Rosemary Westwood: The voice of Metro.
What are we trying to prove by sneering at Justin Trudeau's optimism?
Cheese may not be your dish of choice, but it beats the hell out of poison
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s UN speech this week held two opportunities: His, to impress the world with a Canadian-branded optimism (he did), and the media’s, to tear down his sunny rhetoric (they pounced).
But I have a question for all those painting the speech as “boy scout” fluff: Are you mad that it was unspecific, that it was positive, or that, in reality, Trudeau’s walk is far behind his talk?
The first and last gripes are valid. The middle is not.
Sure, Trudeau’s got higher-minded words than on-the ground results thus far. “No government in history has done more to repair the relationship with First Nations,” Trudeau told reporters yesterday. To which Vice’s Justin Ling responded: “Chill.”
With the backslapping, sure. But with the goal? Of course not. Of course that should be the aspiration.
Maybe you don’t believe Trudeau actually wants to make the world a better place. Maybe you don’t think he can.
But for God’s sake, how can you possible argue against the goal? How can you wish for a prime minister who isn’t so blatantly in favour of human decency? What is supremely irritating about commentary around Trudeau’s speech is not that journalists might point out where he is failing to meet his own standards; it’s their sneering suggestions that it’s ridiculous to even try.
Of course you can’t blindly trust any government. And in so many ways Trudeau is disappointing — in the Saudi arms deal, in long delays in bringing in refugees, in aiming no higher than Stephen Harper on climate change.
But have we no nuance? Have we lost all sense of degree? Do you really want someone running this country who doesn’t believe Canadians can help the world? So why are you searching for a puke bucket when our leader says we can? Cheese might not be your favourite, but it’s a lot better than poison.
Cutting down Trudeau’s optimism with abandon leaves the door open for rhetoric far more perverse and far more damaging. In the U.S., reporters are struggling with the fact that in so thoroughly ripping Hillary Clinton’s past to shreds they’ve made it harder to see that she is, despite her serious and many flaws, not even in the same stratosphere of terrifying as Donald Trump, who has received scrutiny but less than his share.
Again, it’s the inability to deal in degrees. To communicate what is rotten, without suggesting that what’s half-spoiled is comparable to what’s already a gooey decomposing mess It’s the inability to take seriously what might actually do us some good in a candidate, or leader.
Trudeau’s failures are and will be well documented, as they should be. But that is no reason to cackle as we vandalize the things he’s doing right.