Justin’s Intellectual Disadvantage

Well, that was an interesting speech our Prime Minister gave in Davos, wasn’t it? From the Liberal PR team’s standpoint, it was a hit, complete with money quote:

Canada was mostly known for its resources. I want you to know Canadians for our resourcefulness.

Mind you, that’s the official text. Elsewhere, particularly according to Andrew Coyne, there’s a slightly different version:

“My predecessor,” he began, “wanted you to know Canada for its resources. I want you to know Canadians for our resourcefulness.”

Okay, look: there’s nothing particularly wrong, or partisan, about the Stephen Harper reference. Yes, Tory economic management relied primarily on the resources sector to drive most of the economy, and whatever you want to say about its merits or deficiencies, at least we can argue that resources are a Canadian economic advantage; it’s the “how do we manage it” that gets most of the argument.

However, the more worrisome bit is this: Justin seems to be toting the idea that Canadian brain power — i.e. ideas and knowledge — are an economic advantage.

And that problem is, that’s not so easy to justify.

There’s a word for those who generate ideas based on their own knowledge, and who make a living at it: intellectual. Most people have it to some degree or other, but only a select few get to make their living with it, usually college and university professors. The last person we had like that, in politics, was Michael Ignatieff. And look what happened to him.

Justin seems to have forgotten that intellectualism can only become an advantage if there’s an opportunity to apply it. And the opportunity isn’t as big as he seems to think it is, because there are tons of very smart people out there who aren’t from Canada. Our system of education doesn’t generate very many Mark Carneys, or David Suzukis, and they pretty much run smack dab into a ton of David Camerons and Rupert Murdochs and Donald Trumps.

I mention Trump because it brings up another point: usually it’s not the smart guy who has the advantage. There are several candidates in the Republican presidential nomination race who have higher IQs than the New York tycoon. But the tycoon has other talents that have consistently put him out ahead of the opinion polls, much to the frustration of the punditocracy who would be of the same “intellectual” philosophy that Justin seems so determined to tout.

Now, yes, you can drag out any number of Canadian individuals who have made their mark on history due to the products of their brain power. But that doesn’t make for the “economic advantage” that Justin is trying to promote. And though most of his Davos speech talks of Canadian “confidence,” there’s a thin line between confidence and outright arrogance, and one of Justin’s intellectual blinders is he never knows when he’s crossed it.

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About phantomobserver

I'm a professional librarian currently working in Ottawa, Ontario.
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8 Responses to Justin’s Intellectual Disadvantage

  1. NathanB. says:

    Hmm–I’ve come late. Victor, it’s good to see you blogging again, but I have to disagree with your conflation of intellectualism and resourcefulness. There’s simply no basis for the equivalency. Furthermore, your definition of an intellectual could just as easily be the definition of an entrepreneur. In fact ,our P.M. wants Canada to become a leader in technology and innovation, and he should certainly expand our economy moving forward in those areas. I don’t think our P.M.’s line was problematic in any way.

  2. monkey says:

    I am probably more of a Red Tory compared to many on this site, but even I find Trudeau’s economic policies very worrying. They are not the centrists pragmatic types we had from the Liberals in the 90s, there are left wing ones much like his father and Wynne in Ontario. In fact of the 34 OECD Countries, our government is probably one of the more left wing ones at the moment and the few to the left of us such as France and Greece are in a real mess.

    As for his brains, it is Gerald Butts who is driving the agenda, Justin Trudeau is just their salesman because unfortunately in today’s 10 second world image rather than policies seems to matter more. And considering how badly Butt’s policies have failed in Ontario we should be worried. At least had the Liberals chosen Marc Garneau instead of Trudeau, I don’t think we would have as much to worry about.

  3. will says:

    His speech had to be changed to protect his “sunny ways” image. Because we all know that liberals are not partisan and are completely un-ideological. They just do “what works” right? It’s the “nasty” people who disagree with them who are the problem. We’re going to have to re-evaluate such things as space and time to grow our economy from the heart out while the budget balances itself and the chinese economy turns on a dime.

