I've been on the record as one of Justin Trudeau's detractors in the past, so my thoughts on last weekend's Sun TV Network heavily hyped charity boxing match between the Liberal dauphin and a Tory Senator barely out of short pants might seem like piling on. However, I couldn't care less about what silly media stunt the attention seeking eldest son of the former PM is up to now. What I am somewhat embarrassed about is what he and Patrick Brazeau have done to the already shaky perception of people in public life.
Justin Trudeau is in many ways like Vancouver's mayor – someone who cameras like but microphones should avoid at all costs. To Conservatives he's a symbol of entitlement, and of course of Big L liberal politics. Throwing him in the ring and seeing him bloodied by Brazeau was going to be a veritable Conservative wet dream. However, as we know now Justin wasn't ready to allow all that Liberal legacy fall into a heap to the mat.
Conservatives don't exactly come out smelling like roses on this match either. Most of us probably hadn't noticed before now that they've appointed a Senator who is young enough to be the grandson of most others in the red chamber. Patrick Brazeau is 37 years old! And it's one thing to go shirtless – heck, Putin does it all the time – but whose idea was it to dress him in a Speedo?
You could argue that Sun TV got a little bump out of this stunt. For a few hours at least they got out of the Canadian network TV ratings basement. Did it create a whole bunch of new viewers? Time will tell, but for a station that probably already skews male in terms of viewers, looking like Spike TV probably won't broaden their reach.
Yes, I recognize that the scrap raised a lot of money for the worthy cause of battling prostate cancer. However, it's possible that this stunt did set back the respectability of political life in Canada more than a few notches. Don't pity Brazeau because as a Senator he's got a job for life. But for Trudeau I think it will be harder to shake off the ridicule he deserves for stripping down and strapping on gloves for the sake of his leadership aspirations.
A few letter writers to the Montréal Gazette this week seem to share my misgivings. Here are a couple:
I find it extremely disappointing and a bad example that Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau and Liberal MP Justin Trudeau would engage in a public boxing match, even though it raised more than $230,000 for cancer research. Alternative peaceful competitions do exist.
The first source that comes to mind is the TV series Survivor, which has had 24 successful editions over the last 12 years, and which always includes several episodes in which contestants must perform physical feats. These entertaining contests never involve physical force against an opponent and yet do produce a winner…
Justin Trudeau, my hero. By embracing boxing, where the goal is to immobilize and batter your opponent, and exposing a concussion-causing sport to our children, Trudeau has again shown his ineptitude in the pursuit of higher office.
Is there no other way to raise money for worthy causes?
Duking it out in politics is one thing. But do political rivals really have to throw punches to keep the public engaged?
Maybe it won't be so long before CPAC really does start to look like an episode of Survivor.
- post by Mike