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Surf’s up! The Tofino Imperative

TORONTO – What happens when one consciously or inadvertently causes one’s image to take a beating. Your enemies will gloat with delight. Your friends will suffer in astonishment, when that “je ne sais quoi” moment happens to wash away your entire legacy and leave you with “that stain” that will forever define you and your hard-earned reputation… if it matters.

That moment happened to Justin Trudeau on September 30. Yes, that was the first occasion to celebrate the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation with Canada’s Aboriginal communities. Surely the country’s Leader/Prime Minister would find some time to attend, if not collaborate in the organization and delivery of, a commemorative event.

Under his administration, it could be argued that giant steps had been made in policy pronouncements and funding initiatives (mid and long term) in recognition of cultural and legal wrongs committed on Canada’s Aboriginals. In fact, under his government, various “church organizations” were made to bear the moral brunt for the “colonialist-type” actions demanded at the behest Canadian governments in the past.

But no. The Prime Minister was nowhere to be found. Let us correct that, he and his family were found to have departed that very morning, flying – via government aircraft, therefore with a very flexible timetable – to a popular tourist destination, Tofino, British Columbia. Apparently, surfing is at its best at this time of year and the clock was ticking. Or so say his numerous detractors.

His supporters provided some feint-hearted defenses referencing the need to unwind after a stressful election and the need for a serene environment as he prepares for structuring a cabinet and a Speech from the Throne. But his staff had already issued a statement that he was in Ottawa that morning. It was only partially correct. He was departing from Ottawa early that day and took the occasion to issue his statement on the Day’s commemorative events – which, as it turned out, he would/could not attend.

Who thought up his schedule? Surely the first duty of the Leader’s entourage is to protect the Leader and his reputation. Trudeau’s absence may not indicate personal or governmental indifference to the Truth and Reconciliation Movement but it will prompt questions in the nature of: “what was that all about?”

His political adversaries, already embroiled in political cannibalism, are already sarcastically saying that at least he decided to stay in Canada while attending to the “Tofino Imperative”. That appears to be the new phrase to describe insincerity and preference for any alternative. Not a great legacy.

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