RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Aga Khan

JUSTIN TRUDEAU: THE ADORABLE ALL ROUND PC PANDERING GOOD GUY MASCOT

Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you join the dance. — Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland
The obligation to endure gives us the right to know. – Jean Rostand

Frank A. Pelaschuk

Even now, over two years after the last dance, we Canadians remain a narcotized bunch still enamoured with the Handsome Prince who charmed his way to our hearts with brash, loud, grandiose promises. We fell hard, dazzled by the Wizard, and we made it obvious throwing ourselves at his feet and swooning in paroxysms of ecstasy at mere mention of his name. Promise me anything, I’m all yours. And he did promise anything stroking the buzzwords: taxes, taxing the rich, legalization of marijuana, gender equality, child benefits, electoral reform, the middle class, openness, honesty, transparency. Never mind that he spent little time on poverty, homelessness, the single parent holding several jobs, health care, the elderly, and education. In that respect, he is no different from any other cheap politico performing before an audience of vacuous goo-goo-eyed monkeys who allow him to break rules and walk away from promises unscathed without either apology or regret indicating the extent of the self-induced coma afflicting those still supporting him.
BUT WHAT HE DELIVERED WAS NOT ALL THAT HE PROMISED
Oh, he followed through in some but his promises of openness, transparency and honesty quickly fell by the wayside revealing the true nature of his character as savvy, pragmatic, calculating, hypocritical, unethical smoothie able to bolster his image with shrewdly choreographed photo-ops and overacted displays of empathy that should alert anyone half awake wooing with dazzling smiles, accommodating selfie hungry fans and demonstrating in a trice the ability to establish the deepest of concerns and utmost affection simply by furrowing his brow and pursing his lips thoughtfully. If the occasion is particularly important, a commemorative event or a death of a dignitary or some other sombre happening, he is particularly adept at publicly displaying the depth of his emotional warmth and will, on cue and at any opportunity, empathetically tap his breast with his fingers and wring the exact number of tears required to match the magnitude of the event always making certain the cameras have caught him discreetly dabbing the corner of his eye. We like it and we buy it for we are a superficial, ignorant, and indifferent group attentive primarily on the silly in our lives as if they were profound: an opportunity to get a selfie with him or breathe the same air or exclaiming over his courage in facing the public at town hall meetings to respond to unvetted questions from the public. It is at such events that the Prince is at his best proudly showcasing his ability to work the crowd of mostly friendly faces while he explains in response to a question from an audience member who clearly believes that some things are really important, how he came to unapologetically undermine and then turn his back on electoral reform a major element of his campaign platform, particularly proportional representation as recommended by the committee formed to look into such reform: 1) the public has lost interest; 2) proportional representation would lead to fragmentation; 3) PR could lead to the election of terrorist; 4) PR “would be harmful to Canada”; 5) the ranked ballot system (Trudeau’s preferred voting system) would not necessarily benefit his party [He’s right. Historically, Canadians have only elected Liberals and Conservatives as federal governments; barring some seismic shift in voter attitudes, the Ranked Ballot would most likely continue if not cement the trend of shutting out the NDP and Greens]; 6) nothing convinces him that PR is a better system though it is the preferred system of Germany and 80 other democracies (and this guy was a teacher; a closed mind is worse than a closed book); 7) and, if re-elected and revisited, electoral reform would not include PR as an option. On this issue, his responses are disingenuous and diversionary; at no time during his campaign, did the Prince indicate that PR was not on the table or that he had reservations regarding PR. Yet, in his conversation with Chris Hall on CBC’s The House, (Feb. 3, 2018, http://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/the-house/segment/15518052) he makes clear what he had not while campaigning on electoral reform: PR was not and never had been in the running while the ranked or preferential ballot system was. This was Trudeau’s preference which only became clear when Trudeau set out to undermine the committee when it became clear the ranked ballot was not in the running. And it quickly became clear that reform was dead when the committee made its recommendation for some form of PR and the minister of democratic institutions, Maryam Monsef, slammed the committee for not doing it’s job. Shortly after, her replacement Karina Gould drove the stake through the heart of the idea of reform. Trudeau, the rodomontade who had boldly declared 2015 the last first-past-the-post election, couldn’t even kill off an idea no one had sought but he knew many wanted. He also knew when he made that promise he would kill it if he did not get what he wanted. But he said nothing of that so people went through the process with high hopes and belief that all options were on the table; they trusted Trudeau and believed him to be fair, a man of his word. He was neither. When the committee denied him the option of the ranked ballot electoral reform was a dead as Marley’s ghost.
