Time for a change : our latest Canadian madness is really starting to make us look dumb in the global village

Apr 3rd, 2019 | By | Category: In Brief

Pierre Trudeau as Minister of Justice and Attorney General with Prime Minister Lester Pearson, at Federal-Provincial Conference on Canada’s Constitution, February 1968.

We have two main objectives in this short note on the latest episodes in what the Montreal Gazette has nicely called “Canada’s SNC melodrama.”

The first is to offer gratitude and praise to the rafters for Andrew Cohen’s recent opinion piece : “Canada’s SNC melodrama baffles a world facing real crisis … ‘To our allies, our debate is parochial and petty. Worse, in a world of unrest where Canada’s progressiveness matters, it is self-indulgent.’”

We couldn’t agree more with the main thrust of Mr. Cohen’s piece. Eg : “To foreigners, our current melodrama is madness, a kind of derangement syndrome. ‘Are you nuts?’ asks a visiting friend from London. The poor man — a leading international lawyer — is staggered by the circus in Canada’s Parliament. He sees us as a country of stability, sobriety and moderation.”

We won’t go on, except to urge that the article deserves to be read and read and read again!

From Angus Reid poll released March 28, 2019.

Our second objective is just to register a very polite nuance regarding the concluding paragraphs of “Canada’s SNC melodrama baffles a world facing real crisis.”

To us it almost seems that Andrew Cohen has come to see the current SNC melodrama madness as something that has perhaps already prompted we the people of Canada to leap into an abyss of vast unknown dimensions, like the legendary dogs of Dumbarton.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau introduces his son Xavier to Prime Minister Stephen Harper at Calgary Stampede, July 2014 – a moment when Canada really was a “country of stability, sobriety and moderation.”

Our nuanced view is that some of this almost-note of despair flows from Mr. Cohen’s spending so much of his time in Ottawa. Only mere hundreds of miles west there are many more matters competing for public attention. And even the latest opinion polls still show the Liberals decisively ahead in the City of Toronto, where we go about our daily lives – and (by a much smaller margin) in the wider suburbs and exurbs of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

There are no doubt still many who want to carry on with the madness. And they have been re-energized by the expulsion of Ms. Wilson Raybould and Ms. Philpott from the Liberal caucus.

Our opinion here was that the two aspiring saints of the new politics should be left inside the tent. But we can understand how a caucus still deep for good reasons in the old politics would see things otherwise. And one half-sensible side of the current madness does seem to be that the real world is urging Prime Minister Trudeau to leaven his new politics with a few fresh doses of the old medicine. (Thus the departures of Mr. Butts and Mr. Wernick, along with Ms. Wilson Raybould and Ms. Philpott – who have at least been treated more respectfully than the Randy Hillier who was recently expelled from the Ontario PC caucus by Premier Doug Ford?)

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer smile during a joint news conference on the closing of the seventh round of NAFTA talks in Mexico City, March 2018.

In  any case the protests of those who have argued that what Justin Trudeau needed to do was “get some balls” have been listened to. What will be will be.

We still think that the “country of stability, sobriety and moderation” can return in time for this year’s October 21 election. Note that the latest “Nanos tracking has Trudeau as the preferred choice as PM at 31.1 per cent of Canadians followed by Scheer (26.7%), Singh (7.8%), May (7.6%) and Bernier (2.7%).” And the latest Mainstreet poll reports that “despite … drops in support” everywhere, the Trudeau Liberals “are still leading in Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces.”

Our intermittent bouts of self-indulgent political madness in Canada never last forever. There is evidence enough to support the view that the country whose progressiveness matters in a world of unrest will be back soon enough, with some more practical mix of old and new politics. (Meanwhile, for the moment Andrew Cohen’s April 2 piece in the Montreal Gazette still deserves many, many, many more readers!)

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