Writing in an op/ed published in The Mark, Justin Trudeau offers some advice to Prime Minister Stephen Harper that partisan Liberals would likely delight in reading:
"Even though it makes my job as a member of the Official Opposition a little easier, I am genuinely disappointed that this Conservative government didn’t hold true to the principles that brought it to power.Which is all rather amusing coming from the son of a man who alienated Canadians so much that his party actually hid him away during elections -- he had so inspired the disdain of enough Canadians that his party was better off campaigning without him.
And I’m not even talking about their abject failure to be fiscally responsible or their enthusiasm for patronage and pork. I’m referring to the basic premise of the old Reform Party, the call for a government that is open, accountable, and respectful of democratic values and the rights of its citizens.
Instead, over the past four years, Stephen Harper has carefully nurtured and encouraged a level of cynicism about politics and politicians heretofore unseen in Canada. Instead of championing the conservative principle of less government, he made people believe less in government.
He started by selling us policies that were simple and catchy, but had little real impact (think GST cuts instead of income-tax cuts, or $100 child-care cheques instead of actual child-care spaces). Add to that his propensity to launch vicious personal attacks on anyone – politician or citizen – with the temerity to disagree with them, and his tried and true Bush-era tactic of loudly repeating semi-truths and falsehoods often enough for them to take hold, and it’s no wonder that a weary populace has been turning away from the goings-on in Ottawa.
The fact that Stephen Harper didn't anticipate the strength of the prorogation outrage is proof that he overestimated the effectiveness of his campaign of induced cynicism. And, yet again, underestimated Canadians' faith in our democracy. Because for all the undeniable short-term partisan advantages of wedge issues, attack ads, and the politics of division, Canadians resist because we know that we deserve better.
We are a people of differences, in languages, religions, backgrounds, histories, cultures, and colours, but we are a people bound together by values that run deeper. We are open, compassionate, and generous. We seek justice, liberty, and opportunities for all. But above everything, we respect each other, and demand that respect in return.
And that’s why Stephen Harper’s strategies of secrecy, small-mindedness, and cynicism will ultimately fail, because simply put: Canadians will never trust a government that does not trust Canadians."
Trudeau campaigned on the promise of "participatory democracy", only to backtrack and insist that "participatory democracy" simply entailed the privilege of Liberal Party members to advance knowledge of the government's plans. He campaigned on the promise of a "just society", only to backtrack and insist that Jesus Christ had promised it first (which, indeed he had; the trouble being that Jesus Christ didn't make that promise while campaigning to become the Prime Minister of Canada).
Trudeau also mercilessly trampled the jurisdiction of the provinces at every opportunity, and centralized power within the Prime Minister's office at every opportunity that presented itself. To top it all off, when Trudeau finally delivered on his promise to patriate Canada's constitution, he insisted on doing so at a time when a separatist government -- that would have never agreed to sign the Constitution -- was in power, opening the door to decades of endless separatist wranglings.
So, whatever else one may make of Justin Trudeau's advice to Stephen Harper, it ultimately boils down to this:
Don't govern the way Pierre Trudeau did.
Done and done.