The shuffle and the cabinet retreat didn't work. Now what?
I'm always surprised that this isn't more obvious to people. Your sense of whether "the media" is too far left or right depends heavily on your own politics. I've been at this for a long time, and I've read many hundreds of people complaining about bias. And I don't recall anyone ever saying, "The media agree with me too often."
This Liberal Government seems rattled, unsteady and as Mr Wells points out, it has lost its agility. Perhaps some of it is a long overdue reckoning with its reckless financial stewardship? The internal barometer at the Finance Department must be pointing towards an intense low pressure system because the PBOC is sure talking a gloomy outlook.
I also wonder what internal polling data is telling the Liberal Party about its handy wedge strategy, always deployed when backed into a corner. Has household economics pushed guns, right to choose and DEI politics off the radar? Does Trudeau REALLY think that he can demonize parents all across Canada who want to know what’s going on at school?
In the end, maybe it’s just all about attitude. The days of division and bad mouthing wide swaths of voters to solidify a base seems to have run its course. People are increasingly fed up with fighting and want to get back to building an economy where everyone has a chance for success.
Back in 2015, when the catastrophic collapse of the NDP's Quebec vote caused progressives to flock to the Liberals in order to forestall another round of Harper, the Trudeau Liberals were catapulted from third place to government. They brought with them a somewhat endearing "let's-put-on-a-show; my-mom-can-make-the-costumes-and-we-can-use-my-uncle's-barn-for-a-stage" kind of innocence, which they called Sunny Ways. It suited the drama teacher who was learning to play the role of prime minister. Eight years and two elections later, the reviews of that show are finally in and it has become apparent that the drama teacher never really found his footing as an upright leader; a competent manager; a decisive, deep and courageous thinker. So now, the longer he's prime minister, the worse are his party's prospects, mitigated only by abrasive foolishness on the other side.
Poor old Wilkinson justifying unplanted trees while trying to convince us there never was a commitment to plant 2 billion trees. Sounds much like the theology of how many angels fit on pinhead and what gender they could be. If only friend Trudeau could get more than half of the premiers nodding their heads he might be successful. His record does not stand him in good stead. Poilievre may be on the rise, but he is not a sure thing. Speaking of the North, where’s our ice breaker fleet to counter the Chinese who aim to take a big hand in our country? Likely where the sun never shines quite like the inquiry into China’s interference in Canadian elections.
I honestly think it’s as simple as this government has run its natural course and has neither the energy nor the heart to carry on. Not much different from the end of the Harper regime. We’ll get a new government in the next election. What I don’t think we’ll get, from any party, is the vision and leadership the country needs to break out of our present malaise.
Thank you Paul, your column covers all the malaise I'm feeling. Is this the best this government can do? I can't think of a single item that has impacted my quiet life that this administration has brought about - but I dearly wish I could. When is the last time a PM made a major policy announcement? As
a Boomer I can recall the Fifties and the Sixties as decades of government engagement in industrial development and personal well-being, government direction of where Canada should be headed. And now? Despite our incredible human and natural resources we are left, it seems to me, to the fickle decisions of a handful of national and international corporations based in Toronto, Shanghai, New York and London to learn what portion of their bounty they deem to bestow on us. Here Canada lies, the second largest land mass in the world, governed by politicians who have forgotten how to dream.
You and other writers pointed out one of this government's big problems years ago, Mr. Wells-namely that Trudeau prefers the ceremony and speechmaking to the actual hard business of government. Besides all the issues Mr. Wells listed in the article, all the vacancies Trudeau's left in the judiciary and other important posts are another sign of how rudderless this government's become. It was cited as a problem years ago, and it's back in the news:
Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear. Trudeau and Co. have spent themselves bankrupt in their credibility account. We’re hearing Canadians wondering whether a Bloc/Tory/NDP/Green minority might be better at solving issues of more immediate concern. I don’t disagree that Polievre has a spotty track record but he’s in the company of smart people who I suspect he listens to. I don’t think the same can be said of the PM. Or at least it’s not evident.
Trudeau has never possessed gravitas. He's superficial, a poseur. But the same thing could be said of all of our political leaders and the wannabe ones. Sadly, talented people won't touch politics with a barge pole. Poor Canada.
