Last week, Thomas Mulcair launched a scathing attack on Justin Trudeau and accused him of being unable to relate to the country’s middle-class citizens due to his affluent upbringing under the auspices of his late father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau (for purposes of brevity —PET). As Canada’s 15th Prime Minister, PET dominated the political landscape from the 1960s until the 1990s, earning the admiration of allies, enemies, and an electorate who could not help but be charmed by his effortlessly charismatic presence.
Nobody stood in PET’s way, least of all, this reporter:
Yes, without a doubt, PET was the epitome of badass. You know that one scene in Predator where Blaine talks about being a sexual tyrannosaurus? He was actually referring to PET.
Anyway, the point is that Pierre Elliott Trudeau ended up establishing a bonafide dynasty that continued to influence Canadian politics even after he had disappeared from the scene on September 28th, 2000 (my subtle way of saying he died). While it may be true that Justin Trudeau was given a strong head start by being born into a life of privilege, we cannot seriously entertain the notion that he could have become a better human being if he had suffered through “middle-class issues” like the rest of us. If Thomas Mulcair is trying to equate the propensity for empathy with the similarities faced in adversity, then I think we can all agree that challenges come in many different forms. After all, I think it is safe to say that most people, including the middle-class, want to be judged on the content of their characters and not by the values of their estates.
While we all fall prey to the common fallacy that celebrities live like Greek deities on a far off Mount Olympus, the truth itself is rarely as glamorous as we like to imagine it is. Though it may be a little known fact, Justin Trudeau has had to cope with quite a bit at home. Trudeau grew up with a workaholic, absentee father (PET, as an intense intellectual, had little time for fun), his younger brother, Michel Trudeau, was killed in an avalanche after a tragic skiing accident in 1998, and his mother, Margaret Sinclair continues to struggle with bipolar disorder and has confessed to being disillusioned with her marriage. Boy, talk about a fairy tale story.
This brings us to the question of how a politician is supposed to show empathy with the common citizen. According to Thomas Mulcair, the way to show empathy is to be able to appreciate the struggles of the middle-class (at this point, nobody knows what “middle-class” even means anymore) since one’s inception. Yes, the very point of fact which Thomas Mulcair invokes to criticize Justin Trudeau is the same one from which he draws the impetus for the attack. It would appear that it is only by growing up in a large French-Irish Catholic family (Thomas Mulcair was the second of ten children) that one is able to properly learn the virtues of honesty, respect, and compassion.
If the formula for political success was that shallow, then I can clearly see what Justin Trudeau’s thought process should have been back in 2000: “Oh shit, I wish I had lived like a dervish with leprosy in case I want to run for office one day in the future! It would have taught me everything I needed to know about leadership in the free world!” Blaming Justin Trudeau for a roll of dice that he did not even cast is like telling a bunch of Calcutta orphans, “Well, sorry kids. You shouldn’t have been born poor.” Want to know what is even worse? It seems as if the NDP leader is trying to convince us that success is something which should be vilified rather than celebrated.
Let us set aside the hypocrisy for a second to contemplate this question: would we have acted any differently if we were in Justin Trudeau’s shoes? I know for a fact that if Pierre Elliott Trudeau was my father, I would have very likely become the biggest spoiled brat, and would have opted to spend my time in Monte Carlo with a suitcase full of cash, cocaine, and condoms. In fact, to see Justin Trudeau become such an intelligent, passionate, not to mention, well-adjusted human being is perhaps an indication of having resisted the worst vagrancies of wealth to which he was most certainly exposed. God forbid it may actually be a sign of genuine character. But who cares? Just as long as we find solace in the mediocrity of others, we will be safe. Personally, I know my ambitions are secure with Thomas ‘I LOVE THE 50%+1’ Mulcair when he starts seriously pandering in 2015.