Thursday, December 17, 2015

Justin Trudeau and the New Politics of Nice

I'm going to have to try to restrain myself from saying nice things about Justin Trudeau, lest people start thinking I'm running one of his many fan clubs.

Which since I voted for the NDP might be called fraudulent, or get me killed by one of my bitter NDP friends. 

But it's really hard not to say nice things about Justin, because he just keeps doing and saying things that move me and inspire me.

And so far at least, he is everything I had hoped dreamed a Canadian prime minister would be...

The leader who would wipe away tears after watching a video about the residential school tragedy.

And learning more about the suffering of so many of those children. 

"I remember the one young fellow that hung himself in the gym, and they brought us in there, and showed, showed us, as kids, and they just left him hanging there, and, like, what was that supposed to teach us? You know I’m fifty-five years old, and I still remember that, and that’s one thing out of that school that I remember."

As we should all weep.

And has vowed to implement ALL the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Or at the other end of the emotional scale, the big Star Wars fan, who would invite a group of sick children to a private screening.

So they could enjoy the space fantasy like he did when he was a child.  

While also showing that he is all grown up, not the boy the Cons tried to make him out to be. By agreeing to take part in a town hall organized by Macleans, where he slammed the politics of fear.

"If we allow politicians to succeed by scaring people, we don't actually end up any safer," he said. "Fear doesn't make us safer, it makes us weaker. At this time, when there is reason to be concerned for security around the world and here at home, we need to remain focused on keeping our communities safe and keeping our communities united instead of trying to build walls and scapegoat communities."

Impressed some of his toughest critics like John Geddes. 

Sometimes the pace at which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers moments of pure political-performance virtuosity is breathtaking. Consider just the past couple of days. On the evening before he took part in this afternoon’s Maclean’s Town Hall, Trudeau invited 20 patients from an Ottawa children’s hospital to a private screening of the new Star Wars movie. 

The photo of him sitting in the middle of a gang of grinning teenagers and kids in theatre seats has ruined the Christmases of countless Tory and NDP strategists who were only just beginning to recover from the Oct. 19 election result.

And argued that his politics of nice is more just image, it's also about substance...

“It’s not about image, it’s about substance,” Trudeau said. “That’s what so many of my political opponents haven’t understood. If you want to serve Canadians well, with the kinds of things they want to see for themselves and for their families for the future, you have to listen to them. You have to get to know people.” 

“You have to be engaged in real conversations and talk about their hopes and dreams for the country, and find out what’s worrying them, what’s going well, where they need a little extra help, what’s preoccupying them,” he said.

Which in this day and age I believe also happens to be really good politics. For unlike so many in the Con media, he understands that after so many years of Stephen Harper's politics of mean...

Being nice is also a blunt weapon to help bury everything that depraved dictator stood for, help make real the politics of change, and the restoration of our Canada. 

As well as making clear, in even the smallest ways, that he intends to be a very different leader...

One who listens and can relate to younger Canadians and is inspiring them like no other leader ever has.

And is for all the above reasons my kind of Prime Minister.

Time will tell whether Justin Trudeau can live up to the expectations he has aroused. Whether he can bring this country back from the deadness of the Harper years.

Or rescue it from the cynicism that is the cancer of the soul. 

But he is off to an excellent start.

And wherever he is these days Stephen Harper must be screaming...

The man he claimed was just not ready, is turning out to be quite a politician.

And his politics of nice are burying him and his Cons alive...

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  1. Anonymous8:47 AM

    I have been voting for 60 years and I have always voted NDP(well CCF n early times) and I have never considered it a lost vote because the NDP have always influenced what has happened. If not for Tommy Douglas we would not have our beloved health care system. Winning isn't everything and I think Tom Mulcair knows that too.

    1. Sorry but health care in Canada started in BC and AB in 1935. While Douglas did bring health care to SK and supported Laurier and Pearson to pass their Universal Health Care, he was not the one who started or brought the health care system to Canada.

