Saturday, December 03, 2016

Michael Harris On The Demonization of Justin Trudeau

The other night Justin Trudeau turned up at an event in Toronto's Distillery District, bearing a bag of gifts to add to a so-called Toy Mountain for poor children.

And I was amazed to see how cheerful and relaxed he looked, after the barrage of criticism he has had to endure in the last two weeks.

With the Cons and the right-wing media going after him like rabid hyenas, for calling Fidel Castro a "remarkable leader."

And some progressives blasting him for his pipelines decision, and even calling him another Harper.

Which is not only absurd, it's practically obscene. Have they forgotten the real monster so soon?

But what that diseased demonization does remind me of, is the way some progressives in the U.S. went after Hillary Clinton instead of fighting the real enemy.

And by so doing helped elect a deranged demagogue with fascist tendencies as their president. Free to dismantle their country, free to strip away the human rights of women and LGBT Americans. Free to torch or blow up the planet.

Which is crazy.

So I'm glad to see that Michael Harris is also questioning the demonization of Justin Trudeau, calling it "bumper sticker" criticism. 

Justin Trudeau’s detractors are doing their best to turn the boy-prince of Canadian politics into a dictator-loving tar pig. 

And did I mention he’s also a “coward” to boot — the conclusion of MP Michelle Rempel, the CPC’s poster-girl of nothing in particular, if you don’t count sofa selfies? 

Now it’s the sanguine work of cutting throats from ear to ear over single issues, whatever they might be — praise for Fidel Castro, approving pipelines, arms sales to a despotic state like Saudi Arabia. Anything that will fit on a bumper sticker will do. Trudeau Loves Dictators. Trudeau Lied on Pipelines. Trudeau is Stephen Harper with a Six-Pack.

And I'm especially pleased that while Harris feels free to criticize Trudeau, as anyone should, he believes like I do that his still young government deserves a fair shake.

In the end, Canadians eventually will decide if Trudeau kept more promises than he broke, or belly-flopped in the task of restoring hope in a political system widely discredited under the Harper Conservatives. 

They will have to decide if he is, all things in, a better person that Stephen Harper or any of the Conservative leadership candidates looking to replace him. Hopefully their decision will not be based on loons chanting, “Lock him up,” but on a critical look at all that he has done — and not done.

And sees in the demonization of Trudeau an echo of what happened to Hillary Clinton... 

Part of the assessment of the current government ought to include a clear-eyed appraisal of the alternative. Americans who who fell in love with the idea of ditching the political establishment did everything but consider what they would get in its place. It’s the curse of the iconoclast. 

As a result, they now have a president with a permanent conflict-of-interest between his private affairs and public duty, a misogynist, a serial liar, a climate-change denier and a pro-torture Commander-in-Chief.

Which is just to say to all those bumper-sticker boo-birds anxious to slogan Justin Trudeau out of office before he’s really begun — are you really ready for the alternative?

While I stare at that alternative and ask myself these questions. Who is best equipped to keep those right-wing beasts at bay? The ones who are engulfing the world. If not Trudeau WHO?

Where would those frenzied boo birds, those old Trudeau haters take us?

Who do they think they're really helping? 

And have they really forgotten our long nightmare so soon?

And the good news?

About ten thousand people crowded into the small Distillery District the other night to see Justin, cheer him loudly, and try to get a selfie with him...

It was an absolute love-in, you had to see it to believe it. So what happened to Clinton will hopefully not happen to him.

For he's no Stephen Harper, he's the man who destroyed the Cons.

So as the darkness of fascism descends on the United States.

In Canada the Christmas lights still burn brightly...


  1. Hillary deserved all the critisms she got. Are people not allowed to critize Trudeau now, we all have to applaude him like seals no matter what he does?

    1. hi Gyor...Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate, but nobody will ever convince me that Trump is better. Sometimes the left has to unite to defeat the greater evil, and that's what should have happened in that election...

