High Drama on Parliament Hill

February 27, 2019

Canadians have just watched four hours of testimony from former Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould. Her gravitas riveted her audience. We were uplifted through our contact with this heroic figure.

Then after the hubris came the comic relief in the form of the gravediggers from Hamlet, Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh. As soon as he strode onto the stage Sheer blankly called for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s resignation. The Conservative leader’s imperfect command of the criminal code of Canada reminded me of the drunken gravedigger’s clumsy but pedantic command of Latin.

The other gravedigger, Jagmeet Singh, seems smarter than Scheer. He at least didn’t make a fool of himself in his first press conference, but he didn’t get much further in opposition than to play a few favourite lines from his campaign, accusing Trudeau of favouring his rich friends.

Then Justin Trudeau strode into his press conference with his new MP in hand and a dozen or so MPs of colour to stand behind him. This was his moment to do a Marc Anthony and reverse the crowd’s direction. He started well in denying Wilson-Raybould’s assumptions, but at the point where he appeared about to communicate with us, he abruptly went back to stale talking points. I was disappointed in him. As a viewer I felt that I could have made a better case for his actions than he did this day. But sometimes Hamlet gave us bathos when we most wanted clarity and action.

Without doubt the star of this afternoon’s play was Jody Wilson-Raybould. She plays the tragic hero Antigone well. She has formed a moral outlook unique to her situation, and has fought with considerable resources against lesser men of power who have continued to assail her. But we must realize that the progress of the tragedy involves Jody’s growing realization that her too-particular moral view, while in and of itself correct, must fail because it does not take into account the other moral imperatives of the world, the moral essence, if you will. Justin’s 9000 jobs trump Jody’s sense of right.

Justin Trudeau is the other tragic figure in this play, cast as antagonist in Jody’s drama because of his wider vision of what is right. Like King Creon, he watches in anguish as Antigone’s willful self destruction wreaks havoc in his kingdom and takes his son and his wife to their deaths along with her. Yet he still must rule.

At this stage of Jody’s descent, neither she nor Justin can comment upon the future, but for the tragedy to reach a satisfactory denouement, she will have to be banished from caucus, and perhaps from Parliament altogether. And no one will grieve more at this spectacle of wasted greatness than Justin Trudeau.

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