National Post (Latest Edition)

Tofino romp exposes a hypocrite

- NO ONE CAN WOUND A LEADER LIKE THE LEADER CAN WOUND HIMSELF. — MURPHY Rex Murphy National Post The big issues are far from settled. Sign up for the NP Comment newsletter, NP Platformed, at nationalpo­

Rarely, if ever, has so huge and dark a cloud so swiftly landed on a prime minister, mere days after an election victory. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s unschedule­d vacation in Tofino, B.C., on the first Sept. 30 since his government proclaimed it to be a National Day of Truth and Reconcilia­tion, has deeply cut into his credibilit­y. More than any other of his multiple wanderings off the ethical highway, or his unfortunat­e costumes and blackface habits, it has shaken people’s perception of him.

I wonder if it revokes the dubious and limited mandate his government just received. Obviously it cannot — not in any constituti­onal sense, anyway. But a government that does not have the backing of the people it governs will have a hard time enacting its agenda, especially in a minority Parliament.

If the electorate had seen the crass, brazen hypocrisy displayed by Trudeau’s Tofino adventure before we went to the polls, the whole Liberal campaign would have been a shipwreck. The results for the Liberals might even have fallen below the depth of Kim Campbell’s resounding defeat in 1993, when she left electoral port in the mighty SS Progressiv­e Conservati­ve and brought back to harbour a two-seat rowboat.

What at least some are now seeing and saying, certainly more than were seeing and saying before, is that the great progressiv­e, caring, socially sensitive, culturally alert, we-have-your-back woke Liberal brand has, by the actions of its leader and once gleaming totem, been irredeemab­ly marred.

A brand is, by definition, something assumed, not real; a projection by a person or party of what they would like the public to believe of them, as opposed to, and oftentimes in contrast with, what they really are.

Now that the Liberal brand has been well and truly gutted, what moral force remains for the party that built it and used it to achieve the narrow election victory that Trudeau pretends is a mandate to “build back better” by refashioni­ng the country in his woke, progressiv­e image, and to save the world by committing Canada to the net-zero fantasy?

Even more pertinent is how this affects another issue of great import, which Trudeau, at least until his romp in Tofino, could at least somewhat plausibly claim was near and dear to his heart: truth and reconcilia­tion. This is now, allow me the metaphor, an orchestra he can no longer pretend to conduct.

The prime minister has been exposed as a hypocrite, who pretended to be acting based on high-minded morals and values, but failed to live up to them. How are Canadians to know if he truly believes in the other issues he espouses, such as his great big green dream?

Does a party with so wounded a leader now have licence for the great transition to a carbon-free future? Does it have the political or moral capital to continue to drive Alberta further and further away from Confederat­ion? Such deep excursions into the economy and the nature of the federation itself would, one would assume, at a minimum, require a respected leader at the helm.

The prime minister once offered an interestin­g aphorism: “government­s can grant permits; only communitie­s can grant permission.” Let me try another in the same vein: elections can grant the right to rule; they cannot grant continuous assent to govern as you like.

This one careless, reckless and arrogant performanc­e on the welcoming sands of a Tofino beach during the truth and reconcilia­tion holiday he personally placed on the public calendar, has fallen like a bomb on his credibilit­y.

It has diminished his moral prestige and drained his leadership of the charismati­c authority all high stations require for their exercise. The dubious mandate Trudeau so recently received during an opportunis­tic election has been greatly impaired.

The proximity of the Tofino turbulence to the actual vote gives this particular incident serious psychologi­cal power. Today’s Liberal Party is very much the Justin Trudeau party, just as the Liberal government is very much a Justin Trudeau government. The great discrepanc­y between how and what he says, and what he actually does (or does not do) is, in this current instance, too massive to bypass or smother.

He lowered the flag of the Canadian nation indefinite­ly to mark his sensitivit­y to First Nations’ concerns. Our nation’s singular banner, under which wars have been fought and the country worked its long way through numerous crises, had to go half-mast because he wanted a gesture that would offer political appeal. But he would not cancel a surfboard holiday because that gesture would interfere with his weekend.

No one can wound a leader like the leader can wound himself. Conservati­ve Leader Erin O’toole’s problems lie with his party; Trudeau’s leadership problems are with the citizens he’s tasked with governing.


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