Martha Hall Findlay just can’t seem to let it go. More than 10 days after she took a swipe at fellow federal Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau for his privileged upbringing — and apologized for it — she can’t stop poking the issue with a stick, even while denying that this is what she’s doing.
It all started at a leadership debate on Feb. 16, when the crowd booed Hall Findlay for telling Trudeau: “You keep referring to the middle class. You yourself have admitted that you actually don’t belong to the middle class. I find it a little challenging to understand how you would understand the real challenges facing Canadians.”
The next day, she apologized. She said Trudeau told her there was no need for an apology.
“It’s done … We’ve all moved on, really,” she said on CTV’s Question Period.
Really? It appears Hall Findlay hasn’t moved on at all. At a recent meeting with the Ottawa Citizen’s editorial board, she said: “The party has to make a decision on far more substantial and fundamental decisions than celebrity. There’s no such thing as a silver bullet. This is a really big decision, and it’s absolutely a question of substance and experience. It’s also not about celebrity. Fame is fickle.”
This week, when Hall Findlay met with the Calgary Herald editorial board, she said pretty much the same thing: “It’s not about celebrity. It’s not about silver bullets.” Later during the meeting, she made a point of stating that she, Trudeau and their fellow contender, former astronaut Marc Garneau, worked together. “This isn’t personal,” she said, though it is quite obvious that it is indeed personal.
Her comments about celebrity, silver bullets and substance were clearly aimed at Trudeau, reinforced by her invitation to the editorial board to compare her resumé and Trudeau’s. Garneau didn’t come in for the same treatment; in fact, he wasn’t mentioned much at all, except in the context of his resumé, along with her own, being superior to Trudeau’s.
Hall Findlay also said she would never criticize someone for things that are beyond their control — meaning the life circumstances that person was born into. But that’s exactly what she came across as doing.
She would have done much better to take the high road — focusing strictly on her own platform and sticking to a discussion of the issues.
All this talk about celebrity and silver bullets smacks of more than a hint of desperation. It also promulgates a stereotyped view of celebrity status that deserves to be retired. If anyone can attest to the fact that money and power don’t buy happiness, it’s Justin Trudeau. At the age of 12, he suffered through the very public divorce of his parents, Margaret and Pierre, and Justin could not have been immune to the headlines about his mother’s escapades during his father’s years in office. Pierre had custody of the children after the divorce.
Then, in 1998, Justin lost his brother, Michel, who was killed in an avalanche at Kokanee Lake. He turned his grief into an opportunity to help others through his work with the Canadian Avalanche Association.
So, in spite of the wealth — and the tragedy — that surrounded him, Trudeau did not go the way of so many children who are overwhelmed by their parents’ celebrity status. He grew up to be a perfectly normal young man. There were no scrapes with the law, no addictions, no sordid stories of a wild or dissolute life. Trudeau became a teacher, he got married and had kids, and he ran for office. That speaks more of substance than if he sported a resumé full of blue-chip jobs, for the latter says nothing about strength of character and the ability to overcome personal adversity.
In the end, Trudeau rose above all the trappings of celebrity status, when he had plenty of opportunity to sink below.
Hall Findlay should stop speaking about silver bullets — her sniping at Trudeau, under the guise of not sniping at him, only means she risks shooting herself in the foot.
© Copyright 2013