Small Glimmers Of Life – The 3rd Liberal Leadership Debate
There is a difference between being adored and being held accountable.
Justin Trudeau started to learn that yesterday during the third of God knows how many Liberal Leadership Debates we have to suffer through.
Being adored is better.
Certainly being adored comes fairly easy to the lad because it’s based on that engaging smile and silken hair. It’s a tad more difficult when you have to move beyond looking like a Sears underwear model and actually tell people what programs and policies you’d put in place if elected. That’s the messy accountability thing with which Justin still struggles.
Nonetheless, pundits are already talking about how much more spirited this debate was compared to the first two snore-fests.
I agree, it was more spirited but only because the first two ‘debates’ were so painfully dull that watching the candidates come out and try to make fart noises by squeezing their hands under their armpits would have accomplished pretty much what had been accomplished so far.
As I watched the third Liberal Leadership Dog & Pony Show, I wondered just who in the hell is organizing these things. This is the third little get together and the third format. It makes me wonder how many more format changes it will take before they figure out one that actually works.
It started with a one on one debate between two candidates. One candidate asked a question of the other which then ‘triggered’ a brief mini-debate. To avoid confusion among the candidates about who was supposed to ask the question, the questioner was always stationed at the left podium. The responder always stood at the podium on the right which resulted in the candidates doing lots of unnecessary movement to get to where they were supposed to stand.
I had barely had time to get used to the new format before it was changed.
Suddenly, instead of two there were three on stage and if two Liberals trying to appear as if they have a platform is a bit of a stretch, three is just plain wishful thinking. From that point on, the debate became primarily noise as each trio tried to demonstrate who among them could more effectively talk over the others.
Maybe before they get to the last of these things, the organizers will have finally figured out a format that actually accommodates a number of candidates that is only two shy of the provincial cabinet of PEI.
It was clear from the outset that Justin Trudeau, Canada’s answer to Peter Pan, was going to be a target and while he appeared to be looking forward to it and well prepared, the truth is; he wasn’t. He came across as precisely what he is – as shallow as a half empty glass of water.
Justin Trudeau admirably demonstrated that he is more politician than leader, skillfully avoiding direct questions and providing vague answers about policy initiatives. I believe this is most likely because he doesn’t really seem to have any beyond ‘engaging’ Canadians and blaming Stephen Harper for everything.
I watched him twice dodge a direct question from Deborah Coyne about the disproportionate amount of money Quebec receives for immigration from the federal government. It is a solid question and one Justin Trudeau refused to address which lends credence to the idea that he has a bit of a secret agenda when it comes to la belle province.
God love him, Marc Garneau also went after Peter Pan but it was a very gentle ‘go after’ that didn’t really lay a glove on the dear boy. Aside from being somewhat dull, Marc Garneau’s other shortcoming is that he is a gentleman and there is little room in Liberal politics for civil and courteous folk.
Not that he had too mind you; it hasn’t been a good week for Quebec’s anointed son.
With the release of his financial status, Justin thought he was going to get a jump on his opponents by demonstrating his open transparency. He did achieve transparency but he didn’t get quite the ‘we love you Justin’ response he thought he’d get.
There is that nagging little issue of speaking fees earned while sitting in Parliament that seems to have caught the attention of many.
It isn’t illegal. It isn’t even unethical based on the rather convenient definition of ethics that politicians have provided themselves in Parliament. But it is distasteful to see a sitting Member of Parliament charging Canadians significant amounts of money for the privilege of hearing him or her speak; especially when many of those he is charging are other publicly financed organizations like schools. It hits taxpayers twice although Justin seems to feel he’s worth it.
In truth, despite the ethics guidelines for Parliamentarians, it is unethical and most Canadians know it even if it has escaped the notice and values of Liberal politicians. It’s one thing to make a career as a guest speaker after you have left public life, it’s something else entirely to use the privilege of sitting in Parliament as a means to enrich yourself.
It’s double dipping and that’s all there is to it. It’s using the time you are being paid for by taxpayers as something to sell a second time to others. But then, I wouldn’t expect Justin Trudeau to understand that. He has more than enough difficulty understanding the actual issues Canada is facing. That’s fairly clear now from his continuing lack of detailed policy initiatives beyond, “I’m pretty. People like me and I can win an election.”
He’s right to some extent.
Unfortunately it’s that governing thing that comes after winning with which he seems to have some difficulty – that and being challenged. As we have seen in Parliament and again yesterday when hints of criticism start to show, he gets a might prickly. He was careful not to call any of his fellow Liberal leadership candidates “a piece of shit” as he did Peter Kent in the House of Commons but you could tell he was thinking it.
He doesn’t have much of a poker face does our friend Justin.
Martha Hall Fiindlay raised some eyebrows when she challenged the dear boy’s lifestyle and even received a few boos from the Trudeau supporters planted in the audience but she made a valid point. Justin is always talking about the middle class but she wanted to know how a life of privilege prepared you to understand the issues facing it. She also wanted to know why he was dividing the country into economic classes, which is a valid question but just one more for which he didn’t have a specific answer.
It was a bizarre show all around.
All of the candidates criticized the Harper Government as you expect. Some, however, actually criticized the current government for respecting the division of powers between the provinces and the federal government as set out in the Constitution. At one point some of them were even talking about getting involved in urban planning at the municipal level and isn’t more Liberal cross-jurisdictional meddling just what we need?
Karen Mcrimmon took it a step further and asked, “Why stop at the municipal level?” Apparently she’s never read the Constitution either. She suggested getting involved at the ‘community’ level which made me wonder why she hadn’t taken her idea to its logical conclusion. Why not go right to the heart of it and get the federal government involved at the neighbourhood or even the individual street level? Surely there would be no added expense or conflict created by having a federal government assuming to micromanage in areas beyond its authority on a street by street basis across the country.
Joyce Murray and George Takach got into it a wee bit when Ms Murray took a shot about his business experience being primarily to move jobs off-shore. He retaliated by mocking her business of planting trees. What made me laugh was that at the same time she was criticizing Mr. Takach for moving jobs off shore, Ms Murray was touting all the jobs she had created in eleven other countries.
Only a Liberal would fail to see the irony in that.
But then irony escapes Ms Murray who wants to legalize smoking marijuana at precisely the point in time when the country is doing everything it can to reduce and perhaps even eradicate smoking.
Two things became clear to me as the debate unfolded. First, Justin Trudeau’s sheen is wearing a little thinner these days. There are cracks in the veneer that are starting to show and while this race is still his to lose; it is clear that he is capable of doing or saying something to achieve exactly that. Perhaps attempting to prevent that from happening is why these debate-parodies have been so carefully crafted.
The other thing that became clear, beyond the fact that Stephen Harper has single-handedly destroyed Canada with his pragmatic, common sense approach to government, is that Mr. Takach, Mr. Garneau and Ms Hall Findlay are the only serious candidates. The others are just walking fluff.
It’s time a few of them embraced that reality and stepped out of the race but it won’t happen. Nobody has a bigger ego than a politician except for perhaps Donald Trump and he’s not running. He’s still working on his hair.
In the end, it’s all style over substance in the grand Liberal tradition. Dazzle people with footwork just like the good old days only these ain’t the good old days anymore. Canadians signaled to the Liberals in the last election that they aren’t interested in electing fancy dancers anymore.
It’s why the Liberals are in third place.
Apparently they weren’t listening though and it appears that they’ve never heard of Albert Einstein either. You remember Einstein? He was that terribly smart fellow who said once, “Doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result each time is the definition of insanity.”
Apparently it’s the definition of Liberal Party politics as well. Is there a shrink in the house?
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