Justin Trudeau: The Peter Pan Prime Minister

trudeau-supermanJ.M. Barrie’s 1911 novel, Peter Pan, is about a boy who never grows up. He is described as “perfectly lovely”, “dreadfully ignorant”, and loves “showing off.”1 The character of Peter is not unlike Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada. Similar to Peter, Trudeau is strikingly handsome, lacks basic knowledge and loves to be the center of attention.

Justin Trudeau craves the media spotlight. Capitalizing on his good looks and personal charm, he has taken selfies with thousands of Canadians, more than any politician in Canadian history.2 In 2015, the Liberal Party made Trudeau’s penchant for selfies part of their election strategy by selling selfie sticks with the party logo on them.3 One of Trudeau’s most infamous selfies is when he posed for a photo with a topless young woman at Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade.4 Trudeau takes selfies not just as a courtesy to someone who requests a photo, but as a deliberate strategy to capture media and public attention.

In addition to selfies, Justin Trudeau seeks media attention by wearing costumes in public. On his February 2018 trip to India, he wore a series of traditional Indian suits, even dressing as a bridegroom for a wedding, for which he was widely ridiculed.5 In 2017, he appeared in the House of Commons dressed like Clark Kent and unbuttoned his dress shirt to reveal a Superman T-shirt.6 At a 2017 NATO meeting in Brussels, he showed off a mismatched pair of coloured socks.7 Seeking media attention by wearing flamboyant clothing is not the behavior of a statesman. Like a Hollywood celebrity, Trudeau wears costumes to increase his popularity with younger voters.

Trudeau’s flamboyant style distracts Canadians from his lack of substance. Case in point: As Canada’s chief lawmaker, he doesn’t know what the nation’s laws are. Mary Dawson, the former Ethics Commissioner, found that Trudeau violated four sections of the Conflict of Interest Act by receiving free vacations to a private island in the Bahamas from the Aga Khan, whose private foundation was registered to lobby the government.8 Trudeau’s defense was that “it wasn’t considered that there would be an issue there.”9 In other words, he didn’t know that accepting gifts from someone who lobbies the government was illegal. A Prime Minister who breaks the law because he is ignorant of the law is incompetent.

Justin Trudeau doesn’t perform the normal duties of a Prime Minister. In her report on Trudeau’s ethics violations, Dawson said that Trudeau sees his role as Prime Minister as “ceremonial in nature” and that he doesn’t have business meetings with his cabinet ministers, but rather “relationship sessions.”10 Trudeau has given full authority to his cabinet ministers to make major decisions. This suggests that he doesn’t have the knowledge and/or ability to do his job.

Stephen Harper was right: Justin Trudeau is “just not ready”, and he never will be.11 A former drama teacher, Justin is an actor on a stage who is “pretending” to be Prime Minister. Rather than leading the country, he represents the country, the male equivalent of Miss Canada. The son of Pierre Eliot Trudeau, Canada’s 15th Prime Minister, Justin was able to ride on the coattails of his father’s last name and win the 2015 election. If Canadians elect him again in 2019, it will show that in the age of the Internet, style is more important than substance.

