Waiting in the Wings

It’s not only Justin Trudeau’s deservedly vaunted oratory that rebuts his detractors characterizations of him as a dilettante of theatre, but his command of foreshadow, as witnessed in the unfolding drama of his ministerial ascendence. He is, after all, the lead character in his own self-fulfilling bedtime story. A national lullaby whispered into the ear of Canada’s tolerant and Harper-weary citizenry. And we do the former drama instructor a disservice by failing to see the great portent in the seeming trivia of his growing stardom.

It should be clear to any keen spectator (for that, to be sure, is our collective role in this story) that the recent shearing of Trudeau’s slightly-too-youthful locks not only dramatized his dynastic ambitions, but in the best traditions of tribal (and Liberal) allegiance, represented a publicly celebrated disfiguring of idealism.

So it will come as no surprise when Trudeau’s agenda squares as neatly into the status quo as his corporately approved Super Cut. If you are among the supposed throngs clutching to the hope of a renaissance in Liberal forbearance–in a properly tepid, Canadian version of Obama-lite–then you have missed the cue to the dramatic twist in the story. The surprise ending where Trudeau’s main accomplishment proves to be his usefulness in building up, marshalling, then draining away the progressive energies of the country. In fact, not only will Trudeau’s stage-craft allow him to feed us reformist platitudes with convincing probity, but we’ll even admire the magnanimous gesture of doing so with his very own silver spoon.

It doesn’t take a cynic to accuse the Liberal party of leveraging Canada’s constant embarrassment of lack of star power, as substitute for a platform. Not when its marquee act refuses to play against type, and seems so predictably at home in his role as heir apparent. The Liberal’s sole strategy next election is the satisfaction of a happy ending. Confident in the public’s continued suspension of disbelief, and their leader’s innate right to the business side of the proscenium arch of governance.

The curtain between a people and its representatives does not merely conceal the backstage wrangling of policy and partisanship, which we expect and routinely forgive. But it is the dramatist’s promise of a good story and a handsome leading man. It is a silken rampart who’s effect is to quiet the mind in anticipation and reverence. And so long as the curtain exists, so long as we remain in our velvet seats applauding or sometimes heckling, so long as we believe in the fiction of a performer who, like most, is best at playing himself, we will always eventually face the moment of fantasy’s end: when the house lights come up and the hero takes his bow, in apology for the shared realization that none of it was true.


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