  2. I still don't follow, Simon, why you seem to think that we progressives are suddenly supposed to stop being critical of the capitalist system and the politicians who represent it and prop it up. I, for one, will continue to criticism every politician who comes to power; I will do my best to keep their feet to the fire because that is my duty as a leftist and a citizen. And I believe that it is disingenuous of you to suggest we do otherwise. There are decisions that Trudeau has made that if the Cons had made them you would have slayed them. I will never be a slave to Trudeau's smile, nor any other leader's charisma. It's not enough to simply say "Trudeau's not Harper." That seems like a straight-up cop-out to me. Just because a terrible politician is replaced by a new leader doesn't mean that we suddenly shouldn't be allowed to criticize. And I don't follow why you think that Trudeau's popularity is an argument, it's not. Plenty of terrible dictators have been immensely popular. Now that a leader you like is in power you seem indignant that citizens have the gall to criticizes. Well, I won't be silenced.

    1. Hi Kirby...nice to hear from you again, and sorry I was so rude in answering your last comment. I was just exhausted and in a horrible mood and I didn't meany any of it. But as for Trudeau, I'm not asking you not to be critical of the capitalist system, or not to criticize Trudeau. I just find the criticism over the top, and I don't like to see any of our leaders demonized. For I saw what happened in the U.S. and the result was disastrous.
      We're living in a small-c conservative country, Trudeau never promised to reform or destroy the capitalist system, just to make the country better and more Canadian and so far he has. I'm not a partisan, if the NDP had a leader who was better and more capable of holding off the Cons than Justin, I would vote for him or her in an instant.
      I see the world now locked in a giant struggle between the left and the right, and progressives need to be less picky or pious, and unite to defeat the greater evil. And the only reason I keep pointing out Trudeau's amazing popularity is because I like to remind people that there is a discordance between how most Canadians feel, and those who live in the or chamber of social media, or the bubble of single issues. Trudeau has done nothing he didn't promise to do. As a Prime Minister of a country where tens of thousands of oil workers are unemployed in places like Alberta and Newfoundland, he has to be seen to be the Prime minister of ALL Canadians. And at this point, and until someone else better comes along, he is our best chance of defeating the Cons in the next election. As Harris suggests the only alternative.
      And demonizing him or calling him another Harper will do our side no good...

  3. The love-in continues for the willfully ignorant.

    C51, KM, LNG, ERRE are not bumper stickers. They are issues and promises the Libs are failing on.

    Full disclosure: I voted for selfie-boy to get rid of Harper and expected to be somewhat disappointed. The Libs are way worse than I hoped and expected.

    1. hi Northern POV...Trudeau made no promises about KM, ERRE is still alive, and Bill C-51 is slowly but surely being revised. As I told Kirby, Trudeau has to be seen to act as the Prime Minister of ALL Canadians. Without offering anything to Alberta he would never get that province to sign on to a cross-Canada carbon tax which is the best weapon at our disposal to fight climate change by greening our country. But let's be honest, the real problem is that what's left of the NDP wants to see Trudeau destroyed thinking that will make them more popular, when if you look at that trend poll I included in the post that is not happening. And the only way the NDP will make its way back is if they have a leader as popular as Trudeau. And right now they've got nothing.I mean it's fine to walk around like the religious police in Saudi Arabia chastising people for being impure. But in Canada that's the reality, and that's how the system works whether we like it or not...

    2. Simon, you're flat out wrong. Trudeau made plenty of promises about Kinder Morgan. He promised that it would require First Nation's approval and "social licence" which, he added, can only come from communities. He promised to clean out the industry captured National Energy Board and fix it's rigged decisions. And then he reneged on every one of those solemn promises, the lot.

      And, while we're keeping score, Trudeau approved the sale of masses of armoured fighting vehicles to the biggest state sponsor of radical Islamic terrorism in the Middle East and the very heartland of the vicious form of Sunni Islam practiced by the worst terrorists - Saudi Arabia - that has brought such suffering and death to Syrians and Yemenis alike. Trudeau's Canada supports them.

