Remember when the American popular culture journal Rolling Stone featured Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the cover? In was in August of 2017 and, here at home, The Star gushed about it being a “glowing” story that called “Trudeau “a progressive, rational, forward-thinking leader” who “overcame tragedy to become Canada’s prime minister” … [and] … On the front cover, Trudeau is pictured with the words “Why can’t he be our President?” He stares intensely with a slight smile as he leans against a dark glossy table.“
Of course, it was a “puff piece” as they say. Rolling Stone, a reliably progressive journal was just looking at President Donal J Trump, then in his first year as the US President, and was trying to find a way to articulate the political left’s reaction which was was, generally, this ⇒ . They were heady days for the Canadian media. Their boy had beaten back the boring, introverted, uncharismatic Stephen Harper ~ who dared to “diss” the generally innumerate media and talk about dull things like balanced budgets and tax cuts ~ and now he, Justin Trudeau, was on yet another major US magazine cover: Canada was cool, again. Oh, happy days!
Of course, it couldn’t last; and less than two years later ~ after the wholly unethical Christmas vacation on the Aga Khan’s luxurious private island in the Caribbean and after Justin Trudeau expelled Dr Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould from the Liberal caucus for the cardinal sin of having principles, but before the blackface story broke ~ MacLean’s magazine, in Mach 2019 gave us this ⇒ saying “Long story short, the government of Canada was telling one story to itself and another to Canadians. To themselves, they said they were protecting jobs. To the rest of us, they said they were getting tough. A government that indulges in that much sustained double-talk clearly thinks it has something to hide. It’s being disingenuous. It’s being phony. And since the lot of them never stop calling themselves #TeamTrudeau on Twitter, I guess we can, without fear of contradiction, say the Prime Minister of Canada has been the phony-in-chief.“
The bloom was off the rose a year ago but then the Canadian media decided that whether or not Andrew Scheer should march in a gay-pride parade was far, far more important than things like ethics and Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberals were re-elected, blackface and all, and now, after the WE charity fiasco, we might ask ourselves “Why Can’t ⇐ He Be Our Prime Minister?” The “He,” in this case, is the right-of-centre Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, one of the most boring men in politics, anywhere, but a man of principle and personal probity.
The Economist tells us that Prime Minister Rutte is leading a group called the “frugal four” (Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden) which opposes the EU’s plan, favoured by France, to bailout many countries with a scheme “which involves a mix of grants worth €500bn and loans of €250bn handed to individual countries and paid for by the EU issuing debt collectively at scale for the first time.” The ‘frugal four” are not opposed to helping other EU members; they just insist that the “grants” must be repayable loans. The frugal Dutch are unwilling to bail out the spendthrift French, but, as The Economist explains, “In a fit of honesty, Jean-Claude Juncker, the previous president of the commission, once declared that France would not be punished for breaking EU rules on deficits “because it is France” … [and, while] … Politicians in Italy and Spain may not like the idea of lawmakers in the Netherlands and other hawkish governments examining their spending,” it ~ fiscal prudence ~ will be good domestic politics and Mark Rutte, unlike Angela Merkel, is not retiring.
What sort of man makes an exemplary leader of a small to medium power? The Economist, again, says that “Mark Rutte makes an unconvincing villain. In person, the Dutch prime minister resembles an over-caffeinated vicar, mixing manic good-cheer with sermons on the importance of living within one’s means. The 53-year-old lives alone in a modest apartment, cycles to his poky office in The Hague and takes time off from running the country to teach social studies at a local school.” If anything he looks to be less charismatic than even Stephen Harper, doesn’t he? But, at least, he seems to have never worn blackface and it seems unlikely that he would have a young First Nations girl thrown out of a Liberal fundraiser for daring to ask him about his promise to provide clean water to reserves and then quip, sarcastically, “Thank you very much for your donation tonight” as she was given the bum’s rush out the door.
When I look at Prime Ministers Rutte and Trudeau I have only one question: What’s wrong with us?
More tomorrow …