Justin Trudeau has gone back to the classroom to reply to Conservative attack ads, releasing ads of his own that show him sitting at teacher’s desk, turning off the TV and asking for an end to negativity in politics.
“Canadians deserve better,” Trudeau says in the ad, after he picks up the remote and shuts off the Conservative ad.
Better acting? Definitely. Better leadership? If it all possible. Better TV ads? Absolutely. Can Justin provide any of those things? Hell no. Instead he decides to remind everyone that, once upon a time, he was a substitute drama school teacher. What better way to counter act Tory assertions that you're in way over your head than by reminding the nation that you have no relevant experience.
I don't know if this is Gerald Butts trying to be clever, or if the Grit War Machine is just working with the weak material they've been provided. It still looks like a mess. I especially liked the algebra in the background. There must be a good ten, perhaps twenty people who might be fooled into thinking that Justin knows something about math. Perhaps even more than his father for whom basic arithmetic was such a challenge.
We apologize for returning again to the Justin Saga. We can't help ourselves. Like a man falling off a building our eyes are glued to the pavement.
Speaking of large and oblivious slabs of concrete, the MSM has immediately gone into over drive to protect their little boy. The above Susan Delacourt column argues that the Tory attack ads "backfired." How does Susan Delacourt know this? Apparently because she read this Toronto Stareditorial piece that said so. In other words my boss told me to tell you that the Tories suck. Big Time.
The Toronto Star editorial board being a model of reasonable and unbiased opinion on the matter.
As time passes a slow consensus seems to be forming on the Canadian Right. Yes, the Tory ad was amusing and delivered its points effectively. The Justin lovers will hate the ad but the ad isn't targeted to them, it's targeted at those who might vote Tory and have misgivings about the Boy King. The ad has been dismissed as an old and tired out tactic. But if something works, why not keeping using it? Jean Chretien did a pretty effective Quebecois hayseed routine for years whenever he'd get into trouble. Got him three majority governments and some cushy post-retirement jobs. Difference between Papa Jean and the Tory War Room is that the latter occasionally tells the truth.
These are opening skirmishes in what promises to be a long political war. One of the drawbacks of seven years of minority government is that everyone is still on a perpetual election footing. The constant campaign, a plague once safely confined to American electoral politics, has seeped its way north. Pre-Harper/Martin we'd have an election every four to five years, with about a month or two of hard campaigning, and then back to the humdrum business of actually governing the country. Instead our politics has become Americanized in the worst possible way. There is always an election just around the corner, there is always more fund raising to be done and there is always, always another bloody attack ad.
The Tories didn't invent this nightmare, they just perfected it.
As for Boy Justin, the best approach seems to be to let him speak freely. He is his own finely coiffed self-attack ad. By the low standards of modern Canadian politics the Son and Heir will be providing us regular amusement from now until at least 2015.
Two hundred years ago tomorrow, on the morning of April 27, 1813, residents of York — which would be incorporated as the city of Toronto two decades later — awoke to find 14 American ships with 1,700 troops on board in the town’s harbour.
The war that the Americans had declared against the British 10 months earlier had dragged on longer than President James Madison had anticipated. Moreover, the generally unpopular conflict had not been going the Americans’ way, as the British and Canadian militias and their Aboriginal allies had won several decisive battles.
"The Government of Canada is committed to improving the lives of women and girls in communities across Canada, and the Colonial Terrace neighbourhood is no exception," said Mr. Lizon. "The Peel Children and Youth Initiative will help strengthen prosperity for young women who might otherwise miss out on some opportunities for success."
The Peel Children and Youth Initiative is receiving $200,000 in funding from the Government of Canada for its 24-month project. The project will work with young women between 16 and 24 years of age living in Mississauga's Colonial Terrace neighbourhood. With the organization's guidance, young women will create an Advisory Committee to identify economic barriers they face, and develop strategies to move toward economic prosperity. The project's goal is to make lasting and positive economic changes for young women and their community.
So what exactly does the Peel Children and Youth Initiative do? Here's their mission statement:
It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a community to ensure all young people have the chance to realize their potential. PCYI is fortunate to work with such a dedicated group of individuals and organizations from the not-for-profit, corporate and government sectors all committed to improving the lives of children and youth. PCYI incorporates and builds on the work of organizations already engaged in similar work, such as Success By 6 Peel, Student Support Leadership Initiative and Peel Youth Violence Prevention work of the Region of Peel.
Having lived in Mississauga for many years I can attest to never having heard of this organization. Nor had I, until I looked it up, heard of the Colonial Terrace neighbourhood. In Mississauga people live near intersections or shopping malls, not in neighbourhoods. The United Way has a run down on this small slice of suburbia and its 3,086 residents. The statistics provided by the good people at the United Way paint a somewhat bleak picture. Median after-tax family income is the $41,812 - $54,702 range, whereas in Mississauga as a whole it is $67,728. Housing prices in that area of Mississauga for detached single family homes float easily in the $500k to $750k range.
