The sense and nonsense around Justin Trudeau

As the presumptive front runner in the leadership race and the crown prince of the Liberal Party, Justin Trudeau has rightfully attracted a lot of scrutiny and criticism.  That’s good for a leadership race.  It’s also democracy at work in a very tangible sense.  The party, the media, and the Canadian public are all actively vetting Trudeau and comparing him to the ideal qualities they’re seeking in a party leader.  Unfortunately there are criticisms that are misplaced through political tactics or sheer ignorance.

Personally, I’m all for criticizing Trudeau.  I find some of his positions shallow.  His speaking style is contrived instead of genuine.  His tone can be condescending and superior, creating division instead of inclusion.  To me, those attributes are absolutely fundamental to the success of a leader of any party and Trudeau is sorely lacking.  It’s hard to come off as both intellectually challenged and condescending at the same time but, especially in prepared remarks, Trudeau manages to do that.

At the same time, at least his speaking style doesn’t produced the uncontrollable apathy that Marc Garneau can illicit.  Garneau can make you not want to care about politics like few professional politicians can.  It’s a rare talent.

But while Trudeau and Garneau and any other leadership candidate require all the necessary vetting, it’s best to do it from a base of intellectual honesty.

In the past week or so, we’ve been forced to hear endlessly about Trudeau’s controversial position on the long-gun registry.  He thinks it was a disaster.  He thinks guns are a part of Canada’s social fabric.  But wait…. he voted FOR the registry.  Clearly he is a flip-flopper and can’t be trusted.

Except this isn’t American politics and god, allah, or flying spaghetti monster willing, it never will be.  Critics focusing on Trudeau’s vote in the House of Commons are missing one very fundamental fact to this story – most votes in the House are whipped to some extent, even when we’re told they aren’t.  If critics have a problem, it’s not with Trudeau’s voting record on the long-gun registry, it’s with party discipline.

And that’s the problem with a lot of the vetting we’ll see of any candidate for any office or leadership role.  The voting record of these elected representatives doesn’t tell us what they stand for at all.  That means you have to take the candidate at their word.

So, Trudeau thinks the registry was a disaster, let’s debate that.  He thinks guns are part of Canada’s social fabric, can we please debate this?

But attacking the voting record serves no real purpose other than to tell those around you you don’t agree with the Liberal Party view on gun control or any other issue.  You… personally.  That’s it.