Politics Insider

The Brand Trudeau international PR machine does it again

Politics Insider for Dec. 4: Canada isn't immune from populism, what we learned from the security review of Trudeau's India trip, and what was behind the Prime Minister's $50 million tweet to Trevor Noah

There is “extreme concern” among allies about what China is up to,  Canada’s top soldier, Jonathan Vance, tells Paul Wells. “Is it antagonizing? Is it painful for this country? Yes.” (Maclean’s)

Don’t kid yourself, Canada isn’t immune from populism, write Frank Graves and Michael Valpy:

We’ve learned more and more about the populism that has fuelled this complicated moment as the fracture in America races like wildfire throughout Western democracies. It is the biggest force reshaping democracy, our economies and public institutions. It is the product of economic despair, inequality, and yes, racism and xenophobia. It is an institutional blind spot, largely denied or ridiculed by the media, and by the more comfortable and educated portions of society.

It is very much alive in Canada. In fact, our populist explosion has already had its first bangs and is likely to have a major impact on next year’s federal election. (Maclean’s)

The security review of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s controversial trip to India landed in Parliament Monday, and as expected it delivered some surprises. For one, the RCMP knew that would-be political assassin Jaspal Atwal planned to independently join Trudeau during the trip, but didn’t bother to tell Trudeau’s security minders. From the report: “The RCMP had information that Mr. Atwal had a serious criminal record and a history of involvement in violent acts, issues which should have been identified as security risks to the Prime Minister and his delegation. The RCMP recognizes that it erred in not providing that information to the Prime Minister’s Protective Detail.” (CBC News)

It’s almost like the RCMP and Trudeau have a communication problem.

Statistics Canada has delayed its plan to compel banks to hand over private financial records of 500,000 Canadians. It has also suspended its searches of personal credit files from rating agency TransUnion. Both practices have drawn heavy criticism from privacy experts, not to mention opposition MPs. (Globe and Mail)

Speaking of stats, it’s #ChartWeek at Maclean’s. Each year we ask economists, academics, analysts and investors to pick one chart they think will be important in the year ahead, and explain why. There are charts on rising interest rates, fiscal policy, slowing household credit, China-U.S. trade tensions, Alberta’s oil price crisis, business competitiveness and more—more than 70 charts in all. (Maclean’s)

After Trudeau’s seemingly offhand tweet to Daily Show host Trevor Noah on Sunday offering $50 million for a charity, critics pounced that this was another example of the Liberals’ flippant attitude toward spending. Turns out it was just another example of the Brand Trudeau’s international PR machine in action. The government’s decision to give $50 million to Education Cannot Wait, a charity that supports education for children impacted by conflict and natural disasters, was actually made several weeks ago as part of an earlier-announced $400-million initiative. But the big reveal  was carefully timed to coincide with Noah’s appearance at a poverty-fighting event in South Africa.  “We always look for hooks to release the funds,” a spokesperson for International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said. Noah graciously obliged, displaying Trudeau’s tweet on a screen at the event. (Global News, Twitter)

This next item isn’t a political story. That doesn’t matter. It’s the final chapter in a wrenching tale that Maclean’s writer Shannon Proudfoot, along with countless thousands of readers, has followed for the past three years: the all-too-rapid decline of Jo Aubin, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at  just 37. Aubin passed away at age 42 on Nov. 29:

For the last days of his life, there was a pack of people around Jo at all times. They listened to music, they talked, they made highly inappropriate jokes. They were loud. It was beautiful and exactly right for Jo. “I loved it, even though I hated it,” one of them said later. To another, it seemed like Jo gathered them all together and kept them like that long enough to make sure they would be okay.

Early one morning, a week and a half after Jo stopped eating, he peacefully exited the world with the people who loved him most by his side. He had not spent a single day in a hospital or long-term care facility.

Two days after he died, those same people gathered with dozens upon dozens of others to celebrate Jo. They did it exactly as he wanted.  (Maclean’s)