Back in what might be called the early days of modern diplomacy, when a head of government or foreign minister wanted to say something important to their opposite number in a far-off country, they wrote a letter. The letter was sealed, placed in a diplomatic pouch and sent by steamship to the embassy of the sender’s country for personal delivery to the recipient.
The next noise you hear from Ottawa will be the sound of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals rebooting.
It is all but certain that they will prorogue Parliament when MPs return from vacation in September and present a new Speech from the Throne with an agenda designed to carry them through to the election in October 2019.
And what might this new agenda be?
Unencumbered by inside information, I’m free to bet on a couple of big initiatives, each of which would command the support of roughly 70 per cent of the populace, according to pollsters.
“I know Justin. He doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing. This guy is an empty trust-fund millionaire who has the political depth of a finger bowl. He can’t read a briefing note longer than a cocktail napkin.”
The critic was Jason Kenney, leader of Alberta’s United Conservative Party, in an interview with the Calgary Sun in May.
My Dear Premier Ford,
Please find enclosed my application for membership in Ford Nation.
It’s my way of demonstrating my enthusiastic support for the work that you and your new Progressive Conservative government are doing.
You are a man of your word. You promised you would get rid of that $6 million man at Hydro One. Boom, he’s gone, and it’s only going to cost $9 million. Good job, Sir!
“The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.”
– Robert W. Service, 1907
The Northern Lights have seen many queer sights in the century-plus since the Bard of the Yukon published “The Cremation of Sam McGee.” But few have been stranger than the emergence of social media as a potent, some would say overwhelming, force in political systems around the world.
“Words! Words! Words!/ I’m so sick of words!
… Never do I ever want to hear another word./ There isn't one I haven't heard.”
– Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady”
It’s pretty clear that the estimable Ms. Doolittle never met Donald Trump.
If she had, she might have told him to hush up, to put a sock in it, to give the world a break. She might even have snipped his Twitter feed long enough to give the rest of us a chance to figure out what he is saying, what he means, and what he truly intends.
Stephen Harper would not be amused.
He would not be amused at all by the Chief Justice of Canada not only holding a press conference – something that did not happen in Harper’s years as prime minister – but actually fielding questions that called for responses that – horrors! – bordered on the political.
“I learned a long time ago, a bad deal is far worse than no deal at all.” – Donald Trump, May 2015.
That was Trump one month before he entered the race for the White House.
Since he got there, he may have been erratic and inconsistent in many matters, but he has been perversely consistent on one front: his disdain for most of the international agreements he inherited from previous regimes.
There must be days when Justin Trudeau, his patrimony notwithstanding, must be asking himself why the heck he wanted to be prime minister.
The easy days of happy selfies with adoring fans and rave reviews in foreign media are fading. Sunny ways are being overtaken by harsh reality.
For Trudeau, reality means no more playacting as Donald Trump’s obliging northern neighbour and best pal. Reality now means fending off the bully who amuses himself by alienating his closest allies and trading partners, a president who thinks trade wars are good politics and are easy to win.
By throwing in the towel on Saturday, did Kathleen Wynne tip Thursday’s election to the NDP and make Andrea Horwath the next premier of Ontario?
I think she did – and I think that was her intention.