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Sunny Ways for Most but Not All

“I have had before me as a pillar of fire. . .a policy of true Canadianism, of moderation, of reconciliation.”
Sir Wilfred Laurier

OTW606_CANADA_POLITICS

PM Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire and the new Liberal Cabinet appointed on Wednesday. (Photo CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)

Well – it’s official.

Justin Trudeau has been sworn in as Canada’s new Prime Minister, appointed his Cabinet and the sky hasn’t fallen. I know this because I went outside immediately after the ceremony Wednesday and looked. It was still blue skies and a few clouds hovering way up high. It is going to rain tomorrow but it’s rained before so I’m optimistic it won’t bring the sky down with it.

Ever since the Liberals won the election, I’ve noticed a significant change in mood within the country. I see it every day on my social media timelines and in casual conversation with folks out in the real world. It’s like the sun has come out again after a prolonged period of cold, bitter winds. I think that is what Justin Trudeau was referring to on election night in his victory speech when he paraphrased former Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier.

It was a bit flowery for my taste but it did have an historical context.

Laurier who was Prime Minister from 1896-1911 defeated the Conservative government of Sir Charles Tupper which was embroiled the Manitoba School Controversy at the time. The Tupper Government had been intransigent, even threatening and Laurier contrasted it to his planned approach using Aesop’s fable of the Wind, The Sun and the Coat in which the sun and the wind compete to see which can make a man named Greenway remove his coat.

In a speech first delivered in Morrisburg Ontario he summarized his position by saying,

“…the government are very windy. They have blown and raged and theatened, but the more they have theatened and raged and blown the more that man Greenway has stuck to his coat. If it were in my power, I would try the sunny way. I would approach this man Greenway with the sunny way of patriotism, asking him to be just and to be fair, asking him to be generous to the minority, in order that we may have peace among all the creeds and races which it has pleased God to bring upon this corner of our common country. Do you not believe that there is more to be gained by appealing to the heart and soul of men rather than to compel them to do a thing?”

Fast forward to today and Canadians embraced the sunny ways of positive politics over the harsh winds of the politics of division and threat.

Some, of course, are dismissing the new government and its leader as lightweight and lacking in the gravitas necessary to meet the challenges faced by this country. Time alone  will tell if they’re right but I think that’s just sour wine (or whine) coming from people who supported a government that was given a decade to accomplish things but failed on too many fronts. I also think it’s the result of the arrogance of too many in our national media who have failed to realize that arrogance is a poor substitute for ability or knowledge.

There’s a an unwarranted sense of elitist superiority by many in the mainstream media these days. They see themselves as the purveyors of expertise on every issue before them, the sophisticates who will clarify for us just how uninformed we are.

Almost from the day after the election, many in the media have been all over the incoming government with self-impressed speculation and expert opinion about how inexperienced and unaccomplished is the new PM and questioning his government’s ability to meet its election promises.  Every pronouncement by was pounced on and shred but the commentary on Justin Trudeau’s intention to appoint an equal number of men and women to his cabinet was met with derision (and stupidity) of epic proportions. The media decried the loss of the merit principle in Cabinet appointments with some going so far as to label the decision as regressive.

Regressive? Merit principle? You’re kidding me right?

What exactly was the merit principle that was applied by the Conservatives when it came to appointing Julian Fantino, Vic Toews, Bev Oda, Helena Guergis or Maxine Bernier? What was the merit principle behind the appointments of Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau to the Senate?

Despite the babbling of the chattering class, Trudeau went ahead and named his Cabinet and he followed through on his promise. He appointed 15 men and 15 women to sit at the Cabinet table. Now the criticism is that the cabinet is full of inexperienced ‘rookies’ and we’re headed for disaster. This is based on the rather simplistic notion that being elected to Parliament for the first time somehow negates all of one’s previous accomplishments and experience in the world beyond politics. Considering how well most career politicians, like Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne or former Alberta Premiers Allison Redford and Jim Prentice with all their political experience performed, one would have thought that maybe less political and more real-life experience might actually be considered a desired asset in a Cabinet Minister.

