Justin Trudeau is beginning to sound like his father. Michael Den Tant writes:
Monday evening in Toronto, Justin Trudeau delivered a 40-minute speech in which he attempted to provide a coherent, internally consistent philosophical frame for all his future policies and decisions. It was, essentially, a manifesto. It’s fair to say that no Canadian politician has delivered a speech quite like this, in recent memory.
De facto, Trudeau is attempting relieve the Conservative party of what remains of its intellectual high ground. In the process of calling out the Harper government for what he flatly termed anti-Muslim fear-mongering, the Liberal leader provided the most complete account yet of his political aspirations and motivation. Conservative partisans should not be surprised to discover that, once again, he has an eye to grabbing their lunch money; this time, the ideal of individual liberty itself.
In his speech, Trudeau reminded his listeners of a long and ugly history in this country:
First, Trudeau’s observation that state-sanctioned fear of “the other” is nothing new in Canada: “the Chinese head tax, the internment of Japanese and Italian Canadians during the Second World War, our turning away boats of Jewish or Punjabi refugees, our own history of slavery. No Irish need apply. We don’t speak French here, so speak white. The discrimination faced by Greek and Portuguese Canadians in this very city.”
And then he drew a line connecting that history to the Harper government:
Next, the link he draws between these historical abuses and the Harper government’s recent monomaniacal focus on combating Islamism, even as it pointedly battles a court order striking down a ban on wearing the niqab at citizenship ceremonies, even where identity is not at issue. “Across Canada, and especially in my home province, Canadians are being encouraged by their government to be fearful of one another,” Trudeau asserted in the speech. “For me, this is both unconscionable and a real threat to Canadian liberty.”
The Harper majority rests on its appeal to immigrants who now live in Canada's suburbs. The Liberals used to own those votes. Trudeau wants them back. And the plan to get them did not materialize on the spur of the moment:
Monday’s speech and the strategy underlying it have been in the works for months, according to Liberal party sources. But the hook was a series of recent Conservative missteps — from a Facebook post caterwauling about a non-existent imminent attack on the West Edmonton Mall, to Immigration Minister Chris Alexander’s conflation of the hijab (headscarf) and the niqab, to Conservative MP John Williamson’s facepalm-inducing recent musings about “whities” and “brown people” – that together convey the impression that, contrary to all its careful messaging of the past two decades, this Conservative party may not be friendly to minorities, after all.
Clearly, Trudeau is linking Harper to what is old and ugly in this country. Time will tell if that strategy works.