National Post (National Edition)

Man of global po­lit­i­cal hot­ness

- JEN GER­SON

Le­gions of pro­gres­sive Cana­di­ans who have long la­mented the al­leged loss of our coun­try’s in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion un­der the Con­ser­va­tives awoke this week to find their sense of self-es­teem in­stantly re­stored, as the world took note of our in­com­ing prime min­is­ter — specif­i­cally, how at­trac­tive he is.

Me­dia out­lets from Gawker, Vice and Buz­zfeed, to Bri­tain’s Mir­ror, Tele­graph and In­de­pen­dent, have of­fered their in­sight­ful anal­y­sis into Justin Trudeau’s yummy body and “long flow­ing locks” of hair. Cringe-wor­thy copy has been ac­com­pa­nied by shirt­less pho­tos, of which there is no short­age (maybe he and Vladimir Putin will get along af­ter all).

Trudeau him­self can­not be blamed for this spec­ta­cle — he can’t help it if he’s at­trac­tive. (Although for the dig­nity of the coun­try, it may be time for him to keep his shirt on.) Ev­ery­one else needs to get a grip.

This is more than merely em­bar­rass­ing; it’s a rather ob­vi­ous ex­am­ple of a dou­ble stan­dard.

How is it OK to sali­vate over Trudeau’s body, in a world where it has be­come taboo to make even an in­nocu­ous pass­ing re­mark about a fe­male politi­cian’s looks?

Skirt­ing dan­ger­ously close to the edges of self-aware­ness, The In­de­pen­dent’s Vic­to­ria Richards seemed to rec­og­nize the in­con­gruity.

“I scrolled through mul­ti­ple images of his long, flow­ing locks, wit­nessed him march­ing in a gay pride pa­rade, held my breath through those top­less box­ing poses and sighed openly af­ter read­ing about his pro-abor­tion, fem­i­nist, cli­mate-change-sup­port­ing, lib­eral cre­den­tials. But it was mostly the box­ing shots. And that hair,” she wrote, be­fore de­cid­ing her re­ac­tion was all per­fectly fine.

This may all seem harm­less, ex­cept the peo­ple who feel com­pelled to pub­licly ex­claim their car­nal de­sires for Trudeau tend to hail from the same po­lit­i­cal class that be­lieves merely elect­ing him will re­store Canada to a myth­i­cal Lib­eral golden age of global cred­i­bil­ity.

The in­com­ing prime min­is­ter has al­ready sparked a re- birth of this coun­try’s hu­mil­i­at­ingly parochial ob­ses­sion with what the rest of the world has to say about us. In truth, few for­eign­ers give Canada a sec­ond thought. When they do, we gen­er­ally main­tain a good rep­u­ta­tion. If any­thing, we en­joy a level of es­teem far higher than any­thing we de­serve.

A re­cent re­port from the Cana­dian In­ter­na­tional Coun­cil high­lighted that Canada has slipped far be­hind the global pack on mea­sures much more im­por­tant than “how many Guardian colum­nists don’t like con­ser­va­tive for­eign lead­ers.” Our for­eign aid spend­ing has de­clined at a faster rate than Italy’s. And our de­fence spend­ing as a per­cent­age of GDP is the low­est in the Group of Seven.

And we can’t even blame Stephen Harper’s pen­nypinch­ing regime, as the de­cline be­gan in 1995, un­der the Lib­er­als. Ac­cord­ing to the au­thors: “The dif­fer­ence in com­mit­ment to global en­gage­ment (be­fore and af­ter 1995) is 10 times greater than the dif­fer­ence be­tween par­ties within each era.”

Best ig­nore that. The hol­low­ness of the left’s ob­ses­sion with Trudeau is herein ex­posed. It’s not about what we’re ac­tu­ally do­ing on the world stage, but rather what their favourite in­ter­na­tional me­dia out­lets are say­ing about us. It’s not about the $6.5 bil­lion Trudeau will need to find in cuts to ful­fill his prom­ises, but rather his looks and the raft of pro­gres­sive causes he will cham­pion.

Which is why there is some­thing per­verse about Trudeau’s self-sat­is­fied procla­ma­tion at his first post-elec­tion rally Tues­day.

“Many of you have wor­ried that Canada has lost its com­pas­sion­ate and con­struc­tive voice in the world over the past 10 years,” he said. “Well, I have a sim­ple mes­sage for you: On be­half of 35 mil­lion Cana­di­ans, we’re back.”

It would be a lovely sen­ti­ment, if it weren’t jux­ta­posed with his prom­ise to with­draw our pal­try con­tri­bu­tion to the in­ter­na­tional ef­forts against the Is­lamic State of Iraq & the Le­vant. There is no com­pelling rea­son for us to pull our six fighter jets from an en­gage­ment against a geno­ci­dal ter­ror­ist group that has con­trib­uted to the largest refugee cri­sis since the Sec­ond World War.

What Trudeau is propos­ing is not a recipe for a re­turn to a myth­i­cal Canada. It’s an ar­gu­ment for greater in­su­lar­ity. Restor­ing our in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion — if that is ac­tu­ally nec­es­sary — re­quires more of us than pretty speeches and lead­ers. Such a thing re­quires real com­mit­ments of blood and trea­sure.

Add that to the very long list of Lib­eral prom­ises.

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