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Watching the Watchdog: Justin Trudeau Is the Man for the Job

Tim Knight writes the regular media column, Watching the Watchdog, for HuffPost Canada.

As I write, the brutish old pro licks his lips, girds his loins and polishes his plans to destroy the young contender.

There's less than a month to go before the kid climbs into the ring with him. When that happens, the brutish old pro will smile that shit-eating smile of his and slip a horseshoe inside his glove.

And when they touch gloves at the start of the fight, the brutish old pro will smash a right hook into the kid's belly, well below the belt. And follow up with a knee to the groin. And when the kid goes down to the canvas screaming in agony, kick him in the teeth.

The fight will be ruled no contest. The kid will slink back to his classrooms to resume his career as the maidens' midnight crush. And the brutish old pro will be crowned King of the Hill for even more sad and dreary years.

Which will mean that except for the problem of that other damned Quebecer -- pretty much a lefty version of the brutish old pro but with a beard -- life in Canada's parliament will go back to its routine, undemocratic dysfunctional ways.

And those who dreamed of change and reform will beat their breasts, gnash their teeth and weep bitter tears.

All this I confidently predict after studying the entrails of chickens, checking my horoscope in the Globe and Mail and reading the writings on the walls.

But it doesn't have to end this way.

Not if the kid takes the biggest risk any politician in this country has ever taken.

Not if the kid says screw you to the traditional rules about getting elected.

Not if the kid turns the Canadian political process upside down and starts it all over again.

How to do that?

He starts by doing nothing until April 15, the day after he wins his regional crown. No policy announcements of any import. No nasty words about his opponents. Not even nasty words about the brutish old pro he'll face for the championship 18 months further down the line.

Then, on April 15, he changes the rules of the game. He announces a new reformed party, dedicated to honest, participatory, representative, parliamentary democracy.

All those things.

Government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Its motto: Nation Before Party.

On the same day the kid fires the cynical professional political party apparatchiks whose loyalty is to power and party before service to the people. And replaces them with reformers with hopeful hearts not yet poisoned by the party political process, not yet seduced by the lust for power.

New people, as young, brave, energetic, idealistic and altruistic as he is.

He announces that the reformed party welcomes Canadians of every possible political stripe. No left. No centre. No right. That he's ready to merge it with any other party. Or coalesce. Or unite. Or amalgamate. Or whatever's necessary to end the corrupt and undemocratic reign of the brutish old pro and his venal disciples.

Here I stand, he tells Canadians. Will you join me to build a new Canada? A Canada worthy of our ancestors? A Canada worthy of our children?

For the next eighteen months, the kid turned legitimate challenger works every corner of the nation, plays every possible card in his quest for a new, truly democratic Canada.

Some suggestions:

  • Replace the rotten first-past-the-post political system with the much fairer mixed member proportional (MMP) system which ensures that parties win seats in proportion to their votes.
  • Abolish the senate. Or make it an elected body. Or transform it into a longhouse for Canada's aboriginal peoples. Something. Anything.
  • Impose far stricter spending limits on politicians running for office.
  • End the corrupting influence of the rich, special interest groups and lobbyists on our political and governmental systems.
  • Raise taxes on the rich. Lower taxes on the poor.
  • Ensure that the media give equal time to all legitimate political candidates running for office.
  • Return Canada's military to its old peacekeeping role and cut its budget accordingly.
  • Cut the size and cost of the public service.
  • Resurrect the Kelowna Accord to improve living conditions for Aboriginal peoples.
  • Honour the treaties made between settlers and Aboriginal peoples.

There's so much more. So much more that can and must be done to save Canada from its sad slide into oligarchy and mediocrity.

And the kid is likely the only man who can do it.

At the moment he's Cassius Clay. Beautiful, graceful, easy winner of the preliminary bouts so far, certain to win the regional championship set for April 14.

But he'll have to morph into the magnificent Muhammad Ali if he's to win the national championship fight against the brutish old pro, scheduled to end on October, 2015.

When he started this quest he gave a clue to his thinking:

"It's not about me. It's not even about our party. It's about the fact that Canadians are ... not satisfied with the government they have. They want better. They know they deserve better."

More of the same dreary politics, even leavened with considerable charisma and a famous name, won't be nearly enough by themselves to ensure that better Canada.

The kid will have to risk everything if he wants to win.


But it's worth remembering that -- against all odds -- the last time the kid fought a brutish pro, he won.

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