Still, while the town hall meetings did highlight the Prince’s skill before a crowd, it also revealed an unpleasant darker side. When a few publicly challenged Trudeau at the town hall meetings regarding this and other issues he and his supporters may have found irksome, the questioners were loudly shouted down by the Prince’s supporters while he played the pacifier thus confirming and entrenching his image of tolerant conciliator unfairly targeted by troublemakers. Unfortunately, there were episodes in which persistent questioners (hecklers to the Prince’s fans) were forcibly removed with Trudeau orchestrating it in such a way in one instance to emphasize his egalitarianism simply by asking the audience if a persistent heckler should be allowed to ask a questions. Unsurprisingly, the loyal if bloodthirsty fans shouted a resounding, “No” with the end result of having the heckler forcibly removed. It was the fallen gladiator and the Emperor looking to the mob for guidance with the thumb up or down, live or die? That move by Trudeau, whether the heckler deserved it or not, was the act of a bully performing before a witless and friendly mob more in thrall with defending the Wizard than with the valid concerns raised by the questioners and, yes, even hecklers. How much courage does it take to respond to difficult questions when the audience is largely made of adoring fans absolutely pissing their pants to do the Wizard’s bidding and when most of his questioners, unlike the Prince, is likely unaccustomed and even terrified of speaking before an crowd that might be unhappy with the question posed? His cavalier treatment of those who sincerely wanted nothing more than an honest response to questions regarding his support of pipelines and abandonment of electoral reform, possible reasons they may have voted for him, should offend everyone. It was clever, but the act of a bully nonetheless.
WHAT IS THERE TO ADMIRE IN TRUDEAU?
He is an opportunist, about image, pandering to the easy and the popular only as long as they do not conflict with his own agenda; when they do, he discards them without a backward glance and certainly no public apology. He has betrayed almost everything that he would have had us believe mattered when he campaigned for the most important job in Canada. He turned his back on human rights to lock a lucrative arms deal with one of the worlds worst abusers contravening UN sanctions and Canada’s own guidelines regarding arms trade with human rights abusers. And when critics spoke up against the sale of Canadian-made Light Armoured Vehicles to Saudi Arabia, a very lucrative deal, he lied about why he did so. The LAV deal was a done deal under Harper, he said. Not so. It was his government that signed off on the deal. He then said breaking a contract would harm Canada’s reputation. Really? On something as important as human rights? Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien had no difficulty breaking a contract for Cormorant helicopters simply because it was brokered by Brian Mulroney in 1993; that cost Canadians $478 million in penalties but seems not to have negatively impacted Canada’s reputation as a country with which to deal. With Trudeau, human rights takes a back seat when it comes to trade. That’s why he is willing to do a helicopter trade deal with the murderous Philippines president, Rodrigo Duterte, who has engaged in an extrajudicial war on drugs with the slaughter of 12,000 suspects many of whom were completely innocent but dead for simply being in the wrong place or friends and family members of suspects. But supporters of the Prince are only concerned with obtaining a selfie with him and he, as we all know, will never shy away from a camera.
Thus far, nothing sticks to Trudeau. Within months of winning his mandate, it became evident how seriously he observed his own directives to his cabinet ministers with mandate letters. He wrote: As Minister, you must ensure that you are aware of and fully compliant with the Conflict of Interest Act and Treasury Board policies and guidelines.  You will be provided with a copy of Open and Accountable Government to assist you as you undertake your responsibilities.  I ask that you carefully read it and ensure that your staff does so as well. I draw your attention in particular to the Ethical Guidelines set out in Annex A of that document, which apply to you and your staff. As noted in the Guidelines, you must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny. This is an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law.  Please also review the areas of Open and Accountable Government that we have expanded or strengthened, including the guidance on non-partisan use of departmental communications resources and the new code of conduct for exempt staff.
But evidently that was a lark, for public consumption only and not to be taken seriously. He didn’t. Nor did Jody Wilson-Raybould, newly appointed justice minister, who, within months of the election, attended a fundraising event sponsored by a law firm in a clear violation of conflict of interest; Trudeau stoutly defended her while the minister made this ludicrous disclaimer: She had attended the event as a party member not as a cabinet minister! You see, they believe everyone either doesn’t care or is a simpleton.
Since then, of course, we have been witness to many such conflicts of interest with many ministers and the Prince himself attending many lucrative, highly secretive fundraising events sponsored and attended by those standing to benefit by the decisions of those government worthies. What makes it most offensive is that Prince Trudeau and members of the PMO lied for weeks about many of the events he attended claiming he often made unplanned stops at fundraisers without knowing who would be in attendance (very unlikely for security reasons), that he never talked with attendees about business matters before the government (later changing his story that some sought to raise business but were directed to go through the proper channels). At one of these meetings attended by Chinese millionaires and billionaires, two attendees would donate $50K towards a statue of the Prince’s father, $200K towards the Pierre Eliot Trudeau Foundation and $750K towards scholarships for the University of Montreal law faculty. As I noted in previous posts, a month later, one of those attendees lobbying the government had won approval to open and operate Wealth One Bank of Canada. Eventually, after months of questioning by the opposition, Trudeau agreed to end the cash-for-access fundraisers making it easier for members of the public to attend and to open them for the media. Shortly after that announcement, when the media sought to attend an event, they were barred. So much for openness and transparency.
