Rex Murphy: Justin Trudeau on a hot tin roof
July 15 2022
Re-printed without permission.
By Rex Murphy.
What an unholy mess and farce this all is.
Is this a government or a travelling road show?
The prime minister darts around like a summer fly, off to useless summits one day, on a European photo-op mission the next, drops in to Ukraine to pose with Madame Joly for the obligatory photo with the beleaguered Volodymyr Zelenskyy, flits back home for a while, off to Calgary, back to Nova Scotia (the quotient of apologies must be maintained), then on to Ontario for an EV announcement, and then off to a police-guarded lunch in Montreal.
Justin Trudeau could be in rehearsal for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
The widely regarded brain-trust of the Trudeau cabinet — this would be Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland — does her best to abrade that distinction by noting that high and accelerating prices at the pumps aren’t so bad because they are “a reminder of why climate action is so important.”
Forget the editorialists, the wonderfully serious and perpetually worried columnists, the absolutely idolatrous worship of climate activism within the sombre, irrelevant councils of the CBC, and finally the Liberal-NDP fanatical embrace of the same, and of course please forget the hysterical Green evangelists — forget all these. The idea that the Trudeau brand of climate action, in Canada, is all-important, is farcical. No one, except the ideologues, believes this.
Climate action is such an off-the-radar-concern of most Canadians right now it has to buy a blip to make an appearance.
Go out on the road, talk to some normal people anywhere in Canada — far from the think-tanks, the policy seminars, the petty school board emperors of woke — and take their pulse. Listen to them.
“Can I get on a plane” beats climate action as a real issue. “Can I afford to top up the gas tank” beats climate action. “What’s the grocery bill this time” beats climate action. Trudeau-style climate action is a favourite toy in the minds of those totally insulated from the burdens and miseries that their policies impose on those who cannot bear such burdens.
The new aristocrats don’t hold titles. They win cabinet seats, or they have wealth, or they are in guaranteed government service; they hold court on TV panel shows, or worse, they issue terribly wise advice from second-rate political science departments. They are the climate-action salesmen. And none of the new aristocrats will feel the penalties of the policies they are forcing on everyone else. They are above, safeguarded, from the results of their virtuous crusade.
Here’s what they do not do. They do not farm; they are not grocery clerks; they do not fish; they are not carpenters. They throw empty words into the vast and wandering air. The ones who bear the burden of climate-action policies keep the machinery of modern society functioning. And they, this essential cadre, are looked down upon.
Now inflation is really hitting. More than nine per cent in the States, almost eight per cent here. Inflation is another word for a massive injury to the economic viability of Canadians at the lowest end of the economic scale. They have just lost eight per cent or more in real terms of what little income they have. Their income and savings stay the same; the power of those incomes and savings to purchase what they need, or sustain their household debts, is being savaged.
Inflation is the carbon tax on steroids and the carbon tax is one of the elements of inflation. And I am looking forward, perhaps with not the same zeal as other true believers, for Chrystia Freeland to emerge with another bulletin about how prices soaring, incomes declining, bills harder to pay, and fuel costs going through several roofs is a good thing: because all these will remind us, even more rigorously, “of why climate action is so important.”
One of the travelling PM’s fairest recent photo ops was with President Zelenskyy. There he was, with Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly, standing beside the man of the hour — it was like a Renaissance painting of three pilgrims on the way to a shrine — the very image of solidarity and support. Zelenskyy was even given the high honour of addressing the Canadian Parliament — one of the few times it has been open and all were attending.
During that moment, Trudeau exceeded even his own incomparable skills in spreading syrup on the pancake, rhetorically speaking. The “first name” touch was quintessential empathetic Justin:
“Volodymyr, in the years I’ve known you, I’ve always thought of you as a champion of democracy,” he said. “And now, democracies around the world are lucky to have you as their champion.”
“Volodymyr” — that was so sweet, so much a signal of more than an ally, more than one government leader speaking to another in so dire a moment. It was all heart.
Heart in politics, however, has its time limit, and sweet words fade with their posting on Twitter. On Wednesday, despite all the sanctions on Russia, the Trudeau government made the decision to “return turbines used in a pipeline to carry natural gas from Russia to Germany.” And as noted by one global affairs analyst, among many others, the Canadian decision means the turbines “will now serve as a cog in the Russian war machine.”
It was wonderful when Zelenskyy addressed the Parliament. It was wonderful when Trudeau and Joly were photographed next to him in Ukraine. It was wonderful when Trudeau told the Ukrainian leader he had always thought of him “as a champion for democracy.”
But then Putin needed turbines for a gas pipeline. (Pipelines are a forbidden asset in Canada.) Not so wonderful.
Zelenskyy was not happy with the flip, describing it as “an absolutely unacceptable exception to the sanctions regime against Russia.” The photo ops have faded, the bromance is finis.
Meanwhile, the airports of Canada are a mess. Toronto Pearson looks as if it is managed by the Toronto Maple Leafs coaching team. The passport lineups are heading for their own page in Ripley’s. With magisterial idiocy the government has reintroduced random COVID testing for fully vaccinated travellers.
And, shame of shames, Tamara Lich — apparently public enemy No. 1 — is back in jail. There have been real protests in Holland, an actual government overthrow in Sri Lanka. Yet the most innocuous, genuine, non-violent demonstration of them all, which was the truckers here in Canada, results in the most exceptional pursuit and prosecution of one woman who led an honest, decent protest.
But these are the Trudeau years. Try to detect sense, logic, integrity or anything beyond the plastic recitation of virtue slogans and hollow I-care-speak from this crowd, and you will end up weeping.
This government is the most detached from the ideas and concerns of the majority of Canadian citizens as any we have ever seen. It is a composition of know-it-alls, amateurs, spin-masters and intellectually under-equipped, amoral dilettantes. It’s a holiday government.
And the rest of us are going to pay dearly for their holiday.