A father-figure-like presence in the current Canadian Liberal Party leadership race, Mark Garneau, stepped down on Wednesday with a public (if half-hearted) endorsement of the scion-of-choice and heir apparent, Justin Trudeau. After weeks of warning of the need for a test drive of leadership -- the need for some sort of supporting resume -- "dad" appears to have just rolled off the lot with the very car he has been railing against.
Who knows -- and who cares? This car is sporty-as-hell, and guaranteed to be a fun ride. Questions of utility and sustainability can be addressed at a later date.
Political theatre is what it is. But a real question remains, in just what do we do when our father-figure can't follow his own advice? Before this Liberal leadership race, the request for a test drive had never been considered much more than standard operating procedure, even among the most unscrupulous of used-car salesmen. The test drive is merely a part of the standard process in buying a car.
See: home appraisals preceding 30 years of mortgage payments.
See: visiting a university before committing to four years of higher education.
See: changing rooms playing a role in every pair of jeans I've ever purchased.
Theses aren't "attacks." They're common sense.
It was our dad -- M. Marc Garneau who was recently saying, "we cannot wait until after the leadership race is over to find out what we signed up for." That, we can't ask... "Canadians to buy a new car without test-driving it first." These comments were, of course, pointed squarely at Garneau's leading opponent in the Grit's leadership race, Justin Trudeau.
Hardly. Compared to the tempo and tone of our own Parliament's Question Period, such statements barely even qualify as political.
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It seems to me that Garneau was simply articulating the obvious. That representative democracies are built on policies and platforms. Voting doesn't really mean much when we don't know, substantively, the what which we are voting for. M. Garneau spent much of the past month asking M. Trudeau to simply go to the less-than-great-lengths of getting (at least a little) specific with the Canadian public.
And given the fact that in the very recent past -- just last month -- Justin Trudeau was referring to his past year as being "an age when I was figuring out who I was," Garneau would seem to have been completely justified in asking Trudeau to share with us just what it is he figured out. The idea of a test drive was good. It was, dare I say, common sense.
But what do we do when our father-figure departs from his own wisdom? Do we shake him and demand he come to his senses? Do we, as obedient children, blindly follow suit...our own thinking be damned? Or do we make our own way in the world -- learning lessons from both the wisdom and mistakes of our "dad"?
I, personally, think that Marc Garneau has been right to ask these important questions for the past month. And while I may not understand all of the reasoning behind Wednesday's decision to both drop from the race and -- by some generous readings -- throw his support behind Mr. Trudeau, I will still continue to demand the test drive.
It's what dad would want.
Follow Aaron H. Emery on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@aaremery