GOT SOME ’SPLAININ’ TO DO

Trudeau ducks gen­der ques­tion

Calgary Sun - - NEWS - lgo­ld­[email protected]­media.com @sun­lor­rie LORRIE GOLD­STEIN

It was a sim­ple and di­rect ques­tion to Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau at a town hall meet­ing in Regina Thurs­day, po­litely asked by a young woman, that spoke vol­umes about to­day’s pol­i­tics.

About how you don’t have to yell at politi­cians to be ef­fec­tive in chal­leng­ing their views.

And about how the prime min­is­ter — and politi­cians in gen­eral — rou­tinely brush off ques­tions they don’t want to an­swer by us­ing the tired, old and cyn­i­cal po­lit­i­cal spin tech­nique called block­ing and bridg­ing.

It means block­ing the ques­tion you’ve been asked and bridg­ing away to an­swer­ing some­thing else.

Me­dia con­sul­tants and po­lit­i­cal han­dlers think its clever.

What it re­ally demon­strates is the politi­cian’s con­tempt for the ques­tioner, which is fine in Ques­tion Pe­riod be­cause that’s es­sen­tially po­lit­i­cal theatre, or when a politi­cian does it to the me­dia be­cause it’s our job to in­ter­pret po­lit­i­cal baf­fle­gab.

But it’s in­sult­ing when Trudeau does it at a venue where we’re sup­posed to be im­pressed, ac­cord­ing to his cheer­lead­ers, by his will­ing­ness to talk openly and hon­estly to Cana­di­ans in in­for­mal set­tings.

The con­text for the young woman’s ques­tion was Trudeau’s con­tro­ver­sial com­ments at a G20 meet­ing in Ar­gentina in Novem­ber on gen­der equal­ity.

Trudeau said when con­sid­er­ing large-scale con­struc­tion projects like pipe­lines and high­ways: “There are gen­der im­pacts when you bring con­struc­tion work­ers into a ru­ral area, there are social im­pacts be­cause there are mostly male con­struc­tion work­ers, how are you adjusting and adapt­ing to those?”

Many Cana­di­ans, es­pe­cially in Al­berta, be­lieve Trudeau was tak­ing an un­fair and deroga­tory shot at oil field work­ers to bur­nish his “fem­i­nist” cre­den­tials by im­ply­ing they are sex­ual preda­tors, dan­ger­ous to women.

The Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice has been all over the map in ex­plain­ing what Trudeau meant.

Some say he wasn’t ref­er­enc­ing gen­der vi­o­lence, but call­ing for greater em­ploy­ment of women in good-pay­ing jobs in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try.

Oth­ers say Trudeau was in­deed ref­er­enc­ing stud­ies show­ing a link be­tween large-scale in­fra­struc­ture projects and in­creased sex­ual as­saults on women.

Trudeau had the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to clear it up Thurs­day.

Here’s what hap­pened in­stead.

Ques­tion:

“Wel­come to Regina, Mr. Prime Min­is­ter. I would like to bring at­ten­tion to com­ments you had made back in Novem­ber when you had spoke(n) about the gen­der and social im­pacts con­struc­tion work­ers cre­ate in ru­ral ar­eas. (Ap­plause) Although not a con­struc­tion worker, I my­self am an oil field worker in ad­di­tion to be­ing a full-time univer­sity stu­dent and have spent my sum­mers tem­po­rar­ily re­lo­cat­ing to var­i­ous ru­ral ar­eas in Al­berta, Saskatchewan and Man­i­toba to work on oil field re­lated projects.

“Dur­ing my time work­ing in the oil field as a young fe­male, I have come across some of the kind­est and most re­spect­ful male co-work­ers and have cre­ated last­ing friend­ships (Ap­plause) in the ru­ral towns I have tem­po­rar­ily re-lo­cated to. I work very hard and have ded­i­cated a lot of time in the oil field in­dus­try dur­ing my sum­mer(s), in or­der to keep up with in­creas­ing tu­ition costs and I feel that you have painted my­self, my co-work­ers and friends in a neg­a­tive light with your com­ment.

“My ques­tion for you

Mr. Prime Min­is­ter is what ex­actly did you mean by ‘gen­der im­pacts’ when you bring con­struc­tion work­ers into a ru­ral area? If you could, please pro­vide a thor­ough ex­pla­na­tion on your com­ment in ad­di­tion to clar­i­fy­ing what ex­actly those social and gen­der im­pacts are. Thank you.” (Ap­plause) Here’s Trudeau’s re­sponse. Note how he’s not an­swer­ing the ques­tion, but block­ing it and bridg­ing away to an en­tirely dif­fer­ent topic.

“Thank you for your ques­tion and thank you for your hard work. Con­struc­tion work­ers build this coun­try ev­ery sin­gle day. The work you do and the work your col­leagues do around this coun­try build­ing our roads, build­ing our bridges, build­ing our homes, build­ing our fac­to­ries, build­ing our coun­try ev­ery day, is an es­sen­tial build­ing block of the coun­try and the fu­ture we’re build­ing.

“That’s why we’re in­vest­ing his­toric amounts in in­fra­struc­ture, that is why we know that in­vest­ments in the work that con­struc­tion work­ers do right across the coun­try is es­sen­tial for build­ing the bet­ter fu­ture that we need. Thank you for your ques­tion...

Ah, next ques­tion...”

That’s so far away from what Trudeau was asked it’s in an­other time zone.

Sev­eral au­di­ence mem­bers jeered Trudeau for not an­swer­ing the ques­tion.

Not hard to see why.

When Trudeau made his re­marks in Novem­ber, they didn’t strike me as con­tro­ver­sial given that it’s ob­vi­ous the na­ture of any com­mu­nity changes if its de­mo­graph­ics change rapidly.

But Trudeau’s made it an is­sue by not ex­plain­ing what he meant.

Maybe he doesn’t know.

TRUDEAU Dodges ques­tion

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