Saturday, September 29, 2012

Trudeau, Harper And Canadians Lack Substance

Critics claim Justin Trudeau has no substance when it comes to policy, they fail to realize that neither does Stephen Harper, nor any other leader or party; not to mention the fact that Canadians increasingly don't care.

This is not a defense of Justin Trudeau but an offence committed by Canadians.

Politics has increasingly become less about substance and more about public image. Though it is hard to believe, Stephen Harper did not win the 2006 election because of his marvelously complex and substantive five point plan, he won simply because he was not Liberal. He has retained government on that same line, winning re-election not with policy, but with attack ads.

Even in governance, safe from the whim of voters he has offered no substance to improve the Canadian economy. Productivity has been declining for years, a balanced budget will most likely be pushed back to 2015, and unemployment has only gone up. With a strong stable national majority and no policies in sight this trend towards anything but substance is only likely to get stronger.

Forget about interest in policies, Canadians are caring even less about politics in general. Membership in all parties has been declining for decades, apathy is increasing, and voter turnout is decreasing. Justin Trudeau's lack of interest in policies is certainly not as troubling as our Prime Minister's, but neither is as problematic to our country as the disinterest in politics among the general population.

And that's the real threat to the future of Canada, not Justin Trudeau cashing in on celebrity, but the culture of Canadians who won't be interested without it.

Instead of critics attacking Justin Trudeau for appealing to voters like every other politician does, critics should rebuke Canadians for caring so little about politics. Justin Trudeau is popular, but columnists and pundits shouldn't fault him for it, after all he is only likely to make politics more interesting to more people, and that in turn will only sell more newspapers.

But then again, perhaps these columnists should worry, with more newspaper revenue, there's only likely to be more competition in opinion commentary which means Justin Trudeau running won't just be a threat to bad politicians, but bad columnists.

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