Just like rapper Lil Nas X singing that he was riding to the Old Town Road in this year’s biggest song hit to escape the world behind him, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rode to Parliament Hill on his own horse promising Canadians a new political order, leaving behind what he campaigned against was a tired, old guard.
A new day was promised to us in 2015 when Trudeau got elected. No more grumpiness, which he characterized as the personality of outgoing prime minister Stephen Harper. This was the era of Sunny Ways.
Merit-based appointments to the public service and the judiciary would bring back credibility to the selection process which was apparently lost during the Harper years.
Gone would be the first-past-the-post voting system in favour of a new, fairer way to elect federal politicians.
Then Trudeau would abandon the practice of using omnibus bills to ram simultaneous amendments through on unrelated bills. Instead, bills would be introduced and debated democratically and on their own merits.
Trudeau promised closer economic ties with China and that Canada would be back as a leader on the international stage. Of course, likely the most important promise was that the budget would be balanced before the end of his mandate. And it would be easy because budgets balance themselves, Trudeau naively proclaimed.
These were platform issues, the ones packaged by political parties to galvanize support with fresh ideas and positive reforms. We’re exactly three months away from the federal election on Oct. 21 and all of these key promises have been unkept.
The promises were not even close to being met. In fact, most were abandoned within months of Trudeau assuming power.
It’s as if Trudeau told the electorate that if you can’t take a joke, you shouldn’t have voted Liberal.
What we’ve seen a lot are apologies and cringeworthy tears accompanying them — apologies for things that happened under the watch of a government well before he was born. It makes for good theatre and our part-time substitute teacher cherishes every moment.
It’s easy to apologize to the descendants of passengers of the Komagata Maru, the Japanese vessel prohibited from entry in Canada in 1914 that carried 376 Sikh, Muslim and Hindu passengers. He called it “a stain on Canada’s past.”
Trudeau was born almost 60 years after the incident.
He also apologized to residential school survivors. Trudeau even urged the Pope to apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in reconciliation. He was promptly rebuffed, the pontiff saying he could not personally respond.
Trudeau apologized for the government’s treatment of Inuit during the TB epidemics that ravaged their communities in the 1940s and 1960s.
After a while Trudeau’s apologies started to sound hollow and opportunistic. Some in the Jewish community didn’t want his apology for the turning away of a ship full of Jews seeking asylum during World War II, saying that it would not bring back relatives or offer any solace.
Recently Trudeau sanctimoniously told a forum by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation that “certainly, I’m more than willing to admit that, like any good teacher, I’ve made mistakes and I have learned a lot through the process.”
So, past mistakes from former governments are a stain on Canada, while Trudeau’s mistakes are a teaching moment for him.
I don’t know about you, but I’m apology-fatigued. Trudeau should be reminded that he wasn’t voted in as a teacher or to play prime minister. He was voted in on promises that are now broken. No amount of pontificating will change that.
Maybe the time has come for Trudeau to ride his horse into the sunset on election day.