“What exactly has happened to Justin Trudeau?” Charlie Mitchell ask in an article in The Independent. “In 2015, after a decade of steely Conservative rule, the scion of the powerful Trudeau family offered Canadians “sunny ways” and was rewarded with a handsome majority. Feminist, climate-conscious and outwardly pro-refugee, the 43-year-old was a hit among progressives worldwide … [but, today, just five years later] … Canada’s prime minister is almost unrecognisable. Having lost his majority last year, he sits atop a shaky minority government. Three ethics scandals, including the awarding of a massive government contract to a charity with close ties to his family, have undercut promises of transparency. And his recent decision to shut down parliament, torpedoing an ethics investigation, is illustrative, opponents say, of a new-found ruthless streak.“
Mr Mitchell says that “Over the course of a year on the Canada beat, I’ve met a lot of Trudeau’s countrymen. Those who constitute his core base still adore him. His critics, particularly in the Conservative-minded prairies, are vitriolic. The majority of Canadians, it seems to me, just feel let down.” I am, to be sure, one of those vitriolic critics; I think he is the second worst prime minister in Canadian history; his father was the worst, by far, worse than Alexander Mackenzie, and worse even that Mackenzie Bowell and Kim Campbell (who damn near destroyed the old Progressive Conservative Party):
Charlie Mitchell reminds readers (he’s writing, mainly, for a British audience) that “You can trace the origins of the Trudeau brand to the state funeral of his father Pierre, a popular former prime minister, in 2000, when millions watched the boyish Justin deliver an emotional eulogy. Surnames aside, the young Montrealer, whose pre-politics jobs included drama teacher and nightclub bouncer, was shiny and new. In just two years, he led Canada’s Liberal party from the brink of extinction into government … [but now] … lacking coalition partners, he needs the support of opposition MPs to clear every vote, leaving him vulnerable to a vote of no confidence, and a potentially career-ending election, at any moment.” Of course, given the sad state of the New Democrats, in both financial and leadership terms, Prime Minister Trudeau can count on their almost unconditional support and so it will b his choice to go to the polls again. He has a de facto coalition without the need to pay Jagmeet Singh with some cabinet posts. It’s no wonder some senior NDP MPs hav left the caucus, seeking better opportunities in provincial politics.
“Looking back though,” Mr Mitchell writes, “Trudeau was always doomed. For in no time, the breeziness that brought him to power collided with the sober realities of governing … [he explains that] … Trudeau won office in the world’s fourth largest oil producer by preaching environmentalism and promising unprecedented levels of consultation with indigenous groups. But with the sector in dire straits, he spent C$4.5bn (£2.63bn) on a vital oil pipeline, angering his supporters. Roughnecks and executives in the oil patch, meanwhile, continued to blame Trudeau for their economic woes. Billions were spent and public anger only rose … [and] … Weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, which underpin thousands of Canadian jobs but infuriate his liberal base, tell a similar story … [then] … With Trudeau bleeding political capital, his first conflict-of-interest scandal hit, in the form of a holiday on the Aga Khan’s private island. In 2019, he was again found to have broken ethics laws, by pressing his attorney general to drop a corruption case against SNC-Lavalin, a huge engineering company that hires thousands in vote-rich Quebec …[and] … His third such scandal, which is ongoing, is related to a C$912m government contract given to WE Charity, a youth empowerment organisation that has paid huge speaking fees to members of his family. With Conservatives baying, and three committees investigating, Trudeau prorogued parliament in August. It was a shrewd move, but a political card he had vowed never to play.“
Charlie Mitchell concludes, correctly in my opinion, that “Like many western democracies, Canada has become more polarised in recent years. Out west, where oil is king and many see Trudeau as elitist, his Liberals do not have a single MP. Meanwhile, at a raucous Trudeau rally in Peterborough, Ontario, last year, one young supporter – himself a minority – told me the blackface affair reflected nothing more than the prime minister’s penchant for fancy dress … [proving, beyond doubt that much of Justin Trudeau’s support is absolutely mindless, and] … His core support, and coronavirus response … [which is perceived to be fair to good, but only when compared to the lies of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson] … may yet save him but a simple fact remains: Canada’s bright young thing overpromised and underdelivered. Five years on, the Trudeau brand looks broken beyond repair.“
This is something I discussed over 18 months ago (2 Feb 19), just after Jody Wilson-Raybould had been demoted but just before the Globe and Mail broke the LavScam story (7 Feb 19). Despite the LavScam and Blackface scandals a largely bought and paid for media persuaded Canadians that whether or not Andrew Scheer would march in a gay pride parade was the was the defining ethical issue of the 2019 election.
