Only those with a long memory will get the reference, but in the same way Haiti’s Baby Doc Duvalier was not his father Papa Doc, neither is Justin Trudeau his father Pierre Elliott. Papa Doc and Baby Doc were both very bad men. Pierre was, and Justin is, I suspect, both good men.
But whereas Pierre was a thinker, Justin doesn’t have those chops. Whereas his father did better than could be done, Justin, not unlike Ulysses’ son Telemachus, is doing the best he can. The beauty of Canadian politics is that there’s not a whole lot of damage that can be done. And so the most and the least that can be said for Justin is that, unlike his counterpart south of the border, he hasn’t been an embarrassment, either to the office or to the country.
I didn’t vote for the boy, but only because I don’t vote. In short, God is in His heaven, and all’s well with the world. Well, at least here in Canada.
But there are some very nasty things happening elsewhere in the world. Nastier than ever before? No, I’m pretty sure that ’39 to ’45 were worse. As un-nasty as ever? No, I think ’89 to ’91 were a better couple of years, all things considered.
But the nastiness in Palestine, off the coast of Libya, at the US-Mexican border … None of these top the charts in terms of human suffering. But they have a symbolic nastiness that’s taking the wind out of the sails of those who’d hoped, however naively, that the world was on a moral arc taking US to a better place. Perhaps the rhetoric is the wrong measure, but assuming it’s not, we seem to have retreated back to the tribalism that gave rise to some of those nastier moments, moments that that I, for one, would rather not revisit.
To his credit, Justin Trudeau is no part of that retreat. In both his defense of Canadian immigration policy, and his damn-the-torpedoes upbraiding of civil rights violations in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, his has been a voice we could be proud to call our own, even if these utterances were more knee-jerk than thoughtful. Sometimes it’s what we say without having thought that tells us what we really think.
That’s what makes it so transparent that Donald is a Duvalier, and Justin is a Trudeau.