Justin Trudeau is now wearing a bulletproof vest. Susan Delacourt writes that there has always been a nasty side to Canadian politics. But something has changed:
No prime minister, in recent memory at least, has experienced such a drastic, public mood swing between elections. All successful leaders accumulate some baggage between their first election and their next try at re-election, but the backlash against Trudeau in this campaign seems particularly vicious.
What makes it even more curious is that the nastiest attacks are focused on who Trudeau was before he became prime minister — almost as if his opponents have stored up material that failed to work in 2015, when all of the “not ready” ads and ridicule against the Liberal leader bounced off a seemingly bulletproof public image.
Trudeau isn't the first prime minister to have ugly rumours circulated about him:
To be clear: ugly rumours circulated about Stephen Harper and his personal life all the time he was prime minister too — Ottawa reporters were repeatedly peppered with “tips” about the alleged breakup of the Harper marriage (which still endures, by the way.) Brian Mulroney, in his late, unpopular years in office, was alleged to be drinking on the job (also very untrue.)
What Delacourt is referring to is what happened after last week's French language debate:
Representatives of right-wing publications lined up first at the media microphones to grill Trudeau about ugly slurs circulating with regard to his personal past as a teacher in B.C. There’s no need to dignify the slurs by spelling them out again here; the Star’s Marco Oved did a thorough forensic analysis last week of the manufactured smear campaign, which nonetheless lived on at the postdebate scrums.
This isn't who we are or who we have been. Politics -- in the Age of Trump -- has become malevolent. But there is no reason for us to join the March To Oblivion.
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