Trudeau is an honest man, yes he is, but he was found in breach of conflict guidelines by Mary Dawson, Ethics Commissioner at the time, for accepting a free ride over the Christmas season to the private island of the Aga Khan whose foundation has received $330 million from Canada since 1981 with a promise by Trudeau for another $55 million over the next five years. His explanation? The Aga Khan was a family friend. Of his father, perhaps, but not so much the Prince according to Dawson. Small stuff, Trudeau’s fans may sniff, but not so small a breach when he dismisses the episode with a shrug saying he has apologized and complied with all the rules. That is the fallback explanation of weasels, resorting to legalese whether rightly or not of following the letter of the law, the bare minimum at that, while ignoring the ethical. This is the man who demands of his ministers what he does not of himself. When his ministers made unwarranted expense claims, he made them reimburse the public purse; one had to do so three times. Yet, when Conservatives questioned him about repaying some of the cost of that vacation ride, a government plane on stand-by, staff, friends, and security who also took the ride, he stuck to script repeating, almost word for word the legalese that provided no answers. Apparently, the script was handed over to Government House leader, Bardish Chagger, for she responded to the same questions with identical words in Trudeau’s absence adding, in response to protests from the opposition: “I respond the same way because the opposition keeps asking the same questions.” Amusing.
SO ELECTORAL REFORM, ETHICS, HUMAN RIGHTS WENT BY THE WAYSIDE
As promised, Trudeau did open most of the Veterans offices closed by the Conservatives under Harper. But what of his promise to reinstate the lifelong disability pension plan for vets? No luck there. For a clear summary of the Harper cuts, go to the Tyee website https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2015/08/19/Conservative-Attacks-Canadian-Veterans/. It was Harper who got rid of the plan replacing it with a one-time lump sum payment. After two years, there has been movement by the liberals towards reinstatement of some parts of the life-long disability pension plan to start in 2019 but clearly it is not enough and offers even less than when it was razed by Harper in 2006. Veterans, confounded and feeling betrayed, have gone to court. When vet Brock Blaszczk, who had lost a leg while serving in Afghanistan, asked at a town hall why the Prince was fighting the vets on this, Trudeau responded, “they are asking more than we can afford”! This of men and women who have willingly put everything, including their lives and limbs, on the line for this country.
Vets ask too much! This from a man who turned his back on the veterans as easily as he did electoral reform.
So, how does he stack up as a feminist?
On the plus side, he can, rightly, point with pride to his gender balanced cabinet with women heading several key departments. That is the good.
What is not so good is the extent of the silliness to which he will resort in his effort to pander to any group or cause that seems likely to engender wide support. In other words, he is a politically correct gadfly jerk. At a recent town hall meeting, he interrupted a female questioner’s long-winded preamble to a question by suggesting her usage of the word “mankind” be replaced by “peoplekind” as more appropriate eliciting applause from the crowd and the questioner. While this was clearly meant as a joke, a dumb one at that, it is indicative of his character and of those to whom he panders; they will gladly twist themselves into unmanageable knots to forgive him everything and prove themselves in step with the “new” orthodoxy of gender neutral bubble-headed PC imbecility. It was a stupid joke and does not merit the attention and ridicule it garnered except for the fact that Trudeau’s lifelong friend and top advisor in the PMO, Gerald Butts, exacerbated matters by labelling those critical of his boss’s oozing, simply oozing feel-good efforts as Nazis. This kind of disrespect for critics of Trudeau is different from that of the Harper gang in what way? That is an odd response from a government seeking to pass itself as enlightened with its relentless campaign to have us embrace the image reminiscent of the sixties and seventies “flower power” movement with its “all you need is love” sappiness.
So is Trudeau a feminist? I question that. Saying so doesn’t make it so. When offered opportunity by members of the press on two occasions at least to demonstrate the strength of his commitment to feminism, Trudeau kept mum during the American presidential campaign rather than calling out misogynist Donald Trump boasting about groping women. What he said instead was this: “Everyone knows I’m a feminist.” For some, the failure by Trudeau to condemn Trump’s admission of sexual harassment merited commendation rather than censure his silence demonstrating remarkable leadership skills; Trudeau was not only tactful, he could not be lured into riling a bully with NAFTA negotiations on the horizon. Evidently, principles and integrity, as are campaign promises, are utilitarian, devices to be deployed with flash and noise only when helpful but otherwise quietly tossed aside for more congenial occasions.
