Canada, the U.S., and the Donald

Canada’s most attention-grabbing personality is the new Liberal prime minister Justin Trudeau, whom a swooning electorate has just elevated to the highest office in the land. Possessing no relevant business or political experience and no demonstrable leadership qualities apart from name recognition and good looks, he is a dandiprat version of the fatuous nonentity America elected to lead them into a condition of weakness and insolvency. Many in the U.S. are now suffering Obama remorse and reassessing their folly. Eventually Canada, too, may come to its senses, though I wouldn’t bet on it. An Eloi people roistering in a Morlock world does not augur well for their future.

Our misfortune in Canada is that we have -- or can have -- no one like the Donald striding across the political tarmac. In effect, Trump would have zero chance in a tepid, characterless country like Canada, at any rate, not since the days of our pirouetting, hippie-wannabe PM Pierre Trudeau, Justin’s father -- but that was during the psychedelic Sixties. Anyone who requires convincing need only browse our national broadcaster, the CBC, with its panels of hacks, retreads, undistinguished pundits, and its slew of unctuous anchors. Broadly speaking, as Margaret Atwood wrote in Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature, Canadians exhibit a “will to lose,” a mournful conviction of the moral superiority of losing, of achieving what she calls a “satisfactory failure.” Hence, Justin Trudeau.

When one considers the competing qualities of burly machismo and pretty-boy simpering, the preference should be a foregone conclusion. Of course, if it comes down to a match between big hair and thinning hair, the outcome will favor the former. (The hairpiece seems to be a journalistic canard.) Such is the only department where the youthful charisma of Trudeau has it over the mature brio of Trump. The issue, however, is not what is on top of one’s head but what is in it -- that is, how one sees the world. In this respect, Trump is head and shoulders above Trudeau. How can we compare a man born into wealth and privilege, a trust-fund baby merely inheriting his father’s glamour, whose signal accomplishments involved a stint as a substitute drama teacher and snowboard instructor and two uncompleted university degrees, with a man who turned his father’s business into one of the world’s great financial empires, generating opportunities for untold others? No contest.

Trudeau is a fantasist-in-office who has so tenuous a grasp on economic reality he actually believes that budgets can balance themselves; Trump by contrast, a graduate of The Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, is a man who understands the bottom line and knows what it takes to ensure prosperity. This is a perfect instance of the distinction between someone whose thinking was formed by patrimonial entitlement and someone whose thinking was shaped by real world exigencies.

The dissemblance between the two men is also evident in their patriotism. Trump wants to unify America; Trudeau is on record suggesting “that Quebec separation could be deemed acceptable given the politics of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.” To curry favor with his Quebec base and to advance his own electoral prospects, he had no compunction raising the spectre of the breakup of the Confederation. In the wake of jihadist attacks in Europe and the U.S., Trump is proposing a moratorium on immigration from Muslim countries “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Trudeau is importing between 25,000 and 50,000 improperly vetted “Syrian” refugees, whose impact on the country, economically and domestically, will in the course of time likely approximate Europe’s self-immolating malaise. (Just breaking: a couple of “Mohammeds” shot up a bar in Calgary -- a city, by the way, which boasts a Muslim mayor -- and a Muslim migrant, his crimes covered up by the MSM, has been convicted of raping ten teenage girls in Montreal.)

The difference is painfully obvious in the international realm as well. Trump would be appalled at Justin Trudeau’s stated refusal to retaliate against ISIS even if Canada were to be attacked. Trudeau believes the best response to Islamic terrorism is to live without fear in a pluralistic, multicultural society -- a form of “smart power” idiocy that will ensure the ongoing subversion of the culture and the disintegration of yet another Western society. Not to mince words, the difference between Justin and the Donald is the difference between a flake and a mensch

Not everyone concurs. National Post columnist Barbara Kay, for example, looks forward to the end of 2016 that “will mark the end of the public careers of the two most humility-void, vainglorious politicians in American history, U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump.” One can emphatically agree with her scathing assessment of Obama, but her disparagement of Trump is surely premature. Kay’s double put-down is a false equivalence, like saying that since cats and dogs are both furry animals, they are identical. It’s no secret that Trump may manifest as too crude a sensibility for some, too brassy, maladroit and plebeian, in particular for the polite commentariat.

Despite sporadic misgivings, as a Canadian I regret that we have no one like the Donald to enliven our politics and to speak hard and bitter truths, to serve us his version of Buckley’s medicine -- “it tastes awful but it works” -- to assuage our political ailments. Incidentally, Buckley’s is a Canadian concoction, which does not change the fact that the U.S. is a far more dynamic, abrasive and inventive nation than our northern hinterland. (Though the Donald feels that the U.S., like NFL football, has “become soft.”)

Lest I be misunderstood, I am not saying that Trump would make the best possible president, given the current field of GOP candidates. In fact, I find myself edging toward Ted Cruz, whom Rand Paul believes would make an excellent Canadian prime minister. (Cruz was born in Canada of American parents.) What I am saying is that Trump’s stand against the tyranny of political correctness and the dead hand of a corrupt media establishment, his fearless broaching of taboo issues, and his epic personality have finally opened up a much-needed debate on the scourge of Muslim immigration, irresponsible leadership, fiscal extravagance, and regulatory constrictions on business. We could use a man like him to stir the sap in a bland and increasingly progressivist country whose sickly pines, to quote modernist poet A.J.M. Smith, now “lean one way.” 

To summarize, the greatest symbolic and cultural difference between our two nations today, to Canada’s manifest disadvantage, is illustrated by the emergence of Donald Trump.