2020 hasn’t been off to the best start and as some had hoped that this year would be better than what 2019 turned out to be, so far many of those people have been disappointed to put it mildly. This is especially true when it comes to our politics, when it seems that the vitriol from some places isn’t about ready to end.
Even with that, I haven’t been able to help but notice how one thing in particular has evolved, probably to where it was going to go anyway but it’s still notable none the less. That has to do with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and how he gets criticized and attacked by certain partisans. Let’s face it, lots of people don’t like Trudeau, never have liked him and were likely never going to like him. I think that’s something that comes part and parcel when you’ve born with the family name “Trudeau” in this country.
And let’s face it, it’s not that Mr. Trudeau isn’t without reason to be criticized. There are many legitimate policy reasons out there to be unhappy with Prime Minister, so he is far from being above criticism. But It feels to me like something changed over the holiday period when it comes to criticisms of Trudeau the person, something that’s notable.
For me that feeling started to come when the Prime Minister was in Costa Rica over the holidays and he went to a corner store to buy himself some adult drinks. He got mocked and attacked for that, some making fun of him, others going after him for doing it himself like it was some Machiavellian stroke to try to look more normal. Then just last week we saw the Prime Minister announce financial help for the families of victims of Flight 752, which brought some attacks from certain corners of the Internet. Those people complained that Trudeau was helping these people, in some cases questioning why we were helping “non-Canadians”. Needless to say, the tone and content was downright ghoulish and just ugly, even by the standards that we usually see thrown at Trudeau.
But the example that put this over the top to me came yesterday from Winnipeg, where the Liberals have been having their Cabinet Retreat this week. It turns out the Prime Minister stopped into a local doughnut shop to pick up some treats for his colleagues, and well, it all went downhill from there:
Yeah folks, the man got attacked for paying a bit more for local doughnuts from a company that treats its workers well and uses local products. Some say he should have gone to Tim Horton’s, others asked “who paid for it?”, and others just spewed crappy insult into the Twitter feed. Seriously folks, I think we’ve reached a point where Mr. Trudeau literally cannot do anything without getting attacked for it. In this case, if he had gone to Timmy’s, he would have been attacked for supporting a company that just locked out their own employees in the city over a 10 cent an hour wage increase, which would have been a warranted criticism. Or he would have been attacked for supporting the Brazilian-owned company. Or he would have been attacked for buying doughnuts instead of carrots. Or he would have been attacked for the packaging the doughnuts came in. Or he would have been attacked for trying to look “normal” by going to Timmy’s instead of the local place. In this case, no matter what he did, he was going to get attacked for it, no matter what he did. And that was all over him buying effing doughnuts for a few dozen people from a local small business working hard to put out a quality product. Instead of being happy for that small business person and the sale they made, this happens instead Seriously, what the fresh Hell?
Let’s be clear here, I’m not saying that politicians should never face criticism for their actions, their choices and their policies. We live in an accountable society and by running for elected office our politicians sign up for that kind of accountability. But for me, I draw a line between that accountability and what we’ve started to see so far in 2020 when it comes to the Prime Minister. This feels very different to me. It feels like people who dislike this Prime Minister or even hate him will criticize him no matter what he does, with no consistency at all. In the Costa Rica example, if he had sent some hired hand to fetch his libations from the corner dispensary, he would have been called a silver-spooned elitist and all that. But if he gets off his rear and goes down there himself, scruffy beard and all, he’s mocked for doing so or is attacked for trying to appear normal. Christ people pick a lane already!
Of all people to be writing this piece, it feels weird that I’m the one writing it. Trust me, it feels really weird to me. I’ve not been one to hold back on my criticisms of this Prime Minister and his policy choices. But what I’ve seen so far in 2020 has just been so over the top and such an over-reaction that it needs to be pointed out. This kind of griping does nothing to help out debate and just pushes people out of serious discussions when they come up. This stuff also helps to undermine serious questions and criticisms when they come, allowing those being put on the stop to say that “no matter what we do, you attack us”. Finally, it’s just more than a bit juvenile. If this year continues like this, it’s going to be a painfully long one. I can hope that this will stop here, but I doubt it. Here’s to hoping though.