Tuesday, 20 October 2015

An Open Letter to Incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

You're a smart kid. You're young and handsome and full of energy. You've got all of your fangirls and fanboys swooning over your impressive sweep of the country. This is all awesome.

Here's how to not fuck it up.

1. Accept and recognize the importance of the fact that you won this majority government not because of how utterly awesome you are (that's maybe 60% of it) but also because of how desperately people did not want to see Stephen Harper re-elected (realistically, the other 40%). Swallow this and know that it's nothing personal. Take the compliment. We, as a country, like you better than a lying, racist, economic disaster. Pretty low bar though, right? In an election with the highest voter turnout since 1993, the Liberal Party got about 40% of the popular vote. That means about 7 million people voted for your party. About 32% (~5.6 million) of voters voted Conservative, about 20% (~3.5 million) voted NDP, 4.5% (~825,000) voted Bloc, and 3.5% (~614,000) voted Green. That means over 10 million people who voted didn't vote for you. But it also means that 60% of voters disliked or disagreed with the Conservative agenda.

2. Here's what you do: take a good look at what people were voting AGAINST. People voted against Bill C-24. People voted against the complete disregard for the lives of 1,187 First Nations girls and women. People voted against economic policies that help those who are already privileged. People voted against idiotic, racist scare tactics and religious discrimination of Syrian refugees.

3. Most importantly, however, people voted against what -ten years ago- I would have considered literally unbelievable disrespect for the office of Prime Minister. Harper prorogued parliament. Twice. In one year. Three years later, Harper was found in contempt of Parliament. IN. CONTEMPT. OF. PARLIAMENT. Stephen Harper and his conservative cronies treated our democratic process like it was some sort of buffet they could pick and choose from depending on their appetite. Bottom line: try to be a good, honest politician for a while. You're not going to be perfect. People are going to mess up eventually. But please try not to piss us off for a couple months, okay?

4. Your To Do Before Christmas List:

- Repeal Bill C-24 and halt the revocation of citizenship and the attempted deportation of members of the Toronto 18. They're terrorists, but they are homegrown terrorists and they are our bloody problem, not anyone else's. (Trust me, it's better to do this than to deal with the political fall-out of the Pakistani government sending Saad Gaya right back because they legitimately do not have to allow him into Pakistan.)

- Amend Bill C-51 to make it smarter, not tougher. If this means completely overhauling it because you voted for it, can't now kill it without making a liar of your sweet self, but still want to seriously muzzle this piece of trash legislation, do it. If this means expanding the core of analysts at various government agencies so that we can make intelligent, informed decisions, fucking do it. I know a lot of over-qualified PoliSci and IR grads who would love to help you do this so that we are ACTUALLY SAFER. Also, if you don't do this, you will be tossed in the same boat as Stephen Harper, a racist, fear-mongering, asshole who was trying to use this kind of bullshit legislation to divide Canada racially and religiously in order to create artificial divisions in order to keep the multicultural masses from rising up and tossing him out of office. (Whoops. That kinda backfired, didn't it?)

- Announce your intention to launch a Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women inquiry. Preferably by the end of this week. Announce its actual launch the day you assume office.

- While you're at it, make nice with the greater First Nations community in Canada. I don't just mean playing nice with the Assembly of First Nations, either.

- Millions of rivers and lakes lost their environmental protection back in 2012. Un-do that.

-  We backed out of Kyoto in 2011. Get us back on board. For crying out loud.

- Get Elizabeth May to prep your environment minister for the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris this December. (Or send May too. God forbid you send the smartest woman in parliament just because she's another party's leader...)

5. Other things you might want to consider...

- Corporations will be wanting subsidies. Establish shiny new subsidies and kick-backs for companies that research clean energy, or who use environmentally sustainable practices. Since some people only care about money, make it worth their financial while to do us all the favour of becoming more environmentally friendly. You will not be popular right away. But this is not about popularity, this is about the future of our fucking planet. Someone has to stand up and admit that the tar sands are just not worth it: that gets to be you, bucko.

- Change the electoral system like you said you would. Even though it put you in power. It's your best bet to avoid the Conservatives undoing all the hard work you're about to do. It will mean you have to learn how to play really nice with the NDP and the Green Party and the Bloc Quebecois (and the Conservatives if they stop being racist jerks), but compromise is not a dirty word. Just remember: they want to see the best version of our country too.

6. Don't lie. We are not stupid. We will call you on it. Or we will vote you out of office. (Or both.)

7. Don't try to be your father. He was an incredible man, but he lived in a different world. Set your own standards for how you want to be remembered, and stick to your principles.

Last night, you spoke of hope and optimism. You sounded more like Jack Layton than Pierre Trudeau, and maybe that's a good thing. Jack Layton was profoundly loved by many Canadians because he was the embodiment of so many of the positive qualities we consider quintessentially Canadian. His death left a gap in the political landscape that has yet to be filled. He was a beacon of hope that an ever-improving world was truly possible. You may not share all of his political views, but I believe you may be capable of capturing the country's hearts and imaginations. Show us how you're going to make our country great again, and people will line up to help you make it happen.

Mer Brebner

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