By Jonathon Van Maren
So last Saturday, the Liberals held their convention, with the apparent highlight being a speech by Justin Trudeau described by various news outlets as “stinging” and “blistering” in its criticism of Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party. Here’s how Global News described the speech:
Justin Trudeau unleashed a blistering attack on Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives Saturday, in a partisan stemwinder aimed at firing up Liberal troops as they prepare for a federal election next year…
The Conservatives, Trudeau charged, have learned nothing from their 2015 defeat and are continuing with the same negative tactics and divisive policies that characterized their government under Stephen Harper. He noted that Tory leader Andrew Scheer has dubbed himself “Stephen Harper with a smile” – indicating it was Harper’s temperament that caused the Tory defeat.
“No, my friends, Stephen Harper’s personal disposition didn’t fail Canada. His policies did,” Trudeau said.
“And if there’s one thing – and there may be only one thing – we’ve learned about the Conservative party under Mr. Scheer’s leadership, it’s this: It may be Andrew Scheer’s smile. But it’s still Stephen Harper’s party.
If there one’s one thing that you can learn from Justin Trudeau’s speech, it’s that the Liberals haven’t learned any new tricks since the 2015 election, and have apparently decided that Scheer’s nice-guy approach is so effective they’d prefer to run against Stephen Harper again. That’s a pretty weird approach, especially considering the fatigue voters are already showing with Trudeau’s embarrassing international antics—it’s like he’s saying I know you guys are getting sick of me right now—but remember the other guy? He was the worst! Trudeau even reprised his “sunny ways” thing, which is a bit well-worn at this point in his tenure.
In my opinion, the Liberals seem to be miscalculating what their actual mistakes are. For example, they managed to keep Trudeau’s catastrophic performance as a backup Bollywood dancer in India in the headlines even longer by botching their response to the inconvenient fact that a convicted terrorist and would-be assassin was invited to dinner with Trudeau, deciding to deflect blame to India. But most Canadians didn’t even really care about the Atwal affair. In fact, most Canadians wouldn’t have even cared about Trudeau’s goofy fashion show—except for the fact that he was so roundly mocked by both the Indian press and the international press (I even had a journalist in Russia bring it up to me with a smirk a couple of weeks ago.)
Canadians aren’t used to be mocked in the international press, which generally trots out lame clichés about Canadians being very polite and contrasting Canadians positively with Americans. Canadians are unbearably snobby about this sort of thing, and that’s why Trudeau’s seizure-inducing two-week wardrobe malfunction made them so upset: Because Canada was getting mocked. Canadians did not hand Trudeau tanking poll numbers because he screwed up a diplomatic mission to a major trading partner, which he did. They were mad because Trudeau embarrassed them—and this just on the heels of his internationally viral “peoplekind” comment, too.
Election 2019 is a long way off yet—a year is an eternity in politics. All Trudeau really has to do is stop screwing up, keep his flapper shut a bit more often so that Canadians stop getting confronted with the fact that he’s cartoonishly progressive and not particularly bright, and do a few more photo shoots to trigger some envious and respectful fawning from the Europeans again. Historically speaking, Canadians are forgiving and generally give their prime ministers a second kick at the can. But for the time being, reprising his 2015 attacks on Harper may be a lot less helpful than Trudeau thinks. After all, a recent Nanos poll had 29.3% of Canadians saying that there was “nothing” they liked about Trudeau, and only 9.3% saying that he is “positive, caring, and compassionate”—while 9.2% thought he meant well and “looks out for all Canadians.” Canadians might be forgiving, but they really, really hate being embarrassed.
For anyone interested, my books: The Culture War, Seeing is Believing: Why Our Culture Must Face the Victims of Abortion, and How To Discuss Assisted Suicide, are available for sale here.