Monday, 16 May 2016

Expect More than 'Ordinary' from your Prime Minister

Do you want to hear something boring? Probably not, but hear me out. I am an ordinary person. I work a job lots of other people work. I fit it around our young family, I don't make gobs of money, and I am mostly ok with that. I occasionally kill time on my phone, putter around the yard on the weekend, frequent breakfast places with my besties, and I rarely miss my kids' dance classes, soccer practices, or show-and-tell days. Pretty ordinary and boring, right?

Now, what if I told you I was the top ranking official in a country of 30 million people? What if I told you I was elected to be in that position? What if I said I had invitations to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the World Economic Forum, or the G7 Summit, just to name a few? What would you think if I told you my influence was paramount in making laws that affect millions of people's lives? That my voice is heard in everything from hostage negotiations to vital military operations to world trade agreements and international aid? Would you think that those things were a little out of the ordinary? Perhaps, you'd agree that a position such as mine was actually quite an extraordinary opportunity and responsibility.

It is for this reason I have to beg to differ with those who swoon at the 'ordinariness' of young Prime Minister Trudeau. In the 6 months since he became Prime Minister, I have heard his title intermingled repeatedly with the word 'selfies', endured hoards swooning over nothing-much-political to do with a certain State visit. I've heard the words 'dreamy, hot, pilf, dreamboat, sexy' and others associated with his name. I've listened to people praise Trudeau for not being 'an economic robot' and giving him 'kudos for maintaining his personal interests' outside of his position. I've tried in vain to block out Star Wars jokes, phrases like 'engage' (code for lip-service) and 'sunny ways' (code for ???), comments on Sophie’s fashion sense, and countless pictures of our prime minister hugging people. Over and over again, and in ways that baffle, I hear Justin Trudeau being praised for being ‘ordinary.’ While this may or may not be the doing of the PM himself, the media and public fascination with what is, in my humble opinion, as much celebrity as ordinary is deeply concerning.

My plea to the Canadian public is this…Wherever you sit on the political spectrum, expect more than ordinary from your prime minister. He is not your friend. He is not (nor should not) be known for his celebrity. He is not an actor (oh wait, he kind of is). He is not a poster-child for the cause of the week. No. He is, in significant ways, responsible for the futures of your children. He has it within his power to harm or heal people around the world in their hour of need. He can make or break livelihoods. His influence exceeds any ordinary person’s by a LOT. He has the means to make this country shine or be a laughing stock, and, as an elected official, he is accountable to you. Hold him to a standard of extraordinary.

Consider that the time spent on engaging in the ‘ordinary’ might be better spent brushing up on, say, human rights issues before meeting the President of the People’s Republic of China, or perhaps, ‘engaging’ in ANY way at all with the energy sector that has been vital to this country’s economy for decades. Maybe one might even find it offensive that our prime minister takes the time to pose for selfies with fans(?) while the fate of hostages rests on his shoulders. Our prime minister has countless extraordinary opportunities and responsibilities like these, the likes of which are not shared by an ordinary citizen, and for that… hold him to a standard of extraordinary.

The fascination with the ‘ordinariness’ of celebrities/public figures is by no means unique to our Prime Minister, but I respectfully ask that, in this case, that fascination not be allowed to overshadow the gravity of his position. Please think twice before choosing to read or share any materials that do not reflect our Prime Minister’s extraordinarily influential position or any relevant policies. I would argue that this misguided hype is far from benign, that it detracts real time from real issues, and that Canada’s position on the world stage has already been compromised by this phenomenon. Whatever you do, don’t expect (and don’t reflect) anything less than extraordinary from this man.