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LOVE ME, LOVE ME, LOVE ME, I’M A LIBERAL: Trudeau Gropes With Hypocrisy

Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing wonder and awe — the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me. — Immanuel Kant

Sure, once I was young and impulsive; I wore every conceivable pin,
Even went to Socialist meetings, learned all the old Union hymns.
Ah, but I’ve grown older and wiser, and that’s why I’m turning you in.
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal. — Phil Ochs

Frank A. Pelaschuk

He ran full of boastful swagger and showy humility declaring his would be a different and better government, not only cleaner and with set of self-imposed ethical mandates but also truly representative with a gender-balanced cabinet with women playing significant roles. He was a feminist, you see, and wasn’t shy of reminding us — endlessly. As well, without any great public demand for it, with smug self-congratulatory defiant fanfare, he declared 2015 would be the last ever first-past-the-post Canadian election. Sounded good and the public voted; the pure of heart defeated the forces of darkness. Goodby Stephen Harper, hello Justin Trudeau.
The rodomontade promises were excessive, magnified hope and the big-rock-candy-mountain future; in his own words, “sunny ways, sunny ways” were here again, Trudeaumania revived, more potent than ever: peace and love reigned over the world. Well, Canada at the least, Trudeau’s no Trump. But fairy tales are for kids; even so, too many adults wanted to believe, buying in and still do; “give him a chance, give him a chance” say those to the doubters and critics. For some, however, the shock of recognition and disappointment quickly hit, hitting hard, the hopeful wavering, faltering, struck numb: They’re all the same after all, aren’t they.
Trudeau was no naïf nor his crew inexperienced. He knew exactly what he was doing. Most didn’t care but a few did and do. The scales began to fall from the eyes and hands began to wave away the cobwebs. The portrait of the handsome saviour prince and crew slowly emerges, a little clearer and more realistic, of consummate schemers, wheelers and dealers oozing, simply oozing charm, smarm, buzz words tripping off the tongues and attitudes and promises deployed as skilfully as any con baiting traps for lonely, befuddled, gullible prey; when challenged concerns are blissfully brushed aside…”it’s legal”, “we didn’t know the full picture”, deceptions, broken promises, the failures of ethics and stricken expressions of betrayed believers ignored.
Within months if not weeks, there was news, “sticky fingers”, and Trudeau instructing cabinet ministers to repay expense claims to which they were not entitled and defending those routinely breaking conflict of interest guidelines again and again, the justice minister once ludicrously justifying a fundraiser paid for by lawyers with the claim she had attended the event as a member of the Liberal party and not as the Justice Minister! Oh, it may be risible were it not so predictable and offensive; Trudeau, the handsome prince, was to be the exemplar but, as often happens in fairy tales, the prince is not always what he seems, the toad part of him increasingly exposed with each question tossed his way and denial hurled back.
There are always those who believe they are entitled to a free pass and those who always get it. Trudeau is apparently one such. Unfortunately, far too many are willing to play along.
Why?
Time and time again he and his gang broke his own loudly ballyhooed ethical mandates. Apparently no one noticed or cared: a flash of smile, furrowed brows, fingers tapping over the heart, and eyes oozing, simply ooze sincerity is all it takes for Trudeau and others like him, those guileful manipulators who know how to work the mob of innocents and/or fools. And Trudeau does. Still, with Trudeau, the “mistakes” occur far too often; one would think that even the half awoke would ask themselves, “Should we trust a man that careless and, if so, how much?”
Well, not much.
If he was to be the shining beacon, he demonstrated that not all pretty packages are that pretty though far too many still refuse to see beyond surface. While I was never convinced by him, I was, if sceptical, still willing to give him a chance. Many of us were. However, his easy dismissal of real concerns regarding conflicts of interest by the newly appointed justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, his own attitude regarding secret fundraising events and his undermining of electoral reform were more than sufficient evidence his promise of “sunny ways” had been a hoax. I find it incomprehensible so many refuse to see him as the charlatan and phony he is. What do they see that I don’t?
When he was forced to rejig the committee looking into recommendations for electoral reform after being called out for stacking it with liberals, we saw clear signs of the machinator at work. Then, several weeks into its mandate, with the committee revealing early signs of a likely endorsement for proportional representation, Trudeau began to pointedly muse that the public was no longer interested in electoral reform. It wasn’t true, of course. What was true was that he was setting the stage without having yet informing the public of his preferred option: the ranked ballot system. Eventually, Trudeau’s preference became public. When it became clear that the committee would deny him what he sought, a voting system that would ensure that only two parties would govern until Canada ceased to be, the public began to stir suddenly aware that what they had long wanted and sought, fair elections, was chimera, a pipe dream. Not all options were on the table and PR was definitely not a possibility for consideration by the liberals. In Parliament, following the reform committee’s recommendation, minister of democratic institutions Maryam Monsef publicly berated the committee in Parliament for “not doing” its job, i.e., giving Trudeau what he wanted. The furor was instant, loud and public, Canadians furious by the shoddy treatment handed the committee. Seeking to repair the damage, the liberals set up a phone-in poll to look into electoral reform. That, too, as with Trudeau’s first attempt to stack the committee, had been designed to lead to a specific desired outcome. So obvious and outlandish was the move orchestrated by the PMO, public rage and the minister’s incompetence led to her removal. It was left to Karina Gould, Monsef’s replacement, to drive the stake through the heart of electoral reform.
While this had been from day one Trudeau’s baby, he had neither the stomach nor the decency to do the dirty deed himself. As a result, this self-declared feminist had left it to two neophyte female MPs to not only discredit the work of the committee but the project itself. Monsef and Gould would be associated with the failure of the reform he had set in motion and then worked to undermine. What a man!
