By Medicine Hat News Opinon on February 7, 2018.
It is safe to say the prime minister is having a bad couple of weeks as he makes his way through various town hall meetings across the country. This on the heels of a bad year, as our still rookie prime minister learns what it means to govern practically instead of idealistically.
The recent town hall gaffes highlight the weaknesses of Justin Trudeau, weaknesses which have always been successfully covered up in the past by charisma, charm and good looks. He is preachy. He is sometimes overly rhetorical and sickeningly emotive in his speech and manner. And he expects the Red Sea of partisan politics to part before his moralistic proclamations and earnest intent.
Trudeau is absolutely certain he has the moral high ground in every instance, but when confronted with instances where he clearly does not, he falters. Case in point, when Afghanistan war veteran and combat amputee Brock Blaszczyk confronted Trudeau in Edmonton last week about his government’s continued legal actions against a group of disabled Afghan war reservists in British Columbia, despite campaigning on veterans’ rights in the last election.
While it must be acknowledged that fight began with the previous Harper government, and the Liberals have invested an additional $10-billion in veterans’ programs since coming into office, Trudeau definitely jumped the shark when he retorted offhandedly: “They are asking for more than we are able to give right now.” It was a failure of empathy on Trudeau’s part, and illustrated a tone-deafness to the criticisms leveled by Blaszczyk. Not to mention it was just stupid politics. You can’t take on an amputee war veteran in a debate about veterans’ rights and win, and Trudeau should have known that from the beginning and avoided the confrontation entirely.
The second major gaffe Trudeau registered this past week was again at the town hall in Edmonton. A lady stood up and spoke to Trudeau idealistically about working together to advance “mankind.” Trudeau responded to her by correcting her choice of words and suggesting she use the word “peoplekind” instead. Despite serving up a huge chunk of red meat to feed the conservative “culture war” narrative, and being pushed back on by feminists who perceived the remark to be “mansplaining,” the biggest problem with this incident is Trudeau was daring to correct a fellow citizen on her choice of words like she was some little girl in his grade-school class.
The attitude and gesture revealed a salient fact about Trudeau’s character: He perceives himself to be more enlightened and intelligent than the poor dear lambs, us everyday Canadians, who don’t know any better and need to be taught the wondrous ways of having a progressive and liberal worldview. Trudeau not only succeeds in coming off condescending, even worse; once again, it is bad politics.
Trudeau had hoped to put a contentious and underwhelming 2017 behind him and start afresh by playing to his perceived strengths with these town hall meetings. However, a few weeks in he probably regrets the decision to get face-to-face with voters — who have in many instances heckled him, demanded answers to tough questions he has fumbled, and have generally forced him to lose his grip on the moral high ground. Trudeau has had to claw his way through of the sticky muck of the political trenches for much of the past week. The strange thing is he has largely done the most severe damage to himself, without so much as a trip, elbow or nudge from any his political opponents.
(Tim Kalinowski is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to http://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions.)
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