      Then your leader tried to sell us down the road on TPP claiming that, bad as it is, it'll go worse for us if we don't capitulate. And, while we're learning to capitulate, Morneau tells our young people to prepare for a life of "job churn" because, being working class in Canada from here on in means joining the precariat. This is then backed up by the governor of the Bank of Canada who tells the business caste that the good jobs aren't coming back and we'll have to settle for competing with India for outsourced, low-wage IT work or take jobs as chambermaids and guides for the tourism industry (see Canadian Business for that one).

      This is also the government that placed itself above (outside) the law by shamelessly watering down the assisted dying law.

      You left out the part where Harris noted that Trudeau has written off 80% of his emission targets by approving the expansion of the Tar Sands and the extra Kinder Morgan pipelines. What Harris overlooks is the other emissions associated with the Site C dam and the Woodfibre LNG operation Trudeau also approved.

      Three environmental outrages, all in British Columbia, all in his first year. What's not to like, Simon. Where you are it's all out of sight/out of mind. Where we are it's betrayal upon betrayal upon betrayal.

      Trudeau has finished Ignatieff's work. He's expunged the last traces of liberalism from the Liberal Party. Today's Liberal Party is not the party of Trudeau, Pearson, St. Laurent and Laurier. Those four united and built Canada. These guys, first Harper and now Trudeau, are tearing it down.

      In a way I'm starting to feel a bit like Scots feel about the English.

    3. hi Mound....Trudeau made it clear during the last campaign that he was going to try to balance the economy and the fight against climate change. And that he was also going to be the prime minister of all Canadians. Those who live in British Columbia and those who live in Alberta.
      And as for all the rest, I'm not going bother arguing with you anymore, you have your opinion and I have mine, and I have a feeling the two will never meet. Age is mellowing me, and your last line helped soften me up further. ;)
      But what I will still do is ask the same question Michael Harris asks: What is the alternative?
      It should be clear to everyone that beyond single issues, the big picture is that the right has declared war on us, and until somebody better comes along, in this country Justin Trudeau is still our best chance of defeating them...

  4. Anonymous11:07 AM

    I am always amused by the way some progressive are outraged by Justin Trudeau's popularity. As if they owned the truth, and the masses are as dumb as cattle. That's the mistake Clinton made and look where we are now.

    1. hi true, we on the left have a tendency to look down on the masses, and think that we know best and they are just too dumb to understand that. It didn't work for Clinton, and it won't work in this country....

  5. Anonymous11:48 AM

    Simon, I find it a bit strange you would vote for the ndp over the Liberals, the ndp has historically shown to run hideous neo-liberal governments at the provincial level. If you take a look at aboriginal poverty levels in Quebec vs Saskatchewan and Manitoba you will be amazed. And a lot of that in Quebec was accomplished by the Quebec Liberals who pretty much get dragged everyday as neo-liberal shills. Look at the work the great minister Geoffrey Kelly has done on this file.
    I also should remind you that the ndp were pro-Saudi arms deal, pipelines, anti-bds (anti-any criticism of Israel tbh while the lpc allowed Andrew Leslie to stay a candidate), pro-trade when they thought they were close to power. The Liberals have historically ran some of the best governments in the western world, but please tell me how fake Woody Guthrie poser Angus will do a better job.

    1. hi anon...I said I'm not a partisan, I'm only interested defeating the Cons wherever they may raise their ugly heads. So I would only vote for the NDP if they had a candidate better equipped to defeat those scumbags, than is Justin Trudeau. Right now that is not the case. I doubt the NDP will ever be able to come up with a leader as popular as Justin. So right now, and probably for a long time, I'm with him...

  6. Anonymous12:03 PM

    Let's face it Simon, the Cons and their media enablers have been demonizing JT from the moment he became the liberal leader. Their endless, petty and vindictive whining over anything he does may sate their base/one-toothers and cause grumblings amongst the fence sitters but that's it. Anyone with the capacity to understand the mess he inherited from Harper will be the most patient in his attempts to fix it. There will be lose lose situations such as the pipelines, but he went out and delivered the message, then faced the music.
    The Cons will continue to piss and moan about everything and I don't agree with some of what JT's done but I also understand the many catch-22 situations he'll have to deal with. When those difficult decisions are made, he will be the one delivering the message front and centre, not some underling on a Friday afternoon while he's hiding in a closet, so to speak.

