What is it about Justin Trudeau and shooting himself in the foot?
It’s like every time he gets some momentum going he finds a way to harm himself.
Does he not want to be Prime Minister?
We have the SNC-Lavalin affair, where it was apparent that Trudeau had breached ethics rules whilst trying to “save jobs” by interfering in a corruption trial.
He had already been sanctioned by the ethics watchdog on a conflict of interest warning when he took a vacation to the Aga Khan’s private island in 2016. The Aga’s — or is it the Khan’s — foundation was registered to lobby Trudeau at the time.
There was the trip to India where he became a laughing stock for playing dress up in traditional Indian clothing, while also apparently extending a dinner invitation to a convicted terrorist.
There was the Great Elbow Incident of 2016, when Trudeau accidentally elbowed a female opposition MP in the chest. This one was somewhat overblown in my humble opinion, but lets add it to the list anyway.
There was the emergence of photos of him in brown face in his younger days, which appeared right before the 2019 election.
And now he is in the middle of the third ethics inquiry of his two terms, the We Charity affair. He has already admitted he should have recused himself from the government decision to appoint We Charity to oversee a $900 million youth volunteer program. He should have recused himself because some of family members had been paid over a quarter of a million dollars over the years to speak at their events.
It’s exhausting to keep up with all the ways he manages to get himself in hot water. And it’s almost always when he’s riding high. The Aga Khan affair brought to an end Trudeau’s extended honeymoon with voters after his election in 2015.
The SNC-Lavalin mess came at a time when Trudeau had recovered some support, though not to pre-Khan levels.
And now this We Charity scandal comes as Trudeau was basking in a great deal of good will over his handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
There had even been speculation that the Liberals may call a snap election, hoping to gain the majority that eluded them last fall, based on their good numbers.
This We Charity business has likely put an end to those dreams.
And here’s a big question, does Trudeau want a third term? He’s had two, one as majority leader, and the current one in minority. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a lot of the norms of a minority government right out the window, so in some ways he may be having an easier ride in minority than he could be. But does he want to run again?
He’s still young. He’s wealthy. He remains the darling of much of the world and would be welcome almost anywhere. Does he want to continue the rather thankless job of Canadian Prime Minister? Or does he want to live as a private citizen and visit any old Aga he wants when he wants?
Here’s an even bigger question. Does his party want him to continue as leader? Are the party faithful getting sick of the constant playing of defence as Trudeau seems to stagger from one scandal to the next?
It’s not like there aren’t possible leaders in the wings. Current Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Chrystia Freeland comes to mind. She has served as Minister of International Trade and Minister of Foreign Affairs. She has guided Canada through tricky trade negotiations. She speaks Russian, Ukrainian, Italian, French and English. And she hasn’t been embroiled in a single scandal.
Is the party waiting for Trudeau to step down?
It would make sense in a lot of ways. The Conservatives will present their new leader to Canada this August. Either Peter MacKay or Erin O’Toole will emerge as leader and will be straining at the bit to get in a little Trudeau bashing.
It would certainly take the wind out of the new leader’s sails if they didn’t face the ethically challenged current PM in the next election.