Yesterday I, and almost everyone else in the blogosphere, was happily preoccupied with the shenanigans in our (Canadian) House of Commons. (So preoccupied, in fact, that I hardly even noticed that New Zealand’s Prime Minister, John Key, had, just a week earlier, been ejected from his own parliament for improper behaviour ~ continuing to talk (shout?) when the Speaker had risen (a major parliamentary n0-no).) Our blogs practically wrote themselves and, amongst we Conservatives, at least, our outrage and indignation were nearly boundless. Not only did we want Justin Trudeau ejected from the House of Commons, some of us reckoned that horsewhipping was likely too good for him.
But there are some serious questions, too: Why did it happen? And is there likely to be some fallout? John Ibbitson, in a good column in the Globe and Mail (which is behind a pay wall so, under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act, in the interests of open discussion, I am quoting it in considerable detail), explains why and suggests that the outcome will be tighter discipline for rookie cabinet ministers.
“Justin Trudeau,” Mr Ibbitson reports, “took his medicine in the House Thursday morning, repeatedly apologizing for his physical aggression on the floor of the House the night before, and promising improved relations with the opposition parties … We’ll see,” he goes on, “but the root of this situation involves a coterie of politically inexperienced ministers making one mistake after another. In the past, this has led to greater control from the Centre; cynics predict that same will happen with the Trudeau government. And the cynics are probably right.”
John Ibbitson reminds us that:
“The Supreme Court ruled that prohibiting physician-assisted death was unconstitutional, and set a June 6 deadline for Parliament to respond with legislation appropriate to that decision. Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould appointed a committee, co-chaired by Liberal MP Rob Oliphant, to study the issue, but then chose to ignore the committee’s recommendation that people with both terminal and non-terminal illnesses, including mental illnesses, could request such a death.
Instead, Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s legislation, Bill C-14, permits physician-assisted death to end suffering only when a natural death is “reasonably foreseeable.”
Mr. Oliphant said he would vote against the bill, which he believes conflicts with the court’s ruling. Alberta’s highest court agreed this week with Mr. Oliphant, granting a physician-assisted death to a woman with a severe and incurable mental illness. The bill, on its face, is fatally flawed and will not survive a court challenge. The previous Conservative government was rightly criticized for pushing through such legislation.
When it became clear the opposition parties intended to delay passage of Bill C-14, House Leader Dominic LeBlanc sought to impose closure on the bill and also sought to pass a rule that would block opposition-party efforts to fight back against closure. Conservative and NDP MPs were furious.
To further raise tempers on the opposition benches, Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef announced a parliamentary committee this month that will study replacing the first-past-the-post style of electing MPs with an alternative method. The committee is stacked with Liberal MPs, and Ms. Monsef refuses to permit a referendum on whatever new electoral system is proposed because “half the people impacted by past proposed electoral reforms in Ontario and B.C. did not participate.”
Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose didn’t hesitate to bring up electoral reform in her speech Thursday morning condemning Mr. Trudeau for his actions, pointing out that calling a referendum undemocratic is “absurd” and “insulting.”
“But when the Prime Minister shows arrogance or dismissiveness or the disrespect that he showed us last night, there should be no surprise when the government follows.”
Ms. Monsef is also a political rookie. And it was a rookie prime minister who on Wednesday lost his temper so badly. Had Stephen Harper done the same when he was prime minister, he would have been under intense pressure to resign.
The situation has become so grim that little of the government’s rather thin legislative program, including Bill C-14, has any hope of passage before the House rises in June. Suddenly, surprisingly, the government appears to have completely lost control of its agenda.“
So, what is the likely outcome?
John Ibbitson says, and I agree, that “In previous governments, when ministers botched matters and things got bogged down, the prime minister of the day responded by stripping ministers of their responsibility and centralizing operations in his office. Mr. Trudeau has repeatedly promised that will never happen on his watch. But if the past is predictive, his advisors will be warning that he needs to get the situation back under control. And that means control from the Centre.“
But I would go a bit farther. I do not believe Prime Minister Trudeau will fire many (perhaps not even any) ministers. It’s not his style, for one thing, and, further his “cabinet making” was as contrived as everything else about his government: it’s all campaign smoke and mirrors. His ministers were selected for appearance ~ and that includes Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef ~ and for balance and “because it’s 2015,” not for competence or depth. It, the whole Trudeau government, is a sham, created by public relations professions to appeal to people, not to actually work.
We bought the “sizzle” and now we are discovering that there is no “steak.” This is the essence of the Trudeau government …
.. that’s all there is and that’s all there will be for four long, sad, years.