It’s tremendously disappointing when your heroes disappoint you, isn’t it? In this case it’s Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “best friend” to our Taoiseach, heartthrob to feminists worldwide, and famous for objecting to sexist words like “mankind”.
Trudeau is the leader of Canada’s governing Liberal Party, and, five years ago, was swept to power in a landslide victory over outgoing Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He immediately set about doing important #feminist things like appointing the first ever cabinet with an equal male/female split.
Unfortunately, by his own admission, Mr. Trudeau is a racist. In a Time Magazine story today, it has been revealed that in 2001, he posed in a racist outfit.
“I take responsibility for my decision to do that. I shouldn’t have done it.
“I should have known better. It was something that I didn’t think was racist at the time, but now I recognise it was something racist to do and I am deeply sorry.”
When Mr. Varadkar came to power in Ireland, he immediately set about encouraging talk that he was an “Irish Trudeau”, and the Irish media went out of their way to promote the “bromance” between the two. Frantic media briefings went out from Government buildings, telling the Irish people that the two men represented a kind of transatlantic alternative to the repressive politics of the past, and a budding new hope for a progressive, tolerant, inclusive future, and all that nonsense.
The Irish media, of course, lapped it up without the slightest bit of critical thinking. Let’s recap some of the more embarrassing examples of journalism from those heady days:
Gifting each other with presents, wearing matching lavish socks, making a big deal of their arrival, supporting each other in their careers and complementing each other on their running pace – sure what else would you need from a best friend?
They may have bonded over their mutual love of novelty socks and after a busy day of engagements Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went for a run in the Phoenix Park.
The world leaders both shared photos of their evening jaunt on their Twitter accounts.
“The sun came out just in time for a quick chance to see more of this beautiful part of Dublin on foot… nice pace,” the Canadian PM wrote online.
Their friendship may have been inevitable as Mr Varadkar has previously spoken about his admiration for Mr Trudeau’s leadership style.
The Journal Media shared 11 times Leo Varadkar really tried to be like Justin Trudeau, and it is as nauseating as you might imagine:
“It’s at this point we should recall that time they both jogged together and looked better than 99% of runners while doing it.”
Over at the Irish Times, poor Miriam Lord nearly had a fainting fit:
“Alternative” might not be the word which springs immediately to mind when considering Justin Trudeau and Leo Varadkar, the sort of nice boys any mother would be delighted to see a son or daughter bringing home. Yet they are projecting a very carefully crafted image of modern men who want to do politics in a new way for a different generation.
Their outlook is showcased in the zany socks and the shirtsleeves, the jogging and the gym bodies, the studied informality, social media savvy and in-your-face youthfulness.
Then of course there was the time Leo hopped over to Canada to march with Justin in the Montreal Pride Parade, and Irish media gleefully reported that Mr. Varadkar might well be educated by Mr. Trudeau:
Leo Varadkar and Justin Trudeau will march in today’s Montreal Pride parade as the Taoiseach’s three-day visit to Canada gets underway.
The visit is expected to allow both men further discuss CETA and trade agreements between the two countries, a discussion started last month when Mr Trudeau visited Ireland.
The visit has sparked the viral hashtag #justinformleo, relating to women’s rights and the abortion ban here, with campaigners calling on the Canadian Prime Minister to “educate” the Taoiseach on women’s rights and abortion.
I confess, dear reader, that I spent a good half hour this morning scouring Irish media reports on Justin Trudeau’s little racism problem to see if there was any mention whatsoever of the fact that he has been such a huge influence, according to their own reporting, on our Taoiseach. Sadly, there was none.
Now, it’s not that Mr. Varadkars close friendship with Mr. Trudeau is a matter of any great importance – it never was. But it’s telling that when that friendship was perceived to be good for Mr. Varadkar, it was plastered, in the most embarrassing way, across every Irish outlet. Today? Not a peep about it.
You’d hope our fearsome Journalists have the decency to be at least a little embarrassed.