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The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.


There are many ways to pick apart Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mediocre and ineffective leadership style. But you have to say this much about him: when it comes to defending embattled Liberal ministers, he could easily win an Academy Award.

Trudeau isn’t unique when it comes to protecting and defending his front bench. Other Canadian political leaders have done this. My old friend and boss, Stephen Harper, did it a time or two when he served as prime minister.

Nevertheless, it’s almost become an art form for this PM. When you consider that one of Trudeau’s former vocations was teaching drama at a private school, it makes some sense.

Here’s an example of a typical performance.

The curtain rises. Trudeau is either in his office or the cottage near 24 Sussex Drive. He’s in a good mood, transfixed on the beautiful weather outside his window.

“Sunny ways, my friends,” he says. “Sunny ways.”

The glorious scene suddenly turns into a tragic nightmare. Why? One of Trudeau’s ministers has apparently got into some sort of a mix-up again. His senior staff members and spin doctors are going to have to be called in, one by one.

“Dark days, everyone,” he says. “Dark days.”

Look what’s happened to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. He may or may not have known about allegations of inappropriate behaviour involving General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff for the Canadian Forces. This may have occurred in 2018, according to the testimony of former military ombudsman Gary Walbourne to a parliamentary committee. Sajjan may have also been involved in consultations related to Vance’s pay raise after the fact (although he’s denied this). That’s according to testimony by Janine Sherman, a deputy secretary to the cabinet, at this same committee.

Vance was charged with obstruction of justice on July 15. His successor, Admiral Art McDonald, ultimately stepped down due to his own allegation of sexual misconduct. He remains under investigation.

Both controversies were under Sajjan’s watch. Yet, Trudeau keeps him in cabinet.

There’s also Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett. She found herself in the midst of controversy, too. Earlier this month, CBC News interviewed more than a half-dozen Indigenous and non-Indigenous former staffers that worked for her between 2016-2020. There were reportedly verbal complaints about the workplace environment that were never dealt with. “The office was very toxic,” one staffer said. “That… affected the ability of the office to really move things. It could be toxic and good people don’t stay for toxic.”

“So many dark days,” Trudeau says. “So many dark days.”

As it happens, Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould is leaving politics due to Parliament becoming “toxic and ineffective.” Bennett was also involved in this matter. In late June, it was revealed she had privately texted Wilson-Raybould a one-word response, “Pension?,” in relation to her years of Indigenous activism. Bennett, who’s been an MP since 1997 and should have known better, was forced to apologize for making this offensive juxtaposition. Trudeau hasn’t removed her from cabinet, however.

The PM remembers his battles with Wilson-Raybould and the SNC-Lavalin scandal. Fighting with Canada’s first Indigenous minister helped reduce his majority government to a minority in 2019. It led to the resignation of Treasury Board President Jane Philpott, a respected family physician who was displeased with the way he had treated her friend, Wilson-Raybould. There was also Celina Caesar-Chavannes, a black Canadian MP who once served as his parliamentary secretary. She resigned around the same time as Wilson-Raybould, alleging episodes of racism and micro-aggressions in their private conversations.

Oh, let’s not forget Julie Payette. She wasn’t a minister, but the PM appointed her to the ceremonial role of Canada’s Governor-General with great enthusiasm. He defended her to the hilt when she faced a tsunami of trouble and bad press. When an official report confirmed there had been – wait for it – a “toxic environment” at Rideau Hall during her tenure, he gave up and removed her.

“The darkest days,” Trudeau says. “The darkest days.”

My God, he thinks. Another minister is in tr…tr…trouble. It’s hard getting those big words out, as he’s experienced during his speeches, interviews and life in general. While the PM is a bit worried, the wonderful array of costumes in his tickle trunk will keep him amused for days. Maybe weeks. Years, even.

Plus, he has a particular script that he often follows during these difficult times.

When a minister gets into trouble, he refuses to discuss the issue publicly for an extended period of time. He’ll deny any knowledge of the controversy. He’ll have a sudden epiphany that something may have happened in the deepest, darkest corner of the universe. He’ll express stunned horror and faux outrage when the media and public turn against him. He’ll shift to partial admission of the minister’s guilt from an arm’s length perspective. He’ll gradually acknowledge something went wrong. He’ll claim the minister (and others) experienced it differently. Finally, he’ll flip the script to ensure his government’s mistake becomes a teaching moment for all Canadians.

