Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pauses while speaking in Ottawa Sept. 5, 2022. CNS photo/Patrick Doyle, Reuters

Editorial: ‘Let him hear’

  • October 5, 2023

October will be a listening time for Catholics worldwide as the Synod on Synodality rolls on in Rome.

Our earnest hope is that one prominent Canadian Catholic in particular will use the month to develop greater awareness of voices beyond those in his own head.

We recently commended Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who insists on exercising his baptismal promise of Communion despite his aggressive anti-Church policies, for counselling a group of progressives to meet people where they live. Well, Prime Minister, heal thyself. Or, far more importantly, hear thyself as others hear you.

From the outset of his administration dating back to 2015, the PM has publicly demonstrated a distressing aural intolerance of every point of view that doesn’t rigidly align with his preconceptions, or those of his favoured interest groups. Such ineffective disagreeableness is no mere function of hyper-partisanship. It is a failure of leadership. It is antithetical to the traditional centre-commanding style of the Liberal Party of Canada, which has historically governed by adopting and adapting the best ideas of Opposition parties as its own.

Proof, if any were needed, was presented Sept. 28 by Fr. Raymond de Souza in a National Post column providing a coroner’s account of the “political bodies” that have piled up in eight years of Trudeau II governance.

“The tally is: attorney general, president of the treasury board, principal secretary, clerk of the privy council, finance minister, two chiefs of defence staff, ambassador to China, a current governor general, a former governor general,” Fr. de Souza wrote. “Who’s left? The Speaker of the House of Commons. Out went Anthony Rota on (Sept. 27). Is there anyone left to drive the bus?”

Keep in mind all above were, however briefly, the PM’s loyal allies, appointed by him before being driven off. Some of the departures, in fairness, were the inevitable churn of high pressure politics. But at least one of the lost, Jody Wilson-Raybould, said in her book she knew the prime minister was trying to get her to lie for him in order to protect himself, which she would not do.

It’s no shock hearing that routine prevarication prevails at the highest levels of politics. What’s democratically harrowing is our sitting prime minister apparently having learned nothing from conducting himself with obliviousness about who he is speaking to, what he is saying, and the damaging effects of his words.

So, flashing forward, we come to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30 when the PM, for no fathomable reason beyond rhetorical pandering to a tiny fragment of radicalized Indigenous politicos, felt compelled to express his personal sadness about the growth of so-called “denialism” vis-à-vis the Indian Residential School system. It takes the breath away that he would blithely use (or approve publication of) such a word mere days after his own implication in the catastrophic scandal of a former Nazi soldier being obliviously feted in Canada’s Parliament. The stench of that snafu, which permeates the PM as head of government regardless of his attempts to wash away his responsibility, reminded us of the very history from which the term “denialism” emerged.

It is a gross defamation of all Canadians to impute such despicable conduct to a substantive, much less increasing, cohort of the population. Even as some kind of remote-comparison metaphor, it is a horrible, wounding thing to say, God forbid doing so in the name of Truth and Reconciliation. At a purely pragmatic level, the question arises: “What on earth did Canada’s prime minister hope to achieve by saying what he said?” Yet PM he is, and it is not up to The Catholic Register to presume to advise Canadians in their democratic choice of whether he remains so. We can, however,  pray that as the Synod on Synodality spreads the message of listening far and wide, so the Holy Spirit will guide Justin Trudeau to the wisdom Our Saviour taught us: “He who has ears, let him hear.”

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