A year ago today, the Liberal Party of Canada won a big election victory.
One year later, what do we know?
We know that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his party are still very popular. Polls say so. Against his opposition – both essentially leaderless, both seemingly directionless – he seems unbeatable.
We know that, when compared to the ugly election taking place to the south, Trudeau’s “sunny ways” still works. When we are obliged to consider the relative merits of the likes of Republican candidate Donald Trump, Trudeau can’t help but look good.
We know that he has done many of the things he said he would do. He said he’d stop bombing the Islamic State, he said he’d admit thousands of Syrian refugees, he said he’d run deficits. Despite predictions of calamity, he did all those things and his popularity soared.
We know that some of the things he said he’d do – like fixing Bill C-51 (anti-terror legislation), or restoring home mail delivery, or keeping deficits modest and a middle-class tax cut revenue-neutral – he just hasn’t. He has plenty of time left, of course, but some big promises haven’t been kept – and a few have been broken.
We know that he is not perfect, of course. He makes mistakes – sometimes big ones. He seems to have a tin ear about those perpetual Liberal twins, arrogance and entitlement.
We know that he brilliantly campaigned from the left, as Liberals have been known to do, and has mainly governed from the right. As Liberals do. It has enraged his opponents, on left and right, but it sure hasn’t hurt him.
That’s what we know. There’ll be lots of coverage as Trudeau makes the rounds of the media, celebrating the first year.
But here’s what I know, one year later: I don’t give a damn about any of that stuff. I don’t care.
Here’s what I care about: a year ago, Trudeau said that his biggest priority was improving the lives of First Nations in Canada. He said that over and over. In his throne speech, that solemn vow was the centrepiece. He promised First Nations “recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.”
And, a year later, almost to the day of his big win, a 10-year-old indigenous child committed suicide in northern Saskatchewan.
The media – preoccupied as we are with Trump and marking anniversaries of elections – barely noticed. Try to find the story about that dead child in Google. It will take you a while. It did me.
I have two observations.
One, there is nothing Trudeau is doing today – nothing – that should matter as much as a 10-year-old in Deschambault Lake committing suicide, because to her life isn’t worth living. It should get his full attention.
Two, when a 10-year-old girl ends her life – because we haven’t fulfilled our collective promise to her – there is no anniversary worth celebrating. None.
Because when something horrible like that still is happening in Canada, when the duty Justin Trudeau (and all of us) owe that child is unmet – well, it sure isn’t “2016,” is it? It sure isn’t “sunny ways,” is it? It’s the bloody dark ages.
And everyone who is decent knows that, too, one year later.
Warren Kinsella is a Canadian journalist, political adviser and commentator.
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