By Mississauga standards these people are poor. Then again Mississauga is a middle class suburb whose economy is dependent on next door Toronto. While the once sleepy commuter community has evolved its own industries and acquired the head offices of several large firms, it's basically part of the sprawland that surrounds the imperial capital. It's a rich city in the richest part of Canada.
This all begs the question: How can poor people, even if only relatively poor, afford to live in Mississauga? The answer is "social housing." Scanning the Google map of the Colonial Terrace neighbourhood there is the usual monotonous suburban landscape, including a smattering of swimming pools, with one exception: A small collection of mid-rise apartments that are owned by the Region of Peel.
In other words the problem isn't the neighbourhood, it's the government housing which, by its nature, tends to attract poor, low-skilled and recently arrived immigrants. Government policy concentrates such people in a particular area and then wonders why the "neighbourhood" acquires a bad reputation. Speak to any real estate agent and mention the word "social housing" and watch their reaction.
Before government got into the business of housing the poor, the poor would tend to concentrate in certain parts of the city. These areas, however, would overtime become gentrified, giving the owner-occupants a chance to improve their lot in life. The neighbourhood I grew up in the Little Italy / Little Portugal area of West End Toronto was just such a place. A run down collection of three story row-homes with shabby shops on the first floor and immigrants living in cramped quarters above. A combination of entrepreneurship and patient real estate speculation, in a decade or two, allowed these immigrants a chance to move out to the suburbs, indeed to an area much like western Mississauga. Young trees, detached homes and the oversized swimming pool stuffed into the modest backyard.
But you can't climb that ladder in Mississauga, most of which is a planned community. There is a strict separation of commercial and residential, denying entrepreneurial immigrants and working class Canadians the chance to save money by living above the shop. Social housing means the government owns your home and you don't, which denies the occupants a chance at building up equity. The bottom rung of the ladder has been kicked away by urban planners and social welfare advocates.
Instead the residents of Colonial Terrace's social housing enclave are expected to wait around for a $200,000 pittance, not enough to buy a townhome in that part of Mississauga, with which to secure their future. While receiving these piddling sums, funnelled through government agencies and private charities firmly attached to the largess of the state, the residents are given lectures on how "it takes a village to raise a child."
No it doesn't. Even in actual villages, where both my parents were raised, the village did not raise anyone. You raised your own kids. In an emergency neighbours and family would rally around. Everyone would "look out" for one another, but only in a limited and qualified way. The watch word was always and for everyone self reliance. If you didn't pull your weight, you were considered an outcast. The ultimate responsibility for any child was with the parents. When the child misbehaved or fell ill other adults might temporarily step in to assist, however in the end the parent was always held to account. A badly behaved child reflected poorly on the parent, not on the village.
Matched with bad ideas the residents of Colonial Terrace's social housing have also been saddled with a bad location. The Colonial Terrace complex is located on the western edge of Mississauga, bordering the farmlands of northern Oakville. Mississauga Transit is notoriously inefficient in areas outside the main commuter corridors, which is not surprising in a post-war city designed around the needs of the car. From personal experience I can attest that to live in Mississauga without a car is to live stranded. I cannot count the number of hours I spent boiling or freezing at remote bus stops waiting for Mississauga Transit. That's not a knock against the City of Mississauga, or the bus operators, merely a reflection of the reality of how the city was planned and built.
The government, federal, provincial and region have placed poor people, who are in special need of access to good quality public transit, in a remote part of suburban Toronto. There is a large business park complex nearby, however they appear to be offices staffed by white collars workers. Not exactly the sort of entry level positions in services and manufacturing that are easier to come by in the city of Toronto.
Government has created a problem and then provided an absurd remedy: A program targeting "women and girls." What the residents of Colonial Terrace need is jobs, transportation and the chance to build capital. Something this bit of feminist inspired pandering will do little to accomplish.
Sarah hated having to fire 18 employees at once, but she simply could not afford their salaries anymore. Her small business had received a $1.4 million grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to run a job training program in Arizona, a project that required her to hire those 18 workers up front to do the actual training. Once the stimulus project was completed, however, she had to let those workers go. Their jobs weren’t sustainable past the grant, ironically putting her former employees in a position similar to that of the people they’d just finished training.
“Mr. Trudeau is seeking to win the prime ministry without ever demonstrating, or needing to demonstrate, his qualifications for the office.”
Mr. Trudeau’s “dismal speech” demonstrated that his enthusiastic rallies were a “political rite,” not a political “occasion” where issues were discussed.
