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Preening PM paying price for pitching pair from caucus

If our prime minister looked up the word “unconscionable” in an illustrated dictionary he might actually see his own somewhat glazed expression staring right back at him.

Yet Justin Trudeau had the nerve – of that he is not short – to use that very same word in explaining his decision to boot two former cabinet ministers out of the Liberal Party caucus.

He was referring to the actions of his then justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, in surreptitiously recording a phone conversation with the country’s former top civil servant, Michael Wernick, back at the tail end of last year when he was still clerk of the Privy Council Office.

Considering the pressure Wilson-Raybould had been placed under to give what would have amounted to a free criminal pass to the Quebec-based engineering giant SNC-Lavalin over serious bribery issues, it’s hardly surprising she decided to record the call – in of itself a perfectly legal action.

But in a doomed effort to derail the narrative now chewing up Trudeau’s reputation faster than the Grit hierarchy can dream up roadblocks, the prime minister tried to somehow make this all Wilson-Raybould’s fault, as though she is the untrustworthy one at the centre of this ever-deepening scandal.

Oh yes, and don’t forget this comes from the lips of our first, self-anointed feminist prime minister: a man who pledged to stand on guard for all Canada’s women, along with Indigenous groups of every size and shape. Weird it is then that the woman whose conduct he says is unconscionable belongs to both those rather large groupings.

Not content with axing one powerful woman who was trying to uphold that weird concept called the rule of law, Trudeau then doubled down and kicked former Treasury Board President Jane Philpott out of caucus as well.

It seems showing backbone and integrity by supporting a beleaguered colleague who’d done the right thing was enough of an offence to be forced to walk the plank aboard that listing ship, HMCS Grit.

In a government desperately short of competent ministers Philpott was a standout. In two years as health minister, she managed to get the provinces onside in delivering more badly needed mental health care while also helping shepherd a bill legalizing cannabis into law with such skill that when it finally arrived, it was almost anticlimactic.

That didn’t matter to our Boy Wonder: a man whose true colours were again recently on display when he derided an Indigenous woman who had the temerity to unveil a banner about deadly mercury poisoning on a northern Ontario reserve during a swanky, $1,500-a-ticket, Liberal fundraiser in Toronto.

“I really appreciate your donation to the Liberal Party of Canada,” he scoffed as the poor woman was dragged away by security.

Yes, this fellow’s chivalry knows no bounds. He is to feminism what Bernie Madoff was to financial planning.

But finally the penny is dropping among ordinary Canadians. It isn’t because of the “turn-a-blind-eye” to what SNC-Lavalin might have gotten up to. Other countries arrange these commercial plea bargains all the time, helping save jobs and keep the economy humming. Yes, we know politics can be dirty.

No, it’s the previous endless preening; the butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth attitude and stomach-turning moral crusading that is catching up to Trudeau.

His personal approval ratings are in free fall – a recent poll has 65 per cent of folk disapproving of his actions – as the Liberals, having hopped aboard this Trudeaumania-2 bandwagon in the last election, are now cast adrift.

Meanwhile here in Alberta, as always an outlier from the very start, all we can say is: told you so.

Chris Nelson is a long-time journalist. His columns on Alberta politics run monthly in the St. Albert Gazette.