The Justin Trudeau honeymoon is over

Editorial: Justin Trudeau was booed at the Grey Cup game. He should get used to it.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves the stage following a discussion on women's leadership, Thursday, November 24, 2016 in Monrovia, Liberia. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

Justin Trudeau. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

Amid the Ottawa Redblacks’ thrilling 39-33 overtime win over the Calgary Stampeders in the 104th Grey Cup this past weekend, there was a moment that seemed to unite all fans, regardless of team loyalty or level of inebriation. The appearance of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offering a pregame greeting via video screen was immediately met with widespread, lusty and prolonged booing rendering his message entirely unintelligible. (Although “Castro was a dictator!” was heard from some corners of the stadium.)

Unlike his predecessor, former prime minister Stephen Harper—who assiduously courted the Canadian Football League crowd and attended the championship game in person wearing a Stampeders jersey—the urbane Trudeau has little obvious appeal to CFL fans and their blue-collar sensibilities; Justin Bieber got the same treatment in 2012. Yet Trudeau should prepare himself for many more “Grey Cup salutes” in the coming year. Having staked his political success on sunny optimism and emotional intelligence, Trudeau is about to face plenty of situations where no one wants a selfie.

More than just football fans have leapt to criticize Trudeau’s effusive eulogy for Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. “I know my father was very proud to call him a friend,” Trudeau said in offering his “deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro.” Such a sentiment ignores Castro’s lamentable record on human rights, as well as his role in bringing the world as close as it’s ever come to nuclear war. It is also instructive of Trudeau’s style, since it reveals his emotive instincts and desire to avoid conflict. He felt a connection with Castro and was moved to share it, as befits our social media age. But there’s more to being a leader than spreading good cheer.

Related: Trudeau’s turn, from cool to laughing stock

Trudeau came to power last October riding a wave of optimism and the promise of change. His platform made hundreds of campaign commitments unencumbered by the hedging familiar to most politicians. He vowed a new way of doing business in Ottawa. He spent the first few months wiping away all vestiges of the previous Harper government. Then Trudeau unleashed a seemingly endless series of public consultations: a federal website currently lists 70 ongoing consultations on everything from Canada Post’s future to national security legislation to the Canada Food Guide. There is nothing wrong with asking for public input, of course, but it’s starting to feel like these consultations are just a way of delaying final decisions.

It is the nature of leadership that it is impossible to please all people all the time. Many successful leaders will say it’s often impossible to please anyone a large part of the time. This is the situation in which Trudeau finds himself on Canada’s desperate need for new pipeline capacity. As he learned this week by approving Kinder Morgan and rejecting Northern Gateway, a yea or nay on any particular project will inevitably leave large segments of either the environmental or the business community upset. These are decisions that make enemies, not friends.

A few campaign commitments have already come a cropper. The Liberal platform promised “implementation” of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a result of accepting all recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But doing so would give Native groups a veto over all future resource projects in Canada, something Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has admitted is “not a practical option.” And the claim that 2015 would be the last federal election held under first-past-the-post rules is looking increasingly unlikely to survive growing demands for a referendum and timing constraints.

In other cases, attempts to shoehorn government actions into the constraints of platform promises has produced such policy absurdities as the Liberals’ announcement last week that the Royal Canadian Air Force will buy 18 Super Hornet fighter jets. This stopgap measure is necessary only because Trudeau vowed never to buy the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters favoured by the Harper government. Similarly, Trudeau pulled our existing CF-18s out of the fight against Islamic State earlier this year because he said Canada should not be on the front lines. It has since emerged, however, that Canadian soldiers sent to train Kurdish forces have engaged in active firefights with the enemy. Quelle différence?

Then there’s the current cash-for-access scandal, in which Trudeau attended a $1,500-a-head private function with businessmen seeking a favourable ruling from government, which has left him looking like a run-of-the-mill politician with a hand out to wealthy supplicants.

Trudeau’s long honeymoon period is finally coming to an end. Now comes the difficult business of making hard choices, disappointing supporters and coping with the sense of cynicism that eventually settles on all politicians like so much dust. It’s not enough to be everybody’s friend; the Prime Minister needs to show he can make the tough decisions that leave plenty of folks feeling downright unsociable. It’s lonely at the top, but there’s a job to be done.


The Justin Trudeau honeymoon is over

  1. Hard choices that have to come from a man who has grown to middle age without ever having had to make a tough choice in his life. The reason he got booed at that football game was because thousands of those people make tougher choices every week that Trudeau has had to make in his entire life.
    Welcome to the party, pal.

