Thursday, November 5, 2015

Only Justin Need Apply

“If he can do it, so can I!”

This sentiment has been bouncing around Canadian cultural and political circles lately, as the nation sees Liberal leader and noted lightweight Justin Trudeau installed as prime minister.

Specifically, as the 43-year-old Justin, who can claim no accomplishment other than surviving childbirth, is granted near-dictatorial federal power, decent people in various fields are wondering if they could also wade into politics and attain similar, sudden success.

The short answer is: No, you can’t.

The quickest explanation is that, unlike you, Justin inherited a kajillion dollars and the Liberal Party of Canada and, when he was good and ready, took up his post in the family business.

You couldn’t surpass Justin from a standing start any more than you could run a bigger cable company than Ed Rogers, or a larger grocery chain than Galen Weston, Jr.

Even as a scion of another political family, the son of a successful, recent prime minister, that tack won’t work if you’re a Conservative (Mark Mulroney, please call your office).

We in Canada don’t talk about liberal media bias quite as much, or as loudly, as they do in the United States (nor, as it happens, do we talk as much about individual liberty – and we ought to), but it is nonetheless a reality.

If a Conservative leadership candidate were as dazed and underqualified as Justin, he would be hooted off the stage. Indeed, even if that person were credentialed to the teeth, the media default is to characterize right-wingers as stupid or evil, so we’d get one or both.

So, exhaling in unison, let us agree that we cannot do what Justin just did – at least, not the same way.
Rather, to be successful in anything like the near future, Conservatives must be different from anything we have seen before, innovative, visionary, funny, and engaging. Most important, they must refuse to play by the media’s rules.

If this advice seems Trumpian, it bears mentioning that, so far at least, the approach has worked, albeit in another country. But take the recent presidential debate performances of Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, if you prefer.

Naming the mainstream media’s biases and refusing to accept their assumptions, these men are changing the nature of the national argument.

Gotcha stuff doesn’t work if you refuse to let it. But not an inch must be given. One sniveling apology or craven clarification is like a drop of blood to a school of piranha.

A successful leader of the right must reject the premises of the news media, advocate traditional values eschewed by recent predecessors, take the case directly to the people, and make them laugh (for the right reasons).

You show me a respectable, Conservative Member of Parliament, who has served in various capacities and mouths media-approved pieties, and I’ll show you a loser.

If there is no excitement or pizazz to Justin’s principal opponent, his reign will make Mackenzie King’s look like Kim Campbell’s.

On the left, the response to Justin’s coronation seems rather different and, true to form, denies the obvious reality of how we got here.

Writing in the Globe and Mail, Leah McLaren gives Justin a public tongue-bath, emblematic of the embarrassing, corporate vapidity of that newspaper and its affiliates.

Rather than depict Justin as the life-lottery jackpot winner he clearly is, McLaren carries on as if he were some kind of overachiever. This is how it’s going to be, is it?

As I’ve written previously, Justin is too obviously vacant and not of favoured ethnic background such that we have to pretend he’s a genius, as was the case with Barack Obama. Even so, are we meant to act like Justin becoming prime minister was an accomplishment, rather than inevitable?

Speaking of which, while most readers immediately appreciated the Justin-Obama parallel (and it has been gratifying to see the same, basic column re-published repeatedly under different bylines), a number have suggested that Justin is less Canada’s Obama than its George W. Bush. Presumably, they mean the advantage of a prominent name and infrastructure in federal politics.

Interesting assignment: Seek out the musings of those who characterized George W. Bush as a dunderhead who fell into the family business and got lucky. Do they say anything similar about Justin now?

For those who somehow think the comparison might be unfavourable to the 43rd president, consider that unlike Justin, who did not complete a number of degree programs, Bush actually graduated from both Yale and Harvard and became a two-term governor of Texas before winning national office. As to the competence of the two men in leading governments, we’ll just see, won’t we?

I will say, having met both men, if I had to choose one of them as my partner for a to-the-death game of Trivial Pursuit, that would be my easiest decision of the day.

As to the affirmative action component of the leftist worldview, columnist Anthony Furey opines on the ridiculousness of Justin’s quota-driven Cabinet appointments, noting that Justin himself “rose to power on everything but merit.”