Later, battered from the fallout of free gifts, secret fundraisers, conflicts of interest, and electoral reform, he set about to refurbish his image with town hall meetings across the country. He swaggered before the crowd loudly and defiantly boasting of not regretting walking away from electoral reform (and those countless others whose hopes he had destroyed). Shame? Not a whit. His brainless supporters lapped it up. None of them saw that smiling, smiling toad prince facing them with thumb to nose and fingers waving: SUCKERS!
So, does Trudeau believe in anything? Probably only in the things that serve him and his interests. He easy bromides appear to comfort those seeking comfort. This is a man who cares. Until he doesn’t. He believes human rights is a priority unless it conflicts with Canadian business interests as he demonstrated by signing off on Harper’s Light-Armoured Vehicle deal with human rights abuser Saudi Arabia; he believes conflicts-of-interest are major issues except when he or members of his party routinely engage in the practice. The Aga Khan Foundation still receives millions from Canada while Trudeau receives a lukewarm warning from the ethics commissioner for breaking the rules and a minor fine for accepting a pair of expensive sunglasses. Trudeau receives a pass and there’s not even a hint of shame.
But what about his feminism? We know he’s a feminist; he screams it out at every opportunity. Yet, when offered opportunities on several occasions by reporters to denounce Trump’s misogynistic comments which were made public as Trump ran for the presidency, Trudeau remained tellingly mute except to declare, “Canada does not comment on American politics” and “Everyone knows I’m a feminist”. But do we? Does saying something make it so? And why, in god’s name, does he conflate standing up against misogyny as interference in American politics? Some have suggested that his stance was “prudent”. What they meant is this: For god sakes, don’t jeopardize NAFTA by annoying Trump. That’s the stand of cowards and for folks with fluid ethics: do the right thing only when there is no possibility of it biting you. That about sums up Trudeau. Unfortunately, kissing ass isn’t always a winner with Trump; he could still dump on you. Ask Trudeau.
I have always been wary of those who noisily insist we accept their public persona of themselves as the real deal. Perhaps that is why I have never bought into Trudeau’s “feminism”; it was too showy and utterly unconvincing. It’s much like Trump’s insistence he is a smart man; where’s the evidence?
Even so, I was mildly surprised by recent reports of a nearly 20 year old groping allegation which led to a community newspaper editorial at the time. Not only does the Creston Valley Advance piece cast doubt to the strength and sincerity of Trudeau’s claim to feminism, it also suggests the feminism may be dependent on the status of the parties involved. In the opening lines of the editorial, Trudeau had apologized, if that’s what it was, with the following, “I’m sorry. If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward.” According to the young reporter at the time, who was also on assignment for the National Post, she had been groped by the future world’s most famous self-declared feminist. Mind you, in those days, all she likely knew then was he was just the son of a more famous Trudeau. It was the PMO that responded to the allegations. Trudeau could not recall any “negative interactions” at the time words, as some have pointed out, with a lawyerly ring to them. Days later, on July 1, he spoke for himself. He could not recall any “negative interactions”. Sounded familiar. Feeble, certainly, and no outright denial. On July 5, perhaps aware that his response was inadequate, following a meeting with Doug Ford, Ontario’s new premier and Trumpian-lite cretin clone of the North, he responded more fully. Said he, “I do not feel I did anything untoward. Often a man experiences an interaction as being benign or not inappropriate and a woman, particularly in a professional context can view it differently (CBC National, July 5, 2018). Weaselly legalese. Inadequate. And no firm denial.
Clearly Trudeau holds himself to a standard less than he demands of others as when, upon taking leadership of the party, he swiftly and brutally booted two members from the caucus. Not only had he offered them no opportunity to a fair hearing, he had named them and kept from the public the allegations made against them. Trudeau would later claim that his zero-tolerance policy would even apply to him. Really? Judge for yourself. He gives to himself an exemption denied Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti, the two Liberal MPs against whom the allegations were made. Look again at the opening statement of the Creston Valley Advance editorial: by his own words, if the reports are accurate, he thought a reporter of a small community paper was fair game as opposed to one from a national paper. That statement years ago may be forgiven as an ill-conceived apology by a young man but when coupled with his July 5th statement, one cannot help but wonder if his is indeed a deep-rooted belief regarding women and status. “Often a man experiences an interaction as being benign or not inappropriate and a woman, particularly in a professional context can view it differently.” Why “particularly in a professional context”? Perhaps menials as well as the less educated and sophisticated, as with small town reporters, are viewed as not only incapable of awareness of sexual harassment when inflicted on them but also as fair game: all hands on board!
The reporter of years ago has made clear that Trudeau did apologize as reported. She has also made clear that, for her, the matter is closed, a part of her past she has no interest in revisiting.
But voters do have a right to know of this episode and to question and challenge Trudeau’s credibility regarding his feminism and apparent double-standard regarding zero-tolerance when it comes to harassment.
He has set himself up to holding a standard that he has demanded of others. When they have failed or have been seen as failing, he has punished them. Yet he apparently is immune; for him, the bar is lower if non-existent. He is fond of legalese and weasel words and they, as much as his failures in ethics and keeping promises and his oozing, simply oozing sincerity, tell us all I need to know about the man. I see no charm, no saviour prince, no man of deep-rooted integrity. I see a phony. I see a toad.
Folk with fluid ethics and easy virtue almost always resort to legalese: “what I did was legal”. Is it really too much to demand that they also be honest and ethical?
Evidently so.

