The news of last night is barely 12 hours old and this is all still sinking in with people. Needless to say, it’s all been very jarring and something that so many people didn’t see coming. But after sleeping on this overnight, I wanted to come back to this with a few other thoughts about what has transpired so for.
For starters, after hearing everyone’s statements on this last night, it’s hard not to remark on how this story can be lethal to the Liberal campaign in so many ways. Not only does it blow up the narrative and image that Mr. Trudeau has built for himself over time, it completely undermines the work that they have been doing by bringing to light the past misdeeds and mistakes of Conservative candidates.
When Andrew Scheer did his own emergency plane press conference last week and said that “as long as his candidates apologize, he won’t boot them”, he was roundly criticized for such a weak response and approach by the Liberals and others. It was a position that was completely untenable and frankly wasn’t up to the standard of a political party in this country these days. Yet with his apology last night and his attempts to explain, all while not stepping down, it looks like he’s embracing for himself the approach the Mr. Scheer was chided for less than a week ago. I think Postmedia’s Christie Blatchford put it best when she said today that “Trudeau cuts himself the slack he has denied to others.” That’s not a sign of good leadership at all, and we’re seeing those old chickens come home to roost now.
Another thing that I believe is important to keep in mind is the entire context under which this story is happening. It was just yesterday morning that we saw this headline posted on an article from a major TV network in this country:
It’s hard not to remark on the fact that the same day that the media was asking that question about the first person of colour to lead a federal party, that this story about Justin Trudeau in brownface and a turban comes out. It’s a jarring contrast to see and probably speaks to where we are these days in our politics. What worries me is that there are probably more than a few people out there who read that first story from yesterday morning and wondered if Canada was ready for a turbaned-Sikh as Prime Minister, but who will also look at this story about Justin Trudeau and try to sluff it off as nothing important. That’s the kind of cognitive dissonance that’s boggling to the mind and if it comes to pass, says a lot about us.
But the final thing that needs to be pointed out here is that this story isn’t done yet, and it seems that Mr. Trudeau wasn’t so forthright as he would have us believe. Remember last night when he was asked in his plane scrum if there had been other incidents? He said there was another, in high school, but that was it. But as Global News has discovered, it turns out that Mr. Trudeau wasn’t so honest in that answer:
In that moment of contrition, it’s important that if that apology is to be sincere and believed that you are being completely honest. So when you’re asked the question “Have you ever done this before?” and you leave something out, that completely undermines the apology you just gave. Furthermore, it makes you look more dishonest and worse than you would have otherwise. You just finished asking everyone to forgive you for a mistake and that you were being upfront with them, but when it’s discovered that that statement wasn’t even true, it just digs your own hole that much deeper.
The Liberal campaign is surely in full damage control mode and they have bunkered down in Winnipeg, cancelling their days events and journalists have been told to be ready to start at 11:00 am local time. This extra piece of news from Global is surely adding to the troubles they are facing, as they figure out what they try to do now. As this hole keeps getting deeper, it becomes less and less clear about how they get out of it without throwing Mr. Trudeau under the same bus that he’s thrown so many others under. Needless to say, as we enter what is just the 9th day of this campaign, this campaign has changed in a big way. What remains to be seen is just how this will shake the electorate and what everyone does with this new information. Needless to say, Canada will now be watching as this story is sure to shake voters awake and get them to pay attention. And if this doesn’t, maybe nothing ever will.