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REX MURPHY: For anyone else, resignation would be unavoidable – and appropriate

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announces proposed new federal restrictions on guns, during a campaign stop in Toronto on Sept. 20, 2019.Ernest Doroszuk/Postmedia News
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announces proposed new federal restrictions on guns, during a campaign stop in Toronto on Sept. 20, 2019.Ernest Doroszuk/Postmedia News - Ernest Doroszuk

Some observations, reflections and musings on the minstrelsy of a prime minister, in random sequence, and merely as they have occurred, over the past 24 hours:

Well, we still have Bianca. Thank goodness.

The ferociously talented, indomitable and instantly charming Bianca. How lucky Canada is to have such a face to present to the world. She The North.

It was the prayer of the Pharisee: “Lord, I thank Thee that I am not like other men.”

In the new, revised version for prime ministers deep in the sticky stuff or paddle-less up that famous vile river: “Lord (or Gerald) I thank thee I am not like anybody in the Liberal caucus, or running for a Liberal nomination, for Lo, they would be out on their rump in a flash and selling pencils in the rain, if I caught them in blackface.”

On Thursday, Mr. Trudeau signed on to the “white privilege” theory of social justice virtuecrats. It was his white privilege that shielded him from seeing how stupid and wrong it is to impersonate and mock other races.

I would argue his privilege doesn’t come from any theorized whiteness. It has a much more narrow individualized base. It is the privilege of “JustinTrudeauness”: being the standout glamorous son of the deeply intelligent, truly charismatic prime minister Pierre Trudeau.

That’s the equivalent of being born on third base with a limo waiting to take you to home plate. And, if he wishes now to ruminate on either white or Trudeau privilege, he should consider that it is not the colour of his skin that has him still sitting in the prime minister’s chair after these manifest illustrations of quite magnificent hypocrisy. He can’t claim to recognize “his privilege” and continue to take — in his case — its quite unique benefits. Being “white” saved no backbenchers.

How many brands can one politician destroy?: It has been written and said a million times that Mr. Trudeau is the face (unfortunate term here lately) and the brand of the Liberal party. Actually he stands for many brands. Feminism. That one got severely trampled on when our first male-feminist PM tossed out (arguably) the two most independent and intelligent women in his caucus, Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Dedicated supporter of Aboriginal peoples? Well, there was the landmark appointment of a First-Nations person to the highest cabinet posting ever. Only to have his minions and himself maul her when she would not bend the law to favour a Quebec firm. There was also the stall for over four years on the “boil water” advisories. And the confused operation of the MMIW inquiry. One more brand lost in the ashes of poor performance.

This photograph shows Justin Trudeau in brownface as part of a costume for an 'Arabian Nights'-themed party at Vancouver school West Point Grey Academy, hosted in 2001.
This photograph shows Justin Trudeau in brownface as part of a costume for an 'Arabian Nights'-themed party at Vancouver school West Point Grey Academy, hosted in 2001.

Racism and enlarging the status of all minorities and the marginalized? Not much comment needed on this one: see this week’s Canadian and world news. From Al Jolson to Ali Baba, I have a costume for you.

In sum, on the brands collapsed: He has tarnished or utterly destroyed every high-principle  — can we avoid the word “woke?” We cannot — woke pretension he so smarmily lectured every other person in the country on. Preachers may occasionally falter, but they really should not forget the name of their own church. (See Pharisee prayer, above.)

On costumes, and the love of inhabiting same: It was during the first prime ministerial apology, aboard his campaign plane, that he essayed a small joke, very small. “The fact of the matter is that I’ve always — and you’ll know this — been more enthusiastic about costumes than is sometimes appropriate,” he said. That would have been a wonderfully apt remark if it had been said in Mumbai or Delhi — instead of having aides, and even one civil servant, suggesting his Bollywood tour (and failed assassin infiltrating his entourage) was a setup by the government of India. It has no relevance to the present pickle he’s in. It wasn’t the costume: it was the blackface.

A word on a word: I have heard and read the term “brownface” hundreds of times in the past two days, but have never before heard the term in conversation or even read it in a book or online. Its sudden application was the first (un)conscious effort by some in the press to “grade downwards” from the truly taboo “blackface.” To his credit, the PM steered the press back to what was the right term — blackface — during his act of contrition on a Winnipeg lawn. Moral: when progressives get into deep ordure old words vanish and brand-new usages pop into the ether like some of those ghost particles you hear about (but don’t really understand) in subatomic physics.

Stephen Harper: There must be a Stephen Harper reflection because Mr. Trudeau pays and has paid more attention to Stephen Harper — or just “Harper” as he impolitely usually refers to him — than Stephen Harper, courteous and modest man, ever paid to himself. It’s an “if” reflection.

If Stephen Harper had boot-blacked his face on any day of his life, once discovered the very next morning he’d find himself on a flimsy raft off Patagonia. In his perilous wake would be a school of sharks hired by the Liberal party to hunt him down for lunch, and the respectable elements of the Canadian media offering GPS support, and hourly updates on his location, to the sharks.

The one only, English debate: After this nuclear blow-up on racism there must be more than one English debate. There should be debates outside the “privileged” media who are marinated in Ottawa-centric “how-will-this-‘impact’-the-election”-style questions. There should be debates in different regions of the country, and seeing how Mr. Trudeau himself is such a stalwart of “identity politics,” debates before different minority communities as well.

Greatest mystery comment on the whole affair: I read yesterday that one “expert” on blackface offered as prima facie fact that “blackface is as Canadian as hockey.” A tad overzealous in the cause perhaps? Hockey’s cultural primacy gave us Tim Hortons. So if blackface is as Canadian as hockey, where are the “blackface” coffee shops? Pure nonsense and special pleading on tottering stilts.

The most basic reflection: For anyone else resignation would be unavoidable — and the correct thing to do. Mr. Trudeau’s conduct shatters his every pious progressive pretension. We should expect the same pattern of honour from him, as he would insist on from others — in the Conservative party, and in his own.


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