Not long ago, we Canadians mocked our American friends for electing The Donald. How could they stick a brash, lying, self-absorbed, womanizing, porn star-cavorting, tweeting egomaniac in the Oval Office?
Daily politics south of the border is the stuff of soap operas. You never know what’s going to come out of Donald Trump’s mouth or what will be in his next tweet, but odds are it will be entertaining. Shock and bewilderment are the new norms in Washington as we continue to hear about hush money payments to women he allegedly had affairs with, shady business dealings, ties to Russia, allegations of fraud and racism, dirty deeds, and that’s just what we know.
Fans of the greatest soap opera on Earth might remember a poll that was done in the U.S. shortly after the 2016 presidential election. At the time, more Americans agreed (40 per cent) than disagreed (33 per cent) that they’d rather have Justin Trudeau in the White House than Trump. An analyst suggested our prime minister conveys a “sense of hope” in contrast to the president. This was, of course, before Jody Wilson-Raybould became a household name.
Until about a month ago, Trudeau was seen as the antithesis of Trump: Inclusive, open immigration policy, reconciliation, pro-environment … until Wilson-Raybould, former attorney general and justice minister, pulled the curtain back and exposed a prime minister who she claims politically interfered in the criminal prosecution of Quebec’s SNC-Lavalin.
When you thought it couldn’t get any worse for Mr. Sunny Ways, along comes Jane Philpott, who resigned from cabinet Monday as a matter of principle. Imagine that, giving up a high-powered job over principle. The former Treasury Board president, one of the most respected senior members of cabinet, said she’s lost confidence in her government. The damage to the governing Liberals is so bad that critics are speculating Trudeau could become the first prime minister to fail to turn a first majority government into a second term in office in October.
The plot has more twists and turns than a BMX track. Michael Wernick, the clerk of the Privy Council, said of course Wilson-Raybould was pressured, and if she didn’t like it, she should have spoken up at the time. Longtime Trudeau buddy, Gerald Butts, resigned from the Prime Minister’s Office, but he said neither he nor anyone else pressured her. Butts is likely the only guy in history to quit his job after fessing up he did nothing wrong.
Trudeau admits he talked to Wilson-Raybould about SNC-Lavalin, but he was clear that the decision to get involved in the SNC-Lavalin case was hers to make. Maybe she simply took it the wrong way when Trudeau cited to her the potential loss of jobs, that SNC-Lavalin could move out of Quebec and that he is a member of Parliament from Quebec.
The fact that Trudeau finds himself in this mess in the first place is incredible. Just the perception of political interference is enough to deliver a fatal blow. The latest Ipsos poll is proving that out. With Philpott’s resignation, it looks like Canada’s own soap opera is gaining top billing.
Brian Bachynski is the publisher of the St. Albert Gazette.