By any system of measure, Trudeau’s new Cabinet is pretty impressive. It includes for example: a former astronaut, a couple of scientists (one of whom is a Nobel Prize winner), the former Chair of the C.D. Howe Institute, a human rights lawyer, a former First Nations Chief and public prosecutor, a farmer, a former Finance Minister, a Former Liberal Party Leader and the list goes on. In fact it is a long list of highly talented people who are significantly more accomplished than most of the media pundits criticizing them. If nothing else, it is a group of people with a proven track record of determination, professionalism and discipline.

Also consider:

Harjit Sajjan, a decorated lieutenant-colonel with the Canadian Armed Forces is Canada's new Defense Minister

Harjit Sajjan, a decorated lieutenant-colonel with the Canadian Armed Forces is Canada’s new Defense Minister

The new Minister of Health is a doctor. The new Minister of Defense is a retired colonel who served in Bosnia and Afghanistan (in other words, he has actually seen war up close and personal). The new Finance Minister is a successful business economist. The new Minister of Treasury Board is a former banker, business manager and multi-term Member of Parliament. The new Minister of Science is an honest-to-God scientist.

There is so much talent in the new Cabinet that even the National Post’s Kelly McPartland had to admit it and I’ll bet that hurt.

Canada is a diverse nation and the new Cabinet, rather than being a bunch of old white guys, career politicians and party hacks supported by a few token women and representatives of a couple of ethnic communities reflects that reality. The Cabinet includes at least two atheists, a Sikh, a Muslim, some Christians, a couple of members of First Nations, an equal number of men and women – even a couple of members who became Canadian citizens after immigrating here with their families. Two members of Cabinet have physical disabilities, one is openly gay and married and there is a reasonable blend of older and younger members.

In other words, the new Cabinet looks a lot more like a cross-section of this country than anything we’ve seen before and whatever else it might be called, regressive hardly fits. In fact, when asked following his swearing in why he appointed an equal number of men and women, the new Prime Minister simply smiled and said, because it’s 2015.

Exactly!

We’ve lived with outdated attitudes, by all major political parties, for too long and a majority of people in this country have craved a government that was more representative of who we are as a people. Judging from the international reaction, it would appear that it is only a few troglodytes here at home who don’t get the concept. As for merit? It wasn’t overlooked. Every person, male or female, appointed to Cabinet brings with them a wealth of experience and proven ability that warrants their appointment based on merit alone.

Whether or not they will succeed or fail in government remains to be seen and it will be appropriate to evaluate them on their performance but arrogantly dismissing them before they’ve even found their offices by dredging up faux-arguments about the merit principle is nothing but either adding vinegar to your wine or talking to hear yourself talk.

If even one, of these critics had half as much accomplishment as any of the members of the new cabinet, their commentary might have some value – but they don’t. They’re just people who make a living criticizing others at the behest of their corporate masters and their own personal bias. Increasingly what was once informed, objective analysis and commentary is becoming nothing more than shallow opinion which is frequently  proven wrong as we saw repeatedly during the coverage of the election campaign.

More than 70% of Canadians rejected the ill wind of discontent and division that had blown over the past decade and they demanded change. As was clearly demonstrated by the thousands who attended the swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall on Wednesday, change is happening. It is being driven by a Prime Minister who has been seriously underestimated by many (including me) and who is now supported by one of the most professionally qualified Cabinets this country has ever seen.

Instead of attacking the credibility of a group of what appears to be eminently qualified people, conservatives and the media might do better to ask why it is that the Conservative Party cannot attract talent of that calibre.

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© 2015 Maggie’s Bear

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  • CanadaGoose1

    Equalization payments make the cheap daycare programme possible.

  • deb Scott

    great summary of the new lib govt. I too am impressed with his cabinet choices. He has some serious talent and I know they will do their job, with professionalism and with integrity.