***

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

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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

 

A RAT TURNS TAIL: TRUDEAU BREAKS ANOTHER PROMISE

A man’s reputation is the opinion people have of him; his character is what he really is. – Jack Miner

Integrity has no need of rules. – Albert Camus

Frank A. Pelaschuk

On May 20, 2016, I posted the following: We have observed how this government has increased the wealth of the middle class while doing absolutely nothing for the poorest amongst us. We have watched as this government has operated with breathtaking arrogance and watched a prime minister so narcissistic he believes nothing will stick: broken promises, manhandling members of parliament, ministers placing themselves in conflict of interest positions and ministers working to jettison or rig, either is a possibility, electoral reform.

While I have never held much faith in Trudeau, suspecting him of insincerity and hypocrisy, I was willing to give him a chance even hoping I was wrong. He quickly proved to be all I feared and worse. I have written a few times that I believed him a phony, a man not to be trusted. Sadly, he has proven himself both a phony and untrustworthy and almost from the first. Oh, initially, it was true, he seemed eager to go through with his promise of electoral reform but very quickly proceeded to undermine the work of the committee set up to formulate a recommendation even once stating such reforms were not on top of the public’s list. When the committee did submit it’s report favouring a form of proportional representation, the then minister of democratic reforms, Maryam Monsef, mocked the work of those on the committee and accused them of not even doing what they were supposed to. It was clear where this was going. But the saddest aspect, in some way, is not his broken promise nor his betrayal of those who voted for him on this issue, so loudly trumpeted by Trudeau, but his throwing to the wolves Karina Gould, the neophyte MP who replaced Monsef, by having her make the announcement that electoral reform was now off. You see, he did not want to have any video of him wearing this, yet another broken promise. Oh, he is a brave man of integrity alright.

Justin Trudeau is a prize and a phony. Oh, yes, he smiles a lot, talks of sunny ways, and easily milks tears from those overworked lacrimal glands when he wants or needs to; he’s a take charge guy who does not hesitate to swagger across the room to rescue a fellow MP even if it means elbowing another in the breast. He talks big on big things. For him, Human Rights was a priority when he campaigned but, when it came to the crunch, Human Rights took a beating as he signed off on a trade deal with Saudi Arabia one of the world’s most repressive regimes. And, of course, Human Rights is never mentioned as he seeks to do even more trade with China, another Human Rights abuser. Well, let’s face it, Human Rights is a honey if it don’t cost money.

