By Elias Weiss.
Featured image via Marnie Recker.

I am deeply worried about the Conservative Party of Canada.

To be frank, I’ve been worried for a little while now, but this week was a tipping point. I feel a deep responsibility as a Canadian to step up and say it loud and clear: Tories, we need to talk. It’s time we had an intervention.

Marnie Recker, a wedding photographer, captured Trudeau on a beach in Tofino…shirtless. And before you ask, I really do not know what kind of depraved man walks around shirtless on a beach in August either – it must be a French Canadian thing. But ultimately, Mrs Recker posted her picture on social media, and, to make a long story short, it got picked up by a few news organizations who frankly needed the clickbait.

Then some people overreacted as to be expected. It’s the Twitter cycle of life: People get outraged, others get outraged at the outrage and so goes the brouhaha until the story dies a quiet death, replaced by another (at this point, probably an off colour comment from the personification of a YouTube comments section troll running for president down south.)

It should’ve stopped there. But it didn’t, of course.

The CPC thought it would be wise to use that picture in a series of social media attack ads about – you guessed it – lost jobs. What else!

The photographer then accused the CPC of illegally using her photograph. According to her, the Conservatives blew up the picture so much the watermark was no longer visible. Recker went as far as to hire a lawyer to serve them with a cease and desist letter, asking for the picture to be removed within twenty four hours.

A recent Conservative ad via Twitter.

So the picture was taken down. Great. Are we done? Nope, we’re not. The absurdity just rolls on with this one. You see, the CPC couldn’t just apologize (they didn’t) and move on, they had to turn this into another fund-raising opportunity. We’re left to assume the high quality junk they’ve been pumping into Joe Oliver while he writes his brain-addled National Post op-eds (avant-garde in its bullshit) have left the party cash-strapped and looking to refill its war-chest by any means necessary.

And when you need donations, there’s nothing more hammy than playing the victim.

*cue the violins*

“By now you’ve all seen the photo of Trudeau shirtless at the beach” they write.

“The media have plastered it everywhere, and thousands of people have shared it on social media,” they continue. “While others used the photo to paint Trudeau in a celebrity moment, we used it to point out what he was doing while 110,000 Canadians lost their jobs in June and July.” But “after pointing that out, we received a lawyer’s letter demanding we pull down the picture – that same picture shared repeatedly around the globe.”

“The real lesson here is that there is no limit to the lengths that the Liberals and their friends will go to in order to protect Justin’s image,” they said with a whine with so high a frequency it threatened the lives of dolphins and bats across the country.

“It is not easy to fight this ‘celebrity culture’. But we have to.” These CPC people are heroes, martyrs even. “Please donate $50 NOW and that money will be put directly towards Facebook ads today that counter the Trudeau spin machine!” How courageous are they to stand up to this heartless small business owner who simply wants her work to be credited?
Trudeau greets passersby at BC’s Pride Parade. (Toronto Star.)

This is not an isolated incident. No, the Conservative Party of Canada suffers from acute TDS, also known in select medical journals as ‘Trudeau Derangement Syndrome’. A truly devastating political illness that renders its sufferer irrationally whiny and miserable. It’s been identified at least as early as its patient zero, then opposition leader John Diefenbaker, but it’s since made a resurgence in recent years.

Easy to diagnose, difficult to treat, the most notable symptoms commonly observed in parties with TDS are a deep-routed persecution complex, spiteful and disorderly behaviour, a profound detachment from reality and professional embarrassment.

But if you think this is just a response to their loss almost a year ago, you’d be wrong. The election has simply been an aggravating factor. The CPC has been silently reeling with TDS for a few years now, way before the virus infected many in the Twitter Egg community.

And it’s this deep, powerful almost instinctive repulsion and fascination with Trudeau (and his hair as well as, let’s be frank, his sexuality), which has left the Conservatives flying blind with regards to their attack ads against the Liberal leader. With every pixie fairy dust drama teacher ad and ‘Nice hair tho’ soundbite, the Tories have been continuing to tell the same joke over and over again to a crowd that wasn’t laughing, isn’t laughing and won’t be laughing anytime soon – and it’s about time someone interrupted them before they embarrass themselves further. Friends don’t let friends embarrass themselves like this.

I don’t want to go all armchair psychiatrist on yo ass, but…there’s something going on there, and it’s not healthy, Tories. If we want our democracy to work, we need a sane opposition party to hold the governing party to account. The principle of responsible government for which the Canadian constitution assumes depends on the presence of a strong opposition, free from derangement.

When the CPC runs around, their hair on fire, arms flailing, screaming bloody murder about the littlest things, it becomes difficult to then take them seriously. It would have been very easy for them to criticize Trudeau, legitimately or not, for the job losses without resorting to personal attacks, just the way Ambrose could have praised her friend Laureen Harper without attacking Sophie Trudeau, or praise trailblazing women in politics without making a strange ‘joke’ about the Prime Minister’s masculinity.

Being constantly outraged by the simple existence of Justin Trudeau or his popularity, playing the victims of an elaborate ‘liberal media’ conspiracy, and turning everything into a smearing attack ad might work with their base and increase fund-raising revenue, but it turns a lot of Canadians off. In the long run, this creates the impression that the party is simply bitter, resentful and condescending. The ‘miserable slosh’ to Trudeau’s ‘sunny ways.’

A change in tone means a lot more than joining Snapchat and putting Stornaway on AirBnB for April Fools’ Day; a change in tone means figuring out another way to communicate your message, especially to the millennials currently unimpressed with being mocked and patronized. By all means, criticize the Liberal government, Tories and please, do offer alternative policies. That’s what an opposition does, after all. But for the love of god, get your TDS checked out, it’s getting embarrassing.

Elias Weiss 
studies Neuroscience and Biotechnology at McGill University. A liberal and a passionate believer in evidence-based decision-making, Elias hails from British Columbia but is now a proud Montréaler.

Twitter: @eligdeon

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