Listen Up! The present is more important than the past

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Hugh Mackenzie
Huntsville Doppler

Minutes after the doo doo hit the fan last week, about certain decades- old pictures from the Prime Minister’s past, I received this e-mail from someone very close to me.

“I double-dog dare you to write about something other than the Trudeau Brownface thing in your blog. It’s a low hanging fruit. Surprise people by writing about something else. I can hear you rubbing your hands together from here!”

I immediately wrote back:

“Wrong!  No intention of writing about it. Just as stupid as the Grits going after Scheer for a speech on same-sex marriage, he made years ago, and just as irrelevant.”

Well, after several days of watching all the fuss; apologies, incriminations and “gotchas”, I still feel substantially the same way. There is not one of us over the age of five, who does not have some things in their past, particularly in their younger years, that they regret, are ashamed of, or would not do over if they had the chance. And there are few of us, I believe, who have reached middle age or beyond, who do not have different views on many social issues and standards of behaviour or different ways of handling them, than we did in our teens or twenties. Short of murder, sexual assault or high crimes and misdemeanors, what is important, is how a person conducts themselves and behaves today, in this day and age, and not in some distant past.

However, I must admit, that after a few days, I did start to rub my hands over one particular aspect of this hullabaloo, and that is the hypocrisy of Justin Trudeau, as well as his naivety  in not realizing, that while he was throwing bombshells at his opponents, over sins of their past,  something like this was not going to come to light and bite him on the rear end. It cannot be said he had forgotten about it, because he has stated that he intentionally withheld the information from the vetting process that he and all other potential Ministers of the Crown must go through, because he was ashamed. If any other Minister had left out embarrassing background and had been caught, he or she would have been immediately fired.

As an aside, I can’t help thinking about a moment when I was on the Transition team for incoming Premier Ernie Eves and a popular, outspoken and long-serving member of the Legislature was being vetted for Cabinet. He was asked the standard question which is, was there anything in his background, if it came out, that would embarrass the government. His answer was “Hell yes!” It was a short interview.  His honesty was appreciated, but he did not make Cabinet!

The one thing that people who manage national and provincial campaigns hate the most, indeed, fear the most, are surprises. That is why Political Campaign Process 101, is to know everything about your candidate, most especially their warts and behaviour that may become an issue. If they know about them, they can often deal with them. Campaign organizations at that level have War Rooms, part of which, includes a group of people who are solely charged with damage control. It is astounding that this came at the Liberals out of the blue and they deserve some credit for the way it was handled, under the circumstances, with apparently, little or no notice.

Something that is interesting to me, is the timing of these leaked photographs. There is a well-known axiom in Campaign circles, called the “October Surprise”  The War Room shudders when they hear it, because it refers to an unexpected bombshell, that falls about ten days before an election, when voting preferences are tightening up and can change in an instant.  It happened to Frank Miller in 1985 when one of his Cabinet Ministers made a racist remark about an oil spill in Northern Ontario, a week before the Provincial election, and the Tories’ support fell by dozens of points overnight, costing Miller a majority government and shortly afterwards, any type of government at all.

So why, I am asking myself, was this particular bombshell dropped so early in the campaign where there is still plenty of time left to deal with it?  To me, there are only two answers. Either the Liberals found out about it, knew it was coming and decided to get it out of the way, or the Opposition has something else up their sleeve, for the October Surprise. Either way, one can be pretty sure that Campaign staff are having a pretty serious “Come to Jesus” meeting with Justin Trudeau, to determine what else, if anything, is out there, that may be coming down the chute.

My hope, after the revelations of this week, was that the Trudeau and Scheer camps would sit down and agree that mudslinging each other about the distant past is both hypocritical and ineffective and should stop, and instead both sides should concentrate on what they have to offer to Canadians moving forward. Sadly, that hasn’t happened and very recently another video has emerged from the Liberal camp about Scheer’s past.

It is no secret that I am not a fan of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister. But I really don’t care about the shenanigans he was up to in his youth or early adulthood. That is not what we should be judging him on. Instead, we should be judging him on his actions over the past four years; his adherence to the rule of law, his so called feminism, his treatment of Western Canada, his lack of support for human rights in Quebec, his record on environmental issues and so on and so on,  There is plenty there for which to hold Justin Trudeau accountable.

We do not need to dig up his past, or for that matter, that of anyone else.

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8 Comments

  1. You are exactly right the past is the past and should stay there and as far as Mr. Trudeau is concerned he has made so many blunders in the last four years we don’t need to know about his past. just judge what he is now and vote him out.

    • Yes–I agree with both you and Hugh, Ray. Focusing on some more-or-less silly episode from the distant past of a politician is just a distraction from the very real issues that should be considered by the voters before they go to cast their votes. There are plenty of reasons to vote against the big-government-tax-and-spend Liberals. Trudeau’s racially-insensitive behaviour of many years in the past, is simply not relevant to contemporary problems that we face as a nation.

