Trudeau Leads With Hypocrisy

August 1st, 2016 | M. Menuck
trudeau hypocrisy

Oh how quickly time flies. Only yesterday it seems Justin Trudeau was haughtily declaring "because it's 2015!" following the swearing in of himself and his gender-balanced cabinet, and now here we are rapidly approaching the one year anniversary of his election. It is at points like this that typically people choose to take stock and assess how a new government has performed thus far into their new mandate.

It certainly cannot be said that Justin, the boy King, has been loitering on the job; he has been all the hare and none the tortoise when it comes to pursuing his agenda. He's racked up massive deficits (far in excess of the teeny, tiny ones of "a modest ten billion a year" he pledged to in the previous campaign), reversed himself on his commitments to the First Nations, taken down the Queen's portrait from the government's walls, withdrawn our jets from the fight against ISIS, and brought in an entirely unnecessary expansion to the Canada Pension Plan. What is most remarkable, however, is not these radical departures from the previous government of Stephen Harper that Trudeau so recently deposed from the halls of power, but how in one particular way Trudeau has not only stayed the course of his predecessor but gone further than he ever would have dreamed.

The old Harper government was often derided by the opposition for being arrogantly autocratic, abusive of Canada's parliamentary traditions and procedures, and riding roughshod over its political opponents. To be fair, these criticism were not entirely unfounded. All governments, as time goes on and they grow longer in the tooth and shorter on patience, tend to go this way eventually. Towards the end of their mandate, the Tories certainly had become undeniably cynical and manipulative in their governing style at times, and proved to be woefully unable to change their tactics from those that were unsightly but justifiable to ensure their survival as a minority government when they finally achieved a majority mandate in 2011.

It is astounding, then, that despite still being in the toddler space of the lifespan of the government, the Trudeau Liberals have proven to be such adept students of their old opponents ways that they have fully surpassed their old mentors in the dark arts of political subterfuge. The Harper government had a combative relationship at times with the Parliamentary Budget Office at times over the state of the nation's finances and could be cagey about revealing information requested by it, under Trudeau the PBO has openly accused the current government of deliberately publishing misleading figures to further its own political narrative. Harper was often chastised for abusing omnibus bills to ram through legislation without proper parliamentary scrutiny, is practice has continued under Trudeau without any sign of lessening. The Tories were famously lambasted in the media for holding tutorials for their MPs on how to disrupt committees and filibuster changes they did not like, the Liberals under Trudeau went so far as to attempt to stack a parliamentary committee on a subject of no less significance than electoral reform in its own favour only to back down under intense public pressure. Harper was accused of being unnecessarily negative and personal in his political attacks, Trudeau has waved the bloody shirt of one of his own MP's terminal illness to force through changes to the national anthem (which were opposed by a majority of the public it should be noted).

Given all this, it is flabbergasting that Trudeau has coasted through these various snafus without apparently incurring the slightest scratch. He continues to be astronomically popular with the Canadian public, and the reason largely seems to be a matter of tone. Young Justin, it seems, is just so likeable in contrast to grouchy old Steve that the public is willing to forgive in him the faults they drove the previous PM from office over. As David Tomlinson sang in the childhood classic Bedknobs and Broomsticks "It doesn't matter how I do it as long as I do it with a flair!" and that seems to hold true for Trudeau as well. Because he's handsome, and outgoing, and his wife holds her hand over her heart at public events, the voters give him a pass on his blatant and brazen hypocrisy.

From the time of Plato through to the present day, critics of democracy have held up the superficiality and shortsightedness of voters as the greatest flaw of the system. They would gleefully seize on present circumstances as justification for this view, in my opinion. Am I overacting here? I would argue no. While it is true that, as noted earlier, all governments tend to grow cynical and brazenly self-serving over time, even the worst critics of the Harper years would likely concede that at the beginning of their mandate the Tories did engage in genuine efforts to introduce reforms to further transparency and accountability to our governing institutions. One could, with some justification, hold them to account for abandoning these principles as time went on, but what does it say of Justin Trudeau's government that he has not even had this initial phase of unsullied optimism before reverting to the same tactics and transgressions of those who came before him.

This is only compounded by the fact that Trudeau was likely propelled into office, more than for any other reason, by his pledge to offer a new kind of politics that was free from the self-serving skullduggery he criticized the old government of. Voters always get the governments they deserve, it is said, and if Canadian voters are so gullible as to let such brazen hypocrisy pass then they will indeed deserve everything that this will mean.

It will be our shame. An eternal shame. Nothing but shame.