A new poll released today said that the people trust NDP leader Tom Mulcair to manage the economy better than any other federal leader. I saw the story this morning on one of the cable news channels, and while this should be concerning to the Prime Minister and his party, when the news went to commercial, what did I see? For the umpteenth time, it was “The Interview” ad featuring four Canadians deciding that Justin Trudeau is just not ready to be prime minister. Fair enough, but with each passing day, voters seem to be deciding that they’re also just not ready for four more years of Stephen Harper.
This has come up on the show a couple of times, and I’ve made no secret about my growing disdain for “The Interview.” That’s not to say I was ever a fan, its rather one-dimensional profile of Trudeau uses tropes and quotes that the Conservative Party’s been trying to paint Trudeau with for years unsuccessfully. Now there’s a new angle to ads, the encapsulation of Harper’s single-minded, Ahab-like quest to wipe the Liberal Party off the face of the Earth: he’s losing ground to Mulcair as he aims all his fire at the third place Trudeau.
That’s fine. If Harper wants to go down with the ship, he’s more than earned the privilege, but why is he squandering such resources on a man who looks less and less like a threat to end nine years of Conservative reign? More importantly though, why persist with this stupid ad at all?
Now that’s not to say that the Conservatives can’t criticize Trudeau or his polices, of course they can… Wait, what policies? That’s one of the “critiques” of the “interviewers” while considering Trudeau’s “resume.” “What are his policies?” asks the old man. “Legalizing marijuana,” reads the token Indian gentleman. “Is that really our biggest problem?” he asks rhetorically. In the grand scheme, one’s legal status for possessing a joint is probably not a pressing issue, but it would be inaccurate to say that marijuana is niche issue. Ask anyone that needs it for pain management.
There’s a version of “The Interview” where the old man counters the Indian gentleman’s point about Trudeau’s marijuana stance by saying that Trudeau’s got “Some growing up to do.” Really? Drug policy is a childish issue. Ask people whose lives are ruined because they’re non-violent drug offenders. Ask business people in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Edmonton, trying to answer a growing need in their community for unfettered access to medicinal marijuana and products if this is an issue for people with some “growing up to do.”
The old man also laments that Trudeau, being that he’s against the new income-splitting provisions in the tax code, will come for pension-splitting next. The old man is concerned because, well, I guess because he’s been cast in a Conservative campaign commercial seeing as how no one, not even Trudeau, is taking about reneging on pension-splitting. Getting the senior folk riled up this way is practical because if makes the uninformed believe in a falsehood. After all, why would Trudeau be in favour of repealing one form of income-splitting and not the other? Of course, you know who else was in favour of pension-splitting, but against income-splitting? The previous finance minister, the late Jim Flaherty.
But enough about the old man, who one online commentator pointer out passes closely in resemblance to the Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars. Let’s consider the token Indian gentleman. His signature line is when one of the ladies on the panel wistfully dismisses Trudeau’s comments about “sending winter coats to Syria.” “As if that will stop ISIS!” he exclaims as if a) that were the extent of Trudeau’s plan regarding ISIS, and b) as if we’re living in the final act of Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and Canada is being laid on by a siege of ISIS fighters just outside our borders. There’s such and urgency and panic in his voice that I’m amazed we haven’t called in The Avengers yet.
For the record, this is what Trudeau said to prompt the “winter jackets” dismissal: “There’s a lot of people, refugees, displaced peoples, fleeing violence who are facing a very, very cold winter in the mountains. Something Canada has expertise on is how to face a winter in the mountains with the right kind of equipment.”
Of course, Trudeau was right and groups like Justice and Freedom for Syria have sent containers or winter clothes to Syrian refugee camps to help the people suffering there get through hard winters. Still, our Indian friend wouldn’t know that because rather than researching the point, he looks at Trudeau’s picture again, dreaming of the head of hair he can never have.
And that brings us to the two ladies on the panel, I call them older soccer mom and younger soccer mom. The former doesn’t get much to say, her kids are probably university aged and thus she’s ineligible for the Universal Child Care Benefit. She’s also too young to take advantage of pension-splitting like Grandpa Palpatine, so she’s largely irrelevant. Still, we can’t dismiss her because she’s a likely voter, and white and likely upper middle class, so she gets to sit in on the meeting and snicker with the rest about Justin’s inadequacies.
That’s another subliminal bit of lamp shading in the ads. Trudeau is never referred to as Mr. Trudeau, or the Liberal leader, or something to that effect, it’s always “Justin.” Admittedly, even Trudeau’s fans are guilty of a casual familiarity with a man who has designs on the country’s leadership, but the ad and those portrayed in it have no affection. None. “Justin” is a sprite, a pretty boy that’s in way over his head with hippy-dippy ideas of peace and love for our enemies and tax and spend for the people here at home. He’s a young turk, a feather-weight, he’s “just not ready.”
Right off the top, young soccer mom points out that there’s nothing in his “resume” about balancing a budget or making a payroll. Sorry, I didn’t realize that part of the Prime Minister’s job was writing everyone’s paycheque, or single-handedly budgeting every government office. In fact, let’s look at Stephen Harper’s actual resume, where we see that aside from a post-grad degree in economics, where I assume their was some course work about making payroll and budgeting, he hasn’t had that experience himself. Also in the ad we hear the line, “Being Prime Minister is not an entry level job.” Meaning that Harper worked hard and received a promotion at every one of his yearly performance reviews until he made Prime Minister? Is there some agreed upon set of pre-requisites to become Canada’s PM? I’m afraid the job interview analogy is falling apart.
The younger soccer mom, like the old man, is appearing in her own ads now, talking about how Trudeau doesn’t understand families like hers, and how all those wonderful new tax savings are going to mean a boon for her and her family to live the life they want. That’s nice. Trudeau’s point has been mostly about why everyone is getting treated the same. Or, why does a family eligible for the benefits of income-splitting get the same UCCB benefits as a family whose total take home is the low five figures. Obviously young soccer mom’s doing okay. She has nice clothes, she’s clearly educated and she’s got a great job interviewing potential prime ministers…
Basically, the ad supposes that you, as a voter, would not want to “hire” [vote] for someone you think doesn’t fit a very specific definition of what’s expected on the job. Fair enough, if you take a critical look at the platform of Justin Trudeau and measure his public comments against your own beliefs and opinions and you don’t want to vote for him, fine, but it’s a two way street. Opponents of Harper may think of this election as a performance review, and will they want to re-sign a PM that hasn’t balanced seven out nine budgets, is facing renewed economic troubles, sewn discord at all levels of government, passed laws immediately challenged in court, and has been associated with numerous colleagues and appointments who themselves have face censure or criminal charges? Now that’s a job interview I’d like to see.