David Akin, writing in the Toronto Sun, provides a “mid-term” report card on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and some of his ministers.
He gives the PM (and PMO) an A+ for style and process, and I agree. But because of some real weakness of policy he lowers the overall grade to a B, which is still very good for a rookie prime minister.
A grades go to Jane Philpott, the Minister of Health, Jim Carr, in Natural Resources and Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (who happens to represent me (Ottawa Centre) in the House); no arguments from me on any of those, although I don’t see much in the way of concrete results. I, like Mr Akin, like how they appear to be handling their portfolios.
Predictably David Akin gives Fs to both Bill Morneau, the Finance Minister, for what really is an incoherent budget, and to Stéphane Dion who, I agree, is a “wishy washy” and “weak” minister … and that’s being charitable. My, personal, opinion is that Mr Morneau actually knows better but he, and (more troubling, to me) his officials have simply rolled over under threat from the gang of Premier Kathleen Wynee’s ideologues in the PMO, while M. Dion actually doesn’t know any better: he really is as inept and muddled as he appears ~ simply leagues out of his depth.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan gets a D, because, Mr Akin says (and I agree) he is, “often incoherent in explaining what should be basic parts of the Liberal platform. Rather than lead or articulate his vision for a defence policy, he’ll spend the next year hiding behind an ongoing “defence review,”” and, “specialists in national security fear he has become captive to the agendas of the often-quarrelsome generals, admirals, and bureaucrats at DND headquarters.” He concludes that: “While one has to admire and applaud his background as a decorated Afghanistan war veteran, he looks completely out of his depth on the political battlefield.”
I have, more than once, expressed doubts about Minister Sajjan’s ability. I really could not figure out what he brought to the table when it came to managing a big, troublesome, complex department. I do not see how being a lieutenant colonel, even a decorated lieutenant colonel, in Afghanistan and the Balkans qualifies one to be the MND. If medals and military experience made one a sound strategic manager then, surely, Andrew Leslie would be MND: he has more (and ‘better’) medals and infinitely more experience. My guess, which I make sadly, is that Mr Butts and Ms Telford perceive him as a weakling and they have him in National Defence because they want a weak minister who will not argue with the Laurentian Elite‘s consensus that Canada doesn’t really want or need a combat ready, effective military … they want Canada’s soldiers to be baby-blue beret style peacekeepers instead.
I think we should all give Prime Minister Trudeau the benefit of the doubt, but we should understand that:
- Minister Dion is there as a reward for his services to the Liberal Party of Canada, but that foreign policy will be made by the PM and his closest political advisors, not in the Lester B Pearson building, by diplomats and strategists;
- The economy has been put a serious risk for ill-conceived, partisan, “feel good,” political reasons; and
- A Minister of National Defence was chosen to usher in another decade of darkness.