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The backlash came swiftly for writer Stephen Rodrick after he walked down a path few foreign journalists can venture without enduring widespread ridicule: writing a magazine profile of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Much of the social media commentary Wednesday morning focused on the laudatory tone of the 6,500-word Rolling Stone article, riddled with pointed comparisons to U.S. President Donald Trump. Others judged the magazine by its cover, which features a portrait of Trudeau, tie loosened and sleeves rolled up, and the headline: “Why Can’t He Be Our President?”
“I didn’t even know they had Twitter in Canada!” Rodrick mused in a late-morning tweet, later adding, “Man, don’t tell all these angry Canadians that I’m moving to Vancouver in January!”
The online version of the piece was quickly updated to remove some of the factual errors that had most raised the ire of indignant Canadians — or had at least caused some eye-rolling. Here they are, for the sake of posterity:
Liberty Party: The phrase: “Trudeau won in an upset in 2008, made all the more significant because his Liberty Party took another national thrashing.” The correction: it’s, of course, the Liberal Party — inextricably linked to Justin Trudeau’s own brand.
Mountain Police: The phrase: “‘You have to wait for them to open it,’ says Trudeau, pointing to his Royal Canadian Mountain Police detail. He grins a bit. ‘It took me six months to figure that out.’” The correction: it’s the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. A cursory Google search turns up a “Mountain Police” station in Hamilton, Ont., but they’re not responsible for prime ministerial security.
St. John River: The phrase: “An hour later, he jumps onto a picnic table to eat ice cream with supporters along the shores of the St. John River in postcard-perfect Grand Bay-Westfield, New Brunswick.” The correction: always a point of contention for people in Canada’s eastern provinces, the distinction between St. John and Saint John doesn’t go unnoticed. It’s the Saint John River, not to be confused for St. John’s, Nfld. or Saint John, N.B.
We note a few other mild inaccuracies still appear in the Rolling Stone copy:
Session: The phrase: “The legislative session is over …” The correction: the second sentence of the piece starts with a technical inaccuracy that’s a favourite for Parliament Hill nerds. The parliamentary session is not over until prorogation or an election writ. The sitting, however, did conclude at the end of June.
Ignoring Trump: The phrase: “Trudeau has largely ignored the president …” The correction: This isn’t quite true and likely wouldn’t be the impression Trudeau wants to give. While he has been focused on state-level interactions more than previous prime ministers have had to be, Trudeau, his office and his bureaucrats have been all-hands-on-deck dealing with the White House, and, as noted elsewhere in the piece, Trump seems to be impressed.
Nomination contests: The phrase: “Party organizers ultimately decide which riding (district) candidates should run in. It might not even be in the same province. Trudeau was dispatched to the Papineau section of Montreal …” The correction: Trudeau won a highly-contested nomination race for the riding. If he’d lost, the Liberal Party wouldn’t have necessarily plunked him anywhere else. It’s also pretty unusual (and frowned-upon) for someone to end up in an out-of-province riding.
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