How to soften a political image

Use the internet like a normal person, for starters

Twitter is often a playground of mundane oddities. People, despite their best intentions, say boring things that could not possibly excite another soul. They remark on their daily achievements as if anyone else should care. They talk about their work around the house. “Am I the only one who finds successfully installing a dimmer oddly satisfying?” asked one active user.

That tweet, complete with the world’s most boring photo of the work-in-progress dimmer switch, was retweeted 59 times. In its own way, that tweet was a cunning political statement. That’s because the man behind that tweet was Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. He told all 244,000 of his followers that, hey, he can fix things—and have a good time, to boot. That was two days ago.

Yesterday, Trudeau was back on Twitter. He told the world that his wife, Sophie Grégoire, was pregnant with the couple’s third child. The tweet came with a photo of the family packed into a canoe. How many retweets? 421, as of this morning.

Twitter is not, so far, where politicians go to win elections. Trudeau, who can fill a room with a smile and shake hands until the sun goes down, knows that as well as anybody. But his mundane tweet about playing Mr. Fix It, whether it was something calculated or nothing more than a playful observation, gives everyone who sees it the impression that he’s, you know, a normal guy.

No one really thinks the same of Stephen Harper, no matter how often he tries to soften his image. No one really thinks the same of Tom Mulcair, no matter how often he tries to soften his image. Maybe, for Trudeau, a couple of screwdrivers and some electrical tape can make the difference.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with Canadian police chiefs’ recommendation that simple marijuana possession should merit only a ticket. The National Post fronts the Quebec government’s plan to ban the wearing of religious symbols in public institutions. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with bail granted to James Forcillo, the police officer charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Sammy Yatim. The Ottawa Citizen leads with the potential demise of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. iPolitics fronts the politics of parliamentary prorogation. CBC.ca leads with wide condemnation of the Quebec government’s religious symbols ban. CTV News leads with the Syrian government’s denial that it used chemical weapons to kill 100 people. National Newswatch showcases a Halifax Chronicle Herald story about rising costs of Canada’s next generation of navy ships.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Search & rescue. A military weather station in Labrador will no longer operate around the clock, and most of its staff will be laid off—which critics say will harm search-and-rescue capabilities. 2. Floods. The Alberta government reports that major floods this year in southern Alberta damaged 14,500 homes, and two months later, 2,700 people remain unable to live in their homes.
3. Homophobia. Pattrick Blackburn, a gay man living in St. John’s, N.L., who was badly beaten, told his tale on a YouTube video. The incident surprised the relatively gay-friendly community. 4. Kayak. A pair of Nova Scotia kayakers successfully paddled 175 kilometres from the mainland to Sable Island, in an attempt to raise enough money to send 25 kids to summer camp.
5. Nuclear leak. The troubled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan leaked 300 tonnes of radioactive water. The leak didn’t pose a significant threaten the sea, which lies about 100 metres away. 6. Thailand. Five years after Calgary’s Leo Del Pinto was killed in southeast Asia, a police officer—Uthai Dechawiwat—was found guilty of the crime and sentenced to 37.5 years in prison.