Our beloved, photogenic prime minister (PM) recently cancelled plans to attend the Davos summit in Switzerland, in order to spend more time on his tour of Canada to hang out with us average Canadians instead. Critics such as Joan Bryden of the Canadian Press ask whether or not this campaign-style tour is for the right reasons.
It could, after all, be to make up for being in some hot water at the end of last year after some unpopular moves. These moves include the approval of the Kinder-Morgan pipeline, and allegations of pandering to wealthy Liberal Party donors who donated up to $1,500 to be in the same room as the man himself.
Frankly, those critics can give any reason they please to the PM’s visits. Whatever intention they try to attach to the trip won’t take away from the fact that it results in more pros than cons. Some might call it costly and time-consuming, but if Trudeau wants to effectively govern all Canadians, it’s a necessary part of his job — or at least, it should be.
Canada’s one big-ass country, which means many Canadians don’t have the opportunity to even see their premier in person, let alone their prime minister. The people making decisions regarding our well-being shouldn’t be strangers to us. How can our country implement any realistic social policy if our politicians continue to hide in the ivory tower called Parliament Hill?
And Trudeau’s not new to the ivory tower. He’s been criticized by figures like Margaret Wente of the Globe and Mail for being “out of touch with the 99 percent,” as he grew up without many of the anxieties that “average Canadians face,” like college tuition and job stability, thanks to the trust fund and connections his father left him.
As much as this tour will help Trudeau connect with us to his benefit, it could also bring Canadians closer to their PM and get them more interested in politics. Over the holidays, my grandmother told me about Pierre Trudeau’s visit to Metro Vancouver. She didn’t have much taste for federal politics, because to her, Ottawa was a distant place that paid little attention to BC.
Yet meeting Trudeau Sr. gave her a change of heart; he was suddenly much more than just a fuzzy face on a late-’60s television. Any good politician might be well-versed in charisma, but seeing him listen to other Canadians showed how much he genuinely wanted to be involved with their lives, and more importantly, to improve them.
My grandmother also mentioned that she voted for new Trudeau because of how she felt about the original Trudeau – which emphasizes exactly why, having taken office and started to develop his own reputation, Justin needs to make connections on his own this time around.
Trudeau maximizing his time with his citizens could really impact what gets done in Ottawa. We can bypass middlemen like MPs and the media can be bypassed, making it easier to accurately communicate the issues that we want addressed. What’ll define the success of Trudeau’s tour and its benefits are the weight we Canadians place on it, and whether or not we choose to get our taxpayer dollars’ worth out of it.
Many Canadians are about to get the chance to meet one of the most important figures of our country, and if we waste it complaining about the money, there’s no way to take the opportunity to make progress. Democracy only works if we all participate, after all, so let’s get out there when the time comes and show our leader what we want and what we value.