Have you seen Prime Minister Justin Trudeau being interviewed on Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix series Patriot Act? The episode, which dropped Sunday, can also be streamed now on YouTube. This look at “The Two Sides of Canada” is a sharp, satirical jab aimed at a Prime Minister seen as a darling of the Left and the anti-Trump just a few years ago in the U.S. press.
I’ve been a fan of Minhaj since interviewing him on the set of The Daily Show in New York in 2016. He’s bright, funny, enthusiastic and fearless, all helpful if your job is goofing on news headlines.
While born in California, the 33-year-old’s family is from India, so what he also brings is a more international perspective. In much the same way as his former Daily Show colleague Trevor Noah, he sees Canada in a different way than Canadians or even many American’s do, bringing a refreshing outsider’s point of view.
When I first encountered Minhaj, he was just back from his first trip to Ottawa. He was pretty much the head of the Justin Trudeau fan club at that point. Keep in mind that Donald Trump had just been elected President of the United States, so our boy Justin looked like, as they say in The Beatles’ film Help!, “an early clue to the new direction.”
This time, however, Minhaj goes after Trudeau for various flip flops, including his environmental record. Trudeau’s justification for rescuing and building the Trans Mountain Pipeline — completing a better delivery system for oil will raise the price, thus eventually bringing more money for a conversion to renewable energy — doesn’t wash with Minhaj. “It’s like me saying I’m going to lose weight by eating more Kit-kats.”
The comedian also does a very good job of presenting and explaining the SNC Lavalin scandal. Trudeau squirms and sighs but doesn’t go down and deserves some credit for sitting for the exchange, which took place two days before the Prime Minister was found guilty of interference in the dust up with his former Attorney General.
Minhaj also went after Quebec’s discriminatory Bill 21, a parliamentary dick move the comedian used to smear the province as the “Boston of Canada.” Ouch!
As hilarious as that is, it backed Trudeau — who needs Quebec to survive this election — into a corner. The episode basically was a series of tight corners for Trudeau, and that makes it fun to watch and informing, but probably not what the Liberal handlers had anticipated heading into the taping.
Minhaj was, however, respectful, and at one point apologizes for picking on Canada, suggesting, “I might as well have done a 20 minute take down of Tom Hanks.” He eventually compared Trudeau favourably to the opposition candidates in the Canadian election, suggesting Conservative leader Andrew Scheer “looks like the doll from The Conjuring.” He also finished by suggesting Trudeau is still the best hope and only option on the environment.
He’s just not “as advertised” as the Tory ads have been proclaiming. The episode brought to mind my interview with Jane Fonda last year around this time, when she angrily denounced Trudeau, telling me how disappointed she was in our Prime Minister after his brave talk at the Paris Accord later rang hollow.
“Never trust a good looking liberal,” said Fonda, who has met a few.
You can, however, trust Minhaj, who brings Jon Stewart precision and Mary Walsh-like moxy to the important role of holding feet to the fire.