    • And Harper did before he became PM?

      This is all about Yankee Doodle thumping. They gots right vegetables coming into power and Canada should do the same. ‘Better for business.’ Yeah, right. The Cons don’t even have a leader and given who’s leading the race they won’t have one when one is picked.

      Thump. Thump. Thump. Don’t you hate it when outsiders interfere?

      • “B-B-B-But Harper!” Is that all it’s gonna be from now on, all criticism of the drama teacher will be deflected to Harper by his fangirls?

    • Not surprising for a liberal PM to be booed at a football game, the sport of the angry man, Trudeau and liberals are not angry people, that’s conservatives mantra. i hate football, it causes to many head injuries and the people who control football in this country are in denial. You didn’t by any chance suffer a head injury yourself, bother way, did you, you seem to be a little disorientated by your comment. Trudeau beat both Cons and the dippers to the pipeline race, and i know, it has to make you angry, something like football, you loose, you get angry. Trudeau made a stroke of genius on the pipeline decision, he invested his political capital, he didn’t spend it. When everyone gets access to recreational pot, this pipeline anger, may just go up in smoke, and then on to the second term for the liberal government of Canada. Your point is moot.

      • Carpet bomber,
        You and da-mojo have missed it. Do you really believe that a football game in Toronto is going to be attended by 100% conservatives and/or your woeful stereotyped “head injured” football fan? You do understand that 100% of professional football participants are products of the North American university/college system? These aren’t right wing or conservative mediums.
        All that aside, you’ve missed the principle theme of where the choruses of boos are coming from. Castro was a murderous tyrant. Liberal or not (he’s actually a Marxist), in an attempted befriending, your beloved Zoolander is exposed for what he is: an idiot.
        It’s also safe to assume the resounding boos at the game are also due to one irrefutable fact: thousands of Canadians are jobless, the travesty in Ottawa is doing nothing about it, and you’re hearing them loud and clear.

        • You cant convince me football doesn’t cause head injuries, if you believe that it doesn’t, your living in a world of fantasy, it’s the the bully sports of all sport, that’s my opinion, and like you, i am expressing my opinion. I admired Castro, i didn’t admire him for his political views, but i did admire his courage, the only way he allowed the US to ever reconcile with his country, was on his terms, before he died, and for that i do admire him. Have you ever been to Cuba? If you did, and don’t want to answer, your a hypocrite, and if did, your still a hypocrite and anyone else who dipped their toes in sand down there in Cuba, and that includes the fans who booed Trudeau, and also, your friends you know who went to Cuba, that they are all Hypocrites too. I would like to know how many of them fans spent a vacation in Cuba. Your like the football players and fans, angry and sore. Bother way Dave, Trudeau beat the other two parties to the punch, again, and the pipelines and is a pretty powerful message to the people who rely on the oil sector, and also his message of protecting the environment. Another moot comment.

    • @ Bill Greenwood. He’s never “had to make a tough choice in his life”. I was unaware you were so close to Trudeau that you could make that statement. Walk a mile in someone’s shoes, man.

  2. What was the point of this article? You imply that Trudeau is not aware that it is difficult to please everyone and that he has failed to understand that fact. But where is the evidence of that presumed reality? You end with “It’s not enough to be everybody’s friend; the Prime Minister needs to show he can make the tough decisions that leave plenty of folks feeling downright unsociable. It’s lonely at the top, but there’s a job to be done.” So what are the examples where he has failed to show he can make the rough decisions?

  3. In some ways I feel sorry for the lad – he has lived in such a thick bubble (between the legacy of his family name and his trust fund that allowed him to reach his mid-40s without ever having to make any significant impact through his own brains and brawn) that he really doesn’t ‘get’ how many many Canadians think about the world. Canadians are not looking for a superstar (many of my generation had our superstar Trudeau in the 60s and 70s and we paid dearly for it with government growth and overspending) in a PM, but someone who puts Canada and Canadians first. The clearest example of this, is instead of traveling the world and distributing Canadian taxpayer’s money to far flung lands that money needs to be spent on Canadians to solve problems that Canadians are facing

    I think the moves on pipelines is generally good, but let’s know con ourselves into thinking that those pipelines will EVER be built. The PM and Liberals will fold like a cheap tent when the environmentalists really ramp up their nonsense.

