In federal politics, nothing is more useful to a political party then a charismatic leader. Baby kissing and handshaking are two skills that could determine your electoral success more than your platform or long-term policy goals. That being said, there is a point where people need substance behind style, and the intrepid new Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is revealing rapidly that there is little substance to be found in him.
On November 7th, instead of showing up to his job in Ottawa, Justin went to a fundraising event in Toronto in order to pull in some needed Liberal party funds leading up to 2015. The event itself spurred some interesting discussion and analysis, it was called Justin Unplugged and it was advertised as a way for women to “really get to know” the Liberal leader. Posters advertising the event included pictures of Trudeau and was perceived by many to be sexually suggestive.
Ultimately the event was just a simple meet and greet, but the event advertising was uncomfortably sexist and prompted some immediate backlash. This, of course, was already bad news for Justin; however, the real controversy began at the event itself. Later into the evening, during the Q&A portion of the fundraiser, Justin was asked what country he admired most. In response Justin said: “There’s a level of admiration I actually have for China. Their basic dictatorship is actually allowing them to turn their economy around on a dime.”
There have been few times in federal politics where something so foolish was said by someone in a position of such importance. Not only is that fundamentally inaccurate, its also an unacceptable over-simplification and endorsement of the actions of a continuing regime that has systematically committed genocide against their own people and denied fundamental freedoms to their citizenry.
A few days after these remarks Trudeau tried to qualify them by saying “The point I made, was that, despite all of our freedoms … we are up against countries that play by different rules that we would never accept.” While it is true that it is easier to rapidly develop an economy in a nation with few effective regulations on workers safety, corporate activity and infrastructure planning, it still doesn’t explain why he used the phrase “admiration” to describe the feelings he had towards the government of China.
In response, Conservatives sent out waves of fundraising letters warning about Trudeau’s admiration for Communist Dictatorships and all the usual nonsensical language used to pull in populist support. Not to mention, Sun News ate the story up, obsessing over it in their usual neo-conservative style.
Though these responses may be unwarranted and overzealous, it is true that these comments should give Canadians a better chance to see just how competent Trudeau really is, and I imagine they’re less impressed then during the Trudeau-Mania following his election as leader of Canada’s 3rd party.
Ultimately it is important for political candidates to be well versed in the issues and knowledgeable in areas of concern for national leaders. Clearly, Trudeau has proved and is likely to continue to prove that he is incompetent and grossly misinformed.