Jacinda Ardern and Justin Trudeau, the woke darlings of the Western world

Jacinda Ardern and Justin Trudeau, the woke darlings of the Western world

Ardern and Trudeau, the woke darlings of the Western world, are finally getting their comeuppance

Facing protests and falling popularity, they are proof that it is wrong to prize empathy in political leaders above everything else
Douglas Murray
Who knew that empathy wasn’t enough? Two leaders who got to their positions by showing how much they can emote, how much they can feel, how much they care, now appear to be in the worst positions of almost any head of government in the democratic world.
Take Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand. Ardern has always achieved a degree of international fame far beyond that enjoyed by most leaders of her small nation because she is a woman and she appears to really mind. In fact caring is Ardern’s shtick. She is especially good at apologising for things she hasn’t done. Her face crumples, her voice breaks, and the world’s news organisations shout in chorus: “Here is what we need in a leader.”
Sadly for the people of New Zealand, that isn’t quite true. Most of the world is emerging from the corona era. Britain, thank goodness, seems to be leading the way, and even recalcitrant countries such as the Netherlands are starting to realise that if the UK is back up and running, you can’t lock down your own people forever.
Jacinda seems not to have got the memo. Last summer she notoriously locked down her country again after one man was found to have Covid in New Zealand. I wouldn’t have wanted to have been him. Now, even Australia, which has been one of the strictest, harshest, countries during Covid, has started to lift regulations. And New Zealand?
Well, Ardern has announced yet another batch of regulations for her countrymen. New Zealand seems almost hooked on the stuff. The international media once again went doolally for Ardern when she gave a press conference announcing fresh lockdowns and saying that this meant that her own wedding was off. How much she seemed to care! How much her face crumpled as she talked of the plight of her countryfolk! How selfless she was even to cancel her own nuptials!
What people should have said was that New Zealand’s prime minister had clearly become a mad person. There was no reason to do this performative caring. There was no reason to sacrifice the opportunity to get hitched. The rules were the problem, and getting rid of them should have been the priority.
Instead, everyone got swept along, yet again, on an ocean of Ardern ardour. And on it seems this will go. What will come of New Zealand? Perhaps it will remain always stuck in the summer of 2020, never allowing anyone in or out. Those of us who once went there will tell of it to our grandchildren who will listen in awe to tales of this remote island people who voluntarily cut themselves off from the rest of the world.
Or perhaps, if some recent opinion polls are any guide, New Zealand will soon tire of its caring prime minister. Facing a mounting economic crisis, support for Ardern’s party among New Zealanders appears to be collapsing.
But it isn’t just Ardern who has this emoting, empathetic act. Perhaps the world leader in this shtick is someone with an even softer voice and even nicer hair: Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.
As time goes on it becomes clear that Trudeau really is the worst leader in the democratic world. His principal qualifications for the role were that he had been a primary school teacher and that his father had been prime minister before him.
Other than that, he simply promised to do things differently, to be more empathetic, to emote more, to be more feminine and more understanding. Before lockdown, this manifested itself in international trips during which Justin did more costume changes than the cast of any West End show. But as the Covid era came, Trudeau, like Ardern, seemed to come into his own. He talked about the importance of caring, looking out for each other and other fundamental Canadian values.
Unfortunately, if you do not happen to agree with the silken-haired premier, he will have zero time for you. In recent months, as the rest of the world has adapted to Covid, Trudeau seems to have boxed himself into a corner on the matter.
In an effort to persuade the population to get vaccinated, Trudeau did everything he could to defame those who disagreed with him. This extended to him dismissing anyone hesitant about taking the vaccine as being (guess what?) racist, misogynistic and more. Trudeau had no evidence for any of this, but this is the modern way of excommunicating any person or group of people. Say that they are racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobes and you have successfully un-personed such people.
Unfortunately for Trudeau, many Canadians can see through this playground antic and are not persuaded by it. Specifically, Trudeau found that his vaccine demands had riled Canadian truckers.
There is no special reason why truck drivers (one of the most isolating professions in the world) should have to display vaccine passports in order to do their work. But Justin decided that they had to, or their livelihoods would come to an end.
Gloriously, last month, thousands of truckers drove in convoy to Ottawa. As they arrived there for their protest, Justin decided to pretend he had a headache. Or rather he said that he had met someone who knew someone who had once danced with someone who had Covid. And so the prime minister was doing the reasonable thing and self-isolating.
The truckers stayed. At present they remain in Ottawa. Officials have looked into how to criminalise them. They have even looked into criminalising the thousands of Canadians who gathered at the roadsides to show their support. The Ottawa police are now actually stealing the truckers’ fuel and other necessities in an effort to make the protest go away. But the truckers aren’t budging.
There is no reason why Trudeau should not make peace with the truckers. Any more than Ardern should not start to walk back from isolating her island nation.
But the problem is that when you have presented yourself as the most moral person in the land – the most feeling, the most understanding – and portrayed all your critics as Nazis, it is hard to move to ground we might once have called common. So there Justin is, like Ardern, holed up in a problem entirely of his own making.
Empathy is an overrated trick in political leadership. It only gets you so far. Much more important are grit, capability, adaptability and expertise. Neither Ardern nor Trudeau have demonstrated any of these traits. And it is their populations who are suffering as a result. A leader might like to present themselves as limitlessly compassionate, but if you end up having neither compassion nor even understanding for the citizens of your own country, then “compassion” is the problem.

