Please Advise! Wish-Granter Trudeau's Putting Santa Outta Business

He turned the electoral map festive red, then got busy. How can St. Nick compete?

By Steve Burgess 25 Dec 2015 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

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What can Santa do to win back his loyal Canadian following? Photo by Richard Elzey, Creative Commons licensed.

[Editor's note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a Ph.D in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

Ho ho hola from the North Pole. Count yourself lucky, kid -- not many people get a letter from Santa. Around here the mail flows in one direction -- we lose a lot of incoming mail trucks through the ice.

I'm writing because I have a problem. It's not the usual stuff about choking hazards or some kid shooting somebody's eye out with a Red Ryder BB gun or an unexpected stream of expletives from Talking Elmo. I seem to be losing market share in Canada. People aren't sending me their wish lists anymore. Instead they're all going to the new golden boy, Justin Trudeau. Nobody cares about fat old St. Nick anymore. And believe me, if I see one more news story about that goddamn Fashion Santa I'm going to strafe Toronto with reindeer poop.

Sorry -- Santa's not feeling very goodwill-full at the moment. Help an old flyboy out. What can I do to win back my loyal Canadian following?


S. Claus

Dear St. Nick,

You underestimated Justin. He loves it when people do that. Now he's the new Santa. And why not? You have to admit, he's got the credentials. Born on Christmas day, Trudeau covered the electoral map in festive red and then got busy granting wishes, like reopening the Kitsilano Coast Guard base. And to be frank Santa, Justin has smartly updated the Christmas Eve protocols. Generous and hard-working as you've been, there have always been troubling aspects to your game. The surveillance angle, for one -- that whole "He sees you when you're sleeping" thing just sounds a little "eew" these days. Then there's the "He knows if you've been bad or good" threat and the lumps of coal for bad children. Not exactly sunny ways, is it? Your tactics reek of oppression. Have you set up a Barbaric Christmas Practices Tip Line?

Justin's approach is different. He knows if you've been bad or good, and he loves you anyway. Justin has another big advantage over you, Santa -- unlike the new Prime Minister, you didn't inherit your job from the Grinch. He comes off looking great simply for not stealing Cindy Lou's Who-hash. And if all that isn't enough, Justin even dances the bhangra, which I'm just going to assume is outside your skill set. No, Santa. Just don't.

Still, I wouldn't worry, Santa. Your brand remains strong. Plus you've got that Teflon effect that comes as part of the whole mythical, quasi-religious package. Magical figures like you never seem to get the blame when wishes and prayers don't come true. When the prayed-for Christmas gift fails to arrive the disappointed party always seems to blame themselves, either because of Original Sin or that incident when a spider somehow turned up in his sister's lunchbox. The more devout may even conclude that unwrapping a six-pack of thermal socks Christmas morning was somehow part of Santa's mysterious plan.

Whereas politicians, even those as charming as Justin Trudeau, are not given the same leeway. Their promises are recorded, itemized, costed-out and impatiently awaited. You were wise to locate your headquarters so far from Ottawa. Or Victoria, for that matter.

An LNG IOU for all

B.C. Premier Christy Clark got re-elected in 2013 by hitting the campaign trail with a big sack of liquid natural gas that would mean a Merry Christmas to all, each and every one. Alas, a bunch of gas is exactly what it turned out to be. Imagine children all over this province tumbling down the stairs on Christmas morning to fall upon a pile of beribboned packages, each box in turn torn apart to reveal -- an IOU that may or may not be redeemable for a Lego kit in, say, 2026. How would that affect your poll numbers, Santa? Down in Whoville, you'd be running neck-and-neck with that seasick crocodile.

The new prime minister may not have that sort of albatross around his neck -- there's no magical balanced budget pledge to live up to, which helps. But between tax cuts, public transit, child care, changing Bill C-51, pop guns, bicycles, roller skates, drums, checkerboards, tricycles, popcorn, and plums, there are going to be letdowns. By next Christmas, Santa, I promise people will once again be focusing their vague, unfulfilled hopes and expectations where they always have -- on the North Pole. And I don't just mean climate change activists.

Christmas has evolved over the years, Santa. There didn't used to be so many arguments over the merits of vegan roast beast. And while the smoke that encircles your head like a wreath is now verboten within three metres of any public doorway, I really don't think the vaping thing is a good look for you. But never mind. Your place in the holiday season is secure, old man. Just don't go negative. And be very careful when giving anything to Mike Duffy. That never works out well.

Merry Christmas from your friends at The Tyee.

Please note our comment threads will be closed Dec. 21 to Jan. 3 to give our moderators a well-deserved break. Happy holidays, readers.  [Tyee]

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