I refuse to pay for any of these media sites , and National Post , as others , want to hose ya thru subscription charges … So I don’t usually get Rex these days … Snuck this one via BCF …
Justin Trudeau has the look of the high school hero who’s just fallen off his snowboard in front of all the twirling cheerleaders.
It’s been a hard week for Mr. Trudeau. It must have been even harder for the Gender Analytics Team down in the boiler room of the Department of Public Works ( it’s next to the Deliverology stables , just past the Memorial to Proportional Representation ). They’ve had to parse Jody Wilson-Raybould’s fierce testimony and sequence it with the government’s equity-feminism.
No one has sung hymns to strong , independent women more fervently than Mr. Trudeau. It doesn’t wear well that the strongest and most independent woman in his entire cabinet no longer feels she can , with honour , sit in that same cabinet room with him.
There’ll be no more round tables with Tina Brown and Gloria Steinem. Ivanka Trump will cross the street when she sees him coming.
It doesn’t wear well that a strong , independent woman , determined to secure the mast of the rule of law , is put under siege for months by a train of flacks and aides , principal secretaries and chiefs of staff — supplemented by the Black Knight of the Clerk of the Privy Council — to work a deal , to finesse , to go around that rule of law because “… There’s an election in Quebec … ( and ) I’m the member for Papineau ”. It doesn’t wear well that a strong , independent woman was subject to threats , veiled and not-so-veiled , effectively harried and harassed because she refused to politically oblige the big boys in the PMO. The Feminist-in-Chief took a massive hit.
Mr. Trudeau scooted past the “ Kokanee Grope ” but that involved a mere reporter. And besides , as he so grandly assured the world at the time , that incident provided us with a “ collective awakening ” that different “ people experience things differently ” an insight into human psychology locked in darkness until that very moment. This was Jordan Peterson-level mentoring.
But the Jody Wilson-Raybould clash , as we used to say at home , is an entirely different kettle of fish. Here was no allegedly wandering hand , but a “ consistent and sustained … inappropriate effort ” to warp a decision of the attorney general of Canada in a matter of criminal charges against a Quebec company.
When her principles came up against his expediency , what was a male-feminist Galahad to do ? Why he acted like the oldest , white-haired , cigar-chomping boy in the oldest boys’ club that was. He demoted her. And during the interval , when she was bound to silence , he went about variously telling her story for her — even to the point of ( I hate the term , but it’s a nugget in Mr. Trudeau’s set ) “ mansplaining ” that her staying in cabinet “ spoke for itself ”.
Hours later , she left. That , too , spoke for itself. Ever so much clearly. Ironically , her departure might be the prelude to and necessary condition for the prime minister’s own.
Now in an ordinary government , none of this would matter. In a business-as-usual , this-is-how-we’ve-always-done-politics , principles-be-dammed , we’ve-got-work-to-do government , who’d care ? But this is a Trudeau government , where feminist values and the purest sensitivity to women are as sparkling diamonds in the firmament of righteousness and sanctimony.
This is a government that lives and thrives on its profession of vast moral pretensions. It is the government forever preaching of values , of moral aspiration , of doing things differently , of real gender equity , of promoting feminism , of openness and transparency , of nourishing the Earth and all her fuzzy creatures ; this is a government of every tender , soft , progressive value known to peoplekind. Mr. Trudeau is its brand and the brand is everything.
This is a government of virtuecrats , or it is nothing. That’s the problem. Live by the image , die by the image. Play by the symbol , fall by the symbol.
Four hours of testimony on Wednesday afternoon went like a torpedo through a castle of glass. The details are known and in a hundred columns by now. Jody Wilson-Raybould , in her person and conduct , is all the Trudeau government was supposed to be about.
She is a superbly accomplished woman. If role models mean anything , she has to be a luminous star for every young girl and boy in every First Nation in the country. For she has soared to the highest pinnacle of political power of any , ever , of her community. She sat , till last week , in the chair Lester Pearson offered to Pierre Trudeau to bring that sultan into the national story. To coin a phrase , a fearful symmetry indeed.
Truth and Reconciliation is going to be a hard sell if a government leadership that came to power preaching feminism and the utter moral urgency of Aboriginal concerns works now to bring the greatest exemplar of both categories down. There will be two messages if it does. That feminism counts only when it doesn’t get in the way of politics. And that respect for Aboriginals works as a brand but not as a practice.
If the attempt is made , it will not be an easy glide down for Mr. Trudeau. For Jody Wilson-Raybould has shown her qualities.
There is more steel in that woman than ever came out of Hamilton. Her mind is keen , her will is her own , her moral centre assured and determined. These qualities are the very anti-matter of spin-doctors and crisis-management shops , kryptonite for the bleating flacks and the sweating elves of the PMO talking-points foundry.
Mr. Trudeau has spoken of Wilson-Raybould’s presentation to the justice committee. “ I have taken knowledge of her testimony …” — an odd locution , sounding like something from the Book of Exodus as translated by the Kielburger brothers. “… but there are still reflections to have on next steps” — which is , we must hope , his way of saying he disagrees.
But really , it’s just mush anyway you look at it . Much like Chrystia Freeland’s comment “ I believe … she spoke her truth ” ( accent on “ her ” you can be sure ) , which is a precious piece of equivocation even for a diplomat. Does no one in this government know what a real sentence sounds like ?
Mush won’t melt steel. Wilson-Raybould has facts , details , specifics and principles. A deadpan face and urgently low-voiced platitudes will not prevail against them.
The fate of the Trudeau government now hangs on a contest between character and image. I expect they’ve already put out the call for all the king’s horses and all the king’s men …