If you’re in Montreal and especially if you can get to NDG tonight, there’s a really interesting event happening at the Coop La Maison Verte.
Progressive Salon (Salon Progressiste) aims “to offer regular opportunities for Montrealers to convene and discuss in a serious and structured way the great questions challenging Canada” and tonight’s Harm Reduction in a Marijuana World – the implications of legalization of marijuana in Canada will have you wondering what life will be like if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau keeps his promise to introduce legislation to legalize pot this spring.
I have so many mixed feelings about our current Canadian government. After so many years of seeing pretty much everything I love destroyed under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government, you’d think I’d be thrilled with our progressive, “feminist,” prime minister.
But I can’t shake the feeling that this government is all about photo-ops and I’m tired of seeing a slick marketing machine.
I mentioned it before on this blog. I’ve been sick. I have some sort of chronic illness that’s making me feel incredibly tired and is messing up my digestive system. I’ve undergone all sorts of tests and conventional medicine is not giving me any answers. It could be IBS-C, food intolerances, something with my gallbladder, a microbiome needing nourishment. Friends have made excellent suggestions, I’m trying out different solutions, am changing my diet (which already was mostly vegetarian and usually low-fat!), and I think I will be fine in the long run. But being home sick means I’m watching TV.
I was watching a clip of one of our federal cabinet ministers, I won’t name him, but all I could think of was ‘wow, that goes guy does not have a hair out of place and does he have a manicure?’ I’m supposed to be listening to what he’s saying but instead of listening I’m thinking, ‘wow, he looks a lot more styled than what I’m used to.'” Then on International Women’s Day, all the Members of Parliament (MPs) were gone for the day, replaced by young women who sat in the MP’s seats in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister was there addressing them and listening. The young women were amazing but all I wondered was the event even about them? Or was it, you’re such a feminist, Justin! What a gent! What a photo-op!
As a teenager I met my MP, the late Warren Allmand, who at different times in his career was a cabinet minister in Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s government (Justin Trudeau is the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau). Mr. Allmand wasn’t ill-groomed but he didn’t look like he’d stepped out of GQMagazine either. He looked normal. He spoke normally too. He wasn’t on message all the time. He wasn’t looking for a camera. And he didn’t give me the feeling he wanted to be liked. He just did his job.
My high school wasn’t co-ed so I have no idea what life is like in a typical high school. But to me, Justin Trudeau’s cabinet is like some sort of student council run by the popular kids. They look good and they want to be liked and they think they’re cool. Why does everyone dress like it’s school photo day all the time? Why is their hair so perfect? Do they have a stylist on standby? And why is everything they say so scripted? What happened to simply being yourself? Or staying on message but speaking in a normal way?
Here in the Montreal area a scandal recently erupted surrounding a nomination for a Liberal MP in the Saint-Laurent riding. The local borough mayor wanted to be the Liberal candidate in an upcoming by-election but he wasn’t selected even though he had tons of credentials and knows the area incredibly well. The word on the street was the federal Liberal party had chosen their own star candidate and wanted her to get the nomination, even though she wasn’t from Saint-Laurent. Last night the star candidate the Liberals had supposedly handpicked came in last during a nomination vote. To everyone’s surprise, a young woman from Saint-Laurent secured the nomination instead.
It’s a relief to know that not everyone is drinking the Trudeau Kool-Aid. People want an MP from their own neighbourhood, not someone the Liberal brass parachuted in. Substance matters more than style. In Saint-Laurent the people’s voices were heard.
Political parties need to remember their grass roots. Their representatives need to listen carefully to voters and connect. I would love to see the folks in Trudeau’s cabinet go off script from time to time. Life is not an endless press conference or a marketing campaign. I vote for keeping it real.
If you’ve been following Canadian politics, no doubt you’ve heard about #elbowgate, an incident or series of incidents that happened on Wednesday when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lost his temper. As a vote was called, a group of New Democratic Party MPs were apparently blocking Conservative whip Gordon Brown from returning to his seat*
* Nancy McKnight, who works for the Parliament of Canada, says in a comment on a National Post story that Brown was “was not trying to get to his seat. He was trying to get into position in front of the Speaker where he and the government bow to the Speaker and then towards each other signalling the Speaker he can now proceed to the taking of votes. The NDP ganged up and closed off his path. A childish delay tactic.” In the interest of getting the facts right, I’ve corrected my wording below.
Trudeau strode across the House of Commons, walked through the group of MPs, apparently shouting “get the fuck out of my way” before he grabbed Brown by the arm, supposedly to lead him to the front (I guess the Conservative whip couldn’t head to the open space to the left of the NDP ; imagine the symbolism!). In the process Trudeau’s elbow struck NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau hard in the chest.
Though he’s apologized at least three times, it looks like Trudeau’s honeymoon is over. He’s ruined his image as a feminist. You don’t expect a feminist man to use force to get his way and while I think striking Brosseau in the chest with his elbow was an accident, it’s still shocking that the reasonable, “sunny ways” prime minister would do anything like this.
I’ve had my own weird experiences of people thinking it’s okay to forcibly put their hands on me. I’m of average height but have a small/medium frame so I look approachable and easy to push around. A few weeks ago an older man doing the greeting at Vaudreuil’s Costco store grabbed me by the arm and led me to the other side of the store after I asked about where I needed to go to return an item. I told him my partner was in the store and I wanted to go back inside to let him know I was heading to the customer service counter on the other side but Monsieur decided to physically stop me. I complained to management right away. I have no idea if the man is still handing out coupons and greeting people at the front of the store.
Once I was shopping in a grocery store and carefully reading prices I think in the butter section. Or maybe I was looking at yogourt. Whatever I was doing an older man decided to move me out of his way, as though I were a piece of furniture. He lifted me and then put me down somewhere behind the section because he wanted to get something and I was in his way. The incident happened very quickly. I was shocked and had no idea what to do. The man didn’t appear to speak English or French and he disappeared out of sight.
I have no idea where these men learned it’s okay to grab people or move them and I wonder why Justin Trudeau would even consider a physical approach. Not only is he prime minister and supposed to be setting an example and exhibiting a certain decorum and restraint, he says he’s a feminist so that would suggest he would know how to use his words and not force, and he would take a collaborative approach to solving problems, even when he’s dealing with a frustrating situation.
I’ve been on the fence about Trudeau so I suppose I can’t say my honeymoon with him is over since it never existed to begin with.
Update, May 23, 2016. I don’t think what happened should be seen as a big scandal but Trudeau apologists are certainly chiming in with the attitude that since Trudeau has apologized, anyone upset by Trudeau’s behaviour is making too much of a fuss (f.y.i. Canada has had its share of unusual prime ministers but we’ve never had a prime minister before this who got physical inside the House of Commons).
Comedian John Oliver’s piece about #elbowgate is an example of what I mean.