When you’ve worked in politics or journalism for a while, you kind of lose your idealism, you know?
In particular, you sometimes lose track of what got you into those things in the first place.
It happens because, in politics and journalism, you get exposed so regularly to the very worst in human nature. Lying, deceit, wrongdoing: you see a lot of it. Too much of it.
So you develop ways to cope. Some drink, some do drugs, some screw around. But most everyone in politics and journalism lose some (or all) of their passion. They get tired, they get cynical.
Most of all, they lose their capacity to feel outrage.
Having dabbled in both politics and journalism, I sometimes feel like that. That – after seeing too many scandals and hearing too many lies – I can’t feel actual outrage anymore.
You know, outrage. The dictionary people all define it as “a feeling of anger and shock.” Not anger or shock. Both.
That’s what I felt when my colleague Brian Lilley called me, Thursday, to tell me where Justin Trudeau was. I had just gotten off the line with my Indigenous daughter, and I thought Brian was joking, at first. But he wasn’t.
Justin Trudeau was in B.C., on a surfer’s beach. That’s what Brian Lilley told me.
What was astonishing about that was twofold. One, the Office of the Prime Minister had flat-out, bald-faced lied about where he was. They issued an official statement, on PMO letterhead and everything, that said Trudeau was in Ottawa.
He wasn’t. He was three provinces to the West.
But here’s the other reason why it was such a shock – why it has whipped up a tsunami of anger and rage: Justin Trudeau was surfing on the very first Truth and Reconciliation Day.
The day that his government declared to commemorate, chiefly, the wrongful deaths of thousands of Indigenous children at residential schools across Canada. Children and babies, thrown in unmarked graves, like they were garbage. That day.
Here’s what Justin Trudeau said about the day set aside – by him! – for Truth and Reconciliation. Here’s his own words: “Today, I invite everyone across the country to recognize and observe the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It is a day to reflect on the painful and lasting impacts of residential schools in Canada, and to honour survivors, their families, and their communities. It is also a day to remember the many children who never returned home, and an opportunity for us all to learn more, and to affirm the need for reconciliation and commit ourselves to the work ahead.”
A day to “reflect on the pain.” A day to “honour survivors.” A day – he actually said this – “to remember the many children who never returned home.”
Who says things like that – who gives pious, sanctimonious speeches like that – and then lies about where he is, and goes surfing? Who would dare to do such a thing?
When I expressed my anger and my shock online – when I expressed my sincerely-held, bona fide, in-my-bones outrage – some Conservatives sniffed. It didn’t surprise them, they said. It isn’t anything new, they said.
They made me almost as outraged as Justin Trudeau had. In a way, they had become as cynical and misanthropic as Trudeau has.
What can you say, when a leader debases himself like this? What can you do? History helps.
History, you see, doesn’t record whether Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt or Harry Truman went golfing when US soldiers discovered thousands of Jewish bodies at the Nazi killing center in Dachau in April 1945. Nor do the historians have a record of Winston Churchill cheerfully puttering around in his garden when, also in April 1945, Britishtroops found 60,000 Jews starving at the Bergen-Belsen death camp – and where at least that many had been slaughtered.
History doesn’t have a record of those things, because no true leader would have dared do something like that. You know: slinking away to go surfing on the actual day set aside to remember dead Indigenous children.
Justin Trudeau is not a real leader. He is a disgrace. He is a deceiver. He is a delinquent.
And he is profoundly, irredeemably, deserving of this:
[Kinsella was Jean Chrétien’s special assistant.]