He talks big about tolerance and yet when he sees and hears a lunatic Donald Trump signs bills to erect walls and wage religious and racial wars against Muslim immigrants, he is strangely mute except to say Canada welcomes immigrants. That is not enough. Where is the voice of outrage and condemnation?

He has proclaimed himself time-and-again to be a feminist. Well, he was given the opportunity to prove himself during the American election campaign when he was asked to comment on the vile recording made of Trump boasting about groping women. This is what Trudeau said: “This relationship goes far deeper than any two personalities at their countries’ respective heads. I think, however, I’ve been very clear in my approach as a feminist, as someone who has stood clearly and strongly through all my life around issues of sexual harassment, standing against violence against women, that I don’t need to make any further comment” (Kathleen Harris, CBC News, Oct. 13, 2016). Not even a whisper of condemnation for Trump.

He was given another opportunity on January 24 of this year to speak when asked by a reporter, “Do you think Trump is a misogynist?” His response was exactly what one would expect of a craven phony. He said, he was “pleased to have a constructive working relationship with the new administration…and I have made it very clear over the past year, it is not the job of a Canadian prime minister to opine on the American electoral process.” And this is our fearless, feminist, Human Rights defending prime minister?

This man Trudeau is a phony. He is a craven coward more interested in trade than Human Rights, more interested in access-for-cash than feminism, and more interested in oozing, simply oozing sincerity than actually doing the right and decent thing.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, admirable about a man, especially a leader of a nation, who remains silent on the sidelines watching others bullied and hoping, just hoping, no one will notice.

Well, Trudeau, one person has noticed. I had hoped for better from you but really did not expect it. I am not surprised by today’s announcement, I expected it long ago.

You are not a man of courage or of your word. You are just another phony out for the main chance. And I thought Harper and his gang were sewer rats.

***

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

GAMING THE SYSTEM AND OTHER MISDEEDS: THE GREAT LIBERAL BETRAYAL

Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises; for never intending to go beyond promises, it costs nothing. – Edmund Burke

One may smile, and smile, and be a villain. – William Shakespeare

The fawning, sneaking, and flattering hypocrite, that will do or be anything, for his own advantage. –Edward Stillingfleet

Frank Pelaschuk

THE SELF(IE)-LOVER                                  

He strides effortlessly across the global stage equally at ease with royalty, world leaders and the hoi polloi clamouring around him. He smiles freely, a dazzling beacon, clasping hands with both of his suggesting warmth, sincerity, a depth of feeling that cannot be denied whether greeting the shakers and movers or the humble smitten citizen. He is generous and gracious with his time, not only with the media but also with the public, willing to pause with the minions and pose with them as they take selfies of themselves with this truly charming Canadian darling; occasionally, even more ingratiatingly, he will take the iPhone from them and snap the selfies himself. It’s endlessly entertaining and endlessly flattering for those who get to stand next to this great man, a moment that will be relived and recounted for the rest of their days and passed on to generations to come. And the images captured will be splashed on Facebook as validation of the moment when they, too, however humble, have been blessed, however briefly, by the touch of greatness. By such easy gestures, fans and votes can be won for life.

The wunderkind knows it, recognizes he’s blessed, that he’s destiny’s child; you can see it in his bearing, in the tilt of his head, the awareness of all awed eyes turned on him taking in his every move and every ear attentive to every utterance whether explaining quantum physics to reporters or performing pushups and a one-handed plank at the Invictus Games or doing the peacock pose on a table. Is there nothing Trudeau can’t do? No false modesty; it would be unbecoming and unnecessary. His youth, energy, intelligence, and family, the children adorable and his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, almost as telegenic and popular as he, are embellishments adding to the charm.

But to what does this add? Not much, really.

