Loudest criticisms of Trudeau still the dumbest

Conservatives are welcome to keep up their line of attack, but it will fail

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The loudest criticism of Justin Trudeau from conservatives remains the strangest, and perhaps dumbest. It is essentially this: That people like him. For a movement looking to re-define itself and expand its appeal, this is problematic.

By now it is of course quite familiar, but this week’s visit to Washington, D.C. increased its volume.

“Vanity Fair, Vogue, the Daily Mail, 60 Minutes, the Panda Heritage Moment at Toronto’s zoo — [Trudeau] generates more gloss than Revlon and threatens single-handedly to rescue the lifestyle pages of a thousand newspapers,” Rex Murphy suggested.

Former Conservative press secretary in the Harper PMO, Sara McIntyre, said the visit ushered in a world “a flutter with rainbows, puppies and unicorns,” and dubbed Trudeau the “Vanity Fair prime minister.”

Ezra Levant’s TheRebel.ca tweeted a strange photo-shopped picture of a dinner at the White House, with Trudeau inserted at a small table in the corner. It was captioned: “Trudeau state dinner. 44 years old and still seated at the kids table”.

The media was criticized as well.

On Thursday, Darrell Bricker, pollster and co-author of 2013’s The Big Shift, a book about how conservatives might rule Canada for the next 100 years, tweeted: “Cdn journalist feeds today on PMJT’s state visit like a bunch of kids on a school trip. This will bring the viewers, readers back (not).”

And then there was the weird and ridiculous line going around about how when former prime minister Harper was given a state dinner in Israel, Harper “didn’t even tell us about it!”, as Postmedia’s David Akin tweeted this week.

This remark was in reference to the same state dinner at which Harper once again broke into song at the piano and for which the following headlines, among many others, were generated:

  • “Stephen Harper serenades Israel’s prime minister with ‘Hey Jude’ at official state dinner in Jerusalem” — National Post
  • “Stephen Harper covers Beatles classic during state dinner in Israel” — Global News
  • “Canadian PM wows the Netanyahus with ‘Hey Jude’” — Haaretz.com
  • “Canadian Prime Minister plays Hey Jude to Israel’s Benjamin Netanhayu” — The Telegraph

David Akin, filing at the time for the Ottawa Sun from Israel where Harper sang at the state dinner, wrote that by the time Harper left Jerusalem “he was an actual rock star…. On all four days he’s been here, it’s been one precedent-setting honour after another.”


The thing about the attacks levelled at Trudeau, is that sitting right in front of conservatives are plenty of other, better, ways to not only criticize the new prime minister on serious issues — the kind we were told all week were being ignored during the D.C. visit — but with which they might contrast a new, refreshed, conservative vision of Canada.

For instance, the Trudeau Liberals have already reversed a number of regulations and laws the Harper government put in place. They’ve brought back the long-form census. They’ve made changes to things like immigration and are making headway in creating some kind of national carbon pricing scheme. They’ve completely overhauled the income tax code. That’s to name only a few.

All of which, one might think, would give the Conservatives (and conservatives) plenty to use in an attempt to build a very interesting contrast.

Yet, even when that is occurring from time to time, issue-to-issue, it is regularly being drowned out by ridiculous twaddle about liberals-around-every-corner and a continuing of the siege mentality under which the Harper government operated for the last decade — the stuff people just rejected entirely at the polls six months ago.

In other words, any coherent policy message from the Conservative party is being undermined entirely by those in whose best interest it is to showcase it: conservatives.

Of course, the true hilarity of all this distracting fulmination — the continuing idea that Trudeau is merely some celebrity-seeking inexperienced childish bozo — reveals itself in the concurrent Conservative search for a new leader.

For who is currently near the head of the pack of potential choices? It’s Kevin O’Leary, a bombastic self-promoting literal reality TV star with no experience in government, who has never held elected office, and offers no discernibly coherent policy plan beyond the angry grumblings he appears to randomly select as necessary to fix what’s not yet broken.

Given all we heard this week about the allegedly emptiness and celebrity-as-politics of Trudeau’s state visit, we might logically have assumed that conservatives can’t stand O’Leary. Turns out — as Akin reported a few weeks ago — they actually think he’s great.

The point is that none of the criticism lobbed at the new Liberal prime minister or at the media covering him hints at any bigger message from conservative Canada other than: “we are angry”. And unfortunately, no matter what is happening south of the border politically, anger is not an ideology, nor is it broadly appealing. Canadians are generally pretty happy.

And they like their new prime minister. It is on this point that most of the criticism this week ultimately hinged – that Trudeau is a popular guy. It’s a bizarre starting point from which to build a line of attack, and it has already been proven utterly useless. Yet, it remains the go-to horn conservatives blow the loudest, and most often.

The end result of such a constant clarion might be that it leaves some to assume, based entirely on volume and repetition that, well, maybe there is no such thing as a refreshed conservative vision of Canada. Is that true?

Some might say there is such a vision, but that nobody’s willing to give it air because, y’know, liberal media. But appeals to media bias for coverage only go so far. Complaints that the media covers one narrative more than another might simply mean the other narrative sucks — that it is either not compelling or maybe just not obvious. Or overridden by silliness.

We can grant a partial pardon, perhaps. Having alternative policies to present in any cohesive form might be difficult given the state of the Conservative Party at the moment — its leadership currently interim, its place in government gone — but if one starts as one means to go on, things are looking pretty bleak.


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