    2. "The first implementation of nationalized public health care -at the federal level- came about with the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act (HIDS), which was passed by the Liberal majority government of Louis St. Laurent in 1957, and was adopted by all provinces by 1961. Lester B. Pearson's government subsequently expanded this policy to universal health care with the Medical Care Act in 1966."

    3. hi anon...I have a lot of respect for the NDP, I did vote for them after all. But I'm afraid to say I'm almost sorry I did, because the party I see today is not my NDP. How could it be when it allowed itself to be outflanked on its left by the Liberals. And Mulcair far from trying to inspire young people, set out to be as boring as possible. The NDP needs new leadership and a radical new approach...

  2. I keep wondering when this honeymoon will end and keep hoping it doesn't. I hope Trudeau doesn't burn out too quickly with the pace he's keeping.

    1. hi UU4077...I think Trudeau's honeymoon could last a long time, if he is able to maintain a good link to the population, and is able to motivate them even when the sunny days fade along with the economy. But yes, Justin should be careful to pace himself, because just watching him go makes me feel exhausted...;)

  3. Justin is right. Fear divides. We are stronger together than apart. I give the guy props, he's trying to be a builder.

    I don't think it's "nice." I think it's about making Canada a community rather than just some isolated communities who happen to like hockey or whatever. We don't have to all agree or even like each other, but we have to respect each other and listen from time to time.

    Harper never really saw that. Didn't even care for it either.

    As much as I loathe what he did I also pity him. He can't and won't ever understand what Canada really means to Canadians.

    1. Hi Dan..."Nice" is just shorthand for what you are talking about. The kind of decent community values that set us apart from the jungle values of the Cons. The kind of values that Stephen Harper has always despised.
      As a person I might pity him, but after what his psycho values did to our Canada, I can never forgive him...

  4. Anonymous1:22 PM

    Neo-Trudeaumania has left the realm of admiration, and crossed over into outright idolatry.

    Worst thing of it is, that even though I don't like the guy, and even though I think he's bad for the country, I think Trudeau is at least peripherally aware of his limitations and isn't entirely comfortable with the sheer ammount of fawning going on over at the CBC and elsewhere.

    But pay it no mind! The CON media still positively worships Harper.

    1. hi anon...well perhaps the adulation is a bit too much. But it's understandable since he is new to the world, and he has a generational appeal that cannot be underestimated. For many younger Canadians he is the first Prime Minister to look like them. That gives him a power no other leader can match. And whatever you think of him, nobody can deny that he has got off to an amazing start...

    2. Anonymous8:36 AM

      I can. And I do.

      He has no plan for Syrian refugees, he has no plan for the mandatory long form census. John McCallum was visibly drunk at a press conference about the Syrian refugees. If this generation thinks that all-style, and no substance constitutes an amazing start, then I need to buy more SPAM. A lot more.

    3. Er.. he's bringing 25 000 refugees here by Feb.. and 25 000 more at minimum by 20916. He has reinstated the long form census... what exactly isn't "planned" about that?

      Are you a bitter Conservative voter or a bitter NDP voter?

    4. Anonymous9:23 AM

      Scott - Bitterness is irrelevant, surviving you and yours is.

      When you come out of a cabinet meeting, and a reporter asks you, rightfully I think, if Canadians who refuse to fill out the now restored mandatory long form census will be jailed for so doing, and you mindlessly repeat mealy-mouthed platitudes about "engaging Canadians" whatever that means, that indicates that you haven't sufficiently contemplated the meaning of the word "mandatory." That's not planning, that's platitude. That's governing for the sake of optics, not substance. All he had to say was, "Well, we certainly hope that Canadians will comply with out edict, but yes, in the unfortunate event that someone refuses to fill it out, they're looking at jail time."

      As for refugees, you may remember that it was 25K by December 31st. Not 25K by February. Now, I'm splitting hairs a bit, but I knew they couldn't do it that quickly. The government just doesn't work that fast.

