I’m often struck by how much Canadian politics resembles genre fiction. You have the evil villain, the friend-betraying science-hating electoral-playing-field-rigging development-aid-into-corporate-welfare-turning Stephen Harper. (But don’t let that suggest that I think he’s a purely malevolent force. He’s the only politician who hates my cellphone company as much as I do.) And you have Justin Trudeau, the scrappy hero who, like Frodo Baggins or Harry Potter, must save the country from certain doom with only his courage, his wits, and a motley band of plucky friends.
I wish it didn’t seem that way, but there are too many parallels. Trudeau is the scion of a noble house, anointed by fate to return the nation to the pride it enjoyed under his father’s benevolent rule. Yet his early life was humble – he was a mere schoolteacher. Even after entering politics, he was reluctant to take up his quest, preferring to canvass Papineau on foot until Michael Ignatieff’s self-immolation left the elders of the party begging, “Help us, Justin! You’re our only hope.”
He’s adopted radical new tactics (like Ender) chosen with disarming honesty. (“Well, let’s just legalize marijuana. Heck, I smoke a little myself. Why is everyone staring at me like that?”) The agents of the enemy are never far behind him, falling on his every misstep like screeching Nazgul. Sometimes Trudeau only escapes by the skin of his teeth (like that time when he accidentally praised China for having a nice efficient dictatorship). His hair is unruly no matter how much he brushes it.
Last week Trudeau expelled all Liberal senators from the party. The Senate has been embroiled in corruption scandals - two senators were charged with defrauding the government with fictitious expense claims earlier this week, and two more are under police investigation. For anyone not familiar with the Canadian constitution, our unelected Senate also doesn’t do anything except for providing a world-class retirement plan for party hacks. Trudeau declared that the Senate should be nonpartisan, and started it on its way by booting all his partisans.
(I figure what he has in mind is something like the House of Lords. But constitutionally our Senate is much more powerful than the Lords. So it’s unclear whether that would work.)
This strikes me as the moment when the hero finally sets off alone into the wilderness, giving up all support except for a trusted friend or two. Trudeau has severed ties with the old fundraisers and strategists of his party, just as Frodo left the Fellowship of the Ring and Harry snuck away from the Order of the Phoenix. The parallel’s made even stronger by the rumours coming out of Ottawa that Trudeau made this decision without consulting anyone.
Godspeed to you, Justin Trudeau. Our fate is in your unlikely hands. I hope Hermione remembered her purse.