“Sunny ways, my friends,” Trudeau says. “Man, I love those sunny ways.”

As the curtain closes on yet another dramatic performance, some in the audience may desire a repeat performance. Most of us don’t. To ensure the latter scenario occurs, they know what they need to do later this fall to permanently close down Justin Trudeau’s one-man show.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.



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What does it take for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government of goof-offs to learn anything?

How is it that after weeks of committee hearings, terrible headlines, and shocking revelations, where the public learned how the country’s top general was accused of sexual impropriety and misconduct, taught the so-called brain trust in the Prime Minister’s Office absolutely nothing?

At the end of last week Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin was abruptly removed from his job heading the federal vaccine response. It turns out he’s under investigation for — wait for this one — allegations of sexual misconduct.

A general, under investigation for sexual misconduct, my how very novel.

Bad enough that yet another decorated and endlessly promoted member of our armed forces is accused of, well we’re not exactly sure what he’s been accused of, other than it’s sexual, but anyway bad enough he’s accused of something. But it’s made all the worse because the prime minister has known about it for weeks.

So did his defence minister, Harjit Sajjan, who was apparently told at the same time as Trudeau.

As Trudeau tells it, it would be inappropriate for him — or Sajjan — to know the details of the investigation. We don’t even know what kind of investigation is going on. Military police? Human resources paper pushing? RCMP?

What ever it is, the “Gosh, I couldn’t know details about it, that might interfere with the investigation” bit is an easy way to remove himself and his minister from having any responsibility for what is going on right beneath their noses.

A weird thing that comes up in some of the stories about Fortin. Anonymous government sources are sure to point out that whatever the allegations are it predates the military’s failed attempt at getting rid of harassment, operation honour. Started in 2015, it’s now a thing they’re no longer doing. Obviously the job was done? Too hard? Never really tried?

Anyway, the reason the sources are pushing this line, I think, are to some how make it like it’s out of the government’s hands. How could anything have been done, after all, if the misconduct happened before they even bothered to try stopping this sort of thing. But it’s damning in its own way. Misconduct is so rife that one could be forgiven for thinking it’s a requirement to rise through the ranks.

It’s worth emphasizing just how much of the top brass has been implicated in their own individual misconduct cases, care of CBC:

Jonathan Vance got to retire as chief of the defence staff before it came to light his apparent misdeeds. Then the guy that replaced him, Adm. Art McDonald, had to step out of the job because it turned out he too was facing sexual misconduct allegations. Last week the head of military personnel Vice-Adm. Hayden Edmundson had his status upgraded to permanently out of that job after sexual assault allegations surfaced against him. Lt.-Gen. Christopher Coates has retired after it became public he had an affair with a U.S. defence department staffer. The former special operations chief, Maj.-Gen. Peter Dawe, had to be put on leave for writing a letter of support for a solider convicted of sexual assault. And finally — for the half a second or so — Lt.-Col. Raphaël Guay had to be temporarily removed as commander of the military intelligence school.

This is an organization where soon they’re going to have to hand out medals and ribbons to the senior commanders who haven’t been accused of some sort of misconduct just so they can be identified when they’re out in public.

The willingness for Trudeau to pass this off as something he shouldn’t be diving too deeply on, for fear of interfering in individual allegations of misconduct and somehow tainting them, is a sign this is just a problem he’s not interested in fixing.

Removing himself from the line of responsibility, in the name of protecting some secret investigation process — so secret we aren’t even told who is investigating — isn’t about protecting justice, it’s about protecting himself.

That’s why Fortin could stay on one of the most important jobs of the moment weeks after Trudeau was aware he might have committed some sort of misconduct.

The incuriosity of everyone in the government, from the prime minister on down, is a sign of leadership not only uninterested in fixing the obviously deep problems within the Canadian Forces, but uninterested in even knowing there are problems.

It has turned into a communications problem for the government, so they are treating it as such. Like everything else they do, they’re led by their desire to find the right PR line to feed the public.

It’s a farcical way to run a government, but that’s the Trudeau era for you.

Justin Trudeau didn’t want to be prime minister to do things, or to solve problems. He wanted to be prime minster to be prime minister. He hasn’t learned a lesson because he has no interest in actually doing the job. He’s just there to embody the job.

He’s been prime minster for six years now, and he might end up having it for six more.

Makes you wonder what the point of it all is.

Photo Credit: CBC News

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.