Monday 17 June 2013

Justin Trudeau’s “hard work” hustle

Anyone following the “messaging” of Justin Trudeau as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada may be feeling a little worn down by now.  Every missive is a paean to the “middle class”, usually with some “hope” thrown in. But by far the most insufferable are Trudeau’s repeated and fatuous references to “hard work”.

For those of us unfortunate enough to be on the Liberal Party’s mailing list, we have:  June 17, “with hope and hard work, I know we can make change happen”; May 1st, “we need to hit our fundraising targets and show that hope and hard work trumps cynicism and tired attacks”; April 17, “the leadership race is now behind us. And before us, much work to be done.”

Those are only a few select examples. They are worth noting because although Trudeau could be considered an energetic person, he is not a hard worker. Instead, he might best be described as a hustler.

As an example, he hustled $20,000 a pop for speaking engagements, many to impoverished charities. Overall, he earned $277,000 in speaker’s fees during his first four years as an MP.  Most middle class Canadians could only dream of such easy coin. And most middle class Canadians would not accept a secondary obligation that would negatively affect their ability to do their jobs. But this is exactly what Trudeau did, continuing with the speaking business while also accepting his full salary as a member of Parliament, where his moonlighting obligations cut into his ability to do the real work that Canadians were paying for.

Clearly, his devotion to the public speaking hustle got in the way of any presumed “hard work”:  Trudeau has the fourth worst attendance record of all 308 federal MPs, having missed 221 out of 616 votes in Parliament since 2011. He didn’t break any laws by accepting speaking fees, but he did reveal his true nature: Canadians are supposed to work hard for him so that he can pursue the noble task of hustling for himself. Bingo – two birds with one stone!

Many Canadians will recall how the NDP used to go on ad nauseam about “working Canadians” and “ordinary people”, and to this day the Conservatives appear to recognize no other constituent other than the “taxpayer”. But whatever one’s political stripes, at least these clichés were a distillation of sorts of the parties’ true values.

With Trudeau, this is simply not true, unless the Liberal Party’s values have been reduced to the glorification of one man.  A hustler doesn’t deserve to benefit from the hard work of others, and never will.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

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