Glad-handers and grandstanding are not unusual in politics. It’s well and good that young Justin stands in Parliament, as he did Wednesday, May 18, apologizing for Canada turning away the Komagata Maru loaded with Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus seeking to emigrate to Canada in 1914. It looks and sounds good and offers solace to those wanting to believe Trudeau really does care and is prepared to do things differently. But such gestures, fine as they are and even if sincere and well intended, are just gestures. It allows Trudeau to look good and will offer some solace to those feeling the need for such gestures. It will be another positive added to his CV, purely symbolic and going a way to assuage the guilt some might needlessly experience. Unfortunately, on that very same day, by his own foolish actions, all the goodwill Trudeau may have garnered from those with reservations might have been washed away by an unpleasant and incredible Parliamentary fiasco unheard of in recent Canadian memory and it is this episode that I suspect is truly reflective of the man and is as telling of him as the aloofness, duplicity, and controlling manner was of Conservative Stephen Harper.

On Tuesday, May 17, Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc made a move to strip opposition members of any ability to play the traditional role of opposition including delaying by various means the passage of any bill they may oppose. The move, Government Business No. 6 or simply Motion 6, sounds innocent enough but is without doubt one of the most dangerous and direct attacks against Canadian democracy. Trudeau’s Liberals sought to wrest decisions made by the Speaker that could forever alter how Parliament works. Harper began the anti-democratic initiatives in earnest long ago but, unlike the Liberals, only a few months in office, had never quite dared to commit to such a dangerous move that would absolutely immobilize the opposition. Government ministers and Parliamentary secretaries would now have the power to introduce, extend and/or adjourn debate, which would be considered immediately adopted on their say so only. The Speaker has been effectively sidelined and opposition members seriously limited in putting forth motions, such as happened Monday, May 16, when the NDP engineered a snap vote catching the Liberals flat-footed and scrambling. Motion 6, clearly a retaliatory response, would no longer allow such things to happen to future governments; government members would call all the shots. Then, on Wednesday, May 18, following the apology for the Komagata Maru incident, LeBlance moved to cut off debate on the physician-assisted dying bill, C-14. Members of the NDP party mingled on the floor of the House, hoping to delay the vote by preventing Conservative opposition whip Gordon Brown from taking his seat before the vote began. Incensed by this, Trudeau left his seat, forced his way through the NDP pack (some reports had him muttering, “Get out of my fucking way”), and grabbed Brown by the arm inadvertently slamming an elbow into the chest of NDP member Ruth Ellen Brosseau. He led Brown back to his seat and then, for some reason returned and went to the NDP side out of camera range evidently to apologize to the NDP member who had left the chamber shaken. Trudeau, in going back to his seat was confronted by Thomas Mulcair enraged that his member, accidently or not, had been struck by Trudeau. Nathan Cullen stepped between the two members and that was it, cooler heads prevailing. The time allocated vote for the physician-assisted dying bill, C-14, took place without Brosseau. Her vote would not have altered the outcome but that is not the point. Trudeau’s manhandling of Brown and the accidental blow to Brosseau and his foul language, if accurately reported, are revelatory reminiscent of childish rock stars who misbehave with the arrogance of the privileged. And Trudeau clearly believes himself among the privileged. Watch him in the House during question Period as he responds to questions he does not like; he is smug, dismissive and imperious. This is a man used to having his way on stage at all times, the sneer for foes, the excessive oozing charm for those he wishes to woo, the public out there. Unfortunately for him, he lost his cool May 18 and the public was treated to the ugly side of him with the stripping away of the apparently very thin veneer of civility and bonhomie. This was the narcissistic bully in action and convincing enough to demonstrate the Harper gang did not have a monopoly on offensive and anti-democratic behaviour. The damage is there but for how long and how much is really up to Trudeau though I suspect it will not be long lasting or significant. That the Conservatives and NDP milked it for all that it was worth is not surprising but that, too, was childish. Trudeau, wrong as he was, clearly had no intent or desire to elbow Brosseau. Public response was not surprising. For many, it was much ado about nothing. Among the imbecilic, Trudeau’s rating went even higher; he can do no wrong, anything is acceptable and forgivable. It should not be. Some have blamed the NDP for what happened, saying it was their impedance of Gordon Brown in hopes of delaying passage of C-14 that precipitated Trudeau’s rash act. There may be some truth to that. So what? It does nothing to absolve Trudeau. He should not have lost his temper. He should not have crossed the floor and grabbed Brown by the arm. You do not lay hands on other members of parliament. The opposition job is to act in the best interests of Canadians and if the government hamstrings it unfairly, then it is incumbent on the opposition to seek ways to do their job with the use of any reasonable tactic. It was childish yes, but Trudeau’s behaviour is at issue here. His was not the act of an adult, let alone an adult leading a nation, but of a spoiled individual used to having his way and who, when thwarted, responded in the only way he knew how: a display of temper. Trudeau supporters evidently see things less objectively just as Harper’s did when he abused his majority. In their responses to bad behaviour, even egregiously bad behaviour, supporters on both sides are not that much different being just as blind and stupid as most are who refuse to acknowledge the faults of those they love that they would condemn in those they do not. It’s a wilful blindness that does credit to no one. It cannot be defended nor should it be.

