The angry protesters spoiling Justin Trudeau’s outings are, oddly enough, the best thing that has happened to him during this election campaign. Because at last he gets up. Finally, the Prime Minister gives the impression of having something more in his stomach than sales pitch learned by heart. Mr. Trudeau – who has been unable to justify this election until now and whose lead in the polls melts like snow in August – is finally faced with an issue that he can, for once, grasp at arm-the-body: the populist rage that arises almost everywhere in the West and which, obviously, is catching up with us.
It would be wrong, in my opinion, to see in these unleashed demonstrators simple plotters or even, only far-right activists who get up at night to hate the one they designate as the “fagot” in chief. If it is true that Mr. Trudeau’s altar boy style ends up irritating in the long run, not to mention his talent for saying one thing and its opposite, the insults with which he is affixed these days exceed a purely animosity. personal or even partisan. Have you noticed the number of young people and especially women among the demonstrators? Two groups which are rather favorable to Justin Trudeau – at least, until now – and which one finds in much smaller number in the demonstrations of the extreme right, including those now famous which punctuated the reign of Donald Trump.
If there are certainly Proud Boys among those who today spit their hatred of the Prime Minister, the phenomenon is less “extreme” than one would like to believe. In my eyes, this “sporadic and unstructured” protest movement is more like that of the yellow vests who, in 2018, protested against the increase in the price of gasoline in France, while demanding the head of Emmanuel Macron. Here too, the trigger for such a revolt was based on a seemingly innocuous measure: an environmental tax on fuel. There too, thousands of individuals said no to a measure dictated for the “common good”. But, in both cases, it is in fact a pretext to protest against something much more diffuse and much broader: the elites, the media and government bodies and, ultimately, social disparities.
Many more people than we think, mostly on the right but not only, feel forgotten, not to say despised, by the governments in place. They are not entirely wrong. By favoring multinationals, high technology, over-education, many of those who once formed the working class are now losing their identity. With everything now in the hands of the biggest, where are the little ones going? What are they good for if more and more work is exported elsewhere, computerized and depersonalized? We also saw it in the United States during the election of Donald Trump, this wave of « angry white males », a movement mainly of aging white men who did not accept to have been downgraded, to no longer count in the social order, whether as a worker or as head of the family.
And now, with the pandemic, governments are now dictating to us how we should behave, even deciding our leisure time and our travel arrangements. The feeling of dispossession, the loss of control, is at its height; the vase overflows. Such a feeling of helplessness is not without seeking outlets. In addition to elites and government officials, Jews, immigrants, blacks and women are regularly pointed out – the customary scapegoats. This is because the perception of being “led by the nose”, wherever it is, often leads to the same drifts.
In Quebec, I followed La Meute, a group of “patriots” wanting to preserve the values and distinctiveness of Franco-Quebecers, for more than a year, until the group imploded, consumed by small games. of power, in the summer of 2019. I was looking to probe this type of right-wing identity nationalism with the aim of making a documentary. A year later, I found several members of the deceased group in the ranks of the antivax. Which may seem odd at first – what is patriotic in decrying the wearing of a mask? – is in fact only one and the same fight. Not allowing yourself to be eaten up on your back is the primary motivation of all these groups, whatever they may be. We also recruit in the same way, via the Internet, which also means that we recruit among the lonely, the idle, people who are bored and want nothing better than to get out of their isolation.
Suddenly getting involved in politics, directly calling out to the Prime Minister, fist in the air, thinking that we can finally have an influence on events is certainly intoxicating. If the ideology here is rarely present, Justin Trudeau and the other political leaders would still be wrong to see only fire. The discontent of those who loudly attack certain government policies, however marginal they may appear, is still a sign of something wrong.