He has made a great deal of his support of women, women’s rights, and the #MeToo movement; he brings his “feminist” side to the fore at every opportunity to demonstrate that he cares, really, really, really, cares. Yet, according to CTV News (Feb. 6, 2018), his government is quietly working to quash the class action lawsuit by female military personnel against the Canadian forces for sexual harassment, gender discrimination and racism leading some to charges of hypocrisy on the party of Trudeau and his government. Following the release of that report, Trudeau’s response was swift. The government action did not “align with his core beliefs”; Harjit Sajjan, the minister of defence would have the justice minister take another look at the issue. On Feb. 23, CTV News reported that the Liberal government was seeking to settle with the complainants out of court. Whatever the outcome, the Prince is one feminist of “iffy” steadfastness.
His is the political correctness of the opportunist. He will don any PC mask for any occasion. It can get him in trouble as with his trip to India this week with apparently a confused agenda — business or political — other than to offer ample opportunity for photo-ops and a moment to declare that there was a trade agreement worth $1 billion though others have put the real value at about $200 million. Apart from the exaggerated claims, the trip was a disaster, he and his family mocked for their traditional attire as with the following comments: “Is it just me or is this choreographed cuteness all just a bit much now? Also FYI we Indians don’t dress like this every day sir, not even in Bollywood.” —Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) Feb. 21, 2018 and “How did Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the world’s favorite liberal mascot — a feminist man, with movie-star good looks, a 50 percent female cabinet and a political lexicon that has replaced “mankind” with “peoplekind” (making millions swoon) — end up looking silly, diminished and desperate on his trip to India this week” (Barkha Dutt, WashingtonPost, Feb. 22, 2018). Well, the answer is clear: Trudeau is a panderer and self-promoting PC lodestar for those who need such and it appears many do.
Then, of course, it got worse. Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau as well as other MPs of Trudeau’s cabinet, was photographed with a man once a member of the Sikh Youth Federation banned as a terrorist group in Canada, the U.K., the U.S. and India. Jaspal Atwal spent 20 years in prison for attempting to assassinate a Punjab politician vacationing on Vancouver Island in 1985 and was charged but not convicted of the near fatal attack on Ujjal Dosangh, a one time liberal member of parliament in 1986. To compound the disaster, that same would-be assassin was invited by Liberal MP Randeep Sarai to attend a dinner in Delhi hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner. The invitation was later rescinded but, for some critics, this affair lent credence to the belief that Canada was sympathetic to the Sikh separatist movement.
This is not a first with the Prince. Trudeau’s relentless determination to seize every seemingly positive PC opportunity for a photo-op has got him in trouble in the past as when, Dec. 19, he posed with rescued hostages Joshua Boyle, his wife and three children held by the Taliban in Afghanistan and returned home October of last year. From Oct. 14 to Dec. 30, apparently Trudeau and security unaware, Boyle was under investigation for assault, sexual assault and forcible confinement. On New Years day, 2018, he appeared in court facing 15 charges.
This is not just about security lapses. It’s about lapses of ethics and judgement by a man more interested in being all things to all people and seizing every opportunity to enhance his image with a photo-op. Sometimes it doesn’t work and the position itself is an impossibility that can only lead to contradiction and conflict. When he was elected, Trudeau spoke of “deliverology”, a buzzword indicating movement from idea to implementation. It may be appealing but has proved meaningless under his governance. It was showy in the same way his promises of electoral reform and reinstating lifelong disability pensions for vets. His appeal is that of the superficial for the superficial, the monkeys who still applaud his every utterance and drool over his every move, those who expect little and demand even less from their leaders because it is not leadership or genuine nation-building accomplishments that move them.
What does is theatrics, the great show and empty calories of eye candy, the Prince Charming and the Beautiful Princess and their beautiful family and the fact that they make appearances in Vogue, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. A few trinkets tossed our way is often sufficient and if promises fall by the wayside, that’s fine as well: we have a quick forgettery, endless patience and seemingly bottomless faith that the two partners we have always danced with will treat us right until they don’t.
We may notice that attractive third party on the sidelines seeking to join the dance whispering promises equally mellifluous but will not accept his offer because we fear to appear friendly to him warned by the two partners we have danced with for over 150 years that he is dangerous with dangerous ideas. They should know, we tell ourselves.
No, we will not make room to include the third party, the liberals and conservatives will just do fine. And if they ignore us during the dance, that is fine, as well. We will have danced and been fed sweet words and if we feel slighted by either, we will gently tease them about that third party waiting patiently in the wings for his turn. But the liberals and conservatives needn’t worry. We don’t mean it even if the bruising is beginning to hurt.
Where does the Prince stand? Who knows? Who can trust him? It’s a question we should not have to ask of one seeking to convince us he loves us, he really loves us. Yet I suspect he is a man of such great courage that he would abandon his loves, principles and soul for his ambitions.
NOTE: While I had left the door open with my last post, I had hoped it would indeed be my last. Unfortunately, while what I say may not be particularly new or noteworthy, there is just something about those politicians that get to me. It was Harper that started this post and Trudeau who continues it. Sorry.