    • MaggiesBear

      All that to say, they still have to prove themselves in government and if they can’t deliver I won’t hesitate to criticize. I just think that the recent media coverage has been abysmal and I’m tired of pointless speculation based on nothing but opinion. We saw too much of that during the election. Most of it was speculative and most of it turned out to be wrong. Good Lord, surely to God we have a right to expect better from the Fourth Estate.

  • CanadaGoose1

    Don’t get how I am mixing up federal and provincially. I remember Ignatieff making a speech in our area pushing for compulsory bilingual signage.
    There will be lots of coverage of Exxon fudging figures but little coverage of how the most important climate change researchers deliberately cherry picked data on which most if the climate hoax rested.
    Harper stayed too long and didn’t have the human touch that people respond too. I think if Jim Flaherty had lived and had been leader we would have had a chance as he was a people person.
    But I don’t agree with Mulroney that we should be more generous which just means becoming red tories again. And let’s face it there will be a titanic struggle to see whether the Liberals or the Conservatives will attract the most ethnic votes. If you think the Liberals will be playing kissy face while thus is going on, you are naive.

    • MaggiesBear

      I thought I had replied to this — I must be inching into senility faster and more smoothly than I thought. I agree with you about Mulroney. I don’t subscribe to the theory that if you live long enough all is forgiven. He accomplished some good things in the fight against Apartheid and acid rain but he spent like a drunken Liberal and was a little slippery and oily for my taste. The provincial / federal confusion comment was in reference to your comment about daycare in quebec. I live in Quebec and the Maggmeister and I pay significant taxes to support provincial social programs like $7 / day daycare from which we derive no benefit. It is a provincial, not a federally funded program. By all means blame the provincial Liberals/PQ for it but not the feds. They had nothing to do with it. As for the oil/gas industry and climate change — make now mistake about it. They know what’s going on and are working overtime behind the scenes to both fight regulation and shift their focus to sustainable energy. In the meantime, they are disseminating as much deliberately incorrect information as the extremists in the climate change, run for your life, hysteria brigade. The truth is our climate is changing. Some of that is naturally occurring, some of it is caused by human activity. We should be talking about it rationally with as much focus on how to adapt to climate change as on trying to prevent it. I’m not sure we can prevent it but we damn well better learn how to adapt to it or we’re leaving a hell of a mess to our grandchildren.

  • JWM

    We will get to see, maybe, just how brilliant they are. I for one see a return to the usual liberal policy of fake inclusion to the detriment of Canadians. I see a return to past progressive spending and taxing. I see nothing to show me that the this crop of liberals will be any better for Canada than any past group. If the economy rebounds they will not be the one’s to get it rebounding. They will, mark my words, be the same or worse than the current crop of liberal crooks running Ontario. There is of course one difference, the media which love liberal socialism, will never criticize the sitting liberals so we won’t have to listen to bogus BS about how Trudeau is evil and controlling like Harper, even if he is. All will be well in liberal land for four more years no matter how much it costs us……………… Just a little aside, CTV, had an interview with one of their brilliant pundits about Rona Ambrose. When asked what he thought Ambrose brought to the job, the idiots first words were, I don’t know, said with a stupid smirk on his face. Bear, I sincerely hope you get your stuff together, this love of liberals is making me sick.

    • MaggiesBear

      First, you’re wrong about the media. They have been questioning and criticizing Trudeau’s decision since the day after the election which is fair enough but they have also demeaned the accomplishments of some pretty accomplished people appointed to cabinet before they have even begun to do their jobs. I’m tired, to be honest, of the constant stereotyping on both sides of the political divide. We’ve lived with it for too long and it did nothing much for us as a nation. As conservatives, we need to stop assuming that this is the same old Liberal party and start asking ourselves how is that we alienated 70% of Canadians. Blaming the media doesn’t cut it. The screw up was ours and nobody else’s.

