This week’s Listen Up! is a guest post by Sally Barnes
Only in Canada, you say. Pity.
Our leader does not walk. He struts. Hands in his pants pockets with all the bravado of General George Patton declaring nothing can or will stop him.
Out of my way, lads, I have another election to win.
He knows from his drama-teaching days that timing is everything.
Overnight, he has forsaken his sackcloth-and-ashes persona of pandemic days and out bursts a youthful, robust, fetching image of his former self.
Out here in the real world, light years away from Parliament Hill, we ordinary Canadians have grown old and weary during the pandemic but our fearless leader has somehow discovered the fountain of youth.
There is a new spring in his step.
Stooped shoulders from months of pandemic press conferences, ragged beard and tousled hair are suddenly gone—along with the grey that reminded us our political superstar who once caught the world’s attention is soon to hit 50—the elder statesman of all the political party leaders in Ottawa today.
The young Justin, who has led the Liberal Party of Canada to two election victories and has been prime minister for six years is back—just in time to re-kick his promise that Canada is back.
(I was never sure where Canada had been before he came along but that’s another issue for another day.)
It is Justin Trudeau’s decision whether to pull the proverbial plug on an election but you can bet your first born that Canadians are going to the polls, like it or not.
The mood in Ottawa these days, as rumours of an upcoming election grow stronger with each passing day of lavish promises and photo ops, reminds me of that old song, “another opening of another show”. Or maybe the athletic equivalent: “gentlemen, start your engines”.
All parties with members in the House of Commons are getting ready—with the exception of the Greens who are mired in a game of political hara-kiri and sabotaging their very qualified new leader.
The putrid odor of antisemitism within the Green Party has cast a pall over their hard-earned reputation for virtue.
For many, who consider the Greens a comfy place to park a vote knowing full well they won’t form government, this internal mess could cause them to look elsewhere.
Lights. Camera. Action.
Out of the way, ladies and gentlemen, Justin has another campaign to wage.
He is at his best when he’s campaigning. He’s a born showman. He loves the spotlight and the camera and they love him.
Cue the money machine. (The Bank of Canada is on high alert and the printing presses in the basement are operating around the clock.)
Cue the props. The highly attractive and poised Sophie Gregorie Trudeau is back on the scene in cameo roles after what seemed to us humble servants as a noticeably lengthy, unexplained absence from the public stage.
In fact, Justin has made his support for women (and they of him) a major part of his political brand and they are playing a big role on the political stage in Canada these days with probable impact on the election outcome.
We finally have a new Governor General—the first Indigenous person to ever hold this prestigious and important job. Mary Simon is an excellent choice and kudos to our prime minister for choosing her and to our Queen for endorsing the appointment of her representative in this country.
Simon replaces another accomplished woman who seemed like a good idea at the time but that didn’t quite work out. But the past is the past. Our prime minister obviously learned from that mistake.
Meanwhile, the Association of First Nations, which represents the 634 First Nations in Canada, has also chosen its first woman leader and that inspires hope in future success on reconciliation. Hurrah. Congratulations to RoseAnne Archibald. Hers will be a tough job to walk the tight rope between advocate for her people and negotiator with the federal government.
But wait. Just as the Trudeau team was about to crack open the champagne and let the chest-thumping begin, another woman lobs a grenade into the celebratory fires.
Jody Wilson-Raybould (JWR), our first Indigenous Justice Minister with a list of credits as long as your arm, is calling politics quits for now and, true to form, isn’t leaving quietly. After being thrown under the proverbial bus by Prime Minister Trudeau and crew for refusing to take what she considered an illegal and unethical action, the SNC scandal erupted, JWR resigned, was kicked out of the Liberal caucus, and was then re-elected as an independent Member of Parliament.
(In the process she took with her colleague Jane Philpott who resigned in sympathy with JWR and left another gaping hole in the Trudeau cabinet and his gender-equity agenda.)
Now, JWR is walking away from the House of Commons and blames an increasingly toxic and ineffective practice of politics on The Hill. Her tell-all book will be published this fall and is bound to be on the best-seller list—and definitely on the bedside table of every political junkie in the country.
Hopefully, we have not seen the end of JWR and her important contribution to public discourse and ethical governance.
And so it goes, the news of a turbulent and crazy world.
At the outset of rumours that we could face a federal election later this summer or fall, I was opposed.
In the midst of a pandemic, shouldn’t we concentrate on that crisis and devising a solid plan to rebuild our shattered lives and shattered economy?
Well, I’ve grown used to the idea of an election and maybe it’s not all bad to provide pandemic-weary Canadians with a diversion and an opportunity to decide how this country should be run—perhaps welcome some new people who can help us get things right.
Politics is a messy job but somebody has to do it.
Mary Simon and RoseAnne Archibald symbolize a good start. Let’s hope many more selfless, committed, and qualified people of all backgrounds and interests follow their good example and accept the challenge.
As I have for my entire adult life, I will watch the game play out, consider all the players and their promises, mark my ballot, and hope for the best.
Justin Trudeau says he’s got my back. Because of my senior status, in the third week of August he’s even sending me $500, which he says is to help cover the additional costs of living during the pandemic.
This follows the $300 our age group received last fall.
A couple of friends say they have already decided what they’re doing with their upcoming $500 gift from the taxpayers.
One has her eye on a new pair of track pants at Giant Tiger to wear to her Friday night bingo and another will add an excursion to her long-awaited cruise she has booked for next year.
Neither will tell me whether the 500 bucks will influence how they vote. But the timing for the Trudeau government sure is propitious.
And in politics, timing is everything.
Nobody knows that better than Justin Trudeau.
Sally Barnes has enjoyed a distinguished career as a writer, journalist and author. Her work has been recognized in a number of ways, including receiving a Southam Fellowship in Journalism at Massey College at the University of Toronto. A self-confessed political junkie, she has worked in the back-rooms for several Ontario premiers. In addition to a number of other community contributions, Sally Barnes served a term as president of the Ontario Council on the Status of Women. She is a former business colleague of Doppler’s Hugh Mackenzie and lives in Kingston, Ontario. You can find her online at sallybarnesauthor.com
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