One Press Conference, One Image Undone

By: Laura Steiner

The Conservatives spent the last four years building an image of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  He was Trudeau the elitist, the trust fund kid from upper class Montreal.  In opposition, he never lived up to any of it.  He presented himself as a touchy-feely, compassionate guy.   It stood him well throughout the election, and he became Prime Minister.

That changed yesterday at a press conference.  He was asked about how the proposed tax reforms would affect his own wealth.  He referred to it as his “family’s fortune,” before explaining he’d put it in a blind trust.  He said (quoting from CBC): “I no longer have dealings with the way our family fortune is managed, and I have been open and transparent about that, and have been entirely consistent in my desire to not be perceived to be bending or breaking any rules.”

It’s a contrast bordering on hypocrisy.  While he’s talking about so-called family fortune,  small business owners are on the point of rebellion over his tax proposals.  Their outrage spans industries; agriculture, communications,  trades,  and the services.  Main St. diners are cutting their hours to save money.  The doctors’ who supposedly make upwards of $100,000/ year are pointing out this might be bad for patient care  because it forces them to cut back as businesses.

The Millennials who got Trudeau elected are subjected to “job churn,” a term coined by Finance Minister Bill Morneau. They are holding down multiple jobs just to make ends meet.  Or having failed to find a decent job, they’re starting businesses of their own and may also be penalized by the proposed changes.

The correct answer to the question would have been: ‘yes my personal wealth will be impacted as much anyone else’s.  The rules shouldn’t be different for Prime Ministers.  But I’m still going through with this, because I believe it’s the right thing to do,’ and then lay out the arguments why.

In using the words “family fortune” he demonstrated a total lack of compassion, and appeared completely disconnected from the so-called “middle class” he’s trying so hard to build.  He managed to live up to an image he’s spent the last four years running from.