Notes

  1. M. Barrie, Peter Pan (Collins Classics, 2015), 7, 23, 35.
  2. Terry Pedwell, “’Selfies’ a new mainstay on election campaign trail,” CTV News, September 28, 2015, https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/election/selfies-a-new-mainstay-on-election-campaign-trail-1.2583928
  3. “Selfie Stick,” Botique Liberal, accessed March 6, 2018, https://boutique.liberal.ca/shop/accessories/selfie-stick/
  4. Katie Underwood, “Justin Trudeau posed with a topless woman — hooray!,” Chatelaine, August 6, 2015, http://www.chatelaine.com/living/justin-trudeau-posed-with-a-topless-woman-hooray/
  5. “Justin Trudeau’s ‘Bollywood’ wardrobe amuses Indians,” BBC News, February 22, 2018, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-43151115
  6. “Justin Trudeau: The Mr. Dressup prime minister,” Macleans, February 24, 2018, http://www.macleans.ca/multimedia/photo/the-mr-dressup-prime-minister/
  7. Vanessa Friedman, “Justin Trudeau’s Sock Diplomacy,” New York Times, June 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/fashion/socks-justin-trudeau-canada.html
  8. Catharine Tunney, “Trudeau ‘sorry’ for violating conflict laws with visits to Aga Khan’s island,” CBC News, December 20, 2017, http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-ethics-aga-khan-1.4458220
  9. Alex Boutilier and Bruce Campion-Smith, “Trudeau violated multiple conflict laws when he accepted family holiday to Aga Khan’s island: ethics commissioner,” Toronto Star, December 20, 2017, https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/12/20/trudeau-violated-conflict-of-interest-rules-with-vacation-to-aga-khans-island-ethics-commissioner-says.html
  10. “This Is How Justin Trudeau Sees His Job, According To Ethics Report.” Huffington Post, December 26, 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/12/26/this-is-how-justin-trudeau-sees-his-job-according-to-ethics-report_a_23317053/
  11. “The Interview,” YouTube, accessed March 20, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c86-9HitWg0

This Op-Ed was originally published in The Post Millennial.

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The Moral Argument Against Employment Equity

equityThe Employment Equity Act gives preferential treatment to “women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities” when applying for jobs that are federally regulated.

In other words, preferential treatment is given to anyone who isn’t a white male.

While there is a moral argument to be made for employment equity for persons with disabilities, the Employment Equity Act violates one of the most basic principles of justice: that everyone should be treated equally and not be discriminated against.

The Employment Equity Act is founded upon a premise which is impossible to prove: that economic inequality between different groups in society is primarily due to discrimination. This discrimination is often labelled as institutional racism: unconscious biases that people in power have against minority groups.

While there are no doubt instances where someone in a position of power has a bias against minority groups, there are many other factors that lead to economic inequality including the place a person lives, their education, work experience and work ethic. Because economic inequality is caused by much more than just discrimination, the Employment Equity Act needs to be changed.

The Act’s provision for persons with disabilities is just. For many jobs, a person with a disability can be at a natural disadvantage when competing with an able-bodied person. Consequently, they have more limited job opportunities. As long as a disabled person is qualified for the job they apply for, giving them preferential treatment is a reasonable form of equity.

The problem with the Employment Equity Act is it suspends the Charter right of white males to be treated equally under the law. Giving preferential treatment in hiring to four designated groups results in discrimination against white males, excluding them from job opportunities.

The legislation is founded on the logical fallacy that two wrongs make a right and that the ends justify the means. It tries to remedy the supposed injustice of economic inequality by legalizing another injustice: reverse discrimination.

A double standard is “a rule or principle which is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups.” The Employment Equity Act is founded on double standard: Discrimination is unjust but discrimination against white males is not unjust.

A white male seeking a job is not responsible for the historical injustices of the past, or any institutional racism that exists today. If a white male is denied a job for no other reason than the colour of his skin, he is being punished and made a scapegoat for someone else’s crimes. Women, aboriginals and visible minorities who believe they have been discriminated against should seek remedy through the courts, not by being given preferential treatment when applying for a job.

The Employment Equity Act is Orwellian legislation. In the novel Animal Farm, George Orwell wrote, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” The Employment Equity Act makes women, visible minorities and aboriginals “more equal” than white males. In a just society, everyone should be treated equally under the law.

Notes

  1. Canada, Justice Laws Website. “Employment Equity Act,” http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/e-5.401/page-1.html
  2. Oxford Dictionaries, s.v. “Double standard,” accessed February 25, 2018, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/double_standard
  3. George Orwell, Animal Farm (Markham, Ontario: Penguin Books Canada Ltd., 1987), 90.

This essay was originally published in The Post Millennial.

The Idealistic Dreamer: Risking Everything with No Plan B

dreamer roadThere are two types of dreamers: the realist and the idealist. While a realist sets an achievable goal, an idealist is more likely to pursue a pipe dream: “an idea or plan that is impossible or very unlikely to happen.”1 They can become obsessed with their dream, overestimate their chances of success, and make foolish decisions. An idealistic dreamer is often willing to risk everything—no matter what the cost or consequences—and has no plan B.

