In an editorial, the Toronto Sun says that “The stink surrounding Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s finances is getting worse … [and] … if the shares part of [all] this [litany of oversights] doesn’t violate the letter of the law it certainly doesn’t pass the smell test for regular Canadians … [thus, despite agreeing to put his shares in a blind trust, at last] … [Minister] Morneau appears to have no problem with the tax benefits that come with private corporations as long as they benefit him … [and that’s] … Hypocrisy, plain and simple.“
In the Globe and Mail, Adam Radwanski says “if you’re familiar with the culture of this Liberal government, the way Mr. Trudeau and people around him tend to see themselves and each other, it’s easier to understand how Mr. Morneau’s entitlement or naiveté or whatever it was went unchecked for as long as it did. And it becomes apparent, too, that their unyielding faith in their own virtue threatens to make Canadians see them as decidedly unvirtuous, and to contribute to the very cynicism about government and our institutions that Mr. Trudeau likes to think he is challenging.“
In the National Post, John Ivision says that Minister Morneau’s reputation is in tatters.
It’s all part of a barrage of criticism directed at Bill Morneau and at Prime Minister Trudeau for playing fast and loose with the rules that are meant to separate partisan political office holders, even the very rich ones, like them, from temptation.
Mr Morneau has become, at least for now, something of an visible embarrassment to Prime Minister Trudeau and to the Liberal brand. This, on top of the government’s ongoing climb down from a series of (Mr Morneau’s) ill considered small business tax proposals, is painting the Liberals as a gang of entitled right kids who are stealing lunch money and retirement savings from the neighbourhood butchers and bakers and candlestick makers. Perhaps the Liberal public relations wizards can make this all go away, perhaps the prime minister’s crocodile tears will work … but I suspect that it is a bigger problem than that. My guess is that this might be another example of “going a bridge too far.” The CF-18 fiasco, cash for access, the failure of democratic reform, sticking with Prime Minister Harper’s climate change targets and the Bombardier subsidies can all be swept under the rug, but this is starting to remind Canadians that many Liberals have a history of having their grubby fingers in the Canadian public’s cookie jar. Canadians will forgive rookie mistakes, even crassly broken promises, but they will rebel if they think they are being cheated … especially by the rich.
The solution is simple. Bill Morneau should resign.
I’m not suggesting that he should resign just because the small business tax proposals were ill-considered, nor even because he is skating on ethically thin ice. Constitutional convention may suggest that resignation is a good idea but it certainly doesn’t require it. I’m suggesting he should resign because he, personally, has been dragged down, into opprobrium, by this government, by Team Trudeau and by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, himself. Minister Morneau is, I suppose, a decent man, certainly he is very smart, hard working, successful and accomplished businessman; but he seems ill suited to the rough and tumble of partisan, electoral politics. I’m guessing that he honestly believed, back in 2015, that joining Team Trudeau would allow him to contribute, using his financial skills and experience, to Canada’s future growth and prosperity ~ to give back and that sort of thing. But it hasn’t worked out that way. No matter that he put his name, face and reputation to the “modest deficits” promise, the one that projected “balanced budget by 2019” but which now looks like it will only happen more than 30 years after that. Is that Bill Morneau’s fault? No, of course not, cabinet ~ of which he is just one part ~ has agreed to the fiscal nonsense that Justin Trudeau promotes, it’s not just Bill Morneau’s fault, but, I suspect, that some other people would have resigned in 2016, as soon as it became obvious that the prime minister was embarked on a policy of fiscal irresponsibility. He should resign because he has gone from being part of Team Trudeau to being a muted sock puppet ~ he’s trotted out on stage to be the focus to Canadians’ concerns about fiscal policy, but he’s not allowed to speak … the prime minister has, almost literally, sewn his mouth shut! He should resign because he doesn’t belong in this gang of nincompoops and bunglers.
If Bill Morneau wants to really serve his country he should resign both his portfolio (ministry) and his seat in the House of Commons … he needn’t say anything much. The message will be in the act. In fact, he needn’t say anything at all, really, except for a political platitude or two about having been honoured to serve; it will be clear to Canadians that he, being, as he is, a gentleman and a person of substance, simply wants to distance himself from the “glossy, toothy, touchie-felly phonies” who sit around Justin Trudeau’s cabinet table.