Canadian Prime Ministers are often a reaction to their immediate predecessors.
Brian Mulroney perhaps described it best:
“When the time for change strikes, it’s lethal, I ran and was successful because I wasn’t Pierre Trudeau. Justin is successful because he isn’t Stephen Harper.”
Stephen Harper was a dour, but ruthlessly competent, manager as our head of government.
Justin Trudeau and his “sunny ways” persona could, therefore, have been the reason he was elected as a response to Harper’s grim persona.
After a decade of Harper’s studied introversion, Canadians embraced Trudeau’s flippant extroversion. For well over a year, Trudeau’s Liberal government have enjoyed a prolonged honeymoon. Yet it seems that there may be a slow trend of shifting Canadian values as previous Liberal voters become disenchanted with such failures as electoral reform.
The core problem with the Liberal government is Justin Trudeau’s unwillingness to openly discuss some of the grim matters of governing. For example, an audit of freedom-of-information requests by News Media Canada, a national association representing the Canadian news media industry, gives the federal government a failing grade for timely disclosure of information.
That same report found that in this year’s audit “was even worse than in the latter years of the former Stephen Harper government.”
The Prime Minister must discuss Canada with adults
In a column outlining his wishes for 2018, Toronto Sun columnist Andre Marin expressed his fervent wish for Trudeau to act like an adult. Marin highlights a number of issues that illustrate Justin Trudeau’s unwillingness to act like an adult in his job. In my view, this unwillingness may be linked to the Liberal base of younger voters. This almost addiction like obsession with the youth vote could be limiting the capacity of the prime minister to adequately discuss the problems of the nation.
In that same article Marin rightfully suggests a re-boot of the cabinet as the first step in trying to bring a measure of professionalism and adulthood to Justin’s government.
There are a number of cabinet ministers who have underperformed and deserve to be removed from cabinet. Chief among the cabinet ministers in need of a career change is Bill Morneau. Morneau has caused a number of headaches for Trudeau. Morneau has been a problem due to personal indiscretions related to the handling of his personal wealth.
Morneau has also been a problem on a political level. He badly mishandled the proposed changes to the small business tax regime. As a member of parliament, Morneau is in trouble.
He purportedly hasn’t done a meet-and-greet in his constituency since August of 2016, and therefore could even lose his riding.
Morneau can be expected to leave parliament in the Liberal cabinet shuffle which will likely take place after the March budget.
Create A Better Cabinet
Justin Trudeau could never be expected to create as strong a cabinet as to rival Abraham Lincoln’s storied team of rivals. That does not mean he should ignore the talent at his disposal. Marin rightly questions why former Toronto chief of police Bill Blair and retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie are not in cabinet.
Blair would be a good fit as Minister of Public Safety if Ralph Goodale returned to the finance portfolio. Leslie could replace the painfully underperforming Harjit Sajjan in National Defence. That move might make cabinet a little less diverse, but the upgrade in skill would be better for the country.
Quit Worrying About The Photo Opportunities
Outside of a better cabinet it may be time for the PM to look past photo-ops. The Prime Minister met with the Taliban-linked, Joshua Boyle on December 18th. It was a heart-warming photo opportunity for Trudeau to meet with Boyle and his family.
A mere 12 days later Boyle was arrested on 15 offences including sexual assault, forcible confinement and uttering a death threat.
The meeting raises serious concerns about Justin’s judgment and the judgment of the people advising him. A prime minister should not be meeting with someone on the verge of being arrested on a raft of serious criminal charges. The PMO officials who allowed this meeting to take place without proper vetting of Boyle should be released. It is terrible that Justin won’t even admit regretting the meeting taking place.
As Canadians, we should all wish for our duly elected prime minister to do well in his job. Justin Trudeau has performed horribly in his two-plus years in the job. Hopefully, he can improve his performance between now and the November 2019 election.