      • JWM

        I differ. The media and the stupid people who believe the bs about Harper are the problem. I have said in the past that I did not think Harper was conservative enough and I was correct. Canadians, yourself included, embrace at the very least a soft socialism. That sir has been a fact of life all my life.

        • MaggiesBear

          Blaming the media isn’t going to change much. Members of his former cabinet are already tripping over each other to distance themselves from his policies that they used to support. I am as much a socialist as Barack Obama is a Republican. I’ve been conservative all my life and quite frankly, Harper was not a conservative. He ran up debt like a drunken liberal, refused to address key conservative issues like abortion and senate reform, broke more promises than I can remember and basically gave the conservative movement a black eye. The media didn’t do that to him, he did it to himself.

          • JWM

            In the past I have said that Mr. Harper was not exactly a conservative,but I will also continue to say that the media created what the voters felt about Harper and it was for most part fiction. Please inform me just what abortion has to do with anything in Canada. Canadians have been killing their unborn at the same rate as Americans. I am sick of liberals telling me or anyone else what they should believe about Harper. he did a better job than most in the last fifty years even though he was not conservative enough for me. The new government will do their damnedest to break the country and I think that most are too stupid to care.

            • MaggiesBear

              Pro life is a conservative position and has been since abortion became an issue. You may have failed to notice it but the media are now doing to the Liberals what they did to the Conservatives and the Chretien government before them. The media are equal opportunity attack dogs. They go after whoever is in power. I don’t think that serves Canadians all that well which is why I criticize the media but I recognize that their failings are bipartisan.

              • JWM

                It has been my experience that Canadians are well informed but very stupid. Many years of watching the ebb and flow of elections has proven to me that the average Canadian will always vote to take something from someone else and thereby reduce the freedom of the herd. The media keep this crap up day in day out. Harper lost the election but it is still all about Harper. Sorry, sir but the average Canadian is very stupid. They rank right up there with the average American.

                • MaggiesBear

                  Based on what I’m seeing these days, I’m convinced that some Americans are in a class by themselves. I actually saw a petition today calling on an emergency election outside of the Constitution to elect Donald Trump to the presidency.

  • CanadaGoose1

    I guess you have swallowed the main theme of Justin’s book Common Ground that Conservatives are divisive but Liberals are not. Living in Eastern Ontario where we all get along fine and most business signage is bilingual we don’t appreciate the Liberals pushing for compulsory French signage on small businesses. People out West don’t appreciate being treated as a milk cow for Eastern social programmes such as $7 a day daycare in Quebec. And those who have studied and worked hard to become professionals or create businesses don’t appreciate being the target of class warfare.
    I agree the credentials of the ministers are impressive but many of them are climate change activists and the rest profess to believe in climate change and will tax us accordingly which makes either stupid or liars.
    I see nothing to celebrate in having a family dynasty win an election and to have the natural governing party think that they are the only

    • MaggiesBear

      First, I haven’t swallowed anything. I have observed a considerable amount of division and polarization over the past decade which has not done this country much good. Second, you are mixing provincial and federal programs and lumping them all into one stereotype. If I did that then I would have to assume that Allison Redford represented all Conservatives. As for climate change, it was reported today in the New York Times that Exxon is being investigated for possible fraud in the dissemination of misleading information denying the existence of climate change or the impact on climate of fossil fuels. It should also be noted that the Oil Sands companies have come out in favour of a carbon tax, something I personally oppose. I will also judge Trudeau on what he does but to be honest, I’m tired of people judging him before he’s even started. Who is father was is not a black mark against him, it is simply an accident of birth. Even Tony Clement has now stated he should not have killed the long form census and as for the communism memorial, the Harper government tried to plunk it on property zoned for future court buildings and refused to move it across the street to the Park of the Confederation which a more suitable and equally high profile site. One final point, you are correct that Canada is respected internationally but Stephen Harper wasn’t. I appreciate that many of his supporters choose to believe he was but I monitor the international media and the things being said and done by international politicians and they weren’t overly favourable about his performance.