Michaels: Late introduction to political ads cast a pall on Canada Day

The commercial shows a group of four seemingly thick voters mulling over resumés for the prime minister position.

Canada Day is never better than when you’re living abroad. Sure, you miss out on the cake, fireworks and general hubbub. But if you’re lucky, you may get a chance to actually reflect on what it means to be from the True North with a fellow marooned Canuck.

You can talk about how simple “please and thank yous” are woven into the tapestry of our daily lives. Or how good the air feels when you inhale—something you can’t possibly understand the value of until you’ve spent time in a country where it’s not.

On that note, it’s always nice to think about how the rain is purifying, not toxic.

And you can’t help but acknowledge the value of freely being able to travel to and from your country of origin. Or how well so many nationalities have blended over generations to pull the whole thing off.

Bits and bobs of this nature are the things that I reflected on with my friends when I lived overseas, oh-so-long-ago. These days, however, I’m home and they did their annual pining without me.

“I had a beer and sang O’ Canada to celebrate,” wrote one friend to me, vowing for the 15th time that next year’s Canada Day will be spent on home soil. Another posted a picture of maple syrup on their pancakes.

I know they both daydreamed about the gentle Canadian and our love of all things natural. It’s a beautiful image, really.

Of course, they’ve been gone awhile. There have been some changes they get to overlook and an election year to avoid.

As the parent of a toddler, there isn’t a lot of time in my house for television, so I was quite excited Canada Day when we put it on during my little one’s nap time to watch some Women’s World Cup. I can’t remember the game, but a commercial was seared into my mind.

The “Justin, just not ready” ad may have been on for a month already, but even so, I just wasn’t ready for the condescending dreck it contained.

The commercial shows a group of four seemingly thick voters mulling over resumés for the prime minister position.

Trudeau’s resumé is particularly unsettling to the group who offer up bon mots like, “He has some growing up to do,” “He’s like a celebrity who says things without thinking them through” and while on the topic of foreign policy, “Well, he wants to send winter jackets to Syria.”

They all make note of his good looks, which just makes whoever wrote the commercial seem petty and jealous, then they offer a semi-endorsement.

“I’m not saying no forever, but not now,” is the final line.

Ugh. Please. Somebody. Whoever is out there listening, please remove this commercial. I’m no fan of Mulcair’s ‘everyday man’ ad, or Trudeau’s unusual diction either. But this ad—yuck.

It’s entering the territory of American-style muckraking that we as sensible Canadians have always turned our noses up at, but more importantly it was just so stupid and so poorly executed for a government known to ooze dollars in ads.

It’s lovely that they dug up actors from a small-town improv group and paid them to perform in something that looked more like a Depends ad than a legitimate opportunity to engage the electorate.

But Canadians aren’t stupid. We don’t need to be distracted from the issues with commentary about a political contender’s appearance. We know that emergency relief, such as providing winter coats, is a function of our current government so it’s hardly remarkable that a leader of another party would take a similar perspective.

Maybe I’m delusional, but I’m pretty sure Canadians know a lot more about politics than this ad gives credit for.

So, in honour of the birth of our nation, I hope that whoever is in charge pulls the plug on that hideous bit of business and starts working toward an honest and open conversation about the things we all value most.

Like clean air and foreign policy.

Please and thank-you.