Thursday, 17 March 2016

'A platitude is a platitude is a platitude'--Quotes from a young Canadian prime minister

platitude: noun  plat·i·tude  \ˈpla-tə-ˌtüd, -ˌtyüd\  a statement that expresses an idea that is not new
2:  a banal, trite, or stale remark [i]

Do you pay attention to Canadian politics? Is this ringing any bells? If not, this is probably your cue to stop reading, but if you're having as much trouble listening to the sweet nothings of our new prime minister as I am, I dedicate this to you--maybe a little humour will help to get you through the next four to eight years??? You know, hand on my heart, I have been trying to give the guy a chance. After all, we are stuck with him for the time being, but, try as I might, I just can’t get on board with (or hide from) the contrived, fluffy stuff he says. Now, of course, one can make the argument that everyone spouts a meaningless platitude now and again, and, god knows, if you dug around or followed me with a microphone and camera for several years, there would be some serious doozies, but, the thing is…there was no digging required! Our mainstream media is all over this stuff! They eat up every banal word, spin it to his glory, and regurgitate it at every possible juncture. To me it seems that they are in complete solidarity with our young prime minister in his mission to tag a one-liner that will go down in the history books right next to his father’s famed ‘state-in-bedroom’ quote.   Well, to his credit (and my chagrin), there is no shortage of material…

1. (World Economic Forum in Davos, January 2016) “My predecessor wanted you to know Canada for its resources. Well, I want you to know Canada for our resourcefulness.” Just imagine this scene down at the auction…‘Investors, don’t push and shove. Get your pocketbooks and paddles ready. We are now taking bids on… let me see, did I read this correctly? Yes. We are now taking bids on ‘resourcefulness’. I’ll start the bidding at 1$. Who’ll give me 1$...’

2. (When questioned on the gender parity of his newly appointed cabinet, November 2015) “Because it’s 2015.”  The left just loved this one! How clever of Mr. Trudeau!  In just 3 short words, he was able to put all gender inequality in politics to right! Bravo. Now, if I held any of those cabinet positions, that would have felt more like a petulant pat on the head to me, possibly like my position was more a reflection of his cheap political branding than my actual qualifications, but who’s counting anyway, in these days of…

3. “Sunny ways, my friends. Sunny ways.” (Victory speech a Liberal election headquarters, October 2015). Interestingly, this quote is so impactful that apparently it bears using twice! The original Mr. Sunshine is actually Sir Wilfred Laurier…and yet, it’s meaning in any sort of pragmatic sense is still so lost on me.

4. In that same speech on election night, Trudeau stressed that Canadians had voted for “change in this country. Real change.” As opposed the last election…where they voted for stagnancy and ‘fake change’??? Incidentally, hasn’t every change of government in this country’s 150 year history been a vote for change? I wonder how many times this largely meaningless notion has won someone an election? Probably, on average, once every 4 to 8 years. ‘Change’ could mean anything, and, like any decent platitude, it expresses a concept that is banal, trite, and certainly not new.
5. (Press conference in the immediate aftermath of Paris attacks) Prime Minister Trudeau promises that Canada will offer “all possible assistance.” This might not have been strictly a platitude if it hadn’t been a complete lie.

6. (On smoking weed as an MP, August 2013) “I used it. Maybe five or six times in my life.” And for this he made no apologies. Now, regardless of your position on marijuana, isn’t it at least significant that the would-be prime-minister not only broke a law, but a criminal one, and had the gall to flout it to the Canadian public? To me, that shows enormous disrespect. Should all Canadians pick and choose willy-nilly which criminal laws we choose to follow and then broadcast these sorts of things righteously and publicly?

7. “I don’t read the newspapers, I don’t watch the news. If something important happens, someone will tell me.” (February 2001) An oldie but a goldie! Why would an aspiring politician keep abreast of current events and make their own judgments about them when other people can do that for him? I can’t think of any reason.

8. (At the US state dinner with Barack Obama, March 2016) “Fear is easy. Friendship? Friendship takes work.” Bravo. Good point, I think. I am just wondering what that means as it applies to any sort of policy, agreement, or legislation, or are you referring to the ‘work’ it took to create a media circus centering around the notion of the ‘Trubama bromance’? You know, this gets me more than anything. In a collectively dire time for both countries, does it do us proud that nearly all the coffee talk and most news headlines on this event centered around celebrity and photo ops? If this is what the Canadian public wants, no wonder they didn’t like Harper.

9. This is the same speech where JT, in his patented over-emphatic and pregnated with painful pause- for-effect style, stated, “There is no relationship in the entire world quite like the Canada/US relationship.” Cue applause. The same could be said about the Norway/Sweden relationship, or Smarties and M&M’s for that matter. What’s your point? Platitudinous, as usual.

10. “Canada doesn’t need empty rhetoric on the Arctic.” (September 2015) BAM! I couldn’t have put it better myself! Canada doesn’t need empty rhetoric on anything actually. Except…that, of course we must! We have elected our highest ranking official to provide plenty of it after all…empty rhetoric, like…

11. “We beat fear with hope.” (Victory speech October 2015) Oh, I think I might have thrown up a little in my mouth, because all those conservative voters out there couldn’t possibly have cast their vote based on something concrete like, say, a solid economic platform. Nope, they were all just spineless and scared. And now we can get down to the serious business of enacting some ‘hope’ and ‘change’ legislation.

I guess this long and, by-no-means-comprehensive list just begs one question…With all the stuff this guy comes out with, how will the history books ever even choose just one quote or two will adequately encapsulate all the fine qualities of this dynamic, young leader? I know I am struggling ;-)

[i] "Platitude." Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

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