An idealist is “someone who believes that very good things can be achieved, often when this does not seem likely to others.”2 They imagine the “perfect life” they want to have and set out to achieve it. Unfortunately, not all that the mind preconceives can be achieved. Some dreams are pipe dreams that can never be realized no matter how hard a person tries.

The bigger the dream, the more passion and excitement it can awaken in a person’s heart. A strong desire to achieve one’s dream is important because it propels a person to take action. However, when an idealist has a dream, their desire to make it a reality can go beyond normal ambition. Their dream can turn into an obsession: “an idea with which the mind is continually and involuntarily preoccupied.”3

Obsession with a dream can impair a person’s ability to think logically. Consumed by their desire to achieve their dream, the idealist will make foolish decisions. Common mistakes include spending all their money, borrowing money from family or friends, and quitting their job or refusing to apply for one. The idealistic dreamer fails to consider the consequences if their dream doesn’t come true.

It is natural to be inspired by stories of people who achieved what seemed impossible. These stories give the idealist hope that their dream can come true too. However, for every story of someone who achieved the impossible, there are countless untold stories of people who tried and failed. Although the idealist may be right that their dream is possible, it may not be that probable.

An unrealistic hope can cause the idealist to misjudge their chances of success. They may overestimate their abilities, not realizing they could face competition from people with even greater abilities. They may engage in magical thinking: the idea that anything is possible if you believe it will happen.4 Although it is important to have hope in the pursuit of a dream, obsession with a pipe dream can be a way to avoid facing reality.

If the idealist becomes “high” on hope, and confident that their dream will come true, they are often willing to risk everything to achieve it. The pursuit of a dream always involves some degree of risk; however, an idealistic dreamer is like a gambling addict in a casino. The gambler risks all his savings to win big, but if he isn’t lucky at the card table, he will lose it all. Like the gambler, the idealist takes a large risk to achieve something with a low chance of happening. Sadly, the more that they risk, the more they are likely to lose in the end.

In contrast to the idealist, a realist “hedges” against risk.5 A realist considers options that will increase their future alternatives. For instance, if they work part-time while pursuing their dream, they won’t run out of money as quickly. A realist makes choices that will increase their future alternatives, so they can still have a quality life if they decide to stop pursuing their dream.

A realist can still “dream big”, but they are not willing to risk everything if the dream has a low chance of coming true. Instead, they will pursue their dream part-time until they have a greater chance of success. Later, if they pursue their dream full-time, they set a deadline, and are ready to implement plan B once the deadline passes. In contrast, an idealist has no deadline for achieving their dream, and continues to pursue it at all costs. They only think about plan B if they have no other choice, usually when they run out of money.

When a person has a dream, it gives meaning and purpose to their life. Whether a realist or an idealist, the greatest danger in pursuing a dream is to turn it into an idol: “a statue … worshipped by people who believe that it is a god.”6 Although no one makes their dream a literal god, it can become a substitute. A dream becomes an idol when it is all that a person lives for, when they exalt it above and beyond any other person or priority in their life. If the dreamer idolizes their dream, the desire for its fulfillment can become linked to their identity and self-worth. In the end, if the dream proves unattainable—and they spent many years of their life pursuing it—their identity and self-worth may implode.

