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Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre speaks with reporters in Ottawa, on Dec. 30, 2022.Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Have you heard the one about the guy from Calgary who couldn’t attend his own wedding in Cuba because he didn’t have a passport?

Even better – it was all Justin Trudeau’s fault.

This remarkable tale, with an emphasis on tale, comes courtesy of the great storyteller himself, Pierre Poilievre. The federal Conservative Leader posted a video online last week in which he chronicled a random meeting he had recently at the Ottawa airport with a man who identified himself as Mustafa, from Calgary.

When Mr. Poilievre asked what he was doing in Ottawa, Mustafa said he was there to get a passport. “You can get a passport in Calgary,” the Opposition leader told the man. “I thought so too, but I applied 10 months ago and it became desperate because I have a wedding in Cuba for myself and I need to get my passport to get there.”

“When’s your wedding?” Mr. Poilievre apparently said.

Dramatic pause.

“Yesterday,” Mustafa is said to have answered.

When Mr. Poilievre asked where the bride-to-be was, Mustafa said she was in Cuba waiting for him with 20 of his best friends.

“This is how everything operates with Justin Trudeau,” Mr. Poilievre says into the camera. “People still waiting 10 months for a passport.”

I have questions. Many others have questions too. But I guess my first one is: Does Mustafa actually exist? Because I have suspicions and I’m not the only one.

After watching Mr. Poilievre’s video, which he posted on Twitter, I put a call out on the social media platform for anyone who had more information on the man named Mustafa. Did anyone know him or know anything about his circumstances? I directed the question to Mr. Poilievre’s office as well. The last time I looked, my tweet had almost 254,000 views and incited the hashtag #whereisMustafa. There was nothing from anyone who could substantiate any part of the story. (Many expressed skepticism about it.) However, plenty of people relayed how quickly they were able to get their passports after applying. Some in less than 10 days.

But let’s assume for the moment Mustafa does exist. My first question to him would be: why would you organize a wedding in Cuba and send your bride-to-be and all your friends there when you didn’t have a passport? I mean, seriously. Many would say Mustafa was pretty dumb to organize a destination wedding when he didn’t have the necessary documents to attend it.

There were avenues he could have explored to expedite the processing time for his application. He could have gone to a passport office, explained his circumstances, and paid extra to get it quicker. He could have contacted his MP. Mostly, he could have said to his fiancée: “You know, we should hold off until I actually have my passport in hand.”

Regardless, it’s a pretty poor example for Mr. Poilievre to be holding up of why “everything is broken in this country.”

It also has echoes of MP Mark Strahl’s infamous constituent “Briane,” the single mom from Chilliwack who the Conservative politician insisted had her bank account frozen over a $50 donation she made to the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa. However, the RCMP and the finance ministry cast doubts on the story and Mr. Strahl refused to provide any further details about her identity.

But back to his boss.

At some point Mr. Poilievre needs to begin showing that he is prime ministerial material, that he has the gravitas to ascend to such an important position. Because up to now, he’s been one of the least serious Conservative leaders we have seen in some time.

Yes, he’s articulate and can make a great video. But mostly he’s demonstrated an ability to whip up fear and stoke anger. Every conceivable problem in this country he lays at the feet of Mr. Trudeau. His predecessor, Erin O’Toole, recently said that some of the “hyperaggressive” rhetoric his party has been associated with in the last while is slowly “normalizing rage and damaging our democracy.”

He could have been looking straight into the eyes of Mr. Poilievre when he said it.

There are many things that the Liberal government in Ottawa can and should be criticized for. Its fiscal and monetary policy. Debt. Immigration policy. Our shrinking middle-power status. These are big, heady matters that demand a thoughtful critique, not gimmicky, attention-getting videos that don’t offer solutions but are seemingly designed solely to assign blame and agitate the masses.

Whether Mustafa actually exists is not the question here. The question is why is Pierre Poilievre talking about him in the first place?

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