**

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin

Advertisements

THE PEACOCK PRINCE AND THE HOPE THAT NEVER WAS: JUST ANOTHER SLIMY POLITICO

Modesty is the only sure bait when you angle for praise. – G.K. Chesterton

Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. – Eric Hoffer

Frank Pelaschuk

For diehard Liberal supporters, Justin Trudeau was the swaggering handsome young prince who would sweep the party back into office where they belonged with his charm and many loud grand promises of real change, of newer, better and brighter in the way of honesty, consultation, openness and transparency. The diehard Liberals likely didn’t believe that part, they know the party and its people too well but they did believe in Trudeau, he was a winner and that’s what matters in the end. For the young voters, they saw in Trudeau not only the son of a one-time political star but also a star in his own right; he was young, confident, he had the words and god he was handsome, graceful, with a beautiful wife and kids and there was no doubt, no doubt at all, he was a winner and that’s all that matters in the end.

THE PEACOCK STRIKES

Oh the promises were many and grand. In all, there were over 200 promises (according to the non-partisan TrudeauMetre.ca website); among them he would: make 2015 the last first-past-the-post election (dead); make Human Rights a priority (only when convenient and when it doesn’t conflict with trade deals); amend the Access of Information Act so that all government date was made “open by default” (pending, likely will not happen); unmuzzle government scientists (done); gender parity in cabinet (done); restore the long-form census (done); ban partisan ads (pending, likely will not happen); provide resources for Elections Canada to investigate electoral fraud and other abuses (pending, likely will not happen); eliminate omnibus bills (doubtful, some claim recent Budget is an omnibus bill); restore the right of the Commissioner of Elections Canada to report and be accountable to Parliament and not to the government (removed by the Harper Conservatives, may happen but doubtful); review spending limits of political parties during and between elections (will not happen); restore home mail delivery (dead); introduce pay equity (will happen just in time for next election); restore life long disability pensions for veterans (did not happen though he did increase one-time lump sum payment); reopen nine Veterans Affairs offices closed by Liberals (done and/or pending); bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees in timely fashion (done if delayed by a few months); run deficit of $10 billion (done, but tripled to $30 billion); legalize marijuana (done); restore age of OAS eligibility to 65 (done); amend Harper’s anti-terrorism bill C-51 (dead, powers to spy on Canadians and share information with foreign security agencies increased); reduce taxes for those earning between $45K and $90K (done, cut by 1.5 percent; Trudeau was all about the middle class but never heard him talk much, if at all, about homelessness, education, the plight of the young and elderly).

To voters hearing them for the first time, many of the promises were appealing particularly pot for the young, pay equity for women, and electoral reform for those who believe democracy is less about outcomes of votes than the fairness of the outcomes; in this, our present system fails. On the surface, just with the few examples above, Trudeau seems to have done not too badly. Unfortunately, those promises kept were relatively easy because largely supported by the public as with the Syrian refugees, reopened Veterans Affairs Offices and legalization of pot. It’s where he fails that is significant. If anything, Trudeau is mostly surface, candy for the eyes and ears that appeal to the easily distracted and those who want only to hear what appeals and conforms to their worldview; challenges, a different point of view, hearing the other out rather than shouting them down, embracing new contrary ideas, and stepping out of one’s comfort zone are too difficult requiring the ability to empathize and exert the energy of actually having to think. Beneath the surface, under all that Trudeau charm, that dazzling, smirking smile, and that cloying, oozing, simply oozing sincerity, lies something much darker, a calculator, a schemer willing to demonstrate, when it suits his purpose and promises gain, a ruthless edge with the occasional bloody gesture meant to burnish his image as one not shy of revealing his mettle. He did that when, in January 2016, as one of his first acts, he publicly, and loudly, expelled Liberal senators from the Liberal caucus. As far as he was concerned, the Liberal senators would now sit as independents. As if declaring a thing makes it so. It was a clever exhibition, a bold, unexpected, and public show that stunned senators and observers alike and informed the world that Trudeau was more than a pretty face with hair. It was a gesture that played well but didn’t mean much except to his fans who became legion following his 2012 whupping of Senator Patrick Brazeau in a charity boxing match and the photo-op of him performing the yoga Peacock Pose. The expulsion of the senators provided further affirmation of Trudeau as an action figure super hero.

If he was capable of surprising with ruthless efficiency, he was also, that January, able to surprise again with his appointment of neophyte MP Maryam Monsef, as minister of democratic institutions and placing in her hands the matter of electoral reform which he had affirmed would go ahead. But, it was in May of 2016, there occurred two troubling events that may have alerted some to the darker side of Trudeau as a sneak and plotter less interested in the power of democracy than of the power of victory. What happened then did not and does not bode well for Canadians or for Canadian democracy.

Motion 6, introduced by then Liberal House leader Dominic LeBlanc without fanfare and limited, if any, real consultation was a Liberal attempt to seize control of the House, as if his majority wasn’t enough, by weakening the tools of opposition members to debate, filibuster or force a surprise vote to catch governments flatfooted as the NDP had days before when they put forward an amendment to another bill which left the Liberals scrambling to find enough members to defeat the amendment. Motion 6 was eventually dropped but not after a raucous fracas on the floor of the House which led Trudeau to swagger across the floor and inadvertently elbow a female NDP member in the chest as he manhandled opposition whip Gord Brown by grabbing him by the arm to drag him to his seat in hopes, Trudeau said, of speeding up the vote on Bill-14, the physician-assisted dying legislation being delayed by MPs milling about the House floor. For that incident, Trudeau rightly apologized…twice…but the apologies had less, I suspect, to do with the bill or the manhandling of the two MPs than with seeking to restore the public’s perception of him as a fine, extremely likeable young man rather than the impatient, strutting, bullying peacock to which the world was treated. He may have lost that power grab but it gave Canadians, if they were paying attention or even interested, the first real hint of what governance and democracy meant to Trudeau and his gang and it was not all that dissimilar from Stephen Harper’s and the Conservatives: control, fulfilling the agenda, power, and the keeping of that power.