The need to bean-count people by race, gender and, increasingly, sexual orientation is an absurd tic of the left in general, the Liberal Party in particular, and is shared by their closest allies: mainstream journalists.

One reason major Canadian news outlets are so unwatchable, unlistenable, barely readable and gawdawful is that they are the most glaring affirmative action racket in the country, aside from government – albeit prioritizing gender before race.

It’s not that women or members of preferred minority groups cannot perform the required tasks. It’s that those ensconced in prominent positions are there because of identity politics, crowding out more talented, intelligent and, certainly, conservative members of the same cohort.

If you are employed by a large operation, look at your own workplace. You can probably identify young, eager women and people of various colours who could do things better than the sinecured mediocrities above them who are always leaving at 3 to pick up their kid, while simultaneously complaining how sexist life is (and you can perhaps also recognize that the most common obstacle to women rising in the workplace isn’t men – it’s other women).

If you are an employer, you know how difficult it is to hire and retain good people. You are likely bemused whenever you hear some breathless news report about workplace discrimination against women, or a glass ceiling, or what a misogynist racist you probably are. (Incidentally, the irony of that report being read aloud by a 20-something woman with a Media Arts degree and earning six figures for getting the words in the right order is probably not lost on you.)

You know that if you can find a good, competent person who can do the job for a fair wage and will stick around, you don’t care what colour or gender they are (I am addressing these comments, of course, to people who live in the real world, rather than the imaginary villains of leftist fantasies, wherein liberals are always Denzel Washington in Philadelphia, or Dolly Parton in 9 to 5, etc.).

If that person happens to be of a particular sex, hue, or persuasion, such that hiring them keeps the diversity enforcers off your back a little longer, so be it, but this is not your chief concern.

I recall some years ago, being at the home of a prominent Liberal Party member, forming a volunteer committee to deal with some municipal issue. As people put up their hands for various assignments, our host stopped midway, counted the men and women, said he wanted there to be “gender balance” and so started the process all over again.

This is simply how these people talk. They cannot help it, and they know no other way to be.

Similarly, a Liberal female friend of mine, in a casual conversation about racial quotas that I should have known to leap through the window or fake a seizure to avoid, snapped at me, “I DO know, Theo, that things go best when people from different cultures work together.”

I was struck by the finality with which she made the remark, as though she were slapping down the Queen of Spades in a game of Hearts.

Since the Tower of Babel, that has been bollocks on stilts.

Diversity of thought is what matters. The rest is window-dressing at best, and a disaster at worst.

Please remember this when some gimlet-eyed complainer wails about the number of straight, white males on a panel or in a particular profession. By that logic, if you put Justin and, say, Ezra Levant on the same committee, do you suppose it would be lopsided, with both of them saying the same things?

But again, further to Furey’s comments, this touchy-feely, multi-culti, set-aside psychobabble applies to you, not them. As he points out, the Liberals are the only major federal political party that has never had a female leader, even as it lectures the rest of us on what Stanley Kowalski chauvinists we all are. But don’t expect their current boss to step aside in the name of gender diversity.

There is perhaps no more privileged, coddled, entitled person in all of Canada than Justin Trudeau. To be clear, Justin has become the second-youngest prime minister in Canadian history by virtue of being a wealthy, white, male heir of a family business, bearing its brand name as his own, assisted by an ideologically uniform news media, and exempted from the credentialing requirements and professional rigours of any adult reading this column.

In short, Justin is the beneficiary of the precisely the same patriarchal, Old Boy nepotism of which the left incessantly accuses the rest of society.

Which is why, my aspiring conservative compatriots, we cannot hope to achieve success the same way – nor should we want to.
It is not in our nature to divvy people up by skin colour, sex and proclivity. We believe that, at long last, it is time to treat people, simply, as people.

Let us rise or fall, sink or swim, tumble or soar based on our own merits. That is our game. Let’s not play theirs.

If we can meet this challenge with vigour, wit, wisdom and good humour we may yet, to borrow a phrase, take our country back.

Theo Caldwell is taller than he looks. Contact him at