06:38:52 am on
Saturday 20 Jul 2024

Trudeau on the March
David Simmonds

You must be impressed by the commitment of the predominantly young people that organized and took part in the climate change marches held across the country last Friday. The Montreal march was the biggest. It featured Swedish teen climate superstar Greta Thunberg.

Trudeau and family marched.

Justin Trudeau marched along, with his family, all dodging eggs thrown in his direction for his trouble. Now, it would take a hardened cynic and I do not consider myself one, to say that Trudeau attended the rally to bask in the reflected glow of the marchers and their cause. If he hadn’t attended, he would no doubt have received criticism to the effect that he didn’t think the cause was important enough.

His then-opponent, Andrew Scheer, took the risk. He stayed away. Perhaps Trudeau attended knowing Scheer would not attend, using this opportunity to create a wedge issue to force voters to a choice between the two of them.

All the same, something seemed a little out of whack to see Trudeau marching in a parade, the principal focus of which was to try to persuade this government to do more. Wasn’t he the person to whom the parade was addressing itself? By joining the parade, wasn’t he essentially acting as the defendant showing up to support the plaintiff?

Trudeau admitted his government could do more and promised to do more; maybe his attendance was a calculated risk that by joining in the march, he would earn forgiveness tor his lack of accomplishment. Maybe he intended to send a message that he was secretly on the side of the protesters, but held back by powerful forces within his own government. If so, it would be interesting to know the full nature of those forces and why Trudeau hadn’t vanquished them already.

Listen more to science.

Maybe Trudeau could get away with it because the objective of the marchers has been for governments to “do more” and “listen to the science,” rather than demand the government, say, not build the Trans Mountain pipeline or leave Alberta oil in the ground. If the government action ignores such action, the marchers will likely become more pointed in their demands and less inclined to cut Trudeau the slack of allowing him to take part. You didn’t see Trudeau take part in the “Oil Patch Caravan to Ottawa” last January and I doubt very much the organizers would have let him do so, because he was the target of their wrath,

If the marchers don’t get more pointed in their demands, they run the risk that their cause will become a milquetoast affair. “Tackling climate change is important” is an idea supported, widely, because it doesn’t involve hard choices. You are for such action or you are not; a middle ground is vague and elusive.

I hope the demands of the marches become more pointed. The “Occupy” movement, a few years ago, fizzled because it lacked an overarching call for concrete action. In addition, monitoring a promise to achieve a certain output level over a period of many years is hard to police: it gives the politicians the wiggle room to say that, while they may not be on a course to meet their target now, they have a plan in place to achieve and better it over the coming years.

Trudeau is lucky he was able to join the parade. He may not be so lucky the next time. Trudeau can at least be thankful he isn’t Boris Johnson.

After the UK House of Commons passed legislation requiring Johnson to seek an extension of the Brexit withdrawal date if no deal was made, thereby depriving him of the ability to use madman negotiating technique (“I am just reckless enough to hurt myself in the process of hurting you, unless you agree to my demands”), the British Supreme Court ruled his prorogation of Parliament for several weeks was void. Johnson is unable to command a majority on any matter and with Parliament unwilling to let him call an election, a virtual prisoner in the office twisting slowly, slowly in the wind, strangling on his signature promise to achieve Brexit by 31 October, even without a deal.

What if Canada had the same Supreme Court decision?

Johnson is also about to get in trouble with the Speaker for saying that he will not obey the legislation compelling him to seek that extension. Just imagine where Canada might be, today, if the UK Supreme Court decision had been on record as a precedent before Michael Jean made Steven Harper wait or his prorogation.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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