On your honeymoon, do five sensible things

My friend David Rodenhiser put it succinctly on Facebook:

Congratulations, Justin Trudeau, our first post-Baby Boomer prime minister.

Trudeau 300Please don’t shy away from your youth. Lead a new generation of government. Replace partisanship with collaboration, rhetoric with clarity, and self-interest with compassion. Champion unity, not division. Promote openness, not secrecy. Inspire hope, not fear.

Embrace science and culture, and cultures. Care about people who need help – refugees, Aboriginals, and veterans, to name a few.

Be effusively optimistic and courageously ambitious. Rally us and challenge us. Don’t numb us with platitudes.

Renew the Canada we once were, and move us forward. Be a prime minister who believes and trusts in the greatness of Canadians – in who we are, and what we can be.

Trudeau will now enjoy a weeks’ or months’ respite from the overwrought criticism we perpetually shower on leaders. Opposition politicians, licking their wounds, know the public doesn’t want to hear from them. The media, cowed by Harper for a decade, needs to ingratiate itself with the new crowd. They’ll be kind as kittens.

If Trudeau is as smart as he is starting to look, he will use this honeymoon to act on five (or so) high profile, sensible agenda items—widely popular, easily accomplished—and get them done by Christmas. Restore the long-form census. Improve Canada’s treatment of veterans. Unmuzzle government scientists. Jettison MoCan. Appoint an impeccable national figure to investigate the scandal of missing and murdered aboriginal women. Fix Bill C-51.It needn’t be these exact things. Just a handful sensible steps to differentiate Trudeau and his government from the mean spirits that preceded them.

One more thing Trudeau could do. To the extend these early changes require legislation, use them as a tutorial for showing the 150 or so freshmen Liberal MPs the ropes of Parliament. Then give those backbenchers a bit of elbow room to promote personal concerns that may even conflict with government policy from time to time.

A determined start can quickly get this country back to civility, compassion, and creativity.