From the Vietnam War to Watergate (apparently the father of every scandal since), Richard Nixon was a pretty big idiot. Few people dispute this- he frequents lists of the “worst U.S. Presidents.” His reputation in Canada isn’t stellar, either. When evidence emerged that he once called Pierre Trudeau an asshole, Pierre responded by saying that he had “been called worse things by better people.” Yet, in spite of all this, today our nation hangs on a few words Nixon famously uttered in April 1972. At that time, he predicted that a 4 month old Justin Trudeau would one day become Prime Minister of Canada. It sounds nice, but it creates a nasty dilemma on this, our election day. Can Canadians stomach knowing that their votes for “real change” could end up making Richard Nixon right?
The so-called Nixon Prophecy (so-called by some doofus at The CBC who wanted to make a story about nothing) inspired the only recorded pleasant exchange between Pierre Trudeau and Richard Nixon. Pierre reportedly replied that he hoped that, should Justin become Prime Minister, he would have Nixon’s “grace and skill.” Just how full of shit was Pierre Trudeau on that day? We can imagine that post-praise Pierre must have hated himself about as much as Stephen Harper did after appearing alongside Rob and Doug Ford a few days ago. This, of course, assumes that Stephen Harper has a sense of decency. I, for one, have never heard anyone make that assumption.
A quick look at recent polls suggests that Justin is well on his way to making Nixon look like Nostradamus. As of 12 noon, ultra-nerd Eric Grenier figures Trudeau will win a plurality of 146 seats. A Forum/VICE poll puts Trudeau’s Liberals at 40% of the popular vote. This is the standard definition of “majority territory.” Of course, Andrew Coyne, the standard definition of “contrarian prick,” is voting NDP for precisely this reason. Will it make a difference?
More importantly, will Nixon’s polite joke become a nation’s unfortunate reality? Or was J.T. always destined to live in 24 Sussex? Most pundits would end by saying, “today you decide.” But that’s not true. The best part of representative democracy is that we can’t decide who our leaders really are. We can only vote for them hoping that, should they win, they are the best that they report to offer.