Rigging the game has nothing to do with democracy. Trudeau was just getting started.

The second occurrence that May was the announcement by Monsef regarding the formation of the Electoral Reform Committee. It began simply enough but not so innocently with disclosure of the committee makeup: 6 Liberals, 3 Conservatives, 1 NDP member and 1 each from the Green and Bloc parties with non-voting rights. The opposition and public outcry was instant and loud for it appeared to confirm what the sceptics had been saying for some time: electoral reform would not happen or happen only if the outcome supported Trudeau’s preferred choice: the formation of a Liberal dominated committee was his effort to make that outcome happen.

Unfortunately for the Liberals, public fury proved too much, they retreated rejigging the committee in June 2016 to more closely reflect the popular vote granting the Green and Bloc parties a vote each, increasing the NDP vote by 1, keeping the Conservative votes at three and reducing the Liberal vote from 6 to 5. As the committee travelled the country hearing from citizens, Trudeau began to show a restive and distant attitude towards reform admitting to his preferred choice of ranked or preferential balloting. During an interview with Le Devoir, he mused that Canadians had no appetite for electoral reform. You could see where this was heading. With the release of the committee’s report December 1, 2016 recommending some form of proportional representation, Monsef mocked and lectured the members derisive of their efforts for failing “to complete the hard work we expected them to”. On Dec. 5, the Liberals announced the creation of an online survey that would accept Canadian input for six weeks. The survey was widely derided because designed to achieve a desired outcome.

Monsef had faltered from the first with the formation of the committee and, with plenty of help from Trudeau, had bungled the portfolio throughout. In January of this year, Karina Gould, another neophyte MP, who replaced Monsef as democratic institutions minister during a cabinet shuffle, would make the official announcement February 1, 2017 that electoral reform was dead as Dickens’s Marley. It had been a test by fire for Monsef who failed and Gould who passed admirably but left some wondering why Trudeau, who had made electoral reform a key element of his platform, had left the dirty task of killing it to a relatively inexperienced and untested member of his caucus. It was the little sister fighting the battle that was her big brother’s. If there were to be a public backlash, she would bear the brunt. There was no backlash for this; Trudeau and the public had other things to fret about and it had everything to do with Trudeau’s Christmas vacation and another rap to his image.

As for electoral reform? It had been shot dead and stomped into the earth. The party that had garnered 54% of the seats with just 39% of the popular vote, the same percentage that gave Harper his majority, had opted for the status quo. Disappointing yes, but no surprise unless you were among those that really, really, really believed Trudeau said what he meant and meant what he said. Poor innocents.

THE PEACOCK RUFFLED

Even as electoral reform played out, not dead yet, but soon to utter its last gasp, Trudeau and his family, with friends Tom Pitfield, of Data Sciences Ltd., and his wife, Anna Gainey, were spending Christmas with long time family friend, the Aga Khan, generously paying for the helicopter ride from the Bahamian mainland to his private island. Now no one, no one begrudges the Trudeaus taking time off for the holiday season. But there are several issues here. Firstly, while rules regarding gifts can and should be tightened, members of parliament, including the prime minister, are not allowed to accept gifts above $200 without publicly declaring them “unless they are routine expressions of hospitality or protocol” (The Canadian Press, June 11, 2015) while those above $1000 must be forfeited to the Crown. By way of explanation, Trudeau had claimed the helicopter ride was the only method possible of accessing the island. Not true. The Privy Council Office technician who usually accompanies the PM for audio and visual technical services had hired a chartered seaplane for $6,695 (National Post in Ottawa Citizen, April 12, 2017). When challenged as to why he accepted the helicopter ride, Trudeau then claimed that the RCMP made decisions regarding the safest way for the PM to travel. Not content with breaking conflict of interest rules and his own mandate regarding openness, transparency and conflict of interest, Trudeau fudged, again. Know a person who lies on the small things, don’t trust him with the big. Canadians picked up the tab for security and the Challenger jet on standby and for “per diems” for the tour technician. Including the cost of the chartered plane, the trip cost $133,882 mostly for security, lodging and overtime and the Challenger jet on standby. That’s fine, part of the package necessary when one is prime minister. Still, one wonders why, apart from the questionable helicopter ride, there were reimbursements of funds to the Aga Khan as reported by CBC news for the cost of meals for “at least one government employee” (Elizabeth Thompson, CBC News, April 4, 2017) to the tune of $1602 USD for the 12 days especially if the technician was doing government business. Was the government trying to hide something? Accepting gifts, even in the way of food and accommodation from a personal friend and head of a foundation that has, since 2004, received government grants of $310 million with another $55 million pledged by Trudeau for the next five years, and failing to report them, is a clear conflict and is presently under investigation by the Ethics Commissioner, Mary Dawson.

