Cabinet is the weakest link in Liberal government
By David Krayden
With all those romantic harvest moons on the autumn horizon, sick check what a pity to see the love affair between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and much of the national media begin to cool along with those nippy fall evenings. Well, no honeymoon endures forever; though this one has probably set a political record of sorts, lasting for the first 11 months of Trudeau being prime minster and at least that length of time when he languished in opposition.
What are the signs of growing discontent? It begins with a few unhappy murmurs from some nationally syndicated columnists who ordinarily trumpet their ecstatic concurrence with the Trudeau government. Why there was even a suggestion this week that Trudeau has been rather vague about his agenda for the next three years. Besides declaring war on climate change, promising to legalize recreational marijuana use and ensuring that he will never embarrass Canadian sensibilities in the fashion magazines, Trudeau has been decidedly short of legislative goals.
Mind you, ever-loyal CBC has been reluctant to join the chorus. Even after Trudeau’s somewhat enigmatic speech to the United Nations General Assembly last week, in which the anxiety-obsessed PM sounded more like a marriage counselor than a world leader, the state broadcaster suggested he brought a “Canadian moment” to the world stage. Perhaps they would also classify the perennial scene in a slapstick movie, when the protagonist slips on a banana peel and falls on his behind, as another Canadian moment.
But I am going to surprise you all and suggest that the weakest in the Liberal government is not Trudeau but the rickety team that surrounds him. Though it is politically incorrect to call it a quota cabinet, that is exactly what it is: a government body that was selected by a rigorous adherence to gender politics.
It is not just that this collection of faces is composed of the good, the bad and the indifferent. It is the growing sense that there is little substance and precarious frailty in this conglomeration of “talent.” There is a growing portent in the political naïveté of some ministers, most notably Ottawa’s own environment czar, McKenna, who demonstrated such raw political ineptitude when she procured glamour photography at taxpayer expense. The latest admission, that Maryam Monsef, the minister for democratic institutions, somehow didn’t know that was born in Iran and not Afghanistan is an error to be made (and perhaps overlooked) by a sorority applicant, not a member of a government cabinet.
Quite frankly, even an experienced minister like Stephane Dion in foreign affairs appears as indecisive and ill-equipped for the task as he did when the Conservative Party propaganda machine was working overtime to characterize him as wimp incarnate. He has managed to appear as minster-without-principles for his efforts to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and his buddy-buddy diplomacy with China.
Harjit Sajjan, who should know his file from personal experience, increasingly appears to be treading water at national defence because he is receiving little or no direction from Trudeau aside from a broad policy suggestion to promote peacekeeping, ignore major capital acquisition projects and talk diversity: unfortunately it’s do-nothing, get-nowhere agenda is one that is perfectly in tune with Trudeau’s contempt for, and ignorance of, defence issues.
But back to McKenna. As the minister responsible for the looming carbon tax, she is perhaps the cabinet member closest to Trudeau’s heart in fighting the purported climate change war that this government is earnestly committed to “winning,” as if that objective is anything but a ludicrous legal fiction.
Her enthusiasm, on behalf of a government that is committed to penalizing Canadians for using the only viable sources of energy available to them for heating their homes and running their cars, might well continue to drag economic growth and usher in a recession fueled (excuse the pun) by environmental taxes.
The fall session should prove to be both contentious and inspiring for the official opposition Conservatives, if they can decide what their party is there to oppose.