top of page

Garneau's Test Drive is Common Sense

Last weekend, the New YorkTimes came under attack, publicly, for John M. Broder's honest review of the new Tesla-Model S (or more specifically, of the electric car's network of charging stations). Tesla's own CEO, Elon Musk, came out swinging---characterizing the NYTimes piece as "fake". He has since produced data (and headlines) all week in the attempt to prove that the standard-bearer for America's left-leaning newsprint intelligentsia, was simply committed to an unfair hatchet job on the very technology that the average Times' reader/writer has long championed. Where's the motive (especially given Broder's positive review of the car, itself, just months earlier)? Sometimes a bad review is just an honest, experienced-based, bad review.

Before this past week, the request for a test drive had never been considered an inappropriate "attack", even among the most unscrupulous of used-car salesmen. The test drive is merely a part of the standard process in buying a car.

See: home appraisals preceding 30 years of mortgage payments.
See: visiting a university before committing to four years of higher education.
See: changing rooms playing a role in every pair of jeans I've ever purchased.

Theses aren't "attacks". They're common sense.

Over the past few days, similar reactions to conversations about "test drives" have broken out north of the border. Liberal Party leadership candidate, Marc Garneau went public with the rather obvious sentiment that, when running for office, politicians should actually have to stand for something. That, "we cannot wait until after the leadership race is over to find out what we signed up for". That, we can't ask ... "Canadians to buy a new car without test-driving it first." These comments were, of course, pointed squarely at one of Garneau's opponents in the Grit's leadership race, Justin Trudeau.


Hardly. Compared to the tempo and tone of our own Parliament's Question Period, such statements barely even qualify as political.

It seems to me that Garneau was simply articulating the obvious. That representative democracies are built on policies and platforms. Voting doesn't really mean much when we don't know the what (beyond the who) we are voting for. And therefore, M. Trudeau needs to go to the less-than-great-lengths of getting (at least a little) specific with the Canadian public. Given the fact that he just recently referred to his past year as being "an age when I was figuring out who I was", Garneau would seem completely justified in asking Trudeau to share with us just what it is he figured out.

And yet Canadian media refer to Garneau's prompt as "the gloves coming off", a "swipe" at Trudeau, and even an "attack". Are we as a public so neurotically sensitive that this standard question from the first-round of interviews for every other job in the country actually qualifies as offensive? I certainly hope not.

In the long run, I sincerely want both Tesla Motors, Inc and Justin Trudeau, MP to succeed. I think they both could end up making important contributions to our long-term collective wellbeing. But we need to know if, today, we'll be forced to choose between and appropriate temperature and an acceptable mileage range (as Broder did with the his electric-car test). We need to know if there are still kinks to be worked out.

On both fronts--this is hardly an attack. It's a common sense conversation worth having.

bottom of page