Trudeau in India, Part I: PM’s family goes full Bollywood; Conservatives freak out; some alterations suggested

Posted on February 25, 2018, 1:01 am
6 mins

PHOTOS: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and their children visit the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, India, during Mr. Trudeau’s official visit to that country. Below: Mr. Trudeau, resplendent in gold and making it work. Below him, his late father, prime minister Pierre Trudeau, doing his famous pirouette, although not the one he did behind the Queen. The last photo’s a screenshot from a video; the first two are from Justin Trudeau’s Twitter account.

I think we can all agree that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent costume drama in India didn’t work out as well as must have been expected by his strategic brain trust.

Next trip, probably, Mr. Trudeau should just wear a nice pair of chinos and a soft white shirt. If he wants to give Conservatives conniptions, which is always fun to do, he can slip on some deck shoes and not wear any socks.

Maybe he can use one of his nice blue suits for more formal events – only with black shoes, please.

This said, I doubt much damage will be done by the unusual sartorial choices made by our young PM and his family during their weeklong official visit to India, which ended yesterday, notwithstanding the state of generalized apoplexy his clothing selection alone caused in Conservative circles.

As Conservatives must be starting to realize, now that their voices are growing hoarse from their first round of screeching about Mr. Trudeau’s fashion choices, there are enough pictures of their own beloved Stephen Harper dressed up in lame costumes for them to think about just letting this part of the story rest.

At least Mr. Trudeau looks like he’s enjoying himself when he dresses up. Give it a generation or two and this will seem as charming as his late dad’s famous pirouette behind the Queen, which those of us who were around at the time will recall also threw the Conservatives of the day into their characteristic state of perpetual fury.

By contrast, with the exception of when he was playing soldier in a flight jacket or a Kevlar vest, Mr. Harper always looked like a spoiled child on the verge of breaking into a tantrum when he appeared in costume. Who can forget the petulant look on the last Conservative PM’s face in that famous photo in cowboy drag at the Calgary Stampede? His expression seemed to say: “Why do I have to wear this stupid hat? I hate you, Mommy!”

Anyway, it’ll be on policy choices that the Trudeau Government stands or falls with Canadian voters, regardless of the effort of the Conservatives to make couture an issue, and while there’s plenty to criticize in the Liberal policy book, taken as a package Canadians don’t yet seem that dissatisfied with what they’re getting.

Let’s face it, just the fact that Mr. Trudeau is not Mr. Harper makes it easy for voters to forgive a multitude of sins.

You may think Mr. Trudeau’s sartorial choices were disrespectful to his hosts, but I would suggest most people we are hearing that from are partisan Conservatives here at home, many the sort who can’t be counted on to show much cultural sensitivity themselves, or professional pundits, who are always looking for ways to torque up their stories.

I suspect that in India – as opposed to here in Canada – the Trudeau Family’s effort to go full Bollywood will be viewed more kindly by ordinary citizens who hear about it, as an eccentric but friendly gesture, not the grave insult Conservative politicians and Canadian pundits are trying to spin it into.

That said, the PM would probably be well advised not to make a practice of playing Mr. Dressup on future foreign visits – except to Calgary, of course, where as both Mr. Harper and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley now know, pointy boots, high heels and a white cowboy hat, worn the right way ’round, are obligatory. (Cowtown, you may say, is not a foreign country. Here in Edmonton, that’s a matter of opinion.)

So, to reprise, notwithstanding the conclusion of the entire conservative commentariat – including the New York Times, for heaven’s sake – Mr. Trudeau’s fashion choices will likely do him and his government little harm, if any.

As for the business of the convicted attempted murderer who accompanied the Canadian party, that is a matter serious enough to warrant a separate post, coming soon.

9 Comments to: Trudeau in India, Part I: PM’s family goes full Bollywood; Conservatives freak out; some alterations suggested

  1. CovKid

    February 25th, 2018

    David, after your post four days ago of a smug, smirking, fake-Beatle-esque-hairstyled Harper, I was going to suggest that such images are dangerous to one’s health since blood pressure increases to unhealthy levels and said images be replaced by an ice sculpture. However, the prospect of an array of the super-nerd pictures which he reluctantly provided during his ten disastrous years in office may offer a prescription-free alternative.