But I continue to believe that the current WE Charity scandal is a step beyond any ethical misstep Justin Trudeau has made before. I think he may have crossed a line between unethical and criminal. How else can we explain the evident panic that caused Finance Committee chair Wayne Easter to abruptly and seemingly improperly shut down a meeting to prevent Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre from seeking to get “clean” copies of some heavily redacted documents ~ documents which Parliament’s own law officer (the Commons Law Clerk) said had been improperly censored by the PMO? There is a major coverup being attempted here; no other explanation make sense. It seems, to me, to be of the order of the Watergate coverup in the USA in the 1970s which, eventually led to Richard Nixon resigning the office of president and several of his campaign aids and even close White House advisors serving jail sentences. I do not know how bad the WE Charity scandal might be, but Team Trudeau‘s over-the-top reaction makes me suspect that it is far closer to to Watergate than it is to LavScam ~ in Canadian political terms it may be worse than the Sponsorship Scandal of the early 2000s which saw close associates of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien sent to prison.
I commend Conservative MPs Michael Barrett and Pierre Poilievre for trying hard to keep this matter in the public eye even though I disagree with one of the courses of action they propose. The fact, and I assert it is an undeniable fact, is that Team Trudeau is engaged in a massive, possibly even illegal coverup and they are being aided and a betted by the largely (⅔ of all revenue) government funded CBC and other bought-and-paid-for media outlets. The truth has to come out:
- First the parliamentary committees have to work, despite Liberal attempts to sabotage them;
- Second, Canadians have to elect a solid Conservative majority government, soon; and
- Third, that new government has to appoint a full-blown judicial inquiry ~ think the Gomery Commission of the 2000s ~ which will, finally, tell Canadians the whole truth and help us all to restore public confidence in the body politic.
But, Robyn Urback opines, in the Globe and Mail, that “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s summer prorogation worked precisely as designed … [because] … The expressed purpose, you’ll recall, was to push the “reset” button on Parliament so that the government could set a fresh legislative agenda. The previous Throne Speech, read eight months earlier, was no longer relevant to a country in the midst of a pandemic, so it made sense to dissolve Parliament to chart a course for a new one … [but] … It just so happened, Liberals claimed fantastically, that the decision to prorogue Parliament was made at the apex of the WE Charity scandal: a day after Bill Morneau resigned as Finance Minister and abruptly left government altogether.” And she goes on to say that “that new course, as detailed in the Throne Speech read a little over one month later, ended up sounding an awful lot like the old one; it was almost entirely composed of recycled promises and re-emphasized priorities, with a handful of references to COVID-19 thrown in. The green and gullible might have been shocked to realize that perhaps that whole prorogation matter wasn’t about setting a new agenda at all – especially since, now months later, the Liberals are condemning and even filibustering efforts to revive investigations into the WE scandal.“
“The Liberals’ position,” Ms Urback says, “is that now is not the time to be probing an issue that they forced the opposition to put off probing until now. It’s a beautiful manipulation, expertly executed … [and] … Any political strategist worth his or her salt knows that a fire starved of oxygen will eventually go out, and a second flame will need time to grow before it can burn with the same ferocity – if it gets there at all. That’s what the Prime Minister achieved by proroguing Parliament when the WE scandal was at its hottest: he snuffed out its momentum and gave people time to forget, knowing that the issue will seem less pressing when it resurfaces compared to the new and acute crises of the day. It’s very smart, and very scummy politics. And generally speaking, it works .. [but, she explains] … There are good arguments to be made that continued work on WE is just as important, and can be completed contemporaneously, with federal action on COVID-19. After all, the government’s bungling on the file deprived student volunteers of promised funds during a pandemic, and the curious redactions of files disclosed in late August raise questions about whether the public yet has the full story on what exactly happened between WE Charity and the federal government …[she says, and I agree (see above) that] … Canadians ought to know everything about how this charity, which has since closed up operations in Canada, landed a no-competition deal worth $43.5-million to administer a $912-million program (though the written agreement was just for $543.5-million, raising other questions), despite ties to the Trudeau and Morneau families, and despite a history of rather bizarre operational tactics … [and she says, and again I agree 100% that] … These questions deserve answers – and we might even get them – but the Liberals know much of the public’s interest, attention and focus has moved on to other matters in the elapsed time between the whirlwind of WE news over the summer and now. And that was exactly the point of Mr. Trudeau’s summertime prorogation: to press the “reset” button on a festering political scandal, and to chart a new course for his party.” That all says coverup.
Efforts to rescue the Justin Trudeau Brand from further debasement are only soiling politics in Canada. Canadians deserve answers and they certainly deserve better, ethical and honest leadership. Justin Trudeau is, by word and deed, bringing Canada into international disrepute. It is not quite as bad as what his father did in 1969/70 when he caused our allies to doubt Canada’s commitment to the liberal-democratic West and made some wonder if we were not looking to join the non-aligned movement if not the Eastern bloc. But neither Trudeau was/is a liberal ~ both were/are the worst sort of illiberal (I discussed that before, too) limousine liberals: wealthy, privileged and entitled and far removed from the working or even middle classes. Canada deserves better.