Trudeau’s day in the sun won’t last forever
Perceptions by Gerry Warner
“He haunts us still” was the first line of Stephen Clarkson and Christina McCall’s critically acclaimed best seller “Trudeau and our Times” about Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Canada’s 15tth Prime Minister and often considered one of our greatest PM’s, though not without controversy.
Now his son, Justin Trudeau, appears to be doing the same if anything can be gleaned from the rapturous welcome he received from Americans of all stripes at the glittering state dinner held in Washington DC Thursday.
“I have to say I’ve never seen so many Americans so excited about the visit of a Canadian Prime Minister,” gushed US President Barack Obama. Rebecca Ostriker, a columnist with the Academy Award winning Boston Globe, described Trudeau as “Canada’s famously dreamy Prime Minister.” “Justin fever” has hit Washington,” said John Ivison of the National Post. Some of the gaga reaction even fell on Sophie Trudeau, who was described as a “soul mate” by Michelle Obama no less.
Phew! Would someone pass the smelling salts, please.
But once you get past the glitter, is there any substance to all this? Certainly it doesn’t hurt to have a Canadian prime minister lauded in the most powerful city in the world, especially one that just finished pulling our jet fighters out of Syria. But what happens when Canada and the US go mano-a-mano in the next round of softwood lumber negotiations? Will if give us any cred when the Columbia River Treaty is renegotiated or when we sell our commodities into the American market? I doubt it.
But for now you’d have to be an awfully grouchy and unpatriotic Canadian not to feel at least a little tingle of delight to hear the words Trudeau and Canada on the lips of so many American power brokers and celebrities. And so what if Obama chided us for the Stanley Cup not residing in Canada this year. He could have pointed out that it’s not likely a Canadian team will even make the Stanley Cup playoffs this season.
The fact of the matter is we in Canada have good reason to do a little bit of gloating over the current political situation in Canada vis-à-vis the US with the American primary contests having turned into a race to the bottom for the Republicans and a “revolt” against the “establishment” in both parties with ugly strains of racism and fascism in some of the rhetoric.
Don’t kid yourself for a minute. Most Americans, regardless of party, are green with envy at the sight of our new prime minister and his lovely wife. How can they be any other way when day in and day out they are subjected to Donald Trump’s orange hair bobbing up and down as he fulminates against Muslims, Mexicans and whomever happens to be on his hate list at the moment or Ted Cruise proselytizing like a fundamentalist preacher against the “establishment” of his own party or Hillary Clinton boring everyone to tears in yet another dreary speech?
It ain’t pretty now in the Excited States of America. So called “moderate Republicans” are playing a desperate game of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde trying to euthanize the monster they created themselves by harboring extremists, racists and hate-mongers in their midst for years. Purveyors of hate and fear like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage have dominated the AM radio waves for years with their fulminations about “Islamo-fascism” and hatred of immigrants in general while “fair and balanced Fox News has never met a fundamentalist, evangelical, right-wing extremist it didn’t like.
What goes around comes around, eh. And what is coming around in the Home of the Brave and Land of the Free is nothing short of scary. Fights are starting to break out at Trump rallies and even when he cozies up to the Ku Klux Klan his acolytes cheer.
One can only hope that the fundamental decency and common sense of most Americans will come out of the closet where it’s been hiding the past several months and assert itself. Otherwise the next great wave of refugees to cross the Canadian border will be coming from the South.
And I don’t mean Mexico.
Gerry Warner is a retired journalist