  4. gabbyinqc says:

    “Mind you, that’s the official text. Elsewhere, particularly according to Andrew Coyne, there’s a slightly different version:”
    The Andrew Coyne version is the one that Trudeau
    delivered in Davos https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSyBM2zmTxY.
    Why aren’t the “official” version and the “delivered” version the same? Why the need for a sanitized version? I thought Trudeau and his gang were all about ‘transparency’. For someone who wants to instil a more civil tone in politics. Is that achieved by disparaging his predecessor?

    As JR’s blog post pointed out http://jr2020.blogspot.ca/2016/01/pm-selfies-embarrassing-performance-in.html other commentators, besides Coyne, found that line “dumb” and worse.

  5. wardoben says:

    David Suzuki???

  6. Lynn says:

    Why would any of the “financial heavy hitters” invest in Canada when it’s well know that Trudeau disdains the 1% but can’t confiscate enough money from them to support his tax regime. Apparently he doesn’t include himself among the despised wealthy individuals.

    Yes, we were told by the media how much love he garnered; but apparently not so much in the back rooms if the insiders are telling the truth about the CF-18 pull out and the actual reaction to that decision. That was downplayed by the CBC with the official excuse that there will be other meetings.

    Of course, he is probably only looking for investors for green technologies and that comes with tax payer funded government grants after the Ontario model of revenue generating incompetence.

    The other meaning for Canadian resourcefulness is that people will learn to work around the $10 caulifower and the $18 orange juice. That can be shrugged off.

    • monkey says:

      What’s odd here is he is part of the top 1% he hates. Yes it is true right now soaking the rich is quite popular, but if you look where it has been tried it almost never has worked out. More importantly I would rather live in a country where people strive to be successful whether they make the top 1% or not rather than one where success is frowned upon. Our top tax rate is now higher than some fairly socialistic European countries like Germany and France and only a few points lower than the Nordic ones. If you want more generous social programs, the only way to do it is a higher sales tax which off course no one wants, but that is how they fund it. There simply aren’t enough rich people out there to raise that amount of money.

  7. Don Morris says:

    While the intellectual can dream up ideas, the practical person has to bring the idea to fruition, as most intellectuals are not capable of more than ideas. Iggy was an intellectual who was lost in the mean, nasty, dirty world of politics, as he would be if he entered into the world of business.

    Trudeau, what can I say about him that’s complimentary? The man is no intellectual, has no practical ability, and is nothing more than a third rate actor spouting cliches, the “Harper-resources” line being just another of the hundreds he’s spouted since he was elected LPC leader.

    Unfortunately, the statement means nothing, Canadians are not unique in our resourcefulness, and are actually quite a bit less resourceful than other people, “necessity is the mother of etc.” The Israelis are resourceful, so are the Chinese and Indians, and in this real world of trade between nations, we have to compete with them, among many others.
    Trudeau and the rest of pseudo-intellectuals who infest Canada today seem to believe that we can do anything better than anyone else, because we just CAN! And I’ll hold my breath until I turn blue if you don’t agree.
    Trudeau hasn’t a clue as to what he said in Davos, his attendance and utterances at various meetings he’s attended was like watching a child try to find his way. Cringeworthy is a new term I like to describe most of Trudeau’s moments in the spotlight.
    Every so-called intellectual will one day write a book, , or several books, telling the world about just how brilliant he is, as Ignatieff did a while back, and the Toronto latte crowd will be impressed and will buy the book and discuss his brilliance at parties for months. And that will be the total effect of his genius on the world.

    Every person who worships at the shrine of intellectualism should read the autobiography of Canada’s richest man, Jimmy Pattison, for an inspiring example of a person who IS an intellectual and a practical person all rolled into one.

    Trudeau is simply too sheltered to understand economics, and his pathetic homilies must have the world’s leaders laughing their butts off behind closed doors.
    Yes, Justin, we DO have a modicum of resourcefulness, as does everyone else, but we also have high taxes, a regulatory nightmare that grows worse every year, high labor and energy costs, a green lobby that makes doing business here impractical, for all our “resourcefulness”.

    But we DO have RESOURCES, Justin, and the resourcefulness to exploit them, if you and the rest of the “anti” factions would get the hell out of the way.

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