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In Ottawa, there have long been truths left unsaid
On rumours, press galleries, and politicians.
It all happened so quickly: the passing of eight years in office; the various scandals and matters of decline pushed along by masters of Well-Meaning; the backslide towards the outer limits of the developed world.
One day a nation wakes up and there are no homes, no doctors, no growth. Not three years ago, the Canadian dream at least rode the bus. Now, it’s forced to pilot an E-bike along Bloor Street and shepherd $30 entrees to those lucky enough to have arrived before it all went pear-shaped.
It’s not just Conservative sloganeering — Canada is indeed broken. Irreparably? Not yet. But a hard rain’s a-gonna fall. Change isn’t just necessary, it’s inevitable.
At times — and particularly in The Better Times — the Liberal banner has been held by hundreds of men and women in the press gallery, whose dreams have been fulfilled so often by the prime minister (and sometimes, even their lunch orders).
Perhaps it’s out of some sense of obligation that they helped keep the worst-kept secret in Canadian politics for so long, just as the Ottawa cocktail circuit once protected Pierre Trudeau from his many, many, broad-spectrum ‘dalliances,’ and a known propensity towards spousal abuse.
Or, perhaps, it’s because our chattering classes still fancy themselves as existing above the fray of our neighbours to the south.
That is a lie, rightly hammered, of course. If Ottawa has a shared cocktail circuit where shoulders are tapped and blind eyes are turned, that makes us no different than the ‘K Street’ lobbyists who find themselves visited by members of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches on liquid lunch breaks in Washington, DC.
Besides, whom among us hasn’t shared a glass of wine with a debate moderator before their client hit the stage?
Like the comically disastrous Bill C-18, which exists solely to extort on behalf of shared media lobby partners, but which was presented to Meta, Google, and the public as some effort to rob from the rich and give to the poor (read: media conglomerates already subsidized to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars), the coverage of the end of the sunny ways inside Rideau Cottage has also been a matter of farce.
In a town run on rumour, this was a truth long known. The allowance for a marriage to be August news dumped may be a kindness, but it’s also a trick of the light, and a feature, not a bug, of our legacy messaging apparatus.
When it comes to matters of state, from official ‘expert’ sources, the plebes remain on a need-to-know basis, even in the era of smartphone journalism, rampant distrust in the corporate press, better independent sources, WikiLeaks, and Twitter Files.
I’m not all that interested in relationships ending, we’re all to blame for a few ending ourselves, and I even find the reflexive Horseshoe Theory-esque response to how the PM is spending his official single dad hours to be a touch absurd, but I remain intrigued by the meaning behind the Well-Meaning.
This is, after all, a country where even Bob Rae once helped spread a scurrilous rumour about the marriage of Canada’s 22nd Prime Minister. (Rae was wrong on all counts, as he has been on most things.)
This is also a country where politicians have passed away from causes not publicly listed, and where many personal-professional engagements have been swept under the rug. Without going full-Kent Brockman, we’re talking a pretty long list of pseudo-cover-ups.
The passing of eight years in office, and even the two Trudeau dynasties, has indeed felt quick. They’ve been willed along by shared partners accordingly. But, at least on the subject of ‘unknown knowns,’ there’s no real conspiracy here — no overly-engineered Klaus Schwab plot for certain conservatives to fuss over. These are mostly matters of the heart, and of people, and neither are known for being as pure as the wind-driven snow.
It’s Hanlon’s razor that teaches us to never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. All that’s missing is the requisite dash of self-interest.
In the case of need-to-know news and the private truths that shall never be uttered publicly, what they’d rather not have revealed is they’re often even more fallible than the electorate they castigate as, say, “racists and misogynists,” and that they’re in control of so little, and know even less.
These are our worst-kept secrets for a reason.
Alexander Brown is a writer, comms director, and part-time politico. To receive new posts and support his work, click to become a free or paid subscriber.