It was this that likely precipitated Trudeau’s cross country tour, called by some the cowbell tour, doubtless to draw attention away from this serious ethical lapse along with numerous other distractions including Trudeau’s cash-for-access grabs. There was probably no need for these photo-op affairs and that’s what they were, Trudeau talking to Canadians, doing well with some tough questions thrown his way but none raising the holiday debacle and one or two expressing concern over his killing of electoral reform. On that Trudeau, clearly unrepentant, even close to boastful, responded: “It is because I felt it was not in the best interests of our country and our future that I turned my back on that promise.” He then went on to say, “If we were to make a change or risk a change that would augment individual voices, that would augment extremist voices and activist voices…I think we’d be entering an era of instability and uncertainty” (Kristy Kirkup, the Canadian Press, Feb. 10, 2017). The suggestion of course was that proportional representation would lead to extremism and extremist, unstable governments. It was ridiculous and unworthy of someone in that position and that intelligent. It’s a lie, it’s untrue, it’s a gross misrepresentation of proportional representation. Trudeau did not get his way regarding preferential voting so he presents a storyline that is incredibly vile as well as stupid. Most nations in the Western world have a form of PR and most have proven stable and effective. That moronic utterance was just another sign that Trudeau is a schemer, untruthful, and a phony. If Kellie Leitch is the hysteric on the Conservative side with her outrageous racial and religious intolerance, what can one say of these comments by Trudeau? The words were not just nonsense they were revelatory.

The java tour accomplished little for the public really engaged in such issues as electoral reform, in honesty in government and in our politicians but it did allow Trudeau to lard on, and I mean lard on, that smarmy charm and oozing, simply oozing sincerity.

At the time, little attention was paid to the friends who accompanied Trudeau on that Christmas jaunt. And Trudeau wasn’t talking. Tom Pitfield’s company has been awarded contract work for the Liberal party offering digital and support services to enhance its voter contact database capabilities. Trudeau and the Liberal party refuse to discuss how much is being paid for the services. This is important because, the other member in that party of happy holidayers, Pitfield’s wife, Anna Gainey, is president of the Liberal party. Further, two members of Pitfield’s company, one a sister to Trudeau’s press secretary, also sit on the Liberal party’s board of directors. Pitfield’s wife will recuse herself from any party decisions made regarding Data Sciences Ltd. Yeah, right. For the president of the party, that might be difficult.

Does anyone smell cronyism yet? Does anyone recall Adscam or sponsorgate?

Can Trudeau or his cabinet be trusted? Depends who’s trusting it seems.

THE PEACOCK’S CONFLICT

This man came into office promising real change, more openness, transparency, and honesty. Neither he nor many of his MPs have delivered.

Early on we saw minister of health Jane Philpott reimbursing taxpayers for expense claims, minister of environment and climate change claim thousands for a photographer to follow her in Paris during a climate change summit and we had then minister of international trade Chrystia Freeland, cancel a government plane flight home at the conclusion of a business trip to the Philippines to attend a TV talk show with Bill Maher at a cost between $17K and $20K for Canadian taxpayers according to the Conservatives but which her office pegs at close to $14K. The Global Affairs website lists several meetings that day with the L. A. Chamber of Commerce and California’s Office of Business and Economic development which likely explains why she did not feel the need to reimburse the public. What do you think?

In April 2016, MP Kamal Khera, parliamentary secretary to the minister of health, accepted a free trip to Tanzania by lobbyist World Vision that, since 2015, has received $50 million from Canadian taxpayers.

Another Liberal MP, Arif Virani, took a free trip to England paid for by the Pierre Eliot Trudeau Foundation. Not troubled yet?

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould attended a fundraiser sponsored by lawyers. Conflict of interest? You bet. But neither she nor Trudeau see it that way. She claimed that she attended as MP not as justice minister! Go figure. She and Trudeau must have laughed at all us dummies who swallowed that. What a bunch of simps.

No doubt she laughs at this, as well. Her husband registered as a lobbyist immediately after the election victory. He was partner with her in a business, which she left to campaign as a Liberal candidate. He continues on as consultant for two clients, one of which is a wealthy First Nations band in Kelowna and the other the not-for profit First Nations Finance Authority that offers financial and advisory assistance to First Nations members. Her husband, as a lobbyist, could conceivably do business with the justice department on behalf of his clients, which places his wife in a real conflict of interest position. It is not enough she recuses herself. Her husband must quit as lobbyist or the minister resign. Again no movement by the justice minister who continues to hold the confidence of Trudeau and still hasn’t a clue about conflict of interest.

But if the justice minister appeared naïve at best or disingenuous at worse, what can one say of finance minister Bill Morneau’s secretive meeting at a private home with developers in Halifax one of whom had been appointed to the board of the Halifax Port Authority by the Liberals? Again conflict of interest rears its ugly head.