These comments by the leading political commentators of 1968, Charles Lynch and Peter Newman, summed up the view that Pierre Trudeau’s rise represented a triumph of style over substance. The Montreal Gazette, which had supported the Liberals in 1965, endorsed Conservative Robert Stanfield in 1968 because, unlike Mr. Trudeau, he refused to opt for “dazzle” over “reason.”
In other words there were people who saw the disaster coming and, like Cassandra, were ignored. So in that sense it might be deja vu all over again. But before we start building our bomb shelters and buying boxed sets of Dragnet, let's place Pierre the Father in the context of his time.
The major candidates at the 1968 convention were: Pierre Trudeau, Paul Hellyer, Robert Winters, Paul Martin Sr. and John Turner. Hellyer, Turner and Winters were all considered right leaning candidates, with Winters in particular getting noticed for his criticisms of the emerging welfare state. Combined the three right-leaning candidates out polled Trudeau on the first ballot. By the fourth and final ballot the numbers were running: Trudeau 50.9%, Winters 40.3% and Turner 8.2%. Turner had vowed not drop out of the race making it virtually impossible for Winters to beat Trudeau.
Note the narrowness of Trudeau's win. If there was indeed a Trudeaumania in 1968, rather than just a media concoction, why did his own Liberal Party give him the smallest of majorities? Indeed the smallest majority of any Liberal leadership winner in the party's modern history? There was no genuine political mania in 1968. Trudeau's personal style generated a lot of media interest because Canadian politics has been, even by the standards of other mature liberal democracies, immensely dull. At that same convention in 1968 Paul Hellyer's speech was so boring his campaign manager believed it lost him a hundred votes on the first ballot.
In a room full of men in grey flannel suits, Trudeau stuck out. He made for great copy. People noticed that and were intrigued, yet there was hardly a political tsunami. It took four ballots to anoint Trudeau. When the general election was held in June, just weeks after the convention, the Liberals captured 45% of the popular vote, a shift of 5% from the previous election. In terms of popular vote Trudeau did worse in 1968 than St Laurent in 1949 or 1953. Indeed 1968 was a peak of Liberal support. The party has never won more than 45% of the popular vote since that election.
Breaking it down by seats Trudeau's gains in 1968 (from Pearson's in 1965) were in British Columbia (7 to 16), Alberta (0 to 4), Saskatchewan (0 to 2), Manitoba (1 to 5) and Ontario (51 to 63). Only Newfoundland saw a significant drop with Grit representation going from 7 seats to 1. The seats Trudeau had gained 1968 were in many cases the seats that the Liberal Party had lost in 1957 and 1958 to John Diefenbaker. Rural areas and small towns that had a personal connection with Dief, a connection they did not share with the new Tory leader Robert Stanfield. They simply drifted back into their usual Grit orbit.
There was no Trudeau mania in 1968. The Liberal party just regained its dominance once a weak leader, Pearson, had been shuffled off and a strong opposition leader, Dief, had been assassinated. Added to the mix was the emerging threat of Quebec separatism, a threat that the tough Francophone Trudeau seemed capable of handling. Through out the next sixteen years it would be the threat of Quebec separatism that would time and again revive Trudeau's political fortunes. When voters marked their ballots for the socialist hippie, they were really casting a choice for the Liberal Party and for a strong federal position on Quebec.
Where does this leave the son? The father could overcome his glib manner because he had behind him one of the most formidable political machines the English speaking world has ever seen. The nation then confronted what was arguably its greatest existential crisis. Justin Trudeau has none of these advantages, none of the opportunities that might allow him to rise to greatness, assuming the lad has it in him.
The Liberal Party is non-existent in the West and marginal in Quebec, a result of Trudeau's divisive policies that still sting three decades after the fact. The old ethnic redoubts of Liberalism in Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal, so carefully built up under Pearson and Hellyer, have been obliterated by Jason Kenney. Now far away from power the Grits cannot hope to buy the support of the Maritimes.
There is something of the glib charm of his father in the son. Justin, however, faces a world less auspicious than that which his father faced nearly half a century ago. For decades the Liberals have accused conservatives of living in the past. Sorry. It's the Grits that are stuck in the myths and mysteries of 1968. The future looks dim for Justin and his camp followers in what's left of the former Natural Governing Party.
In the early morning of Good Friday, April 17, 1840, a terrific explosion shattered the peaceful atmosphere of the village of Queenston in Upper Canada (now Ontario). Brock’s Monument, burial place of General Sir Isaac Brock, the much-revered hero of the War of 1812, was in ruins. Immediately, Benjamin Lett, an Irish-Canadian rebel, was accused of engineering the violent act. Who was Benjamin Lett?