Notes

  1. Cambridge Dictionary, s.v. “Pipe dream.” Accessed August 25, 2017, http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/pipe-dream
  2. Cambridge Dictionary, s.v. “Idealist.” Accessed August 25, 2017, http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/idealist
  3. Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, Eighth edition, s.v. “Obsession.” Accessed August 22, 2017, http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/obsession
  4. Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition, s.v. “Magical thinking.” Accessed November 17, 2017, https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/magical+thinking
  5. Investopedia, s.v. “Hedging for Beginners: A Guide.” Accessed August 28, 2017, http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/101915/hedging-beginners-guide.asp
  6. Collins Dictionary, s.v. “Idol.” Accessed September 7, 2017, https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/idol

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The Moral Argument Against Fragranced Products

fragrance signIn the TV series, The X Files, Dana Skully says to Fox Mulder: “I have identified the effect. I am still looking for the cause.”1 When something happens (an effect) it can often be a mystery to determine why it happened (the cause). For many effects, there can be more than one cause. One cause and effect relationship many people are unaware of is how fragranced consumer products can trigger health problems—including migraine headaches and asthma attacks—in a significant percentage of the population.2 If products containing fragrance are proven to cause harm to others, then consumers have a moral responsibility not to use these products in public.

Countless home cleaning and personal care products have fragrance added to them. These products include perfumes, colognes, aftershaves, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, air fresheners, deodorants, and soaps.3 In 2010, the Environmental Working Group did laboratory tests and found that “the average fragrance product tested contained 14 secret chemicals.”4 Fragrance companies do not have to list the chemicals on the product label due to trade secret protections.5 The combined ingredients are identified as “fragrance” or “parfum.”6 According to the International Fragrance Association, there are 3,999 different ingredients (both natural and synthetic) used in making fragrance.7

Fragranced consumer products can harm a person’s health. A 2016 Australian study of more than 1,000 people found that 33 per cent of respondents reported health problems after exposure to such products.8 Negative effects included “migraine headaches, asthma attacks, contact dermatitis, respiratory difficulties, and mucosal symptoms.”9 Nearly eight per cent of respondents had lost work days in the past year because they were exposed to fragrance.10 Exactly why fragrance can trigger health problems is not fully understood by scientists, but the effects are real.

If an individual uses a fragranced consumer product at work (or in other public places), other people may be negatively impacted. Even though it is legal to use these products in public, just because something is legal does not make it moral. It is a universal moral principle that no one should intentionally harm an innocent person.11 If this principle is true, then it is morally wrong to use fragranced products in public because doing so will cause other people pain and suffering.

A lot of suffering in this world is unavoidable; however, the pain and suffering caused by fragrance is 100 per cent preventable. Instead of buying products with fragrance, consumers can buy brands that are labelled fragrance-free. (Fragrance-free means the product has no added fragrance, while unscented means it contains a fragrance that masks the odor caused by other chemical ingredients.12) Fragrance-free products are often higher in price, but the more people who buy them, the more corporations (and small businesses) will produce them, and the more alternatives there will be for consumers.

Notes

  1. The X Files, “Teliko.” Directed by Jim Charleston. Written by Howard Gordon. Fox, October 18, 1996. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0751214/
  2. Anne Steinemann, “Health and societal effects from exposure to fragranced consumer products.” Preventative Medicine Reports Vol 5 (2017): 45, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5122698/
  3. “Fragrances in Cosmetics,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, December 29, 2015, https://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Ingredients/ucm388821.htm
  4. Heather Sarantis et al., “Not So Sexy: The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance,” Environmental Working Group, May 2, 2010, 3, https://www.ewg.org/research/not-so-sexy
  5. “Cosmetic Labelling Guide,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, accessed October 31, 2017, 23, https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Cosmetics/Labeling/UCM391202.pdf
  6. Clare Pain, “Something in the air: From scented candles to cleaning products, our lives have become fragranced like never before. What’s the effect on our health.” New Scientist 234 No. 3129 (2017): 34-37.
  7. “Ingredients,” International Fragrance Association, http://www.ifraorg.org/en-us/ingredients#.WCDfWRIrJmB
  8. Steinemann, “Health and societal effects,” 45.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Steinemann, “Health and societal effects,” 46.
  11. Nigel Warburton, “The Harm Principle: How to live your life the way you want to,” BBC Radio 4, 2:00, posted November 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9IM3ZKNMCk
  12. Jessica Chia, “The Truth About ‘Fragrance-Free’ Products,” Prevention, January 23, 2014, https://www.prevention.com/beauty/skin-care/truth-about-fragrance-free-products

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