Imagine, if you can, gentle reader, that you are a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party of Canada. You are looking anxiously for a permanent replacement for Stephen Harper in the CPC leadership election this coming May. You have studied the swollen field – no fewer than 13 candidates at last count. Regretfully, all seem to lack at least one crucial ingredient.
“Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?” ― Robert Browning
Mr. Trudeau, meet Mr. Browning.
One thing the Trudeau government cannot be accused of is lack of reach. Its ambitions have carried it into endeavours that the Harper government did not attempt to reach or had no interest in reaching.
If the federal Conservatives had their wits about them they would do what the Royal Navy did back in the age of sail when it sent forth “press gangs” to forcibly conscript – or “impress” – seafaring men to crew its warships.
They would send a press gang off to Stornoway to confront their interim leader Rona Ambrose and to beg, cajole and implore (though perhaps not physically force) her to stand as a candidate next May when the party replaces the departed Stephen Harper. The press gang should not be allowed to take No for an answer.
Otto von Bismarck, Germany’s “Iron Chancellor” in the 19th century knew whereof he was speaking when he observed, “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best.”
It’s a sentiment Justin Trudeau would agree with. Or would he, as he emerges from the most ragged week of his young prime ministry?
On the face of it, the election of Donald Trump in the United States this month and last year’s election of Justin Trudeau in Canada had precious little in common.
The American election was a vile affair, filled with misrepresentation, outright lying, racism, hate and character assassination. The Canadian election was a relatively clean, though hard-fought, campaign that for the most part stayed within the bounds of acceptable political discourse and conduct.