Dispatch from the Front Lines: Of course Canada's broken
Comfortably broken is still broken, folks.
Woooo! The holidays approach. Your Line editors have prepared a meaty dispatch for you, our favourite people on God's green earth, but first, just a bit of housekeeping.
First: we are going to take some time off. But never fear! You won't be bored. Before we head off, we will have prepared a new two-week series of articles to keep you informed, entertained and enraged over the holidays. (That's what normal people are into, right? We forget.) Coming up next week: The Line's Nice List! We are well aware that, on balance, The Line is a grumpy place. Deservedly, we think. But we really do occasionally experience warmth and contentment, so we thought we'd offer our readers some cheerful stories next week, as Christmas approaches: things that make us feel better about the state of everything.
And then, because we're us and this is The Line, we'll immediately take those warm, happy thoughts we've instilled in you and we'll crush them like a bug. The week after Christmas, it's The Line's Naughty List — a week's worth of articles about things that should worry you and make you angry.
Before Christmas, we'll do one more dispatch, but we expect it'll be lighter fare. So this will be our last proper dispatch for 2022. Thanks for being part of this incredible ride with us. Let's get to it.
And as always, there's no better place to start than with our editors gabbing about the topics of the week!
And if you prefer the podcast version, check that out here.
So we start off with a bit of a medley on federal politics. There was a byelection this week, and we didn't pay much attention to it, beyond noting that the Liberal Charles Sousa easily took the seat. It was a safe Liberal federal riding, and the Conservatives made no real effort to win it.
If we had to guess as to why, we’d theorize that Mississauga-Lakeshore was always going to be a long shot; by throwing the game, the Conservatives can at least tell themselves that they haven't really lost one yet. We agree that if the CPC is going to ever actually form a government again, it's going to have to actually show up in the GTA sooner or later. We also noted with interest the utter tanking of the NDP vote — they've never been contenders in that riding, but wow.
We briefly entertained the idea of writing any more about this, but then we gave our heads a shake: we ain't gonna spend much time or energy on a single byelection. We just aren't.
What was more interesting to us this week were the comments made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to thousands of Liberals at a large in-person Christmas party. As one does at any good Christmas party, the PM took the chance to, uh, savage his rivals. To wit: "Canada is not broken ... Mr. Poilievre might choose to undermine our democracy by amplifying conspiracy theories. He might decide to run away from journalists when they ask him tough questions. That's how he brands himself. That's his choice. But, when he says that Canada is broken, that's where we draw the line." (Full video of the speech is available via CTV News.
The PM was responding, of course, to a recent line of attack favoured by the Conservatives: that Canada is broken, and we need the Conservatives to fix it.
There are three comments we'll make in response to this.
The first is strictly an analysis: Trudeau is staking out some interesting rhetorical ground. We aren’t sure this will be the ground on which the next campaign is fought over — God only knows what'll happen between now and whenever we are next headed to the polls. But if this is the subject of our next “ballot question,” well, that's just fascinating. "Sunny Ways" vs. "Everything Is Broken and It's Your Fault."
How fun! Both men would be able to make an honest pitch for their case. As we've written before, the Liberals seem exhausted and spent. They've accumulated baggage since their first smiley-faced win back in 2015, and the country has been thoroughly battered by events since then. That suggests that Poilievre, who is at his best when on the attack, could mop the floor with Trudeau.
That said, we don’t take that outcome as a given. First, Trudeau is a damned good politician, better than the Conservatives still give him credit for, and though we are starting to wonder if Trudeau is past the point of no return, we will never count him out. We also think that if the Conservatives make "Things are terrible" the centrepiece of their next campaign, may find that Canadians recoil. Canadian pride is a fragile, brittle thing, and while many of us may feel like things are bad, it's not clear to us that Poilievre saying so won't rub a lot of voters the wrong way.
But we honestly don't know. That's why it's fascinating.
The second point is a bit of a reminder: It is worth noting that the major promoter of the "Canada is broken" thesis over the past few years has been ... Justin Trudeau. We don't think we — your Line editors, the media, Canadians in general — should let him take such casual re-occupation of the "Sunny Ways" position, since he's spent the last five years absolutely dumping on Canada, its history (genocide), its symbols (the flag), and its institutions (the military, amongst others). No one has done more to proclaim Canada broken than Justin Trudeau. Is he now claiming that he's fixed all the problems he’s spent the last half decade making political hay over?
We mean … the guy won’t even fix his house.
The third point is our own view: of course Canada is broken. And Trudeau has done nothing to fix it.
Now, we have to define our terms here. “Broken” isn’t “destroyed.” We don't think we're descending into some kind of post-apocalyptic wasteland. It remains undeniably true that Canada is, in global terms, a nice place to live. Safe. Lots of food. No one is firing missiles at us. Sweet! But, like, gosh, folks. Look around. If the PM really wants to assert that Canada isn't broken, we'll agree insofar as it's not so broken that the average person fears starvation and violent death. Sure. But that average person also probably can't get a passport, or a family doctor, or timely care in an emergency room, or a house in a big city where the jobs are clustering, or Tylenol for their kids.