Now, Trudeau has apologized again and again for his actions admitting they were intolerable. Let us accept that. But let us also remember that brief crack in the façade allowing insight into his character that most have never seen before. That said, we should not lose sight of Motion 6. That should alarm every Canadian of every stripe. Harper showed the way when he slipped legislation into endless omnibus bills and created the so-called Fair Elections Act and when he curtailed debate time-and-time- again. Motion 6 virtually strips the opposition of all power to perform their duty. To their credit, May 19, the day after the Komagata Maru apology and the brouhaha, LeBlance announced the Liberals have withdrawn Motion 6. That was a good and right move. However, the Liberals did not grant more time for debate on the assisted dying bill, which the opposition and even some Liberal members find inadequate and contrary to the intent of the Supreme Court ruling. The Liberals insist the bill must be passed before the June 6 deadline imposed by the court. Unfortunately the genie is now loosed. Motion 6 is there for another time perhaps by this government or another; it will be used by someone sometime. It is not a good sign for the future and offers us another glimpse of Trudeau that is neither glorious nor good. The Trudeau the public saw May 18 was not the Trudeau they voted for October 19, 2015.

But if the episode was astonishing and ugly, its impact appears to have the same effect of titillating entertainment. It’s about style over substance and by god that Trudeau has plenty of style even playing the bad boy.

VETERANS BETRAYED AND OTHER BROKEN PROMISES

But they are clever these Liberals. They have clearly learned from the Harper crew doing just enough, sometimes even well, to allow diehard sceptics in a weak moment to concede they have done not a bad job.

Oh, he did well with the Syrian refugee crises and a few other things, mostly symbolic as his apology for the Komagata Maru incident but it’s in the big things that he fails. He has brought back the long form census. He has ended Canada’s bombing mission against ISIS. He has removed the muzzles from government scientists. He has created an advisory board of prominent citizens to recommend nominees to the Senate based on merit. These are good moves, no denying. But it’s the broken promises that really matter.

Where, for example, is the $3 billion over the next four years for better home and palliative care services? What have the Liberals done to reform the Access of Information Act to make information “open by default” as promised? When the Canadian Press sought the release of notes on moves to reform the Act, much of the material had been redacted. So much for openness.

For veterans, especially those with disabilities inflicted during the performance of their duties, the Liberal betrayal must be particularly bitter and painful. Left feeling bruised and abused by the Conservative party to whom they were naturally allied politically, the veterans saw in the campaigning pandering Trudeau the real possibility of a turnaround for them. Though he is young, they believed Trudeau smart and one who recognized and truly respected the contributions made by our military men and women particularly those who returned home broken in body and spirit. The veterans clearly believed the promise he would commit to them as those men and women committed to Canada. They bought the persona they saw before them, who could not, Trudeau standing before them, right palm tapping left breast, expression oozing sincerity. They knew he would reopen the nine veterans offices closed down by Harper because he said he would. They knew he would re-instate life-long disability pensions with an allocation of $300 million annually for support programs for the military because he said he would. They wanted to believe him; they wanted to give him a chance to prove himself. He did. They are still waiting for the offices to open. He did not re-instate the life-long disability pensions. Instead, he simply increased the one-time lump sum disability payment that Harper had put in place. Most galling of all is the Trudeau gang’s resumption of a BC Court of Appeals case to deny Afghan war veterans benefits for injured soldiers. How that betrayal must hurt! “The plaintiffs have argued in court that the government has a sacred obligation to its injured soldiers and that the lump-sum payment wounded veterans receive under the New Veterans Charter — as opposed to the pension that was previously offered to veterans before 2006 — is inadequate compensation, as they receive less money over the course of a lifetime” (John Paul Tasker, CBC News May 17, 2016). The government view is that no special obligation is owed to the vets. That is an extraordinary commentary from a regime promising more and better led by a man with a fondness for embracing everyone and tapping his right fingers over his heart as if to emphasis the depth of his empathy. Now, I realize, he’s just trying to determine where it is or wondering were he might have left his pen.