    1. hi JD....The Cons have indeed been demonizing Justin Trudeau from the moment he declared his candidacy. It's been an appalling spectacle, and the worse case of political bullying I have ever witnessed. But here's the good news. As they should know by now, the more they attack Justin the more damage they do themselves. And since I loathe bullies, the more they carry on like that, the more I loathe them...

  7. Anonymous1:00 PM

    Oh come on Simon, lighten up a bit! I know you've gotta be feelingthebernier. ;)


    1. hi MC...actually I'm feeling pretty good these days. The approach of winter has cleared my mind, and made me determined to enjoy life as much as I can, before the great whiteness closes in. Which of course why I would welcome feelingthebernier.
      One it will help keep me warm, and two it will definitely keep me laughing....

  8. Anonymous11:01 PM

    Why is everyone attacking Simon when most of his post quotes Michael Harris? And why don't any of those critics answer the question:

    "Are you really ready for the alternative?"

    1. e.a.f.11:36 PM

      They attack because they can and its easy. They forget that little thing called freedom of speech and democracy. If people don't like what Simon has to say, they don't have to read the blog. They can go some where else. there is no need to attack Simon. And really as you say, "are you really ready for the alternative". Like ask yourself folks do you want Trudeau or Kelly Leitch. Its a no brainer for me right now. The NDP is currently in third place and it is not ready at this time to challenge any one When they are, we can talk, but until then, we had better think of how nice it is to have Trudeau instead of Harper.

    2. hi anon...thank for that. I too wonder why they're attacking me instead of Michael Harris. And why they won't answer his burning question.
      But luckily all Con attacks bounce off me like water off a duck's back. And when Canadians are asked that question, I'm pretty sure I know what their answer will be...

    3. hi e.a.f...well thank you too for sticking up for me. And for asking the obvious question, what do Canadians want? A leader like Justin Trudeau or another Harper?

  9. e.a.f.11:33 PM

    I live in B.C. on the coast. I am not happy about more tankers on our coast, but the decision has been made. Do I hate Trudeau? Of course not. He is not P.M. for just B.C. He is doing what he believes is the best for Canada.

    The pipeline may or may not be built. there are court cases which will go forward. Even if the pipeline is built, they may have to cut back on the number of tankers per month. The pipeline alone is not the problem, its the tankers on the coast.

    I am thankful there will be no pipelines through the North and the Great Bear Rain forest or the northern coast. Sometimes when you govern a country hard decisions have to be made. the decision has been made. If Harper had still be P.M. who knows how bad this country would be off.

    If you don't like a government always think about what the alternative might be. As a long time leftie, I'm still good with the federal Liberal party running things, even if I didn't vote for them.

  10. hi e.a.f...yes, as I told Mound, sometimes a prime minister has to make some hard decisions, and the last thing he can afford to do is favour one province over another. As far as I know, even if Kinder Morgan is built which I frankly doubt, it would only add one more tanker a day to those who are always moored in English Bay. Which while it's not ideal, is hardly the end of the world as some people are trying to make it out to be. If it was up to me I would banish them all, and I do understand why many people who live in Vancouver are upset. But then I'm not the prime minister, thank goodness. And Canada may be a big and beautiful country, but it's not easy to govern, and it's almost impossible to please everyone at the same time...

  11. Anonymous11:47 AM

    I've noticed that of late too... everyone seems just determined to tear him down. Just as another data point, I noticed on my Twitter feed that the Globe continuously tweeted out the same Op-Ed from a native leader blasting Trudeau for his pipeline decision.

    Whenever the Canadian media starts to fall into the same traps as the American political press, I get nervous. The job of the press is to hold Trudeau's feet to the fire, and they should, but it's at times like this where the double-standards come out from the usual directions that has me concerned that they're falling into the same "horse-race" dynamic that American outlets do.

    If Trudeau is rising too high, throw everything but the kitchen sink at him to take him down a peg. It's how we heard about Clinton emails for months.