Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Trudeau vs. Harper About Bombers

Canada's Federal Liberal Party has a new leader, Justin Trudeau, son of the famous Pierre Trudeau who was Prime minister of Canada during the seventies.

Already, it looks like there is a battle between the present Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, and Justin Trudeau.

The opening salvo, fired by the Conservatives, was a round of attack ads, taking Justin's words, quoting him as saying "Quebecers are better than the rest of Canadians."*  And the ads continue on to say "Trudeau is in over his head."

Now back to real life, and hours after the bombing of the Boston Marathon, Justin says in a CBC interview, (in part) "we have to look at the root causes".

Was Justin's comment an attack on the Prime Minister?  Whether it was an attack or not, it did draw return fire from the Prime Minister. A few hours later, then Stephen made a statement that people should not be sitting around rationalizing or making excuses for bombers.  All we should do is make sure we have harsh punishments.

And now the ball was in Justin's court.  He could back down and apologise to the Prime Minister. Or he could ignore the jibe.  Or, I guess he could tell the Prime Minister to shut up and mind his own business.  What did Justin do?

Justin said [something like] the Prime Minister should rethink how far he wants to go in politicizing tragedies.

This really got the Conservatives fired up, and there were counter-counter attacks on the CBC program "Power Politics with Evan Solomon".  On that show, the NDP (Now Canada's official opposition party) jumped in on the side of the Conservatives, saying an apology from Justin Trudeau to Stephen Harper would be nice.

This is not over yet.

There is obviously some kind of school yard fight going on.  The new guy has shown his face in the playground, and words get exchanged with Stephen, the kid with the biggest entourage.  Some might call him the bully. So the way you view this altercation will depend on your view of Stephen Harper.  I personally am leaning toward cheering on Justin.  He has certainly shown willingness to stand up for himself.  But can he also be disciplined and in control of his emotions?  In my opinion, the worst he could do would be to apologise for that simple statement.  Because it is actually true that we need to look at what might be motivating these psychopaths.  Yes, you heard that right.  Even psychopaths have some kind of motivation.  And it is possible to know what it is, and we need need to know what it is. Harsh punishments cannot be the only answer.  A Liberal must not apologise for supporting a scientific approach.

* P.S. Is it true that A. Quebecers are better than the rest of Canadians? B. Justin really said that?

As I was born in Quebec I am inclined to agree with A. although it may not be a good thing for a politician to say publicly.  But it seems that for B. the answer is no, that is not what Justin said.  The conservatives edited a sentence in order to isolate those words.  I think that tells you a lot more about the tactics of Conservatives than it does about Justin Trudeau.

Picture: Photoshop job by "The Lost Motorcyclist"


  1. I'm prepared to cut Trudeau some slack. He's young and, compared to Harper, relatively inexperienced and certainly more uninhibited. I find it refreshing to hear someone actually say something, rather than hearing the repetitive mealy-mouthed Harperisms of, 'Frankly, my friends, as I've said before, obviously, blah, blah, blah ...'

    A bit ironic, though, that Harper should now be slagging Trudeau for his (basically accurate) comments about the malign influence of Alberta 'conservatives' on Canadian politics. That from the leader who himself slagged Atlantic Canada for its 'culture of defeat.'

    Harper may levy accusations of Trudeau being 'in over his head' ... but, from where I sit, I'm more favourably inclined towards a federal leader whose background includes environmental geography, rather than one whose master's thesis is an overlong and boring attack on Keynesianism (and, thus, indirectly, on what I would consider 'Canadian values').

    And, as far as 'root causes.' My sense is that Trudeau makes a legitimate point. Just how successful has the 'War on Terror' been? And isn't that 'War' just another instance of politicians dealing with symptoms, rather than attempting to determine and address the 'root causes' of this violence (regardless of whether it turns out to be domestic or international).

    But because the Conservative strategy tends towards manipulation of the electorate through fear and retribution, naturally Harper would speak in terms of 'harsher punishments' ... disregarding, as usual, the evidence, in favour of ideology and political advantage. And, as usual, we can read between the lines and see further erosions of our democracy and freedoms.

    (BTW ... anyone suffering from a severe case of insomnia might consider downloading and reading these 150 pages of Harper in full academic flight ... )

    1. Well, thank you. I have had trouble getting to sleep lately.

    2. Betcha you don't make it to Page 25 ;-)

  2. I spent much of today watching the manhunt for the killers on TV, and could not help but notice that on every station, intelligent people were speculating on what the motives might be for the bombing. Nobody was childish enough to echo Prime Minister Stephen Harper's point of view: "We don't care about the motives, just harsher punishments." I didn't see any of those TV experts or journalists being criticised for making excuses for the bombers. It is in fact the intelligent response, to try and figure out why it happened. With this knowledge, we can help prevent future incidents, also it helps us catch the people who did it. We don't yet know the extent of the conspiracy, there may be more than two people. It would be very stupid to think only about harsh punishments, but I guess that's where Harper is coming from. A. Ignorant B. Tendency to lie C. A bully.

    Good for Justin Trudeau to stand up to him I hope the Liberals win the next election. Especially if the NDP are just as dumb as Harper on this issue.

  3. Well, it remains to be seen whether (despite the conclusions being jumped to at the moment) those young men were, in fact, the perpetrators of the Marathon Bombing.

    But that question notwithstanding, the evidence is clear that deterrents (such as Harper's 'harsher sentences') have real limitations in preventing crime - especially with perpetrators who are mentally ill or have drug-related problems.

    Contemporary Western society is fraught with (actual and perceived) inequality and unfairness, and that is bound to find expression in political extremism (be it the 'Tea Party' or Marxism or whatever) and, in the most 'extreme' cases, expression as violence.

    Hanging the tag of 'terrorism' on the Marathon Bombing is rather arbitrary. It is not yet clear whether there was a genuine political motive for this - 'political motivation' generally being considered an essential character of 'terrorism.'

    But 'understanding' is the foundation of science - and of rational policy making. It has a higher success rate than relying on (inevitably flawed) ideology.