And of course, we mustn’t forget Justin Trudeau’s many, many forays into the fundraising field many at private homes and unadvertised. In one event at a private home attended by about 30 Chinese millionaires and billionaires, there were two who donated $50K towards a stature of Justin’s father, $200K towards the Pierre Eliot Trudeau Foundation and $750K for the University of Montreal law faculty scholarships. About a month later, one of the attendees won government approval from regulators to operate Wealth One Bank of Canada. Coincidence?

With Trudeau, ethics, transparency, and truth are rather a loosey-goosey mishmash. When questioned about these meetings, Trudeau and his gang made clear they could not be influenced, that no business was ever discussed, that whenever any attendee attempted to raise business they were directed to go through the proper government channels. Trudeau and his staff would also claim that Trudeau often just happened to drop by at these events and often did not know who were in attendance. Really? When he has security glued to him 24/7? Later, Trudeau would admit that business was discussed at some of these meetings.

Can Trudeau really be trusted?

Why, even when given the opportunity more than once by reporters to actually demonstrate his oft self-proclaimed feminism, he stood mum, mute, unable to bring himself to condemn Trump’s vicious misogyny, And when Trudeau was presented with the opportunity to demonstrate that his campaign pledge of making Human Rights a priority was more than mere words after Trump laid out his travel ban on Muslims, he again fell short demonstrating that there was no there there.

Motion 6 gave us the first real taste of Trudeau as a plotter and sneak just as capable of slimy politics as the worst of politicos. The cash-for-access manoeuvring, the cronyism, the treatment of the ballyhooed electoral reform and sundry other displays have cemented my opinion of him as surface only. There is little to respect because, of the things he has accomplished that are good, sometimes even very good, there have been a diminishment because they seem more illusory than substantive, meant more to enhance his image and stature than as concrete, meaningful acts to fully commit to the openness, transparency, and integrity he had promised. His lack of candour bespeaks deceit, calculation, and contempt.

Last month, with Bardish Chagger leading the charge for Trudeau and gang, the Liberals resumed their efforts begun with Motion 6. They have released a discussion paper that Liberal Scott Sims proposed be adopted by June 2, 2017 outlining their desire to make wide-ranging change to the rules of Parliament quickly and with real possibility of going against custom by doing so unilaterally. That opposition response was immediate and hostile should surprise no one except for the breathtaking hypocrisy of the Conservatives who, should any need reminding, sought to disenfranchise voters and remove the ability of Elections Canada Commissioner to investigate election fraud with the so-called Fair Elections Act.

The Liberals wish to reduce the number of sitting days to four, leaving Fridays open for members for “Constituency” days. Yeah, right. As it is, most members leave for their ridings on Thursday evenings taking turns to sit on Fridays. They also want to allow one day a week, based on the British model, where only the PM responds to questions during Question Period. He will not be expected to show in the House other days. Too, as with Motion 6, the move is clearly designed to limit debate. Both the NDP and Conservatives believe that changes as extensive as these must require all party agreement. The Conservatives, now official opposition, believe this with absolute sincerity…today. Next time they form a majority they’ll be doing what they have in the past and what the Liberals are doing today. It’s a dirty power grab played in a dirty game.

Those who voted for Harper mostly knew what to expect and what they were getting. Harper was ruthless, petty and vindictive. His was a narrow vision: tax cuts, tiny, shiny baubles in the way of promises, Alberta oil and Keystone, fear and security, the free market, aligning with business to suppress wages, more prisons, more jail time, and treating welfare recipients as fraudsters and bums.

In many ways, Trudeau’s betrayal is more significant than anything pulled by the Harper gang because Trudeau played on the hopes, decency, innocence, and generosity of those he relied upon for votes by making grand, grand promises that at times seemed too good to be true. Well, they were. He offered a vision that was grander than the Liberal party, which promised more than they intended to give, and that was largely stolen from the NDP playbook. He offered the Big Rock Candy Mountain and, in doing so, confirmed our image of ourselves as good people, generous people, welcoming people.

Oh, yes, he delivered some. But he lied with more. Sunny days, sunny ways was all a crock. There is nothing beneath the surface of that oozing, simply oozing sincerity.

Trudeau is not a bad man; he is just not a good enough man. He is like many of us, easily corrupted when offered too much and wanting and expecting more. Apparently, for such as he loved by all and with a majority government, love is not enough; what good is power if not wielded for benefit? For others, it is bitterness that corrupts, the belief we are unrecognized, have been denied, and that the world is unfair. Both camps should give it a rest.

What is so difficult about keeping one’s word and doing one’s best, about owning up to mistakes or admitting failure? What is so important about you that you would throw away your honour, tarnish your name, betray those who place trust in you, you, for the sake of power and glory?

And you, what do you see in that peacock? What is there about him that has numbed your brain and disabled your senses? What is there about you that paralyses you, forces you to sit back, to do nothing, to accept no responsibility?

In the end, we are all dust. In the meantime, we are all accountable and complicit.

***

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.

***

They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin

 

%d bloggers like this: