KINSELLA: Prime Minister always ready for his close-up – Toronto Sun

Trudeau’s posed photo-op during Cowessess residential school memorial neither new or unique

Author of the article:

Warren Kinsella

Publishing date:

Jul 10, 2021  •  4 hours ago  •  3 minute read  •  70 Comments

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lays a teddy bear at a small flag in a field at the site of a former residential school in Cowessess First Nation, Sask., Tuesday, July 6, 2021.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lays a teddy bear at a small flag in a field at the site of a former residential school in Cowessess First Nation, Sask., Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Photo by Liam Richards /The Canadian Press

There he was, doing what he does.

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Justin Trudeau, down on one knee, head inclined.

Jacket, but no tie.

Have to look Prime Ministerial, but not too formal, you know?

Beard gone, hair trimmed, features grim.

Gazing at the ground, in which the bodies of Indigenous children and babies had been buried, long ago, like so much garbage.

The ground behind a former “residential school” in rural Saskatchewan.

It all looks spontaneous, at first glance, but of course it isn’t. With Justin Trudeau, it never is.

The clue: Trudeau is holding a small teddy bear, positioned perfectly within the frame of the photograph.

Centred, perfectly lit, pointed out towards his official photographer, who has coincidentally come along for the ride to a dumping ground for dead babies.

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Who does that?

Who brings along a taxpayer-subsidized photographer to take pictures to be hauled out in an election campaign that a country neither wants or needs?

Who pays respects to (possibly, likely, murdered) Indigenous children by making him or herself the focus?

Justin Trudeau, of course.

From the very first moment he appeared in the nation’s consciousness — when he delivered his moving, emotional, dramatic eulogy to his father, Pierre Trudeau in 2000 — he revealed himself to be a master of political symbols.

His eulogy seemed to have been wrenched from his guts, from the depths of his soul.

But it apparently wasn’t.

His best friend, Gerald Butts, later blandly informed me that he wrote the eulogy. Not Trudeau.

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Since then, there’s been more of that sort of duplicity.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, embraces the late Gord Downie before the Tragically Hip’s final concert in Kingston, Ont. in Aug. 2016
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, embraces the late Gord Downie before the Tragically Hip’s final concert in Kingston, Ont. in Aug. 2016 Photo by Adam Scotti /Office of the Prime Minister of Canada

One particularly appalling moment came in 2016, when Trudeau was photographed with the Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie, who was dying.

The two men famously embraced. It was everywhere, that photo.

Except you couldn’t see Downie’s face, at all.

The photo — as this week in Saskatchewan — was entirely of Justin Trudeau.

What mattered, to him, was his reaction to sadness. His emotion. His feelings. Him, him, him.

He is the Geraldo Rivera of Canadian politics. His solipsism, his self-obsession, is so big, it has its own time zone.

A smart friend once said to me that, at times like these, Trudeau reveals himself to have no self-awareness.

“Wrong,” I said to her.

“Self-awareness is all he has.”

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Contrast that to Jody Wilson-Raybould, who this week announced that she was leaving federal politics.

When he heard, Trudeau must have danced a jig — but away from any unhelpful camera lenses, of course.

Wilson-Raybould literally embodied every that is false and phoney about Justin Trudeau.

He claimed he was a feminist — and then he exiled Wilson-Raybould, a strong women, when she dared to disobey him.

He claimed he was the great reconciler with Indigenous people — and then marginalized Wilson-Raybould when she quietly disagreed with some of his parlour-room colonialism.

He claimed he would be a paragon of ethics — and then later destroyed Wilson-Raybould’s political career because she refused to obstruct justice for a Quebec-based Liberal donor being prosecuted for corruption.

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In announcing her departure, Jody Wilson-Raybould didn’t pose with a teddy bear or try and steal the limelight from a rock star.

She simply sent out a modest statement to her constituents, who defied tradition and elected her as an Independent in 2019.

Said Wilson-Raybould: “[Parliament] has become more and more toxic and ineffective…Federal politics is, in my view, increasingly a disgraceful triumph of harmful partisanship over substantive action.”

Which it is, and which we all know, even if many of us don’t like to admit it. Our politics is indeed a disgraceful triumph of partisanship — a triumph of image over substance, too.

Justin Trudeau doesn’t know that, or care.

He’s too busy scanning the obituaries for the next photo op.

— Warren Kinsella was special assistant to Jean Chretien 

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