Chris Selley: It’s 2017. Do you know where your prime minister is?
On Boxing Day in an alternate universe, Justin Trudeau and family headed off on vacation to the Bahamas — just like in this universe, only they flew Air Canada and not on a government jet. To satisfy Canadians’ apparently bottomless appetite for shirtless photos and lifestyle pieces, a few enterprising reporters and photographers found themselves on the flight. Hacks left behind, working bitterly through the holidays, demanded to know why Trudeau had chosen to ring in Canada’s sesquicentennial new year in a foreign country and not here at home.
This looks something like the real-universe United Kingdom, as fictional cabinet minister Nicola Murray wearily explained in the political satire The Thick of It: “We wanted to go to Florida but (political party enforcer) Malcolm ‘suggested’ that we go to Suffolk. So the kids were miserable, the weather was miserable and Malcolm phoned to shout at me for looking miserable.”
British prime ministers often fly commercial, but perhaps that’s a case of optics over common sense: luxury prime ministerial holidays are to Fleet Street as a marrow bone to a Rottweiler. The culture of the British political press is fiercely adversarial on principle, and some argue it goes too far — not me, however, because here in Canada we have gone too far the other way.