      The loss of moral fibre is at the base of many problems. The true strength of a nation resides in the good character of its citizens. The general good-heartedness of the majority in the West and the ability to judge and address past national sins, has added courage to strength. Was racism and “ethnicism” a problem in the past? No doubt. It is part of warped human nature to judge other humans as being “alien” or “foreign” (and thus, they are to be mocked or not to be trusted at the level of one’s own tribal group). There have been shameful chapters of severe colonial exploitation of the people of other nations, often based on racism. As well, there have been ugly episodes of exploitation of the citizens of Western nations themselves. But perhaps the best example of true greatness is that men and women of good will have always striven to confess and correct those sins in the West. We simply do not accept morally outrageous behaviour with a shrug of our shoulders.

      The force that combats the tribal division of humans is the Christian notion of the “people of all tribes and languages” being one in Christ. That is likely one of the underlying reasons for the success of the Western nations–at least, some Chinese scholars think so. Here is an excerpt of an article which discusses the subject:

      “…Chinese scholars were asked to ‘look into what accounted for the success, in fact, the preeminence of the West all over the world.’ After considering possible military, economic, political and cultural explanations, [the Chinese scholars] concluded that the answer lay in what the Chinese scholars saw as the ‘heart’ of the West’s preeminent culture: Christianity…”

      You can read the rest of the article here: https://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/chuck-colson/key-wests-success-over-centuries-christianity

      How ironic is it that the people of many non-Western nations have recognized what is the source of our strength and yet we do not? We continue to follow the cultural leadership of Hollywood into greater and greater debauchery and wonder why the problems mount up.

  2. I really appreciate this Hugh. The wisdom of your years of political experience comes through loud and clear. I fondly remember your well honed humanity which rose high above your ideological proclivities when, as a committed Progressive Conservative you supported Liberal Andy Mitchell because you recognized his authenticity and discerned that he was the best person for the job of representing Muskoka-Parry Sound. Jamie and I feel that way about Trisha Cowie. We will be voting for her and for Trudeau’s team despite the misdemeanours of the past. Let’s all sing a round of “Amazing Grace” and give thanks that, like slave-trader Joh Newton, it is possible for human beings to learn and grow beyond the ghastly errors of their youth. And, as for your dislike of Justin, I can understand your feelings and I pray that this particular moment in history could be a life-changing wake-up call for a young man who has been forced to recognize that there is “massive blind spot” that comes with his priviledged upbringing–as it does for many we know and love.

  3. I can accept people being willing to forgive and forget the troubling issues which have been a part of Trudeau’s life. Forgiveness is admirable and blind willingness to overlook major character shortcomings is another matter.
    I’d hope that when looking at a candidate for prime minister people would
    be sharply critical and pretty uncompromising.
    This business of a massive blind spot due to “white privilege” is simply bogus and a staggering obfuscation and fraudulent misrepresentation of his life facts.
    Trudeau has no more of a blind spot than thousands of white men from his era and circumstances have. Few of them have the self centered conceit Trudeau has. Few have made a practice of blackening themselves and parading around blackface. Spare us the white privelege crap.
    Trudeau’s arrogant hipocracy and double standards are breath taking. He has applied one standard to others and demands quite another for himself.
    The Liberals continue to crank out false attack ads against Sheer while Trideau hides behind his sunny ways and all that similar rubbish. It it truly enough to make one weep.
    If Canadians re elect the Liberals it will demonstrate the utter failure of the media and the lazy and uncurious, distracted nature of the voters.
    We get the government we deserve.

  4. Let’s move on, it’s in the past and I believe it was not a deliberate slight on coloured people. I am tired seeing these photos. Let’s concentrate on his policys for the future. STOP the mud-slinging!

  5. Murray Christenson on

    I agree with Mr Boyes’s comments above with the exception of his final point…we do not deserve this government. Canadians deserve so much better than this. There is a story going around the Canadians now traveling abroad are identifying as Americans. It’s likely a joke but if you follow international media, you can see what a laughing stock we’ve become around the world because of our PM.
    You have to give the Liberals credit though. When they selected Trudeau, they got a charismatic, male model who can act. As long as he followed the script they’d be gold and Canadians bought into the branding wholeheartedly. Unfortunately for them, when he goes off script, it’s a complete disaster a la “drink box water bottle sorta things” or the Bollywood incident. He indeed has been exposed as a fraud and hypocrite of the highest order.
    Yes, we deserve so much better in the great country.

  6. My compliments, Hugh: I, too, felt that this was too good an opportunity to pass up. Taking the moral high ground speaks well of your character. Putting on “blackface” for an “Arabian Nights” theme, or “brownface” to perform a Harry Belafonte song is akin to Drake playing a wheelchair-user on Degrassi. How did he win all those music awards? Where was the backlash from the disabled community?
    .
    As for Justin’s perceived “white privilege”:
    .
    1) “His father did bestride his narrow world like a colossus”;
    .
    2) His mother has a bipolar mood disorder;
    .
    3) His kid brother died in an avalanche, when he was still young himself; and
    .
    4) His father also passed away before he was a fully formed adult.
    .
    I can only imagine how many other circumstances he overcame to have the moral fibre to become a candidate for PM four years ago; realizing that he would always be unfavourably compared to his late father.
    .
    If any of you has faced similar circumstances, by all means, trumpet “white privilege”. If not, as Hugh says, the past is moot: Make an informed decision on policy and future problems.

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