      It is December 19th. There are 13 full days left in December. I happen to know that the 'Forces by and large didn't even see an Op Order for the housing of the refugees until December 15th! The activation notice was handed down *yesterday.* At present, the government's own figures indicate that 1,186 refugees have arrived in Canada. That's 10% of the new revised goal. That means that we need to be averaging about 800 refugees a day, to even get 10K. The average flight brings in about 200 refugees. That means that to get them here, the government needs to run about 8 flights per day, during the busiest travel season of the year. And only about 2500 applications have been finalized at this point. The window for getting them here is closing very quickly, and I am extremely confident that the government will not be able to deliver their numbers by their deadline.

      This is not a plan; it's a hopeful platitude.

      That is not a good start by any definition.

      That you fail to understand or recognize it as such indicates the reason for the very first remark I made in this comment.

  5. Anonymous1:54 PM

    I've always voted liberal. Living abroad, our family always felt that in an International context, there is only one governing party for Canada. Although this election, I did not decide until the last week or two, since it was "anything but Harper".

    Maybe the honeymoon is the new reality. We are a bit pathetic in our PTSD from the cons, there is such a thing as nice. Hope everyone has great holiday.

    1. hi anon...yes I definitely feel like I am suffering from Post Harper Stress Depression, and I freely admit to being wowed by the show Justin is putting on. But I'd rather err on the hope and optimism side, that return to the bitterness and cynicism of the Harper years. I'm also not afraid to wear my heart on my sleeve and cheer for nice instead of cruel and ugly...

  6. e.a.f.2:56 PM

    What is fun is, we have a P.M. who can actually sit cross legged on the floor. Now how many countries can say that. means they are still flexible, in more than one area.

    Voted NDP all my life. This was the first election I considered voting for another party as part of the ABC strategy. Turned out I didn't have to, but I'm happy with the election results because the Cons didn't win.

    Nice works. Nice makes us feel good. Nice sets a good example for others. Nice doesn't cost anything. Nice can spread.

    The Coast Guard station in Vancouver is going to be re-opened! That is nice. It also saves lives. Granted the 2 communications centers which the Cons closed were not re-opened, but at least we got the Kits station re-opened.

    The picture with the teenagers watching Star Wars--Nice, fun, cool.

    Not everything Trudeau is going to do is going to make us happy and there will be mistakes, but hell, its better than the 10 years of nasty we just got out of.

    Once Parliament re-opens and revokes some of the bills Harper and his cons passed, life will be better. We will return to a more balanced Canada. Trudeau can't fix everything. he can't fix the price of oil, the stock market, the economy because much of it is controlled by influences in the world. However, what Trudeau can "fix" is some of the social issues Canada has had and he was off to a good start by attending the end of the residential school commission.

    1. hi e.a.f...I'm just glad to see a Prime Minister who resembles the people I know and like. And you're right, nice can be contagious, and after the Harper years we all need as much as we can get. These sunny days will fade as the problems this country faces become more apparent. But as long as our leader deal with them in a Canadian way, and upholds our values, I will be more than satisfied...

  7. Anonymous8:58 PM

    What shines through for me is that Trudeau genuinely likes Canada.

    Our country.

    No apologies, no made-up trite politico garbage. Just delight.

    For too long, we've apologized for ourselves. That attitude never seems to have crossed his mind.

    The man is genuinely proud to be Canadian, and that rubs off in a most positive way.

    Eventually the meanies in our police and security apparatus and the right wing Con cynics may realize they can stop being so darn sour as well and get with the program instead of spreading fear. Perhaps a hope too far, but I can dream at least for a while.

    1. hi anon...I think you're right, he likes Canada and he likes people. And since Harper didn't like either it is a huge difference. We have lost confidence in ourselves, we have tried to follow others too slavishly, when all we have to do is act like Canadians, which is more than good enough and better than most. As for whether the Cons can change their ways we'll have to see, but I doubt it. as long as they are wedded to their nasty base they never will change and they won't go anywhere...