Trudeau is not a bad man but he is certainly no more admirable than Harper and there was nothing about Harper that I admired.

Trudeau fails when he justifies with excuses the Saudi light-armoured vehicle deal: the deal can’t be broken; it was a done deal by Harper; the Liberal’s were locked in; the world will punish us for breaking this deal. Trudeau fails himself as well as his supporters by such antics, revealing himself as a man of hollow convictions who is only eager to do the right thing – next time. Human rights? Oh, they matter, but not today, not when it can cost the loss of a $15 billion deal and 3,000 Canadian jobs. All that faux sincerity when he dwells upon human rights, the plight of our soldiers – it’s a joke, it’s phony. Trudeau is a showboat who finds it easier to follow through with the easy.

Trudeau fails, too, with bill C-267, the Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials bill by then Liberal Irwin Cotler. Referred to as Magnisky’s law for a Russian lawyer murdered in prison for exposing tax fraud by Russian officials, the bill, unanimously passed in 2015 was meant to tighten sanctions against Russia for abuses against its own citizens. The Conservatives under Harper, however, were in no rush to pass legislation to begin sanctions and did nothing. Now, with Trudeau in office, the Conservatives are eager for the Liberals to impose the act and made a motion to impose sanctions on Russia. How the tables have turned. Trudeau however, now in power, is less interested in acting despite his electioneering to do so. Trudeau wants to “re-engage” with Russia. In other words, when it comes to doing the right, the decent, the moral, the ethical thing, Trudeau and the gang are again quite willing to close their eyes and plug their noses in order to do the pragmatic thing: do business with Russia. Stephane Dion, foreign minister, disappoints because he apparently has opted to move wholeheartedly into the dark side of political wheeling and dealing by offering excuses as he did with the Saudi Arabia arms deal that the Special Economic Measures Act does not allow Canada to place sanctions on Russian individual or entities. That’s a crock and is surely not Dion’s finest moment. Human rights is a honey if it don’t cost money.

This is the real state of politics. We have a government now doing what it opposed in opposition and an opposition now opposing what it supported while a government. It’s a topsy-turvy world. One needs a strong stomach to even say Conservative or Liberal, easier to simply say hypocrite.

GAMING THE SYSTEM

Then we have the CBC reporting on the shenanigans of the CRA and tax cheats, the CRA granting amnesty to fraudsters provided they pay what they owe Canadians and keep their mouths shut about the deal. We have allegations of the accountancy firm KPMG helping tax cheats set up shell companies in the Isle of Man and executives meeting secretly at the exclusive Rideau Club with bureaucrats from the CRA, a clear conflict of interest. It has been estimated that $7 to $9 billion a year is lost through tax schemes. Shortly after the CBC story caught traction, the CRA proudly announced the recovery of $1.5 billion. Nice, but peanuts to what Canadians have lost and will continue to lose. What about the billions stolen from Canadian coffers? What about the peculiar reluctance of revenue minister Diane Lebouthillier to punish the tax cheats and the companies helping them defraud the government? These are fraudsters and should be punished with severe financial penalties and jail time. Unfortunately, not a word on that front from either the CRA or Lebouthillier.

Clearly, it does pay to be wealthy. Unfortunately, it’s our government helping them cheat us and it’s the rest of us paying the price.

In the not too distant past, we had the Conservatives rigging the game with the misnamed Fair Elections Act. At that time the bill was simply rammed through with little to no discussion. Certainly no referendum. Trudeau promised to amend parts of the Act. No action thus far.

He also promised to bring an end to first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting. Towards that end his minister of democratic reform Maryam Monsef and government house leader Dominic LeBlanc set up a rigged committee that consists of six Liberals, three Conservatives, one NDP and two MPs not allowed to vote, one from the Bloc Québécois and Elizabeth May of the Green party. With absolute lack of shame, the Liberals have stacked the deck not to reflect the proportion of the vote but the number of seats won! They used the very system they wish to end in order to rig the committee and the outcome. This is Trudeau gaming the system to ensure that, if there is a change (which many suspect the Liberals do not want), it will reflect the change that Trudeau’s Liberals desire: the ranked ballot system which strongly favours the party of the centre which is what the Liberals are perceived as being. In truth, such a system would likely ensure governance by Liberals or Conservatives forever. The committee is a sham. Maryam Monsef gave the game away when she said that the solution must not be complex. In other words, proportional representation will not be an option because it is unfamiliar thereby deemed too difficult to understand though the majority of democratic countries have a form of PR. She is really saying Canadians are too stupid to understand what the rest of the democratic world does. She also suggested on CBC’s Power and Politics with Rosemary Barton that it was pointless to hold a referendum because many eligible voters don’t vote. Say what? Isn’t that what we wish to change? She also went on to suggest a referendum was undemocratic and that Twitter offered a more accurate reflection of the public will. Twitter for god sake. And that is the voice of reason?

