The Trudeau Dilemma: Why The Canadian PM Deserves A Chance Despite His Past Mistakes
If the Canadian general elections were held today, the incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ousting wouldn’t leave many stunned.
The public outcry over Trudeau’s blackface escapades from twenty years back certainly have not helped his chances for re-election.
The primary question many in Canada have to answer in two months is ‘Does the Canadian Prime Minister deserve forgiveness for his past errors in judgement?’
As a visible minority myself, and as someone with their fair share of knowledge in the role of social identity and race in national and international politics, I strongly believe that he should be.
The Major Obstacle
Forgiving someone like Trudeau for such blunders should relatively be easier as compared to — say — a violent strongman like Roberto Duterte or a quasi-dictator like Xi Jinping, right?
But as recent scandals such as the SNC-Lavalin affair have demonstrated — if anything, the media and the general population have not budged in their vitriol. There are two primary reasons for this. Firstly, Trudeau, as someone who has publicly welcomed criticism through his pro-democratic and ‘open-door’ policy, tends to attract exactly the type of unrestrained criticism that he ‘welcomes’ in less severe times. Secondly, as one of the leading posterchilds of 21st century liberal institutionalism, human rights and other awoke movements, Trudeau has always been swift in criticizing transgressors of his liberal worldview. This naturally makes him an easy target for retribution.
Why We Can (And Should) Still Forgive
There is a reason that I stated that I am a visible minority. I know firsthand how it may feel for someone to be offended by Trudeau’s blackface exploits. The historical connotations, especially for African-Canadians and African-Americans, are painful and downright offensive. I can’t help but feel that other minorities, such as Arabs, Indians and Pakistanis, would find this practice equally disturbing even if uninformed about it’s historical origin. Mind you, it isn’t a touch or two of makeup to make a person look as if he or she was of a darker tone or from a particular ethnic background. This is black paint.
So how does one overlook or rationalize the absurdity of Trudeau’s act? You really can’t. But forgiveness should be possible.
As the social constructivist project concedes, we human beings are subjects of our time and immediate environment. There is a reason most people who were born in Saudi Arabia in the 1990’s are Muslims, or many people raised in Texas in the 1970’s have a thing for firearms and the rights to carry one. And it’s not genetics. As hard as we try, except the very best of us, we always tend to succumb to the common behavioral patterns and identity schemas of our immediate zeitgeist.
Let’s be honest. Have our views of Muslims, Jews, Whites, Blacks, Homosexuals and the Environment been static and unchanging? No. And this usually has a lot more to do with external factors than we would like to believe.
Germany had to adapt to this very human problem in the post-Nazi era. So did Americans after the 1960’s: you would be surprised the views many living Americans have held in the past. After all, not everyone living is on the right side of history. Infact, almost half aren’t in most cases.
Many of the proponents who have spoken so openly in support of the victims during the recent #MeToo movement were lipsealed just a decade ago. They found the courage to speak up. But most found courage only when their views had developed to a certain point and coincided with others around them. Time and space.
Trudeau, a schoolteacher during the time these pictures was taken, was a member of the society around him. As were we all. We knew, or thought differently about many things that we respect and treat delicately today. Like climate change. Gender. Other religions.
But we eventually outgrew these early biases and views. Not just because of our own inherent wisdom. But because we developed as a society.
Let’s not be naive. Let’s forgive — and move on. There is a Trudeau in every one of us, in one way or another.