Canada's Concierge: Justin Trudeau does room service at the Hotel Canada
It may have escaped your attention during the 2015 federal election— what with all the Hitler/ Harper noise— but Justin Trudeau was elected as prime minister. (Okay, Vogue noticed.) Many Canadians apparently didn’t obsess about that small detail so long as the dread man from Calgary was dealt a mortal blow.
As such, a few have been surprised to discover Trudeau has policies he intends to implement. It’s easy to overlook the irony of using Trudeau/ policy in the same sentence. The son of Pierre Trudeau spent much of his 30s involved in dropping out of postgraduate studies, coaching snow boarding and lending his name to avalanche awareness (after his brother was killed in a B.C. snow slide). What passed for thought was an admiration for the Chinese centralized government’s ability to act without the annoying democratic trappings of accountability.
It’s pretty thin as resumés go. While not exactly a CEO or MP himself, the evil Hitler/ Harper did spend his 30s working on public policy in anticipation of, like, running a government one day. Justin was training to be the next judge on So You Think You Can Dance.
In any event, Trudeau’s has concocted a whack of interesting notions that Canadians are just now digesting. As he told a magazine recently, he doesn’t believe Canadians have “core values”. According to the PM, Canadians have “shared values”. To most, the two terms seem interchangeable, no?
No. Core values are something we believe. Shared values are things we tolerate of each other. Shared values are best summed up by Yann Martel’s famous Hotel Canada, where lots of hipsters and groovy ethnics cook their meals in their own rooms and generally celebrate themselves, oblivious to what’s happening in the next room.
The entire enterprise is managed by the government concierge, which makes sure the Italian cooking smells from one room don’t bug people making halal a few floors up. Living in polyglot Montreal, as Trudeau has done most of his life, one can see the origin of this concept. Urban Montreal is a succession of festivals riffing on society. Comedy. Jazz. Gay rights. It’s laissez faire. Laissez faire with other people’s money.
Hotel Canada has many implications for the 149-year-old nation. For example, when everyone’s supposedly your brother, the nation can’t be seen taking up arms. Such a strong position might oppress some part of the cultural mosaic. Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne underscored this sensitivity when she said anyone raising security issues over the possibility of ISIS plants among the Syrian refugees was being Islamophobic.
So Trudeau pulled back on Canada’s previous commitment to the fight against ISIS. As a result, Canada was disinvited from a meeting of nations to plot strategy. Trudeau lamely insists Canada will continue the ISIS fight— just so long as it doesn’t offend any constituents of Hotel Canada.
How many rooms Hotel Canada will need should become obvious in the next year, as the Trudeau Liberals tote up the aggrieved and indignant in Canadian society. The natives, LGBTs, greens, CBC devotees, Muslims, soft sovereigntists and feminists will all want their room keys . But that’s what happens when you approach policy as if it were a Glee episode.
The recent Denis Coderre vs. The Oil Patch spat showed how this Hotel Canada thing might go. Pitted between two balanced teams of Canadian interests Trudeau picked a side— the referees. So there you go. Four more years of two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The hip Davos Conference crowd, which consumes diversity the way a wino consumes ripple, thinks this is all good stuff, and so invited the PM to address them recently. Trudeau the Younger pontificated to the elites in Switzerland on behalf of there “younger generation”. At one point he took aside actor Leo DiCaprio to tell him to cool the fossil fuel assaults on Canada. There were new leaders in Canada, he told Leo The Green. Killing the oil patch would be an inside job; outsiders need not apply.
True to form, Trudeau employed his high-school mock UN debate eloquence. “My predecessor wanted you to know Canada for our resources; now we want you to know us for our resourcefulness.” (How did Hallmark cards not come up with this first?) To a new-age bot like Trudeau, there’s only dignity in writing code, not perfecting fracking or offshore drilling.
Closer to the truth would be “my predecessor wanted you to know us for our hockey; now we want you to know we’re in hock”. Indeed, the economy of his nation seems like one fo those planes where the oxygen has been lost and it’s only a question of when and where the lifeless craft will slam into terra firma. The dollar’s cratered, the markets have gone into free fall, and eastern mayors are telling westerners where they can stick their pipe lines..
Trudeau will blame this on his predecessor, Hitler/ Harper. But with a list of promises to make Canada a kinder, gentler place for all complainants, the PM is about to find out that there’s no cash to keep room service going to the guests at Hotel Canada.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy
Bruce's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience with successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013).