  2. Sam Gunsch

    February 25th, 2018

    Dale Smith has a post that jives with Climenhaga’s take. Canadian media and the elite conservative commentators are making shit up. Again. I’m no fan of Trudeau. But Canadians are being misled on this one by ‘pack journalism narratives’ driven by conservative BS.

    excerpt: ‘First of all, if you did not do so yesterday, please take the time to read Kevin Carmichael’s look at the trip, and in particular how pack journalism narratives have formed, but he makes very relevant points about the political dynamics and the regional politics of India that the Canadian media is completely ignoring.’

    excerpt: ‘My Indo-American friend made a few other observations about the coverage that we’re seeing, which is that he’s not actually being treated poorly over there, and it’s more that certain politicians and business leaders don’t want to be associated with members of the Indian Cabinet, which is controversial in large swaths of Indian society. As for the focus on Trudeau’s wardrobe, most of it is coming from the intellectual, international elite of India, who resent outsiders exoticising India, but the fact that Trudeau is allegedly wearing Indo-Canadian designers will garner plenty of positive reaction. ‘

    excerpt: ‘So what Trudeau is doing will play incredibly well with many aspects of the stratified society.’

  3. tom in ontario

    February 25th, 2018

    Before going apoplectic about Justin Trudeau’s sartorial choices, Conservatives should check the antics of one of their own, August 18, 2015. No ten gallon hats or western boots this time.
    “At 1.22 p.m. Monday, Fredericton police received an emergency call that a boa constrictor was spotted slithering around at the Conservative campaign rally. When police arrived on the scene with the animal containment unit, they realized about halfway through cramming the creature into a cage to be brought to the NBSPCA that the ‘snake’ was in fact Stephen Harper.”

  4. Albertan

    February 25th, 2018

    I heard some commentary from Supriya Dwivedi (“Policy analyst, Political commentator and Recovering Law School Graduate”) on CBC’s Power & Politics the other day. She wasn’t too impressed with the Trudeau family “costume show.” I went to her Twitter feed and here is a reply to her post re: commentary on “Indian attire, culture and politics” :
    “Trudeau got bad press and bad advice for india trip. He was also embarrasly dressed in shiny wedding outfits for a corporate event.”
    …good for a horse laugh eh? 🙂

  5. Sam Gunsch

    February 26th, 2018

    More analysis (below) that shows conservative narratives were driving pack journalism in Canadian media to attack Trudeau with false premises… again I’m no Trudeau fan, but the Canadian MSM reporting and editorials are largely being driven by conservative partisans.

    Canadian democracy and politics have been warped by this insidious conservative domination of the public sphere for decades now.


    excerpt: The snub that never happened

    There was no snub as some reports had suggested. Indian reporters who cover Modi say they had rarely seen him so warm with a foreign leader.

    Modi not only had the class to never mention Atwal, he even threw Trudeau a Twitter lifeline as the scandal was peaking.

    What really happened on Trudeau’s India trip: Trade concerns overshadowed by wardrobe choices, extremism talk – Politics
    About The Author
    11-14 minutes

    Rarely has the journalistic echo chamber rung more hollow than on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip to India.

    It’s an interesting exercise to see how many of the analyses were written by people thousands of kilometres from India, and how many quote the same Carleton University academic, Vivek Dehejia.

    His thoughts, pitched to reporters even before the trip began, appeared in reports from CNN to China’s Xinhua, as well as almost every Canadian outlet, (including CBC).

    The reality is this trip drifted somewhat from Day 1, featured a few successes and one major self-inflicted wound with the presence of Jaspal Atwal, and ended in a surprisingly warm glow when the Trudeau government finally gave the Indians what they’d been waiting for all along.

    excerpt: ‘Modi went to see Netanyahu at the airport!, said the pundits. They didn’t mention, or perhaps don’t know, that Modi and Netanyahu are close personal friends. Or that Indian officials pointed out that Modi hadn’t gone for Chinese President Xi Jinping, the world’s most powerful person.

    Or that Canada’s prime minister hadn’t gone to the airport to greet Modi in 2015.’

  6. Farmer Dave

    February 26th, 2018

    Every time I get annoyed at Justin Trudeau and the way he manages the country all I do is listen to the radio and Charles Adler rant about him or read articles by Lorne Gunter and Rick Bell from the Edmonton Sun (who formerly worked at the Alberta Report, and helped Ted Byfield run the Alberta Report into the ditch, or read anything written by Colby Cosh or Ezra Levant and soon I realize the propaganda and hate these clowns try and spread about their own political/religious views I revert back to supporting the more liberal viewpoint).

  7. Farmer Brian

    February 26th, 2018

    If you do a quick bit of googling you will find articles in the Toronto star, Huffington Post, CNN, the CBC all questioning Justin Trudeau’s wardrobe choices and what if anything was accomplished on his trip to India. None of these sources are bastions of conservatism. My favourite though was John Oliver’s take on the trip.


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