PM’S town hall a point­less ges­ture ad­ding to po­lit­i­cal cyn­i­cism

PressReader - LStep Channel - PM’S town hall a point­less ges­ture ad­ding to po­lit­i­cal cyn­i­cism
Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau came to Regina Thursday night to talk about jobs and the econ­omy.There was no planned an­nounce­ment. There was no sched­uled meet­ing with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe to sort out dif­fer­ences on the car­bon tax and other is­sues cru­cial to this prov­ince. (For this, Moe is far more at fault than Trudeau. That Moe chose not to re­ar­range his per­sonal sched­ule to at least fa­cil­i­tate a chance meet­ing with the prime min­is­ter of Canada is rather telling.)If Trudeau was truly about en­gag­ing those in Western Canada di­rectly af­fected by the slow­down in the oil econ­omy, he was ac­tu­ally two days too late. There was a rally in front of the Saskatchewan Leg­isla­tive Build­ing on Tuesday, with real peo­ple who are hurt­ing. Re­ally, Trudeau came here just so he could say he did. It was a point­less ges­ture.Not­with­stand­ing the fact that any prime min­is­ter in even the most hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment can find a friendly or at least civil au­di­ence, as Trudeau was hop­ing to find at the Univer­sity of Regina on Thursday, Trudeau’s name is lit­tle more than a punch­line in most of the West. Ad­mit­tedly, some of the ha­tred to­ward Trudeau is vis­ceral non­sense— a sit­u­a­tion all too com­mon in mod­ern-day pol­i­tics, where the leader be­comes a scape­goat for all woes. Harper ob­vi­ously ex­pe­ri­enced the same phe­nom­e­non from some on the left.But a lot of it is be­cause to­day’s pol­i­tics is less about find­ing so­lu­tions than ap­pear­ing to do so. Trudeau has mas­tered such the­atrics, but all politi­cians are play­ers.And the so­lu­tions are clearly not to be found in ei­ther these care­fully stage-man­aged town halls or sin­cere protest ral­lies that politi­cians al­ways seem to hi­jack for their own pur­pose. Right now, all they are ac­com­plish­ing is pil­ing on to the cyn­i­cism. That needs to change.Ad­mit­tedly, one gets why Trudeau and his strate­gists would have no in­ter­est in wad­ing into Tuesday’s pipe­line protests. We are long past the days when a prime min­is­ter is go­ing to wade through a crowd and get away with grab­bing a pro­tester by the throat, a la Jean Chre­tien.And not­with­stand­ing or­ga­nizer Cody Bat­ter­shill’s suc­cess in send­ing a mes­sage that the pro-pipe­line rally was to be based on “pos­i­tiv­ity, re­spect and in­clu­siv­ity” by ask­ing yel­low vest pro­test­ers to keep their vests and al­ter­na­tive views on is­sues like im­mi­gra­tion at home, Trudeau’s pres­ence at the event would have been a no-win sit­u­a­tion in such a po­lit­i­cally charged en­vi­ron­ment.Sure, union voices joined the Regina Cham­ber of Com­merce, Regina Mayor Michael Fougere and NDP MLAS. But life­time Se­nate ap­pointee Denise Bat­ters ham­mer­ing away on the evils of Bill C-69 pretty much en­sured ev­ery­one would leave with a po­lit­i­cal taint.The same could be said of Moe’s speech (in a wind chill that made it feel like -30 C) that noted how “we feel like we’ve been left out in the cold” and that “it feels like no one is lis­ten­ing to us”. Gee, imag­ine how the Jus­tice for Our Stolen Chil­dren teepee pro­test­ers must have felt when Moe wouldn’t meet with them this past sum­mer when the weather was great.Sir, you are not a pro­tester. You are a leader. And lead­er­ship has to be about slightly more than se­lec­tively meet­ing with whom you as­sume to be a friendly au­di­ence and telling them pretty much what they want to hear in a way that seems pos­i­tive to them.Sadly, that is to­day’s dis­course — politi­cians opt­ing to stage-man­age their own stage-man­aged events, or hi­jack some­one else’s, rather than talk­ing to each other about com­pro­mise and so­lu­tions.Sure, Trudeau is at least hold­ing non-par­ti­san pub­lic events in Western Canada that Harper wouldn’t dare hold.But can any­one in good con­science call that a pro­duc­tive di­a­logue? Are such stage-man­aged events now the sub­sti­tute for sub­stan­tive di­a­logue be­tween politi­cians that could pro­duce so­lu­tions? Or do our politi­cians now feel they are un­der no obli­ga­tion to talk to any­one other than those who share their views?

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