Cool is Hot. Some White Men Can Dance.
|Justin Trudeau stopped by the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival BBQ|
One Year Later, One Liberal Learns To Dance To A Soca Beat
It is carnival time in the city of Toronto. Soca Music. Mas. Calypso. A million people in the hot and hot streets. More media than at the G20. For Federal Liberals, the world famous Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival, has always had a huge publicity attraction. It is sometimes their PR Waterloo.
And while Martha Reeves does say that summer is here and the time is right for dancing in the street, it doesn't mean that a politician just has to show up to be instantly seen as being one with the people.
It was a year ago, that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, rented a bus and rolled into town for what was then called Scotiabank Caribana. He had a steel pan orchestra and champion calypso singer, Macomere Fifi in tow. They barnstormed the festival, entertaining the crowds with long speeches, soca and calypso music and spectacularly bad dancing.
Michael Ignatifieff, his wife and his team managed to get on the parade route for the Scotiabank Caribana parade. They arrived at the judges' stand just as CP-24 TV began a live broadcast to an audience of 1.2 million people (strange coincidence?). Ignatifieff was filmed wandering into a crowd of hot, sweaty, barely dressed female Mas players. Most didn't know who he was, but, with the cameras whirling they began to wine with this overdressed (think business casual) politico who at that time wanted to be the next Prime Minister of Canada.
With his wife Zsuszanna screaming at the audience, in her thick Hungarian accent, to clap for her dancing husband he began to snap raise his arms and snap his fingers, like he was a Flamingo dancer! The auidence clapped ... but in derision. They also boo'ed and yelled that he was blocking the view. They didn't understand the Liberal version of the Soca Wine.
No hip thrusting. No torsos meeting. Instead he danced a Zombie-ike stiff-kneed off-beat Polka. He was off-beat. Out-of-step. He was the laughing stock of the very Diverse audience he wanted to impress, both at home on TV and in the Street.
This was the moment, at least for that young Caribbean Canadian community that the Liberal leader Jumped the Shark. A few months later he lost the election and left politics. In his new teaching career he is probably happy that he doesn't have to dance for his supper.
2011. A new festival season, albeit with a different name. A giant Jump-UP BBQ, broadcast live on CP-24 and CFTO. It is held at the same downtown Toronto building that Ignatifieff brought his Soca tour to in 2010. This time it is hot. Dangerously hot. 40 degrees Centigrade in the shade. Same dancers are in costume, all carrying water bags to keep from fainting. By a strange twist of fate, Macomere Fifi is live on stage. In strolls another Liberal, this time without a bus, or a steel pan band, or a screaming wife.
IT is Montreal MP. Justin Trudeau. No Bay Street casuals for this Grit, he is in a long sleeve white shirt rolled up to the elbows. Sandals on the feet. He talks briefly to the TVs, he also talks on stage. Unlike his former leader, it is NOT about self, it is about culture and the need for Canadians to be able to celebrate their own. It is a David Rudder like message -- " it is not how we vote, it is how we party!"
Trudeau danced with a Hot female Mas Player. He didn't stumble. In fact he didn't even sweat. No salt stains under the armpits. I check to see if they have melted the pavement. Late for a Porter flight back to the capital, he heads out the back way with people calling for more. He hasn't won an election, but, he did win over a parking lot full of hearts!
Trudeau is the first Liberal to really understand the power of Toronto festivals this summer. The Tories, however get it ... Big Time. Federal MP Lisa Riatt, Provincial leader Tim Hudak and his elected MPPs and candidates have been appearing, gorilla marketing style, at events all across the GTA. Be it the CHIN Bikini Picnic, the Caribbean Connection free concert, the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival opening of the TSX or the grand Nathan Phillips Square launch, the Tories have been working their way onto the stage and in front of the cameras. Even though I helped organize the events, I don't know how they wormed their way into the limelight. I shake my head and marvel at their understanding of live crowd sourcing.
|Justine Trudeau dances with a Mas performer in the CTV parking lot 2011|
|Michael Ignatieff and Macomere Fifi' 2010 stop by the same CTV building|