  4. Everyone’s initial impression of Justin Trudeau is that he’s a cool-looking dude. Someone who deserves to be idolized.
    But when he is examined a little more extensively, one sadly discovers that his feet are made of clay.

    • He’s all hat and no cattle. He’s a few reindeer short of a sleigh ride. He’s got million dollar smile and a two dollar brain. He’s a $1500 stereo in a $400 car. He cain’t run wi’ the big dawgs, but he won’t stay on the porch….:)

      • All i have seen him do his whole time in power is sit on the porch. He is a gonna, not a do-er.

        Something Canada needs the opposite of.

  5. Cut it out guys…..he’s still high in the polls.You are just looking for things to nag at him about.


    • polls mean exactly nothing, look what happened to our neighbour with there polls and what does popularity have to do with making the right(sometimes tough) choice? How about Trudeau do something about our unemployment, instead he decides to spend more tax dollars at the end of the day ladies and gentlemen some one got to pay the bar tab, wonder who that will be?
      Besides all ready Trump is putting his actions where is his mouth is, Ford is staying(3k jobs not lost) and now carrier(1K) Jobs not lost lets see Trudeau do something besides take selfies and talk about openess but no action( maybe hes has no idea what to do?)

      • Election polls no…..current approval polls, yes

        Polls show Trump up, because he is promising nirvana…..he can’t, however, deliver it.

        YOU are just gullible

        Or as Trump says……he loves poor uneducated folk

  6. The honey moon is over the next election he is gone ,Too bad we have to wait another three years and watch him give money away and put us so far in the red we will never get out !!!!!

    • You are Trumps favorite kind of people…….stupid.

  7. So, let me get this straight…

    You’re upset because Trudeau deployed about 600 boots on the ground in Syria, and the only thing people complain about is that they don’t want to use the word ‘combat’ when it’s obvious to everyone that they’re in the thick of it. No calls at all to bring them home.

    You’re upset that Trudeau pulled the fighter/bombers out of Syria, right before the Russians moved in and made that whole mess 10x more complicated. Would you really want our planes flying is Syria right now? Seems Trudeau’s little move was exceptionally lucky, or brilliant, or both.

    You’re upset because Trudeau sole-sourced some fighter jets, and there’s only a whimper of complaint. Most of the complaints, by the way, are saying that we already have enough to support NORAD. The other stuff, like jets in Syria and Europe, are unnecessary options that we don’t really need fighters for. You know, the options Harper kept jumping on because they were easier decisions than putting our soldiers in harms way, like Trudeau seems to have the political guts to do.

    You’re upset because he made a mushy and (you think) ill-advised eulogy for Castro, right about the same time there was a minor scandal which everybody suddenly forgot about, except you. Pretty smart, don’t you think?

    You’re upset that he’s not willing to make tough decisions, but you’re hoping his “honeymoon” is over because he… made some tough decisions about the pipelines???

    So… how would Harper have fared if he had deployed nearly 10x the ground troops in Iraq? How would he have fared if he deployed nearly an entire battle group to Europe, with no end date? How well did he handle the scandal after scandal his government managed to trip into? I won’t even ask how you think he’s do getting a pipeline run anywhere through BC… not a chance. None. Period. Trudeau will probably get it done though, like he’s done all the rest, and still remain very popular. Sorry if that upsets you so much.

    Trudeau has already accomplished more things than Harper managed to ram through with 10 years of being in power. And, with Trump in power down south, it will only get better for Trudeau. If the US economy takes off, the Canadian economy will follow and Trudeau will get credit. If the US economy tanks, the Canadian economy will follow, and Trump will get blamed. Trudeau wins either way. Get used to him as he’ll likely to be around for a lot longer than you think.

  8. He felt a connection with Castro and was moved to share it, as befits our social media age. But there’s more to being a leader than spreading good cheer. – this is the leader of Canada. His Dad was a communist sympathizer supposedly during the ww2? Trudeau will flame out when the economic reality of Trump running over him like road kill happens in the next two years.
    Canada is on the edge of economic crisis and we have a school teacher in charge. See how this turns out.

    • We were allied with the USSR in WWII. Pierre was in the army.

      Canada is btw inn good shape economically.

  9. Justine is a born liar.
    PET is spinning in his grave.

  10. Trudeau lied. He will again. More pipelines. No pot.

    • J.T. is ‘Just Toker’ guy he’s an complete and utter moron. He’s a drama teacher who doesn’t know history as evidenced by his Castro schmooze. Canadians will pay very very dearly for electing such a moron.