A thousand ways to say you’re sorry

“I’m more than willing to admit that, like any good teacher, I’ve made mistakes”

Now is the summer of our discontent – that would be this summer in Canada, the U.S, the U.K., Hong Kong, Venezuela – you can read and hear all about the world trouble spots with ease.

But North America is where the daily diet of dramatic headlines of interest come from for most Canadian news junkies.

Donald Trump, the unpredictable and unpopular U.S. president was on a bit of a roll last week – and while he obviously did not want to do it, a bleak-looking Justin Trudeau appeared on CBC-TV within two days to respond negatively to Trump’s doubled down “racist” trashing of “the Squad,” the four defiant Democratic congresswomen who have been front and centre of severe public, highly-publicized criticism of his policies and practices (women of colour has to be said once, but everybody knows that).

Canada’s prime minister, who has his own political and personal truck-load of troubling domestic and foreign issues, clearly did not want to be seen piling on Trump, but clearly he knew many Canadians were expecting – nay more like demanding – his appropriate reaction and followup to his earlier more careful, mildly-evasive commentary.

With his federal election campaign start-up announcement expected at any time, coupled with his meeting with European Union leaders, he had little choice but to join their condemnation of Trump’s latest faux pas.

He would take little cheer from the results of a same-day Ipsos poll stating a majority of Canadians say they want change in Ottawa, with 37 per cent saying they’d vote Conservative if a federal election were held tomorrow, compared to 31 per cent who would vote for the Liberals.

The poll also showed Conservative leader Andrew Scheer picking up the approval of 36 per cent of respondents, compared to the prime minister’s dwindling 32 per cent.

And I’m not sure he didn’t make another complementary error when he told supports he had made mistakes in his first term as PM.

“Certainly,” he told the Canadian Teachers Federation forum “I’m more than willing to admit that, like any good teacher, I’ve made mistakes and I have learned a lot through this process.”

However, he started out that way on the day he was sworn in as Canada’s 23rd prime minister. “We know that you do not expect us to be perfect.” He has lived up to that in spades.

I tend to agree with CBC Parliamentary reporter Aaron Wherry, that perhaps owning up to the obvious might not necessarily be the right start to the 2019 campaign. Wherry wrote Trudeau has “apologized repeatedly for his charge across the aisle to break up some tomfoolery in the House of Commons in 2016.

He said “sorry” after his vacation with the Aga Khan was found to have violated conflict of interest laws. He has acknowledged his inability to tell a joke. He has said he should have known about the “erosion of trust” between his office and Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Harsh reminders of the Trudeau credibility gaps.

Jim Carr, his trusty Minister of Trade Diversification, who might add Minister of Diversion to his title, always seems to step up to the cameras shortly after a Trudeau “slip” to help change the subject and explain how well the country is doing with job creation, unemployment and of course, international trade.

We can expect with the election build-up and the summertime combining, the “mistakes” will begin to fade in significance as the positive rhetoric ramps up.

We certainly haven’t heard much from Maryam Monsef, the MP entrusted with the Liberals pledge to reform the Canadian electoral system in Parliament, an election mandate priority that slowly petered out when the Liberals announced they would no longer pursue reform – the following year, as I recall – being one of the first real indicators that the new Liberal government was having a difficult time with its promises.

But, all that and much more will be rationalized in the weeks leading up to October and both Liberals and Conservatives try to gauge the extent of the dependency of that 37 per cent poll referred to earlier.

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