Hope deflates, disappointment grows as our prime minister, surprise, turns out to be no different from any other. The curtain has been pulled back and Canadians are seeing what they don’t want to, how government really works – and it may be one of Justin Trudeau’s saving graces.
Stephen Harper’s machiavellian Conservatives ruled the roost for a decade and Canadians didn’t blink an eye for most of it. In the end it was the economy and sheer mean spiritedness, a death by a thousand cuts, that turned the country to examine other suitors.
That a giant corporation has used its power to bully a Prime Minister, who in turn bullied his Attorney General, should illuminate us to the realities of governing, because SNC-Lavalin is the tip of the iceberg. As strict as our political financing laws may be in comparison to those south of the border, the powerful will always find ways to peddle influence. The question isn’t how we stop the skulduggery but how we mitigate it.
Step up Jody Wilson-Raybould. More examples are needed. We can encourage a culture of whistle blowing, people who are willing to stand up and say what is wrong. It’s a helluva spin but Jody Wilson-Raybould has done Trudeau a favour. It’s his opportunity to course correct – or at least touch upon some of the values that got him elected, transparency and accountability, fixing the rotten culture of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Trudeau appointed someone who stood up to him and was willing to do it publicly. We’re not used to this in Canada. The Harper Government fired those who dared stand in opposition, and straight out of the Rovian playbook, character assassinated each and every one to destroy their credibility.
In 2015, Justin Trudeau appeared aspirational to the Harper government’s self-righteousness. After three plus years, falling flat on those aspirations, being exposed as a fraud is his problem. What’s at greatest risk is the value of his selfie.
He’s let down those who believed his passion for electoral reform, those who believed Canada would enter a new relationship with Aboriginal Peoples, and his fellow Gen Xrs. We thought he might do something about climate change rather than championing a plan twenty years out of date resulting in lining the pockets of a foreign corporation with billions of dollars.
At least he stood up to Saudi Arabia when our allies didn’t, albeit not enough to scrap selling arms to them. I didn’t vote for Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party in 2015, but he was a breath of fresh air, the sense of liberation in East Van palpable. Canada was Trudeau’s to shape and win (except for Conservative voters who have this bizarre irrational hatred of him), or Canada was his to lose.
The four-year election cycle means memory of the Harper years and the reasons to vote Conservatives out of office still linger. Replacing Stephen Harper with his squeaky toy and the same uninspired policies will do little favours for a party that needs reinvention. It doesn’t mean they can’t win, but their attacks over the last few years smacked of desperation, they’ve had precious little to go on – a free ride on the Aga Khan’s helicopter, a pipeline to the west coast they themselves couldn’t get through, and a budget deficit no one cares about.
Now there is some meat on the bones, but Canadians every day cast a glance at the shit show that is the US Presidency, and the PMOs attempted interference with the AG looks like a mere stumble in the park and the outrage, faux. It should mean more but it doesn’t. In the fall Justin Trudeau should face the electorate and find out how much he has lost their trust. Low turn out will be his enemy.