I think we can all agree that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent costume drama in India didn’t work out as well as must have been expected by his strategic brain trust.

Next trip, probably, Trudeau should just wear a nice pair of chinos and a soft white shirt. If he wants to give Conservatives conniptions, which is always fun to do, he can slip on some deck shoes and not wear any socks.

Maybe he can use one of his nice blue suits for more formal events — only with black shoes, please.

This said, I doubt much damage will be done by the unusual sartorial choices made by our young PM and his family during their weeklong official visit to India, which ended yesterday, notwithstanding the state of generalized apoplexy his clothing selection alone caused in Conservative circles.

As Conservatives must be starting to realize, now that their voices are growing hoarse from their first round of screeching about Trudeau’s fashion choices, there are enough pictures of their own beloved Stephen Harper dressed up in lame costumes for them to think about just letting this part of the story rest.

At least Trudeau looks like he’s enjoying himself when he dresses up. Give it a generation or two and this will seem as charming as his late dad’s famous pirouette behind the Queen, which those of us who were around at the time will recall also threw the Conservatives of the day into their characteristic state of perpetual fury.

By contrast, with the exception of when he was playing soldier in a flight jacket or a Kevlar vest, Harper always looked like a spoiled child on the verge of breaking into a tantrum when he appeared in costume. Who can forget the petulant look on the last Conservative PM’s face in that famous photo in cowboy gear at the Calgary Stampede? His expression seemed to say: “Why do I have to wear this stupid hat? I hate you, Mommy!”

Anyway, it’ll be on policy choices that the Trudeau Government stands or falls with Canadian voters, regardless of the Conservative efforts to make couture an issue. And while there’s plenty to criticize in the Liberal policy book, taken as a package Canadians don’t yet seem that dissatisfied with what they’re getting.

Let’s face it, just the fact that Trudeau is not Harper makes it easy for voters to forgive a multitude of sins.

You may think Trudeau’s sartorial choices were disrespectful to his hosts, but I would suggest most people we are hearing that from are partisan Conservatives here at home, many the sort who can’t be counted on to show much cultural sensitivity themselves, or professional pundits, who are always looking for ways to torque up their stories.

I suspect that in India — as opposed to here in Canada — the Trudeau Family’s effort to go full Bollywood will be viewed more kindly by ordinary citizens who hear about it, as an eccentric but friendly gesture, not the grave insult Conservative politicians and Canadian pundits are trying to spin it into.

That said, the PM would probably be well advised not to make a practice of playing Mr. Dressup on future foreign visits — except to Calgary, of course, where as both Harper and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley now know, pointy boots, high heels and a white cowboy hat, worn the right way ’round, are obligatory. (Cowtown, you may say, is not a foreign country. Here in Edmonton, that’s a matter of opinion.)

So, to reprise, notwithstanding the conclusion of the entire conservative commentariat — including the New York Times, for heaven’s sake — Trudeau’s fashion choices will likely do him and his government little harm, if any.

As for the business of the convicted attempted murderer who was invited to a reception with the PM in New Delhi, that is a matter serious enough to warrant a separate post, coming soon.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga’s blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Image: UN_photo

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David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe...