Worthwhile Canadian Gaffe

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 13 2013 4:19 PM

Worthwhile Canadian Gaffe

185714567
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.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

Here I wait for half the audience to fall asleep.

Advertisement

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.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 23 2014 6:00 AM Monster Kids from poorer neighborhoods keep coming to trick-or-treat in mine. Do I have to give them candy?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.