I’m sure many people have read about Trudeau mocking a person who raised the issue of Indigenous people suffering from mercury poisoning. (a)(b) Now we all say things ‘off the cuff’ that we regret and Trudeau apologized and returned the $1,600 fee to the person for attending Trudeau’s fundraiser.
But two problems exist:
- The federal government had promised ‘that Ottawa would fund the development and construction of a treatment facility for people exposed to mercury-related illnesses in Grassy Narrows’. So far it’s just been words. The poisoning happened 50 years ago. (c) But the politicians didn’t have a problem giving Weston/Superstore $12 million for a freezer upgrade (d); a company that made net earnings of $800 million in 2018. (e)(i)
Trudeau had time to attend a fundraiser but no time to visit the Grassy Narrows community. A profitable corporation, a fundraiser versus sick and dying people – politicians priorities are obvious.
- I have not read anything about the roomful of ‘people’, who laughed and applauded at Trudeau’s comment, apologizing. Not one of them had the courage, the backbone, the common decency to stand up and say to Trudeau something like ‘Excuse me, Mr. Trudeau, but I believe you need to rethink your comment’ or ‘I don’t think you really heard what the commenter was saying’ or ‘I think you misunderstood the seriousness of the comment’. Instead these fawning, bootlicking, sycophants just laughed and applauded at a mocking comment to a very serious issue; apparently, people suffering and dying is humourous to them. Maybe they and their families should go drink mercury
And this is certainly not the first time that politicians and their friends found the suffering of regular people to be humourous. George Kerr, Ontario Ministry of the Environment in 1970, “declared that the Wabigoon river would recover on its own, without a cleanup or intervention. He said it would happen naturally in 12 weeks. Decades later, in a 2010 eulogy for Kerr, the MP Norman W Sterling said Kerr simply made up the 12-week number, and quoted him as saying: ‘“If I had said it was going to be flushed out in one or two years, they would never have believed me.”’ The anecdote was met with laughter in the Ontario parliament.” (c) The politicians and their friends just don’t change.
This is also called groupthink. It prevents different points of view from being expressed. “Janis (1972) said that groupthink is ‘a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment that results from in-group pressures.’ Essentially, people within a group become so consumed with the group, maintaining group cohesiveness, and doing what is important for the group that they themselves lose their ability to think independently and make good, sound judgments.” (f)(g)
The one I recall learning about was the explosion of the U.S. space shuttle Challenger in 1986. “Eager to launch the shuttle on schedule, NASA managers ignored warnings about launching in low temperatures. They also knew of a flaw in the shuttle’s O-rings but did nothing about it. Engineers who first opposed the launch for safety reasons later assented. Seventy-three seconds after the shuttle took off, it burst into pieces, killing all seven of its crew members.” (h) As I recall, the top bosses didn’t want to hear that there were any problems; they had a ‘window of opportunity’ to launch and they didn’t want to miss it so they weren’t told. So, what did they gain? The shuttle blew up, seven people were killed and the U.S. space program was set back a long time because of negative public opinion. In short, they gained nothing and lost a lot.
Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott did not succumb to groupthink (see post Jody Wilson-Raybould and Other Heroes). They thought independently and made good, sound decisions. But political leaders, and the handful of people (most not elected) who actually make the decisions, don’t want this, they want sycophants/bootlickers. And that’s one of the reasons they are soooo good at screwing things up.
And all political parties are the same.
(a) Trudeau to Grassy Narrows Protester: ‘Thank You Very Much For Your Donation’ – Ryan Maloney, 28 Mar 2019, HuffPost Canada
(b) Trudeau apologizes to Grassy Narrows protester thanked for ‘donation,’ kicked out of Liberal Party fundraiser – Matt Prokopchuk, 28 Mar 2019, CBC News
(c) The Warrior Society rises: how a mercury spill in Canada inspired a movement – Robert Jago, 16 Oct 2018, The Guardian
(d) Liberals under fire after announcing more than $12M in funding to Loblaw – Mia Rabson, 09 Apr 2019, CTV News
(e) Loblaws 2018 Annual Report
(f) Groupthink, Psychology Glossary, Alley Dog.com
(g) Groupthink, Wikipedia
(h) What is Groupthink, Definitions and Examples – Communications Studies