I am genuinely puzzled by this government and, in particular, puzzled by their weakness in governing. Hundreds of Federal appointments, including many judicial appointments, are infilled. A Liberal Government struggling is something I never thought I would live to see. As the forests burn in the summer and communities flood in the winter while mills struggle, why not hire these displaced workers in struggling communities as a civil defence force? How about building a fleet of water bombers and build them in Canada? I could go on and on. Many thanks for a great column.
Remember 2015 /2016 when there was a board with all Trudeau's promises and below the percentage of the actual work done or started ? People could say good things about the government, then it disappeared. The Liberals are at a gloomy crossroads, the ministers are all unexciting and washed out, gone are the smiles, the cheerful talks and bouncy steps.
It might be passed their due date having lost a grand opportunity to do good. When you hear liberals saying I can't stand this guy anymore...you know they need an astonishing happening, called a miracle.
Yes polls are a mere snapshot in time as we all know and campaigns matter et al as you nicely surmised in your latest column. But getting close to a decade-long PMs have records ... records you can't run on, records you can't run from, just records that begin to like criminal records (when you consider scandals, missteps, broken promises, and aloofness that befalls every government around the 7.5 year plus mark) to more and more voters. The only worrying thing is that federal and provincial conservatives have an uncanny knack, over the last 25 years or so, of snatching defeat from the gaping jaws of victory ... it is just one bozo candidate eruption away in #ELXN45. Yikes!
Just cracked open a paper bag of field tomatoes which I’m going to eat with some freshly baked bread and my late mother-in-law’s cucumber salad, because there really isn’t a better time to eat in Canada than the latter half of August. Everything tastes amazing.
Thanks for the column, Paul. Enjoy the rest of the month.
Really? Free phone calls from a payphone? So you are the guy who was ripping off the phone company all those years and therefore the guy we have to blame because the telcos are going broke and service levels (and costs) are falling (and rising, of course). That was you? Who knew? Certainly not me.
Yup, a PM can "make things happen," such as destroy the economy ( see, Trudeau, PE, Trudeau, J); turn Canadians against the country (see, Quebec and Trudeau, PE; Alberta and Trudeau, PE PLUS Alberta and Trudeau, J). Oh, the PM CAN'T make things happen you say, (see 2 billion trees, Baghdad Bob, and so forth.
Really, the PM can "make things happen?" And from whence did that piece of fiction arise? These PMs named Trudeau certainly have made things happen but, really, primarily NEGATIVE things that were not good for the country.
Ah, yes, experience and wisdom. When, pray tell will those magically appear in Canuckistan?
"I think ... this government's actions are increasingly distant from the country's preoccupations." Really, really, really spot on. [Is three reallys sufficient to make clear my approval?]
And let us not forget that JT and the sunny ways crew had a cabinet retreat in PEI, that province with a population smaller than just about anywhere in Canada but with four MPs, courtesy of history. And, oh, yeah, Liberals all. That would be "all" as in "all of them out of touch with reality in Canada."
Mr. Wells, I accept that you accept that the cabinet is "working very hard indeed." But, but, but ... they are working hard to send up dust to obscure their inaction, inarticulation, and incompetence (you didn't really think that I would miss that last one when listing the "ins" did you?).
"Somebody should write a book about that." Really, Sir, I implore you to not lower yourself in such a fashion!
All in all, a good summary, Sir, notwithstanding my sarcasm.
Not surprisingly, I don't hear anyone asking "What's best for Canada"?
No fair. They're coming thick and fast. I need to ponder these comments on the patio with my wife, over a gin and tonic. My immediate reaction: thank you for analysis, even if I don't always agree with it. The recent comments from the mainstream media, as with the Cabinet shuffle, were well below the level of comment we are entitled to from our media commentators. The analysis of a Federal Cabinet shuffle from the Prime Minister of Canada (the shuffle wasn't done by Justin - it was done by the Prime Minister) made it sound like the court of the Sun King. People in powdered wigs playing jokes on each other. For not participating, mostly, I am grateful, though I think you were wrong on the Anand thing. I think your portrayal of the Cabinet as over their head with problems they don't fully understand is correct. But I despair that the other guy, because of clever advertising and relentless attacks, may actually get what he desires. And then we will be in deep s***, governed by a little man with limited understanding and little experience. God help us all, that in a time of crisis and rapid change, these are the only choices available to us.