Friday, March 11, 2016

The Ghosts At The Press Conference


Rick Salutin writes this morning that there were two ghosts at the joint press conference which Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama held yesterday. And both ghosts are alive and well. The first was Stephen Harper. Obama's joking about things Canadian --"It's about time, eh? -- underscored the differences between Harper and Trudeau:

There was something obstinate and principled in Harper’s refusal to embrace what’s widely viewed as Canadian: the niceness, peacemaking, public programs, good will toward Syrian refugees etc. He was never comfortable with it and made it his mission to change: to remake the meaning of Canadian both concretely and symbolically. Now he’s gone and his projects, like a garish anti-Communism monument for downtown Ottawa or Afghan war and Victoria Cross memorials, are relocated or in limbo. His passion — to reconfigure what Canadian means — turned out, at least in that nine-year incarnation, quixotic.
Cartoonist Terry Mosher (Aislin) caught it with an image of Harper driving through a Calgary fast food place at the very moment of the Trudeau state dinner in D.C. and hearing: “Fries with that, Mr. Harper?” This was the true coda to the Harper years and his avatar surely had to make an appearance.

The other ghost was Bernie Sanders. Obama joked that the United States almost had Canadian style health care and when he spoke about trade deals:

 “I believe there have been bad trade deals in the past” that “served the interests of global corporations and not workers,” he said — as if Bernie was sitting on his shoulder, chirping like Jiminy Cricket. “We can’t put up walls,” he went on — which isn’t the point; the point, as Bernie says, is to have deals not exclusively dictated by corporate interests. Then Obama added that he’s against deals “busting up unions” with “tax breaks for the wealthy.” By then it was more like Bernie’s dybbuk was inside him. Maybe it was strategic and election-directed, but Bernie had definitely got into his head.

Canadians will have to wait a bit to see if Obama's ghost is inside Justin's head.


Anonymous said...

This is all encouraging stuff! I recall Mr. Harper telling his supporters shortly after he became prime minister that by the time he was out of office the old Canada would not be recognizable. Nearly every week since his departure it seems we learn one thing or another his government did to change it. He and his took a good shot at it, didn't they?

Owen Gray said...

They certainly did, Anon. But, when Canadians voted him out, their message was clear: You don't speak for us.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

"You don[t speak for us" I never thought of it that way Owen, but that is exactly what Canadians were saying to Harper when they voted him out.

Owen Gray said...

Precisely, Pam. Harper operated from the fallacious assumption that he was a Canadian Everyman and Woman.

ron wilton said...

Watching JT perform these last few days gives me great hope for the future of our country at large.

He is no lightweight on the diplomatic front and has certainly made Canada proud again.

Surely by now, even the hardest of hard core cons must know their jig is up and if they don't embrace this new version of politics they will end up like the Republican party in the U S, If they haven't already.

Sanders and Trudeau...what a party.

The Mound of Sound said...

Pamela's right. There were plenty of Conservative voters who felt the same way even though they held their noses to vote CPC. At the end many of them deserted to the Liberals to get rid of the scourge within their party.

Owen Gray said...

It's my impression, Mound, that many longtime Conservatives -- some of whom I know -- concluded that Harper wasn't what he claimed to be -- a conservative.

Owen Gray said...

I get the impression that the Harperites envy Trudeau, ron. But they still don't understand his appeal.