8 thoughts on “Jacinda Ardern and Justin Trudeau, the woke darlings of the Western world

  1. There is talk here in New Zealand of unverified reports of Jacinda’s fiancee being arrested on drug charges and the wedding has been called off. There was a news report on newhub but it got pulled shortly afterwards

  2. Tinker, taylor, soldier, spy. Well, I’ve been all of those things except for being a taylor. And substitute sailor for soldier. But I can also add to that list (as my final career), trucker. When Silicon Valley would no longer hire me, I went trucking (nationwide) for seven years, retiring at 70.

    With that experience under my belt, I can very well understand the dynamics taking place in Ottawa. If your life’s experience does not come from within that profession, it’s predictable that you’d see truckers as a monolithic stereotype . . . which is exactly what the chattering political class and their communicating media wants you to do right now.

    But, in fact, there is no “trucker” personality, per se. As individuals, they are as varied as any sampled cross-section from anywhere in America. I remember a fellow student in driving school who was a retired executive from Tacoma Public Utilities seeking adventure. And so it is with Canadian truckers . . . actually, Canadian Commercial Transportation Professionals.

  3. If Trudeau had emoted, or dressed up, but had allowed early treatment, that would get my vote. But like most of the leaders in the western world, he decided to kill people by denying them care. How long have Canadian politicians boasted of their superiority for having national health care. Yet when called this time, they answered with “fuck you”. And Trudeau has held treatment even further off for Canadians, than the US, or other countries. He has the blood of 27000 Canadians on his hands.

    Having destroyed the economy, he has also set the stage for even more death to come.

  4. Justin Castreau has +two+ semi-qualifications:
    1. His adoptive father was PM of Canada
    2. His biological father was dictator of a Carribean island.

  5. torontonian here. not a “fan” of the conservative party but please give me a moment.

    indeed the behaviour of both trudeau and the NDP leader jagmeet singh (among others) was abysmal.

    their propagandistic sloppy condemnation of protestors reminded me of hilary clinton’s disgusting quip “basket of deplorables” to describe those who dared vote for the republican party her last run in the US election.

    she like singh and trudeau played the very toxic and dangerous “woke identity politics” game.

    as a canadian who did not vote conservative i am angry and disgusted .

  6. Wonderful satiric essay. I hope it is correct! From where I sit (alas, in Vancouver so unable to meet members of the Freedom Convoy in person), I see a great deal of support for Trudeau, especially in his new tough guise of implementing Emergency Measures. Trudeau may be unqualified and intellectually vacant, but he is canny. His demonization of those with whom he disagrees has been successful so far, and did not prevent him from being re-elected (though still with a minority government) last September. It remains to be seen whether this is the end for him, or whether, as I suspect, he will tough it through and emerge victorious, perhaps even more popular than before.

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