“Hey, buddy,” Chuck smiled as he leaned across the fence, “you’re goanna find this hard to believe, but I’m beginning to feel sorry for your boy Justin. I mean, the whole world’s jumping on his bones over this black-face thing.
“Cripes,” he continued, “even that disgusting Jeffery Epstein is getting better press than your man.”
“Yes, I know,” I sighed. “Seems Mr. Dressup is being hoisted with his own petard. You know, of course, Justin Trudeau’s famous for his costumes.
“He was a popular drama teacher in his day. He has dressed up as an Indigenous chief, an Irish leprechaun, a cowboy, a Sikh, a Scot in a full highland kit, a eye-patched pirate, a French musketeer, you name it. The guy’s a drama queen, what can I say.”
“I know you love the guy,” Chuck smiled, “but surely even you must admit it’s a pretty unthinking, uncaring act. You can’t think of voting for a racist like that.”
“Well,” I replied thoughtfully, “judging by acts rather than by media hysteria, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a politician anywhere who’s more dedicated to racial harmony than Pierre Trudeau’s son.
“So, yeah,” I continued, “I don’t find the evidence against him compelling. But given all this fuss, I’m beginning to believe you’re right about growing intolerance – nobody has a sense of humour any more.”
“A new Age of Intolerance, buddy,” Chuck jumped in. “It’s all about lefty identity politics. And they’re coming for us, believe me – we’re condemned before we open our mouths.”
“Okay, but Chuck, intolerance is not only a left-wing issue. It seems to be growing across the board.”
“Okay, okay, yeah, but the left thinks their s— doesn’t stink. That wisenheimer NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, has gone out of his way to make sure Maxime Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party, doesn’t get to speak at the political leaders’ debates.”
“Well,” I said, “Bernier holds some pretty strong anti-immigrant views. I’m sure he believes sincerely that the old euro-centric Canada should be preserved. And many people think that’s racist and wrong.”
“And,” snapped Chuck, “more than a few of us conservatives think he’s right.”
“Okay, let’s not get in a big argument here,” I interjected. “If we’ve learned anything from our own history, Chuck, it’s that it all works out in the end. There was a time when the Irish and eastern Europeans were thought to be unacceptable in Canada, outsiders who could never fit in.
“Give ’em a generation or two and all the so-called differences vanish. We know this – you’ve known it for a long time.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” said Chuck. “I had to hold my nose back in the ’60s when those Bohunk ‘jokes’ were thought to be funny.”
“Seriously, Chuck, I’m worried about the growing divide in society. Honestly, I’m a lot more worried about societal disintegration than I am about climate change.”
“Well,” launched Chuck, “you can blame fanatics like Greta Thunberg for one.”
“What do you have against her?” I responded. “She’s just a kid who’s scared of climate change destroying her future.”
“Stalin in pig-tails, if you ask me,” said Chuck. “Your family didn’t live through the Red Terror like my grandparents did back in the Soviet days. These wide-eyed idealists are dangerous, even if they’re sincere.
“I’m a one-nation conservative,” he intoned, now almost teary-eyed. “And I fear for the future of this country if we shatter into a thousand separate warring identities … no matter how justified their grievances are.
“I’m not saying black lives don’t matter,” said Chuck, almost levitating at this point. “I’m saying if each and every one of us is not focused on making the whole of society work, we’re doomed.”
I remained silent – I certainly didn’t want to interrupt him at this point. I could feel his absolute love of country and his sincerity.
“You’re right there Chuck,” I said. “We can agree on that for sure. And I think Justin is just the man to heal the wounds. After all, he’s been dressing up and imitating so many of our different cultural groups that, you know, he identifies with everybody.”
“Forget it Buddy, you’re not getting off the hook that easy,” said Chuck. “The question you Liberals have to answer is this: if Justin Trudeau is such a great dramatist, is he simply play-acting his role as prime minister?”
“Well the election’s coming,” I said, squirming, wondering if Chuck was right. “We’ll know soon enough.”
Robert McGarvey is an economic historian and former managing director of Merlin Consulting, a London, U.K.-based consulting firm. Robert’s most recent book is Futuromics: A Guide to Thriving in Capitalism’s Third Wave.