Well. That’s all over and done. It was a nailbiter for a while there. The dust has risen, and settled, and soon it will rise again. Let’s peer through that cloud while it’s still thin, shall we, and see what we can see…
First off, let’s acknowledge the undeniable. This election was yet another great Canadian throw-the-bums-out housecleaning blitz. We have a long and storied history of just such elections. It wasn’t so much about electing Justin Trudeau as it was about installing Anybody But Harper. It was very little about policy or substance, when you get right down to it. It was just about shampooing the parliamentary rugs, sweeping out the cobwebs, and Febrezing that lingering Harpo stench away. Canadians would have voted for a tree stump if it meant getting the trolls out of the PMO.
But hey! As a bonus, they got a young, cute, well-spoken guy, with an adorable young family and really nice hair, whose antecedents are a known quantity, and representative of the old “Two Solitudes” combined into one. His mother is an English Canadian, his father a Québécois. And he’s fluently bilingual and a perfectly integrated, clash-free mix of the two. There will likely be no rumblings about Québec separation on his watch, which will be a definite change from what his old man went through during his own two stints at 24 Sussex. Unless, of course, he really bobbles it up, and does it worse than his charmless immediate predecessor did. The “Orange Crush” of 2011 was not just about the undeniable charm of Jack Layton either, you know; it was about sticking it to the political establishment of Québec, be they Conservative, Liberal or BQ, and reminding them that they could all be replaced by another party if they didn’t put an ear to the ground often enough.
And that’s a lesson that it would behoove the Trudizzle to remember well. He too is, when all’s said, a member of the political establishment, and has been all his life. He has NEVER been an outsider to politics, and certainly not among the Liberals. When he and Sophie and the kids take possession of 24 Sussex after the Harpers move out, it will not be “just like coming home”; it WILL be coming home, period. It is his childhood home. He was literally raised in the shadow of the first Trudeau prime ministership. It just doesn’t get any more establishment than that.
And when Canadians get sick of what the establishment is doing to them, and feel it’s not doing enough for them, what do we do at election time? We clean house. With a vengeance.
If he’s as shrewd as I think he is, Justin Trudeau will bear that in mind, and govern accordingly. Yes, he got a majority this time, but it was not a majority just for him and his great head of hair. It was actually a majority of people who opposed the Harper government and all it stood for. And that means that eventually, he’s gonna have to walk back some bad decisions he made when he was still just a lowly third-party leader, when he voted for the same measures Harper & Co. were pushing. He’s gonna have to face up to his part in the passing of C-51 and S-7, the disastrous bills that demolished the right to protest and institutionalized old-order bigotry. The sort of old British Empire things we thought we’d left behind 50 years ago, right before Justin’s old man rode the wave of Trudeaumania into office. And shades of the Cold War things we thought we’d leave behind when the Berlin Wall fell. We are a democratic, progressive country; we are not a conservative colony. We do not want any Star Chambers, McCarthyism, or Jim Crow up here.
And right now, that’s what we’ve got. And that’s what we voted out.
Justin’s own role in the passing of those odious bills has been, for the moment, swept under the rug by the major media. But when it comes back to bite him — and it will — it’s gonna bite him hard. If he’s smart, he’ll repeal all that and apologize profusely for getting the wants and needs of his fellow Canadians so dreadfully wrong. He won’t just coast on his charismatic, “progressive” image if he knows what’s good for him. Sure, last night he came off sounding like the love child of Jack Layton and Barack Obama. All hopey-changey and earnest. He even evoked the century-old glory of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his “sunny ways”. That was mighty fine speechifying, and to be expected of a former private-school drama teacher. If Justin doesn’t want to end up getting swept out by the Cons (or the NDP, if they manage to miraculously reconstitute themselves under an actually leftist leader), he’ll stop walking on sunshine and put both feet firmly on the ground, and soon.
Because we, the voters of Canada, didn’t vote for him and his cuteness. We voted against our oppressors. And it’s past time for him to realize that and not become one himself.