Candice Bergen a member of Canada’s Parliament who also serves as the Deputy Leader of the Conservative party in Canada as well as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has been getting some media attention in the last week for a photo circulating of her wearing a camouflage Make America Great Again hat. The photo might suggest Ms. Bergen is a Trump supporter or that she was at one time.
Although Ms. Bergen has denounced the violence that took place in Washington DC last week she has not apologized for wearing the hat. She has not confessed that she is embarrassed or ashamed she wore the hat. She has not explained the circumstances around when or how the photo was taken. While she has stated she believes Mr. Trump incited the insurrection and it was wrong of him to do so, she has not explicitly said that she was never a Trump supporter or if she was, that she clearly regrets that decision now.
On the one hand Ms Bergen’s reticence in distancing herself with a clear red line from Trump is not surprising, since a poll published in Macleans magazine in June indicates that forty six percent of Canadian Conservative party members said they would prefer to have Donald Trump as our Prime Minister rather than Justin Trudeau. In an article in the Ottawa Citizen Andrew MacDougall the communications director for Canada’s former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper cites a poll that says 41% of Canadian conservatives believe Donald Trump was cheated out of an election win. I suspect that in Ms. Bergen’s riding, which has a large contingent of conservative voters her wearing of a MAGA hat will make her popular.
Despite the disdain many in her party have for Prime Minister Trudeau Ms. Bergen might take a page from his book when considering her response at being caught in an old photo wearing a hat supporting a political movement led by man whose connections with white supremacists have been well documented. When a dated picture of Mr. Trudeau wearing black face surfaced in 2019 he offered two contrite public apologies for his actions something Ms. Bergen might consider as well.
I guess I am surprised on a couple of fronts to see Ms. Bergen wearing the hat. One would think it would be an item she would be loathe to even touch much less wear with a smiling face.
First of all she is a woman and a very successful, articulate, hardworking one as those who follow her political career know. Her own former party leader Rona Ambrose has been outspoken about the problem of misogyny in Canada’s political and judicial systems. Yet Ms. Bergen is wearing a hat that implies support for a misogynist who has bragged openly about his ability to “grab a woman’s pussy” whenever he wants. It is easy to find endless lists of demeaning comments Mr. Trump has made about successful prominent women just like Ms. Bergen.
Second of all she is a Canadian. Mr. Trump has not been especially kind to Canadians. He has consistently targeted Canada for criticism. He has implemented tariffs on imports of Canada’s aluminum and steel. He’s chagrined us for not doing our part when it comes to defence spending, called our prime minister names and made negotiating a new NAFTA agreement unduly difficult.
The MacDougall article in the Ottawa Citizen suggests that from a political standpoint Ms. Bergen should probably quash any idea she might support Trump’s ideology. Although it may make her popular in her own riding, and with a minority of her party’s members, it will not make her political party popular with the nationwide Canadian electorate.
In a different time Ms. Bergen could perhaps just let this matter fade away. This is a private photo and some might argue it is no one’s business but her own. However when the political situation in our neighbouring nation remains extremely volatile largely due to the actions of Mr. Trump and his supporters, and it is being suggested that a Canadian election may be on the horizon in the next few months, it would probably be politically expedient for Ms. Bergen to distance herself from Donald Trump in as clear and honest and forthright a way as possible and to indicate her regret and error at ever having suggested she might support him.