The fall gal?

A couple of days ago I agreed with the Globe and Mail’s Robyn Urback who said that “In a normal government – one susceptible to shame, subject to real consequences, humbled by its occasional fallibility – Finance Minister Bill Morneau would be made to walk the plank.” 

Screen Shot 2020-05-26 at 06.32.24Of course, I don’t expect Bill Morneau to resign on a matter of personal honour or even on principle: he’s not downloadJane Philpott or Jody Wilson-Raybould. Nor is he “Gorgeous George” Hees or Doug Harkess who left John Diefenbaker’s cabinet on a matter of grand strategy.   They were all made of much sterner stuff.

There is even less likelihood that Bill Morneau could be fired. Can you imagine firing Bill Morneau for a conflict of interest with the Kielburger Brothers’ WE Charity when the involvement of the prime minister and his family is much deeper? Even Rosemary Barton would be shocked … well, maybe not her, but most respectable journalists would be shocked.

But, there probably needs to be a sacrificial lamb and Brian Lilley, Screen Shot 2020-07-17 at 06.51.05writing in the Toronto Sun, says that Bardish Chaggar, the minister responsible for Diversity and Inclusion and Youth (yes, boys and girls, there really is such a ministry, and it is a separate ministry, not, as one might have expected, the very junior branch if a larger ministry responsible for citizenship, immigration and human resources in general) is being set up to be the “fall girl.”

Brian Lilley reports that Minister Morneau testified that ““I was not the minister responsible. As I outlined in my prepared remarks that was Minister Chagger” … [and he added that] … “As to your second question on who signed the document, I’m actually not aware of that. My assumption would be Minister Chagger” … [and then] … Later in testimony, he was asked by backbench Toronto Liberal MP Julie Dzerowicz to clarify this again … [she said] … “Can you just make it clear for the committee that it was the responsibility of Minister Chagger to actually sign the final contract and it wasn’t with yourself or the finance department?” … [and] … “Your assertion is correct,” Morneau said.

Chagger-Bardish1800Bradish Chaggar, who, unlike her trust-fund kid boss Justin Trudeau actually knows what they teach at the University of Waterloo (she graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science degree), is pretty clearly expendable. But that’s OK, while ministerial resignations are relatively rare in Canadian history, as are actual firings, parliamentary tradition says that a minister can be welcomed back into cabinet after some exemplary period (say six months) on the backbenches.

The whole business of cabinet government is, for very good reasons, shrouded in secrecy and it is governed by custom and convention, NOT by written constitutional rules. Justin Trudeau will be well within his constitutional rights to keep Bill Morneau at his side and consign any number of lesser ministers and officials to the trash heap ~ keep checking for knives or arrows in the back Deputy Minister Wernick, your name is also on too many documents.

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