The big question, for Liberals

Several things caught my eye last week:

  • In the Globe and Mail, Laura Stone reported thatLiberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes says she was met with hostility and anger from Justin Trudeau when she told him she was leaving politics, prompting her to speak out about the Prime Screen Shot 2019-03-09 at 08.44.41Minister’s behaviour … [then she said] … ““I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid and then sign my name in blood to this party politics thing. Maybe politics is not for me because I clearly don’t follow what the handbook says I’m supposed to do … [and] …  I hope that when we talk about changing politics we do it from a foundation of not everybody who is outside of your red, blue, or orange structure is the enemy, and not everything within the red, blue or orange has to be exactly the way you want it to be.”” What a refreshing perspective from someone whom I had marked down as having drunk the Trudeau Kool-Aid;
  • Also in the Globe and Mail, Campbell Clark opined thatCanadians were waiting to hear the Prime Minister’s full explanation of what happened, and they didn’t get it … [because] … Mr. Trudeau said his PMO thought she was open to hearing new input, when she felt the matter was closed. He said there was an erosion of trust between Ms. Wilson-Raybould and his former principal secretary, Mr. Butts, that he wasn’t aware of – and he should have been aware. He said his concerns, and those of his staff, were about the SNC-Lavalin jobs that might be lost, and the people affected.” What they got, he writes, was “Not an apology. Not really an act of contrition. Not a full-throated defence. Not a detailed accounting of events … [instead] … Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s press conference on the SNC-Lavalin affair included an assertion that there were lessons learned although he wasn’t terribly specific about which ones.” The Liberal line, he says is all about “telling us [that Justin Trudeau] learned a lesson without really explaining what happened” and hoping that will be enough to make us forget that he and his closest advisors, quiet clearly in my view, broke the rules of the Shawcross Doctrine, which are enshrined in our laws and conventions, too, and, therefore, broke the law … again;
  • In MacLean’s magazine, Conservative insider Jason Lietaer wrote thatA month into the biggest crisis the government has faced, the Prime Minister called the scribes to the National Press Theatre to finally put an end to the debacle … [but only after] … He’d lost two high ranking female cabinet ministers who said they’d lost confidence. He’d lost his best friend and closest advisor from his office. He was minutes away from being challenged on Twitter by another one of his female MPs, Celina Caesar-Chavannes. “I did come to you recently. Twice. Remember your reactions?” … [so, he says] … You knew it was important because they did it before breakfast …[and] … He had cancelled all of his appointments the afternoon before. He had huddled with the respected ambassador to the U.S. to help him turn this thing around. He had had four weeks to think about what he was going to say. He’s a master at emotionally connecting with an audience. He was finally going to get it right … [but] … It didn’t turn out so hot.” Mr Lietaer says that “This morning …[which was a few days ago now] … in two minutes I fired off an alternative speech to the one the PM gave … [and] … Here’s what he needed to say this morning to start to turn the page:
    • My office and I got it wrong. The Clerk of the Privy Council did as well.
    • Our motives were OK, but our execution was inappropriate
    • I apologize and we will do better
    • Changes have already been made to my office
    • I have asked the clerk of the Privy Council to step down as well. A fresh approach is required
    • The SNC prosecution will go ahead as the DPP has decided
    • (optional point to add if you want to help SNC as badly as they appear to) We will, however, look at ways to continue to involve SNC Lavalin in federal procurement processes. The jobs across the country are simply too important.
    • We will split the role of attorney general and minister of Justice in next week’s Cabinet shuffle
    • I will be calling Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott to ask them to remain in our caucus and as part of our team, and I thank them for pointing out these issues
    • We were elected to be different, and better than this. We will be.

Ten quick bullets. Plain language. Real contrition and an attempt to turn the page. It took 2 minutes start to finish.” But, of course Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party could never say that he had ever done anything wrong … he is still being sold to us as ‘perfect;'” and

  • Again in the Globe and Mail, John Ibbitson (again) said that “At Thursday morning’s news conference, an unrepentant Justin Trudeau described the political crisis that has consumed his government as a failure to communicate. It was not. This crisis is about his failure to lead. And the news conference offered further proof of that failure.” Now I have already said that this is all about leadership and I said that the Liberal Party needs to take itself by the throat and shake the corruption out of its soul.

