When it comes to what Justin Trudeau did – and didn’t do – last week, there are no words.
But this is a column, so words are sort of a must.
So. Where to begin.
Although the prime minister’s office had suggested Trudeau was spending the day speaking to residential school survivors, he did not attend any National Day for Truth and Reconciliation events in the Tofino area.
Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council vice-president Mariah Charleson told Black Press Media after the rally in Tofino that she was disappointed – but not surprised – that Trudeau was nowhere to be seen.
“It’s disappointing, but it’s absolutely not shocking and we have to demand more from the head of a government that continues to say that reconciliation is a top priority. We need to see action to match those words,” Charleson said.
“He could have chosen today to make a huge statement and to be there to witness, to listen, to open his heart and open his mind to the survivors’ stories.”
To say Trudeau has a history of being tone deaf is an understatement and this is just the latest, and undoubtedly most egregious, example.
But what disturbs me most about this is that it belies the real attitude of the drama teacher-cum-national leader.
He simply doesn’t care. Orange Shirt Day was all about him and his cold beer on his palatial beachfront patio.
Forget about commemorating the estimated 150,000 Indigenous children who were taken from their families and forced to attend residential schools, many of them suffering physical and sexual abuse, malnutrition and neglect and more than 6,500 believed to have died – a day off is a day off, right?
And to make this slap in the face sting even more, consider how hard Trudeau and his team tried to hide his terribly-timed getaway.
Trudeau’s itinerary for the day initially said he was in “private meetings” in Ottawa. That was later updated on the Prime Minister’s Office website to say he was in private meetings in Tofino.
After being cornered by media, his office finally confirmed Trudeau went to Tofino to spend a few days with this family.
But a spokesman said just because Trudeau was not in Ottawa doesn’t mean he’s taking a holiday.
“He wasn’t on a beach,” Alex Wellstead told the Canadian Press, a quote that was shared thousands of times on social media with photos of Trudeau walking where? You guessed it – on the beach.
“He wasn’t on a beach” said Trudeau spokesman Alex Wellstead pic.twitter.com/B0fQHhG5de
— Tom Parkin (@TomPark1n) October 1, 2021
To cap it all off, Trudeau finally did what he does best, other than give hugs and show off his colourful socks, of course – he grovelled. An apology was offered to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc for not attending their National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Day ceremony, despite being invited.
Then he put on his black face…. I mean sad face…. and apologized to national media Wednesday morning, saying he regrets it and that it was a “mistake.”
"Travelling on September 30th was a mistake, and I regret it," says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about his trip to Tofino, B.C., for a family vacation on Canada's first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/YzVHmBtxvb
— CPAC (@CPAC_TV) October 6, 2021
What a disgrace.
So what is it? On National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, did our prime minister simply “experience it differently?”
Or is he selfish? Tone deaf? Ill-advised? Or “light headed” as Bloc Leader Yves-Francois Blanche called him on Tuesday?
It’s all of the above.
And it should infuriate us all.
Especially when you remember that $600 million was just spent on a election that did nothing but stroke a pretty boy’s ego while First Nations communities across Canada continue to go without clean drinking water.
Indigenous Canadians should be outraged. And those of you who continue to vote this phony into office should give your heads a shake.
Beau Simpson is editor of the Now-Leader. Email him at email@example.com.