Evidently humour is not Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s forte. I don’t know him personally, so I have no idea whether he is funny in his private life or not. Maybe he is. Great, if that’s the case, humour being a key element to good health. However, when it comes to international affairs, in his attempts to amuse people his sense of humour takes on a dark tone, one that he should avoid in the future.
Remember that a few weeks ago during a party fundraising he implied a measure of admiration for the Chinese political system. Following a bout of media poking fun at him by using excerpts from the speech, he declared the whole business to be a joke. Many afterwards gave him the benefit of the doubt.
But here he goes again. This time it was not simply among friends but during a TV appearance on Tout Le Monde en Parle, one of Québec’s favorite talk shows, no less. Speaking about the tragic situation in Ukraine, he said that the Russian government, unhappy with its athletes’ Olympic performance in hockey, could intervene in the crisis. Met with the perplexed expression of the show’s host, Trudeau quickly replied that he was trying to lighten up a dramatic situation. It didn’t help his cause.
That is what is troubling in his behaviour. He himself admits that he is trying to inject humour into a human tragedy that is not funny at all. Many of his party members must be wondering how his judgment can be so off, not just once but twice, if we count his Chinese government comments.
For the Liberals’ opponents, this is manna from heaven. Following the latest Liberal Party of Canada congress, well-covered by the media and portraying Trudeau in a relatively favorable light, he is now serving his opponents ammunition on a silver platter. He is making it pretty easy for the Conservatives, especially when we consider that one of their key strategies when it comes to the Liberal leader is to constantly remind Canadians that he cannot be taken seriously.
For now, his strategists will have to ensure that he has a carefully scripted speech when he faces the media in order to avoid this type of improvisation that has caused them nothing but trouble. They might also want to rethink the way they try to rescue him in the future.
The last time they sent MP Marc Garneau to the front – not a bad choice in itself since he has a solid reputation. However, he didn’t really help the Liberal leader in attempting to minimize the blunder by stating that context – in this case, an entertaining talk show – was everything.
This is precisely the mistake. Context doesn’t matter. To occupy the prime minister’s seat, a party leader can never let their guard down. Many polls will confirm this. Trudeau’s weakness is that many people consider him not yet ready to bear the responsibilities that come with the post.
Translation Monique Kroeger