  8. I didnt realize how great he would be, I wanted Mulcair but this is soo much better then I imagined.
    go Trudeau, keep up the good works

    1. hi deb...I share that feeling. I would have been happy with anyone replacing Harper. But Justin has done it with such energy and style I am incredibly impressed, and want him to succeed...

  9. Simon:

    You are now seeing much of the elements that converted me into a partisan Trudeau Lib for the last election. It was as much about his innate love of this nation and clear value and respect for the average citizen that got me as anything else, and after a near decade of Harper the balm for the political soul that was could not be overstated in its welcomeness. While I also did so for the practical reasons I have stated before, there was also this aspect too, which I believe I touched on from time to time, and I am glad to see you seeing it as it is instead of treating it the way far too many on not just the right but Dipper left are (just read some of the Babble threads on Canadian politics where Trudeau is concerned, the inability to recognize Trudeau for who and what he is is strong there too) these days.

    More and more though Mulcair is showing he is the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time even without the additional question of what does the NDP stand for now that its grand project of moving to the centre and replacing the Libs has failed. He could make a good centrist salesperson, but if the NDP moves back farther to the left, which it almost has no choice about to have any relevance, he is clearly not the right fit for the job anymore. Not to mention the NDP has a new credibility problem because it spent a decade moving away from its traditional positions and beliefs/practices, and if it now moves back to them it has shown that it is NOT the party of principles first that was its most core element of its brand. I do not envy the NDP base members these days, the real ones, the ones that stuck with the NDP for years/decades because they truly believed and once had a party they could believe in.

    Trudeau is something neither party seems to be able to understand how to deal with, and the attack approaches I've seen so far from both flanks I think far from hurting Trudeau and his honeymoon, (and the media which clearly is mostly hostile to Trudeau trying to say that honeymoon is already over is clearly showing its on issues) will aid in extending it.

    Trudeau is that rarest of political birds, he is WYSIWYG, there isn't that mask or pretense that is the norm in modern politics, and part of the problem his opponents have in this is that they are so used to having to deal with mask wearers and assuming all are wearing masks that the very lack of such is throwing off their attacks and their ability to read Trudeau accurately at all while the wider public can just feel this connection to him because of it, and it clearly is driving those on both of his political flanks crazy that it works so well for Canadians, including on many they would expect to be political opponents, like yourself for example. The problem for them is that Trudeau is not presenting a false face, and that while yes he likes to have things captured in pics, they aren't staged for political purposes first, last and always/only as we saw from Harper, they are capturing a genuine sense of the real man and what he feels like and how he feels with his fellow citizens, something we have been completely lacking from the Harperium, and like a person in the desert for days at the last moment finding water the feelings of intense refreshment and salvation this is triggering in so many Canadians cannot be underestimated nor denigrated, and that by doing so I believe is a mistake that will haunt both Ambrose/Mulcair and their respective parties going by their behaviour to date.

    1. Great post.. almost worthy of a blogpost on it own ;) Do you blog Scotian? I dont recall if you ever had your own setup that was affiliated with us a Prog Blog... I just remember a lot of laudable thoughtful comments in blog comment sections ;)

    2. I once blogged for a few years, went back to mostly commenting on other blogs and the odd news/politics sites. I never affiliated with any blog aggregator including Prog Blog, I was a true unaligned. I still keep my blog up though, and I did after the few year absence add a new post in the wake of the last federal election, if you really want a look the URL is:

      Part of the reason I stopped doing regular blogging is I have health issues, and I was finding it took too much out of me to maintain, I always felt an obligation to write to it (got to love that old fashioned sense of Catholic guilt...LOL) even when I was having bad days, and that got to be too much for me, whereas commenting on other sites I can do as I see/feel fit, which makes it a more attractive option to me.

      One thing I am consistent about though is I tend towards detailed comments, a Twitterverse type I am most certainly not. My comments tend to be at least as long as many people's blog posts, a fact I've had pointed out by more than few over the years, but it is the way I write, same as I speak, so c'est la vie. As a rule I find the only people that actually mind already dislike what I am saying, so I find their complaints about the format, shall we say, more than a little hollow.