Alberta Premier Danielle Smith tries to snatch back her hand from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith tries to snatch back her hand from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Credit: Twitter

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looked like the smooth old political pro he has become Tuesday as he laid out his health care deal for Canada’s perpetually dissatisfied and mostly Conservative premiers. 

Try as they might to look offended and unhappy with the 10-year, $196.1-billion cash deal the PM had just offered them (only a few strings attached) what are they going to do about it? 

I’ll tell you what they’re going to do. They’re going to take it. They’re going to like it. They’re going to complain with some justice it wasn’t enough. And then they’re going to blame Mr. Trudeau for causing inflation by spending too much. Yadda-yadda

It’s just not going to work out very well for them if they turn down the cash and then cry about it, is it? 

Mr. Trudeau knows that, too.

That may explain why he looked so serene and relaxed in the news clips yesterday. Maybe even a little mischievous as he appeared to gently troll Alberta’s Danielle Smith, who acted like a sullen teenager who didn’t want to shake his hand. 

After all, he’s been around long enough now to understand that this is how Canadian federalism works. Indeed, he’s been prime minister quite a bit longer than any currently sitting Canadian premier. This fall it’ll be eight years.

That compares to five years for Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe and 81 days for B.C.’s David Eby. All the others are somewhere in between. Smith has been on the job for three months and three weeks.

I know, I know. The last couple of polls suggest Pierre Pollievre, the deeply flawed and annoyingly nasal federal Conservative leader, could win an election if it were called today or tomorrow. And the heavy-duty pontificators at the Globe and Mail and the National Post are certain that, this time, Trudeau’s time is really running out. 

And it could be. But an election isn’t going to be called today or tomorrow, is it? 

Trudeau has been prime minister almost as long as Stephen Harper had that job.

And when he goes – which may well be not nearly as soon as all those hysterical Trudeau haters from Alberta, many of them elderly Boomer males whose problems with the PM merit some serious psychologizing – he’ll likely have been prime minster longer than Harper was. 

This is probably small comfort to folks who can’t stop screeching about how Trudeau used to be a drama teacher, but Harper’s time in office felt like forever to some of us too. So don’t worry, we feel your pain. Really.

Anyway, the last person I’d listen to for political advice if I were Trudeau is the likes of his shirttail relative Andrew Coyne. And the last person I’d pay attention to for a political prediction is oilpatch bazillionaire and social media drama queen W. Brett Wilson. 

Smith obviously realized at the last second that a photograph of her shaking the PM’s hand could be deadly if her allies in the United Conservative Party, the ones who turned on the once triumphant Jason Kenney and ran him out of town on a rail (metaphorically speaking), could as easily turn on her if she doesn’t do their bidding. 

She tried to yank it back. Too late. The film clip’s hilarious

She needs to worry. Look what her party did with a similar shot of once and possibly future premier Rachel Notley shaking Trudeau’s hand and smiling – like any reasonable person would have done. 

Oh well, to correct that impression, there’s that famous Canadian Press photo of Notley looking like she’d really rather not shake either

Also, there’s another from the same source of Kenney and the PM’s unwanted hand

It’s an Alberta thing, like our neighbours to the south putting their hands over their hearts when they ask God to bless America. 

Sooner or later, though, you get caught shaking a Trudeau’s hand – or, worse, raising a glass of champers with one like premier Peter Lougheed did in 1981 – and someone gets a picture. Then the meme-makers go to work. 

David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...