Justin Trudeau is going to lead us out of the Conservative darkness. Tomorrow the son of Pierre Elliot Trudeau will become the 23rd Prime Minister of Canada (PM) and we should all be so lucky. He would not be the PM if his last name wasn’t Trudeau – this is the most important point to remember. He became the leader of the The Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) because after the Chretien/Martin years ended they needed a saviour. Dion was wrong right out of the gate. Ignatieff looked good, but was too easily mocked as a carpetbagger. Trudeau the Younger, handsome and charismatic (so they say) was going to lead the LPC back to its role as Canada’s Natural Governing Party. By looking at three points – his inheritance, his privilege, and his adherence to the global capitalist norm – we will see that Trudeau the Younger differs from our past leaders only in the same way one snake differs from another – that is to say not at all.
He Inherited his Job – If you can, go back with me and try to remember young Justin’s first time on stage before a national audience: his father’s funeral in 2000. After that display (which the unkind among us would say included a fair amount of histrionics) didn’t cynical Canadians know that at some time this guy would be throwing his hat into the political arena. He was just too slick and the people who fall for that schtick fell hard. I only had CBC and CTV at the time and I recall that eulogy being replayed over and over, viewers of Canadian TV loved it. Hell, you could eve bit the VHS/DVD of the proceedings.
The people that loved this eulogy were the people who loved his father, politically ignorant boomers. This brand of political ignorance, however, differs slightly from the one found amongst supporters of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC). The core belief found amongst these people, the ones who instinctively support Trudeau the Younger, is that Canada has more in common with a northern European nation than it does with the United States. The people who peddle and consume this absurd myth of Canada’s cultural leaning have a number of cherished sub-beliefs as well: Canada is a peacekeeping nation, the CBC is a great media organization (the masters level fools will cite This Hour has Seven Days), Canada has great healthcare and a strong social safety net, and (tee-hee) stronger beer than the USA. These people were ready to elect J. Trudeau PM the moment he finished that eulogy.
These people were shocked that Harper had the nerve to be elected and were never going to admit that despite his aggressive tone, his policies differed only slightly from those of Chretien/Martin. They saw in Trudeau the Younger what they (as old people) thought a young person should look and sound like. They thought that famous last name was going to be able to stand up to that devil incarnate (Harper). And his resurrection of Laurier’s famous “sunny ways” quote brought back pleasant memories of their twenties.
He acts as if he is somehow connected to average Canadians – Justin Trudeau was raised in 24 Sussex. On election night Joe Clark told an interesting story to Peter Mansbridge about how when Trudeau the Younger criticized him when he was PM, Trudeau the Elder took the Younger down to the Parliamentary Cafeteria the next day and had him apologize to Canada’s sixteenth prime minister, face-to-face.
Whose to say that this level of access to our elites is a bad thing. It may be that Trudeau the Younger’s ability to operate smoothly in this world will benefit him and his supporters. One thing it does do, however, is it disconnects Trudeau the Younger from other Canadians. What is normal for that man is what you and I would only experience as some sort of great luxury. Maybe if we won a contest and got behind the scenes access to Canada’s parliament or something.
Our new leader is a man raised on the teat of privilege and if we wish to remain objective about where his real interests lay, we must not let the catchy slogans and personable glad-handing that he, Kate Purchase, Katie Telford, and Gerald Butts devise distract us.
His policies are still those of a neoliberal – This became most evident when on November 19, 2015 Barack Obama announced that Canada would be signing the TPP, just like the USA. The classic LPC strategy of governing from the right was now apparent for anyone to see. Sure we can have a more inclusive cabinet. Women, Sikh, gay…it don’t matter. “It’s 2015” remember. But questioning the logic of global capitalism remains out of bounds. If I had the time I would list all the main points of the Washington Consensus and show just how uniformly Trudeau the Younger falls in line.
Conclusion -Imagine that Hillary Clinton does not become president. Imagine that someone like Ted Cruz does. Imagine that President Cruz is somewhat offensive in the tone he uses when addressing those who oppose him. Imagine that Mr. Cruz does nothing to offend global capitalist interests. Imagine that at the end of his second term, Chelsea Clinton steps up to the plate for the Democratic Party. Imagine you get a more inclusive tone. Aside from this change of tone, what else would the people of the USA be getting?