As the present now will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’ …
— Bob Dylan (age 73)
If anyone has the right to be bitter about bright young Liberal leaders with good looks, great hair and supposedly thin resumes like those of New Brunswick premier-elect Brian Gallant and You-Know-Who, I guess it ought to be the not-quite-sixty-something Thomas Mulcair.
The highly accomplished Mulcair, after all — who is credited by no less an authority than former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (age 75) with being the best Opposition leader in Canada since John Diefenbaker, which is no mean praise for those of us old enough to remember The Chief — is seemingly being eclipsed by this trend as much as any politician.
But Mulcair, who will be 60 in exactly one month, just keeps beavering away in the hope and expectation that hard work, persistence and a razor-sharp inquisitorial style in Question Period will pay off in the end.
Maybe it’s because he used to be a Liberal and therefore knows something us non-former-Grits do not. More likely it’s just that you’ve got to be an optimist to be a New Democrat, as we Alberta Knee-Dippers have been proving all the way back to the Calgary Manifesto of 1932.
Instead, it seems that it is the Conservatives, still enjoying the perquisites of power, who are reacting with fury, hatred, panic and vitriol to the phenomenon of appealing young Liberal leaders doing well at the polls and the polling stations. The Liberal they’re most infuriated with, of course, despite yesterday’s foot stomping and breath holding about Gallant’s election victory, is federal Leader Justin Trudeau (who will be 43 on Christmas Day).
Consider the bitter screed in yesterday’s National Post, the publication founded by permanent Canadian resident Conrad Black (age 70), by columnist and commentary editor Kelly McParland. (I could find no age for McParland — perhaps that’s information he guards closely, as is his right — but judging from his on-line photographs he must be almost as old a wheeze as me. Either that, or he really should make some lifestyle changes.)
Regardless, McParland’s diatribe sounded for all the world like that of an angry old man infuriated that the same old obfuscatory Tory tricks are not working any more. He raged against New Brunswick and Ontario voters’ lack of seriousness — read willingness to vote Conservative. (“Canadians want to quit worrying and be happy.”)
He screeched at them for their coolness toward Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the old sourpuss (seemingly 65 although only 55) of 24 Sussex Drive. (“They don’t want to hear about restraint or challenges or the need to persevere. They want a vacation. They want to be young again.”)
And Gallant’s relatively young age, seemingly, almost moved him to a paroxysm of frustration. (“You don’t know whether to shake his hand or buy him a new scooter.”)
Sticking loyally to the Harper PMO’s main talking point, McParland assailed the resumes of both Trudeau and Gallant: “At 32, Brian Gallant, the premier-elect, could be Justin Trudeau’s younger brother. To say his resume is ‘slim’ would be an understatement. He spent a short stint as a lawyer in Moncton, but otherwise has been running for office since he was 24.”
OK, let’s make just one point about that: Other than being on Reach for the Top and being a professional politician since the age of 26, unless you also count being a member of the Young Liberals’ Club in high school, Prime Minister Harper’s resume makes Gallant’s seem hefty.
He got a job in the mailroom at his dad’s company in 1978, for crying out loud. How long he stuck around seems to have been excised from his online resumes. After that, he got a couple of economics degrees from the University of Calgary’s Political Creation Science Department, best known as the market fundamentalist Canadian equivalent of Oral Roberts University. And when he wasn’t running for office, he worked as an agitator for extremist market fundamentalist Astro-Turf groups. That’s it!
This is not to say that Harper’s political accomplishments are either inconsequential or came easily. Of course not.
But for the life of me, I cannot see how they are any different from the political accomplishments of successful young politicians like Trudeau or Gallant — who will be the youngest premier in Canadian history, by a month, when he is sworn into office.
By contrast to the PM, Gallant managed to get through law school, which I would suggest is considerably more of an accomplishment than getting a “Calgary School” BA and MA from ideological friends and fellow travellers in the faculty.
By contrast to both, Trudeau, who has Bachelors degrees in literature and education from two different universities, has worked as a teacher, for heaven’s sake, which is as real a job as you can get. If the Conservative Party wishes to demean him as a “drama teacher,” he can be confident that most Canadians don’t seem to be buying it, and for good reason.
That’s the Conservative way, though, isn’t it? If you can’t get anywhere with the facts, make up new facts. And if that doesn’t work, start spewing hatred and abuse.
Speaking of which, at least McParland’s sour whinging sounds pretty level-headed compared to commentator, if that’s the word, Ezra Levant’s increasingly bizarre and obsessive rants on the so-called Sun News Network on the topic of Trudeau’s parents. It’s actually kind of sad to see someone come unstuck in public as Levant, circa 42, appears to be doing.
Meanwhile, if cranky old Canadians like McParland and some of the other columnists he supervises at the National Pest just can’t stand the idea of a politician who looks young and has nice hair, they should think about voting for Mulcair. He may be old and cranky too, but he’s also smart, accomplished and better spoken than any other federal party leader.
One way or another, eventually the Pest’s opinion providers are going to have to reconcile themselves to the fact that the times, they are a-changin’.
They certainly shouldn’t be fooled into thinking Harper’s resume is weighty enough not to float away on the first gentle puff of breeze.
It’s as thin as a single sheet of paper! The man hasn’t held a real job since he left the mailroom in 1979 or whenever the heck it was!
This post by David Climenhaga (age 62) is also found on his blog, Alberta Diary.