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.