Every now and then with Justin Trudeau the mask slips: when that bottomless reservoir of self-assurance of his, which in his best moments presents itself as graciousness and magnanimity, instead bubbles up as arrogance and hubris. For some reason this seems most often to happen when he’s abroad. Remember that post-election boast to the BBC about having left his critics “in my dust”?
This time, it was in the middle of his speech to the annual conference of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. For the most part the speech was chamber of commerce-stye boosterism, mixed with the usual assortment of buzzwords that festoon most of Trudeau’s speeches: diversity, infrastructure, middle class, etc.
But then there was that line that must have seemed too good to resist. “My predecessor,” he began, “wanted you to know Canada for its resources. I want you to know Canadians for our resourcefulness.”
If ever there were a phrase for which the advice given to countless writers, to “kill your darlings,” might have been devised, this was it. There is always something classless and off-key, for starters, in taking a shot at your defeated opponent overseas — outside the family, as it were.
Moreover, this seemingly offhand bit of wordplay bespeaks a number of other attitudes and assumptions, none of them attractive. Consider, at its heart, the contrast he wants his listeners to take away, between “resources” and “resourcefulness.”
The canard is so common, the underlying assumption so entrenched among those of a certain set, that many readers may have missed it. But of course: resources are just something we pull out of the dirt. That’s easy. Any idiot could do that. If that was the view the rest of the world had of us — simple resource extractors — well, Trudeau would soon put that right. He would remake Canada’s economic brand in his own image: stylish, hip, clev— er, well, resourceful, at any rate.
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