretting not having voted Conservative to be rid of this creep.

Amin Readh

24th October 2019 at 10:18 pm

@ Jim Lawrie

You have got the White Supermacist Trump you wanted in the White House? Bitter little twit, aren’t you? Hopefully we can wipe you Whites out of US, Canada, NZ, Australia.

Believe me in the coming century I am happy if Whites mostly kept themselves in Europe. Extending to Russia, stopping before Turkey. I am willing to do the exchange, fuck off into Europe and quit the rest. South America stays as is. And you can kick out all the “ethnics” out of Europe. Deal? What says you White Lord?

Amin Readh

24th October 2019 at 10:19 pm

You have got the White S*permacist Trump you wanted in the White House? Bitter little tw*t, aren’t you? Hopefully we can wipe you Whites out of US, Canada, NZ, Australia.

Believe me in the coming century I am happy if Whites mostly kept themselves in Europe. Extending to Russia, stopping before Turkey. I am willing to do the exchange, feck off into Europe and quit the rest. South America stays as is. And you can kick out all the “ethnics” out of Europe. Deal? What says you White Lord?

Jerry Owen

24th October 2019 at 7:59 am

Trudeau introduced a carbon tax and he still won. What a bunch of masochists the Canadians are.. racist as well it appears !
Your welcome here Mr Steyn.

Jerry Owen

24th October 2019 at 10:09 am

* you’re *

Amin Readh

24th October 2019 at 10:04 pm

a twat!

Dominic Straiton

24th October 2019 at 6:21 am

The left unconditional support of this joker is beyond parody. Their complete hypocrisy makes them a laughing stock. His absurd “apology” was one of the comedy highlights of 2019. Personally I see no difference between Al Jolson and Grayson Perry but they all do.

Michael Lynch

24th October 2019 at 11:31 am

I love to see the media put two Trudeau photographs together; the one of him and family attending an India temple in traditional Indian dress and the other of him blacked up in a turban. How anyone in their right mind believes that he didn’t know it was a racist thing to as a 29 year old teacher is beyond me. People really are naive fools when it comes to these tricksters.

Jerry Owen

24th October 2019 at 11:56 am

Michael Lynch
Most people that blacked up just blacked their faces, nowhere else as they wore white gloves on their hands.
Trudeau on the other hand (!) blacked not only his face but his legs ( he wore ripped trousers ) and his hands.
He certainly does racism good and proper !

Michael Lynch

24th October 2019 at 2:27 pm

Jerry. I remember the controversy a few years back over the Black and White Minstrel show from yesteryear. There was outrage and plenty of self flagellation to be had over that from the high ups who made the shows. Yet not a word of condemnation from the left regarding this creep. I wouldn’t mind if it was one incidence, but this blokes got real form and three photos from three separate occasions have surfaced. I suppose Racism is perfectly fine as long as it’s carried out by the so called left progressives?

Andrew Leonard

24th October 2019 at 1:56 am

The Conservatives won the largest share of the popular vote this year – 34.4 per cent – but came second in the seat count.

No doubt the left will be railing against this travesty of justice, and demand sweeping changes to the constitution of Canada.

Amin Readh

24th October 2019 at 1:25 am

Yet here he is in government, again. Spiked double standards when Spiked doesn’t get its way…

Andrew Leonard

24th October 2019 at 1:43 pm

No doubt your great personal integrity would have prevented you from rationalising away the Blackface incidents.

Amin Readh

24th October 2019 at 10:04 pm

@ Andrew Leonard – The blackface incident didn’t count for much – for anyone either side of the debate for different reasons. I think he is far more a wily politician than he is given credit for. And he [Trudeau] is clearly in it for himself. Is he a hardened progressive? I think not. He is certainly going to pass on the prestige on to his kids – like all well-fed lefties.

Andrew Leonard

25th October 2019 at 5:30 am

“The blackface incident didn’t count for much”

Except for an outright majority, and lending weight to the notion that well-fed lefties are morally overweight hypocrites.

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