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Don Martin: Trudeau apology tour dilutes the value of saying sorry
Saying sorry is the hardest word for politicians.
It’s either viewed an admission of wrongdoing or a show of weakness.
But Justin Trudeau has taken aim at becoming the greatest apologist in our history. In fact, the prime minister is apologizing for most of our history as regrets roll out, some for actions predating the birth of every Canadian alive today.
Of course he’s as apology-adverse as any other politician when it comes to expressing sorrow for his own promise lapses and policy failures.
Yet given the rest of Canadian history to scour for suitable mea culpa material, Trudeau has raised the art of getting all misty-eyed and remorseful in front of the cameras to an art form.
His upcoming apology for Canada sending 900 German Jews on an ocean liner back to the Nazis in the early stages of plotting the Holocaust will be his fifth recrimination in just 30 months.
This will follow regrets to residential school survivors from pre-Confederation Newfoundland, to those in the LGBTQ community who endured discrimination, for the wrongful execution of six First Nations chiefs and for Canada turning away the ill-fated Komagata Maru.
All were delivered with great gobs of articulate solemnity to critical acclaim with opposition leaders struggling to match the best lines from Trudeau’s stable of overpaid speechwriters.
But there’s been nary a hint of Trudeau remorse at having a shortage of judges free those accused of serious crimes; barely a shrug of regret at breaking a campaign vow on electoral reform; no sign the government feels sorry about lingering deficits; and only a surge of blacked-out pages by way of response to his vow to deliver open and transparent government.
Sorry, I digress.
The point is that the sheer volume of apologies dilutes the value of putting a parliamentary spotlight on sad chapters of our history. And with an election on the horizon, so many coming so quickly carries the distinct whiff of politicking.
Perhaps it’s time our apology tour through time was removed as the whimsical prerogative of the prime minister’s historically guilty conscience.
Might I suggest a non-partisan advisory committee of historians could decide which offensive parts of our past deserve recriminations or reparations.
Then again, denying a prime minister the golden publicity of apologizing for something not of their creation where the outcome cannot be changed or the process attacked by political opponents?
Trudeau’s reaction to taking the ‘me’ out of historical mea culpas is obvious: Sorry, not a chance.
That’s the Last Word.