Saturday, November 17, 2012

From Platitude Central - Part 2

“This country has entered some very choppy waters. If elected leader, I will provide a firm hand at the helm to bring the economy safely back to shore.”

“Canada has a greatness that has barely been tapped. I am confident that I have the vision and the plan to mine that greatness.”

"Recognizing the forgotten middle class and the vital role it plays in a healthy economy is probably one of the greatest strengths that I bring to this leadership race.”

What do you think? Am I ready for prime-time politics? Need a bit more work, perhaps? Well, in all candour, I simply made up the above-three cliched platitudes about two minutes ago as I sat down to the computer. Presumably, those who are vying for leadership of the Liberal Party, either on the federal level or the provincial level here in Ontario, have given some thought to their positions and pronouncements before declaring their candidacy, yet their utterances have thus far not risen above the banal triteness of my three spur-of-the-moment declarations above.

In this second of what I hope will be a series of posts on the platitudes that plague our politics, I would like to take a closer look at what the leading Liberal candidate, Justin Trudeau, has been saying:

In his most recent public appearance, young Justin offered the following as he addressed the party faithful in Ottawa last evening (I have taken the liberty of highlighting the egregiously cliched parts:

While offering no specific policy plans to members of the Carleton-Mississippi Mills Liberals, Trudeau talked about it being easy to divide people into various socio-economic classes and regions; that it is much harder to unite a people. He frequently balanced oft-used conservative terms like “hardworking families” with protecting social programs coveted by progressives, sometimes reaching poetic heights of first-person oration.

“It was always the case that if you worked hard, you could make a better life for yourself in Canada. You could progress and have a chance if you left your persecutions and class divisions back home. That shaped us,” he said. “If you worked hard you could succeed. But when winter happens - as it often happens in this country - when winter happens: this country is too big to not lean on each other.” (Okay, the metaphor about winter is kind of nice, but its cliched sentiment breaks no new ground.)

He then went on to talk about young people no longer expected to have a better life than their parents and the ever-increasing wealth gap.

As an appetizer, maybe these words serve a purpose. However, if they are in fact the main course, I must confess to a deep and abiding hunger for something more substantial.

POSTSCRIPT: As an exercise in platitude-parsing and political rhetoric analysis, be sure to check out the text of young Justin speech in which he announces his candidacy for the leadership of the Liberal Party.


  1. He has to do much better than that, Lorne.

  2. Justin's great strength isn't that he is a Trudeau.
    His great strength is that he is not a Harper.