This is not what I had in mind to write about this time around. But guided by the truism “we must remain flexible lest we become rigid”, I am reacting to the latest effort of the political community to make us accommodate their inability to elicit undeserved public respect. For if we do not respect them “as-they-are”, Bullies, Daft and Selfish, it may hurt their feelings, say they.
Trudeau is reported having “urged Canada's political leaders to forcefully condemn acts of aggression and intimidation directed against politicians — before the country is forced to rethink the ways in which elected officials and the public can safely interact.” Is he threatening the politicians with Democracy or us, the public, with overt tyranny? Which?
It appears they do not comprehend that the people have come to disdain them all – Alternating the lot of those who feed at the public trough does not work, it merely takes us back and fro, from-bad-to-worse and back to bad.
Cut back to 1967, Canada’s Centennial and Expo67. There was a platform built near the Centennial Flame on the Parliament grounds. Heads-of-state, some crowned others not, visited Expo in Montreal and made trips to Ottawa to sing Happy Birthday Canada, all according to protocol, I presume. PM Pearson and one of his ministers, mostly Judy LaMarsh, would arrive there to await the arrival of the dignitary du-jour. They would walk away the waiting time on the North sidewalk of Wellington Street pacing up and down and chatting. So were other people rubbing elbows and exchanging smiles with them. Often I was there. No bodyguards, no one ever thought of hurting anyone.
Still in 1967. Vincent Massey the first locally grown GG of Canada lies in state in the Parliament building. A motorcade of three black limousines arrives fast and stops abruptly. Of the first and third vehicles groups of burley men pour out and “cover” the middle car. A man comes out and they surround him. Like a herring ball all ascend the steps to the door of the House. In the centre of the ball was Hubert Humphrey, Vice-President of the USA.
Then, another car arrives, the driver lets his passenger out and drives away. The man smiles and waives to onlookers and starts up the steps, alone, smiling and waving. He was Lester (“Mike” to us) Pearson. He was Canada.
Recently, I saw a picture of Justin Trudeau descending these very same steps flanked by six bodyguards. He uses a cavalcade of five armoured cars to confuse potential potshooters. Incidentally, it seems the first PM to ride in armoured cars in Canada was his father, Pierre Trudeau, after uttering “Just watch me!” before invoking the War Mesures Act in 1968. We know that PM Harper had a couple of armoured cars taken to India to ride around on his 6-day visit. This cost us $1.2 M, on top of the other costs of the junket.
Justin Trudeau has been harassed himself by “disrespectful” citizens hurling gravel at him. And he was forced to cancel public appearances lest the people overcome his bodyguards to hug-and-kiss him. Now he is resolute in protecting the politicians against rowdy people.
Former GG David Johnston in his 2018 book “Trust” laments the advancing erosion of public trust for officialdom. He attempts to be fairminded but he may be trusting himself unduly. To bite the hand that feeds is not nice. To say it succinctly, I found nowhere in his book an example of where the people denied respect earned by a politician.
We did respect Lester Pearson and Tommy Douglas and rightly so. Is Trudeau now to force us to respect his father who messed up Canada, or Brian Mulroney who sacrificed Canada for “globalization” to happen? Is he to force us to love those who took Canada from where one working parent could raise a family in a detached dwelling and downgraded it to one where two working parents find it problematic to raise a small family in a condominium; a country where people sleep in the streets; a country where people die for lack of physicians?
I do not condone the conduct we have seen recently but it would not likely happen if we were governed truly democratically. It is the politicians who drive people to extremes, often intentionally aiming to hide their own misconduct. The blame is whose cause the phenomenon. It is not a matter of damning the “Mis-Trusters” – it is a matter of disposing of the “UnTtrustworthies”. It is time for us to damn those who usurp our birthright to govern ourselves, it is time for us to claim our democracy from the claws and fangs of the impostors who have abducted it and prostitute it to satisfy their bullying trait, that to which Jean Chretien arrogantly attests in his book “My Years as Prime Minister”.
It was 1959 I think, a long day in the office, not rare, nevertheless hard. A few of us went for a beer in the parlour of the hotel on Victory Square, in Vancouver. We were in for a treat.
A gentleman, dressed and spoken as one, stepped on a chair and started a long speech, quickly capturing the ears and eyes of the patrons. He spoke eloquently, quite poetically, waving his hands in expressive gestures, the patrons repeatedly raising glasses in appreciation of the speaker’s assertions.
Two cops, perhaps invited by the manager showed up. They stood by the door vividly drawn a bit aback. They stayed to the end and joined in the applause.
The Queen was in-town that day and methinks she may have attended, if she knew. The speaker’s topic was royal: the “Queen’s Posterior”. Praise where due ...