Fresh off the heels of the super-controversial White House Correspondents Dinner is the lesser-known Canadian version: the Parliamentary Press Gallery Dinner. Unlike the White House edition this year, all the top Canadian leaders attended the dinner Saturday including Justin Trudeau who showed off his comedic chops in a speech poking fun at his political “frenemies,” members of the press and, most importantly, himself.
Admittedly, this year’s speech was nowhere near as hilarious as 2016 — when Trudeau was completely upstaged by wife Sophie Gregoire who sang, did a tricky yoga pose and cracked the funniest jokes of the night – but Trudeau still managed to get in a few good ones.
Here are the best Trudeau jokes of the night.
This is the “real news”
It is written in the Great Rule Book of Life that any person speaking at a press dinner must mention the fact that the event is airing on a barely-watched 24-hour news channel. Trudeau started off by thanking CPAC for covering “the real news.”
“Thank you, CPAC, for covering all the stories that the other networks are too busy to cover,” he said, “Important committee meeting? No, CBC would rather send 900 journalists to the Royal Wedding, including bringing Peter Mansbridge out of retirement.”
Cutie-patootie Andrew Scheer
The baby-faced leader of the Conservative Party bills himself as “Stephen Harper with a smile” but comments on his looks don’t stop there. He’s often referred to as cherubic and no matter how angry he is, still seems to be jubilant. Don’t let that face fool you though.
“Andrew, it’s a pleasure as always,” Trudeau said, “Your dimples are looking extra sinister tonight.”
Later, the PM came back around to Scheer to poke a little politically-charged fun at his opponent’s apparent lack-of-stance on gay rights in Canada. Scheer has said that while he is personally opposed to gay marriage and that he wouldn’t march in a Pride Parade, he would not change any legislation directly affecting the LGBT community if elected. Trudeau – a well-known Pride attendee – went in on that.
“Andrew, I heard a rumour that you wanted to carpool to Pride this year, is that true?” he questioned, “Don’t worry, we can work out the details later. I’ll bring the water guns, you bring the glow sticks and I promise you’ll have fun. Wait, or was it you’ll bring the water guns? Um . . . what is your official position on that? I know there was something about it in your leadership platform, but apparently the internet isn’t forever.”
Non-MP Jagmeet Singh
New NDP leader Jagmeet Singh didn’t get off easy either. Trudeau went after a point of contention even within the NDP party – Singh not holding a parliamentary seat.
“Actually, I’m kind of surprised to see Jagmeet here tonight,” Trudeau admitted, “It is, after all, the Parliamentary Press Gallery Dinner.”
He also gave Singh a bit of a scare by saying immediately after that, “It’s nice to see Rachel Notley here as well.” After a beat, the PM admitted, “I’m just messing with you, Jagmeet. It would be terrible for him to have to talk to her.”
Singh and the Alberta Premier are in a bit of a public spat after Singh tweeted earlier this month that the Trans-Mountain Pipeline expansion project “should not be built.” Notely responded that the NDP leader “is absolutely, fundamentally, incontrovertibly incorrect in every element of that tweet.” Yikes.
How many napkins did this speech take?
Trudeau also leaned into some of the harsh criticism he’s received this year. Alberta United Conservative Leader Jason Kenny said some scathing things about the PM earlier this month. Among them was that Trudeau has “the political depth of a finger bowl” and “can’t read a briefing note longer than a cocktail napkin” – which is funny in itself considering reports about Trudeau’s American counterpart.
“Jason recently insulted me by saying something weird about finger bowls,” the PM said, “He also claimed that I can’t read a briefing note longer than a cocktail napkin, which I can tell you is absolutely untrue. Sometimes Gerry [Principal Secretary Gerald Butts] adds funny drawings which makes [the briefing] two cocktail napkins.”
So, the India trip
Trudeau eventually segued into his most publicised and embarrassing controversy of the year: his India trip.
“So thank you everyone, that’s it for this year. Nothing else happened. Nothing at all. We didn’t go to India,” he said. Trudeau joked that he had completely forgotten the adventure even happened but his team insisted that he include it in his speech.
“I told them I had repressed the entire trip and they said, ‘That’s okay, we made a slideshow!’” he said, “Aren’t I lucky.”
Then the world leader cued up his “India Trip 2018” slideshow complete with comic sans titles and frowny faces to really set the tone. He shared several photos of the trip, including ones where everyone else was woefully underdressed and one where his son, Hadrien, is lying face-down on the ground while his parents sign the guest book at the Ghandi Memorial surrounded by Indian officials.
“See, this was the point he just totally gave up on the trip,” Trudeau quipped, “Of course, I was sort of feeling the same but nooo ‘Sunny Ways’ strikes again.”
He finished the slide show with a cropped version of that infamous Sophie Trudeau/Jaspal Atwal photo with Atwal cut out.
“What a gorgeous photo,” he said, “The media couldn’t stop talking about this one. Such a beautiful dress.”
“And that’s a wrap. That was India, ladies and gentleman. The trip to end all trips,” Trudeau concluded, “Seriously, I told my team I’m not going anywhere ever again.”
Honourable mention: Jagmeet’s Bhangra
Speaking of India, the other leaders poked their fun at Trudeau’s trip too, but Jagmeet Singh really brought it home by showing up Trudeau’s dance moves. One of the many things the PM caught flack for on the trip was his attempt at the Indian Bhangra dance. Singh took time during his speech to drop a beat and teach the audience how it’s really done.
Meet Jagmeet Singh. You may not know him, you may think he's just some random Indian dancer.
Well get ready, cause this man is the leader of the NDP and running for Prime Minister of Canada… pic.twitter.com/utDtM0YZmu
— Macaroni (@ForzaMacaroni) May 28, 2018