By now, we’ve all been exposed to the scandalous controversy surrounding the publication of photos depicting Justin Trudeau wearing black- and brown-face makeup. We’ve had talk and opinions on the matter up the yin-yang to the point where our attitude towards the upcoming federal event on Oct. 21 has changed from “ho hum, another election” to “bring it on!”
Here’s a quick primer on the approaching election. There are 338 seats in Canada’s House of Commons which means, using a complex combination of abstract algebra and differential calculus and the ability to divide by two, that it would take 170 seats to win a majority government. A plurality of seats (meaning a party wins more seats than any other party but not enough to form a majority) would most likely mean a minority government result, which would topple if the other parties ganged up against the winning party.
As of just before the election on Oct. 21, the Liberal Party of Canada heads the list of registered parties. With leader Justin Trudeau, it has a majority of 177 seats in Parliament. Several issues have reared their dirty little heads since the last time our nation went to the polls, making the Liberal hold on power somewhat tenuous. We’ll get into these later in this column.
Next, there’s the present official opposition, the Conservative Party of Canada, led by Andrew Scheer, with 95 seats in Parliament. You may remember this as the Progressive Conservative Party (one of the great oxymorons of all time, together with “jumbo shrimp” and “military intelligence”) which in 2003 merged with the upstart Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance to form the new face of conservatism.
Next in order of seats in the House of Commons is the New Democrat Party (NDP) with 39. Running for the first time as its leader and carrying the orange banner is Jagmeet Singh. Right behind the NDP is the Bloc Quebecois, headed by Yves-Francois Blanchet, with 10 constituencies all in the province of Quebec.
At the bottom of the list, but still having a voice in Parliament, are the Green Party of Canada (Elizabeth May is the leader representing our very own Saanich and the Gulf Islands constituency) with two seats, and the People’s Party of Canada, whose leader Maxime Bernier is also the only elected member. The People’s Party immediately brings back memories of a scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian in which we see intense mistrust and bickering between the two revolutionary rivals, the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea.
The remaining 14 seats are either presently vacant, or scattered among independent members such as Jody Wilson-Raybould. However, even with only one seat in government, Maxime Bernier’s party sits light-years ahead of many of the other registered political parties. These include the somewhat futile attempts at election by the Libertarians, the Communists, the Christian Heritage Party, the Alliance of the North, and the Animal Protection Party of Canada (who would certainly be more of a threat to govern if animals were enfranchised with the vote).
What exactly are the hot ticket issues in this upcoming election? What party platform speaks directly to you and makes up your mind for you as to whom you will cast your vote for and who you definitely will be rooting against? Is it climate change? The economy and the looming trade war? Eroding social services, proportional representation, and an aging population? How about the homeless and a housing shortage for both young and old?
According to media reports and the multitude of posts flooding the social media these days, none of these screaming issues seem to matter even one iota compared to the outrage generated over Justin Trudeau’s ill-conceived decision almost 20 years ago to dress up in blackface and a turban at an Arabian Nights-themed gala at the West Point Grey Academy school where he was a teacher.
Okay, this wasn’t the first and only time that Trudeau had chosen to make that particular image part of his public persona. Other photos and videos have since surfaced showing that perhaps his particular version of a brown-out had become his “go-to” costume for celebrations and theatrical parties.
Does this make Justin Trudeau a racist? Has he revealed the evil residing in his heart and, therefore, no longer deserves our trust and confidence as leader of our nation?
What is a racist anyway? It is my belief that somewhere in the definition of the term, there must lie a hatred by the perpetrator for the intended target. Furthermore, that hatred will be often supported by persecuting behaviour and denial of basic human rights.
Not that I would have voted for his Liberal party anyway (no way because of the many failings the Liberals have shown since their victory in 2015). I am, however, willing to give Mr. Trudeau a “get out of jail free” card and not flush him down the political toilet. What he did smacks of bad taste, immaturity and ignorance. It is probably one of many skeletons hanging in his closet. I would not go so far, however, as to accuse him of being a racist.
We all have our own personal past skeletons (many of which we have conveniently stashed out of memory’s way) hidden away in our own closets. My Halloween costumes from yesteryear would probably sink me in deep doo-doo if I were ever demented enough to run for public office. I look back at my old geezer leaning on his walker costume (I’m older now than the senior I was then portraying) and realize I could have my character smeared with ageism. Likewise, my Hare Krishna realtor, man-size slug, two-headed man, Bowen Queen ferry, and Fulford-Ganges Road costumes would have offended some visible minority or other, I’m sure. And certainly, my Darth Piggy outfit, which combined many of the less attractive attributes of Miss Piggy and Darth Vader, would definitely have caught the ire of all cross-dressing space aliens.
Nobody asked me, but far be it from me to tell you how to cast your ballot. Whomever you decide to vote for, it seems to me that each and every one of us should use our vote to help elect the candidate who best represents our social and political hopes for the future. If you cannot find it in you to forgive Justin Trudeau for his mistakes, then you can exercise your right to vote for another party’s candidate to increase the odds that he will not be returned as Prime Minister of Canada. Just remember, let he who is without skeletons cast the first bone. As for me, I think it’s about time I did a little closet cleaning.