Worthwhile Canadian Gaffe

Wouldn’t it be nice?

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Before we pull on our waders again, and sink back into the muck of Obamacare fallout, let us turn our attention to Ottawa.

Here I wait for half the audience to fall asleep.

Still with us? OK: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is not the only charismatic Canadian politician struggling with scandal right now. Justin Trudeau, the young dynastic leader of the Liberal Party, appeared at a frothy town hall event and mused about how much better the Chinese dictatorship is at managing government, without fuss, than democracies are.

There’s a level of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime. I mean there is a flexibility that I know Stephen Harper must dream about, of having a dictatorship that he can do everything he wanted, that I find quite interesting.

Elements of the Canadian press, which are always on the lookout for evidence that Trudeau (a theater teacher before he got into politics) is a bantamweight, have covered this like a gaffe that reveals how unready the leader is. But I hear the echo of a popular line of technocratic thinking, most often expressed by Tom Friedman. China, which can literally bulldoze anything in the way of five-year economic plans, is obviously more efficient than a democracy that has to abide by laws and local regulations. I also hear the echo of Trudeau’s father, who visited China when Mao ruled it, and was given a grand tour of the place. (It was, on the surface, an effective dictatorship. We know better now.)

Is this the sort of gaffe that can undo Trudeau? He’s presided over a surge of new support for the Liberals after three election wins for Harper’s Conservatives. If Bill de Blasio can endure a “reds” scandal, surely he can. And, well, whatever. Rob Ford still wins the scandal prize.