Mr Ibbitson goes on to dissect Prime Minister Trudeau’s remarks, and he says that: “Mr. Trudeau assumes no responsibility for a crisis that is entirely his fault. A good leader would be appalled that he had created a work environment so dysfunctional that a critical situation spun completely out of control without his even being aware of it … [and] … the Prime Minister tacitly admitted at the news conference that he was willing to let economic and partisan political considerations influence the SNC-Lavalin prosecution – a blatant violation of the rule of law … [and this, he explains, shows us] … Mr. Trudeau’s arrogance masquerading as humility … [along with] … His unwillingness to apologize. His relentless use of the passive voice – “there were already many decisions that had been made,” “there were conversations that were experienced differently” – to avoid taking direct responsibility. His promise to bring in outside consultants to review the situation … [but, he says] … at least now we know the truth. Fundamentally, Justin Trudeau accepts no responsibility for the cascading disasters that created this crisis on his watch. He and his advisers made faulty assumptions. He and his advisers misunderstood what his attorney-general was telling them. He and his advisers injected partisan politics and economic concerns into the rule of law. He and his advisers were gobsmacked when ministers began resigning in protest … [and, he concludes that] … We should talk as well about how these resignations reflect this Prime Minister’s signal failure to respect the concerns of women in his cabinet, about how the resignation of an Indigenous cabinet minister reflects the broader failure of this government’s efforts at Indigenous reconciliation … [but] … this was mostly a failure by a Prime Minister to lead …[and] … Mr. Trudeau assures us he has learned a lesson from that failure. The rest of us have learned a lesson, too.

There we have it, I think. In the wake of the destructive sponsorship scandal of the first decade of the 21st century the Liberal Party selected, after Paul Martin, two fundamentally decent intellectuals, actual scholars: Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, to lead the party. But neither, burdened as they were with Jean Chrétien’s poisoned legacy and their own unpopular policies, could match the colourless Stephen Harper who promised, and delivered trudeau_leaderreal change. So the Liberal Party abandoned any and all serious attempts at reform and looked, instead for a celebrity ‘leader’ as the solution. They, firmly in the hands of the Laurentian Elites, as they were and, I suppose, still are, turned at an untested, uninspiring young man with nothing to recommend him except a beautiful family and a near legendary name. The Liberals decided that substance didn’t count any more ~ after all, Dion and Ignatieff were all about substance and look what happened; they seemed to believe, and events seem to have proved them correct, that a well tooled campaign featuring an attractive, celebrity ‘leader’ could defeat a real, accomplished leader/manager who was, also, an introverted, colourless, unpopular policy wonk. bruce-main2

But it couldn’t last: Justin Trudeau never had the moral fibre to be a real leader and his powerful and effective team could not maintain the facade forever. Eventually we would get a peek behind the curtains and we would see that the nice, smiling, young man we met on the campaign trail has feet of clay and, most likely, no brain. But that didn’t matter in 2014 and ’15: all that mattered was defeating Stephen Harper and putting the levers of power back into the hands of the Laurentian Elites … where they believe those levers belong. They ran a brilliant campaign and, to their credit, attracted millions of new voters, reversing a decline in electoral participation that bedevils most liberal democracies. But, in the end, they offered us a fake and we are, now, beginning to see the breadth and depth of the lies we were told.

1_4327852Canadians like Justin Trudeau, he seems, even now, even to me, to be a genuinely nice person and his ability to connect with people is nothing short of amazing. But his many failings, on almost every file that matters, are beginning to show and Canadians seem to be losing patience with his litany of excuses … it’s not, it cannot be, not after 3½ years, ALL  Stephen Harper’s fault. Canadians can see past the lies propaganda and they can understand that Justin Trudeau is nothing but a supremely self centred intellectual featherweight who is “just not ready” for the burdens of high office. He’s nice and he’s cute, but he is, fundamentally, weak and shallow.

The Laurentian Elites sold Canadians a fake … Canadians can see that, now. Canadians can have, as John Ibbitson says, and should have, this time, “learned a lesson, too,” from all this.

The big question is: has the Liberal Party “learned a lesson, too?” It needs to have done so … the many, many good, honest, sincere Liberal MPs and the millions of Liberal Party supporters must have learned that Justin Trudeau cannot lead the Party  … or Canada. But, it appears, to Liberal insider (from the Chrétien era) Warren Kinsella, that they are still up to their old tricks … he suggests that they are “stupid enough” to force ( just ask?) female MPs to regurgitate nearly identical social media messages in support of the führer leader; shades of Joseph Goebbels and the idea of telling a big lie over and over again. Justin Trudeau needs to be removed from his office, by his caucus and his Party and replaced with someone who can lead. I think, maybe I just hope, that some Liberals understand that Justin Trudeau is pulling their great party down into the depths of corruption that not even Jean Chrétien plumbed … this, SNC-Lavalin plus the Mark Norman prosecution, combined might, very possibly, constitute institutionalized obstruction of justice. The many good, honest, sincere Liberals out there, in the caucus and in the Party centre, need to replace Trudeau, now, and select a new leader by early summer so that they can face a fall election with a clean slate and a decent chance at retaining power.

Published by Ted Campbell

Old, retired Canadian soldier, Conservative ~ socially moderate, but a fiscal hawk. A husband, father and grandfather. Published material is posted under the "Fair Dealing" provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act for the purposes of research, private study and education.

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