It’s shaping up to be a tough week for the leaders of both Canada’s new government and Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. Knives have been flying both inside and outside their parties, albeit over very different issues. After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau jetted off to Tofino last Thursday for a family holiday on Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (a trip his staff initially tried to cover up), he is being justifiably excoriated for his lack of judgment. And on Tuesday, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole faced his first caucus meeting since the election and received an earful over a perceived “betrayal” of right-of centre voters. In both cases, the central question is: where’s the leadership?
With Trudeau, almost no one can seem to figure out what on earth he was thinking. As the rest of the country donned orange shirts, participated in ceremonies to honour children who lost childhoods or even their lives in residential schools, and reflected on how Canada can do better in its relationship with Indigenous peoples, Trudeau was caught on camera hitting the beach.
But not just any beach: a beach in B.C., across the country from Ottawa. Trudeau didn’t just cram the kids and the cooler in the car for a spur-of-the-moment day trip. This was a vacation that required planning. Meaning there were plenty of moments along the way where someone — most notably the PM himself — should have stopped and said “WAIT! THIS. IS. NOT. A. GOOD. IDEA.” And done something else instead.
That something could have taken many forms, from not going to B.C. at all and respecting the official holiday in Ottawa, to going out West and respecting it there. B.C. elders said they invited Trudeau to do just that and got radio silence in response.