Monsef is less than truthful when she says the committee will represent the wishes of Canadians. It will reflect the wishes of the Liberal party, that’s true. Having won his majority with 39% of the vote, Trudeau stacks the deck with 60% of the seats. Neat. Shameless. Dictatorial.

Monsef, though a newcomer acts very much like a Liberal pro from the old school: rigging the game and manipulating the outcome and offering the empty blandishments. The same old same old.

When Trudeau campaigned, he talked about civility and change and making Canada a better place than it was under Harper. Mostly he talked about the middle class, raising taxes for the wealthy and cutting them for the middle class. I don’t recall him much speaking about combatting poverty, of doing more for the young and elderly, of ending homelessness. It was all about sunny ways but for whom? Certainly not those on the bottom rung.

Recently, there was a small kerfuffle because the PMO was looking for ways to assist the other half of the star pair, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau. Now Canadians already help pay for one staffer and two nannies. No one should begrudge that. Nor do we begrudge the fact that she may need help when she does attend some affair that may tenuously be linked to her husband’s role as prime minister. I have no doubt she is “swamped” with requests for appearances for many worthwhile causes. If she opens a museum the government has paid for, if she speaks to students on the role of the wife of a prime minister, let Canadians pay for that. If she attends a charity event, let the Liberal party pay for that for it would likely be the real beneficiary in publicity of such an appearance. At the risk of appearing churlish, I was not impressed by her SOS. “I need help. I need a team to help serve people,” she had put out. I am a mother, my husband is prime minister. Poor little rich girl, thanks for reminding us. I am not opposed to her getting the help she needs but I might have been more sympathetic if I had heard from her husband less about tax breaks for the middle class and more about helping the single parent holding down two minimum-wage jobs. There was nothing for them. Nada, zilch. Too, I might have been favourably disposed towards helping her if, instead of appearing on the cover of Vogue with Justin, both were photographed eating a meal with homeless individuals or families or even just embracing one while dressed in their expensive togs. As it is, I will save my sympathies for those who live mean lives on mean streets. Poor Sophie, I don’t mean to be dismissive of your plight. I’m sorry, but my heart just doesn’t bleed for you. I know there are many who do want to help you. I just wish they felt as much sympathy for those who have much less than you, those hard-scrabble toilers who struggle just to survive, who really do understand what it is to be swamped by life and misery.

THE BIG LETDOWN

I have no doubt that Justin Trudeau regrets what happened May 18 with his grabbing of Gordon Brown and accidental striking of Brosseau. For a flash we saw the ugly side. For some, it was entertainment. For others, not so much.

We have witnessed the past few months a government ready to turn its back on many of its promises and just as eager as Harper’s ever was to use its majority as a club. We have seen a shift from openness to secrecy, of Liberal ministers placing themselves in conflict of interest positions by attending fund-raising events with those with the potential to benefit from the decisions made by their ministries. We have seen the broken promises and witnessed again the bullying of our veterans by the government and a nation that owes them so much. We have seen the shameless attempt by this government to strip the opposition members of any power to perform their duties in the interests of Canadians. We have observed how this government has increased the wealth of the middle class while doing absolutely nothing for the poorest amongst us. We have watched as this government has operated with breathtaking arrogance and watched a prime minister so narcissistic he believes nothing will stick: broken promises, manhandling members of parliament, ministers placing themselves in conflict of interest positions and ministers working to jettison or rig, either is a possibility, electoral reform.

This regime has increasingly shown itself willing to betrayal itself and its supporters who, perhaps naively, really held the profoundest of hopes that things would, indeed, get better, that this government, this Trudeau Liberal government, would really be all that it seemed to promise.

It is not too late for Trudeau. He does not have to turn his back on those folks who really trust and believe in him. Just keep to the promises. Do revisit the physician assisted dying bill. Do go through with electoral reform and go with the system that truly, accurately, reflects the will of the voter. You cannot lose by doing what is right.

If the goal is as it has been for all previous governments one of grabbing power and clinging to it, of self-enrichment and helping friends, of retribution rather than rehabilitation, of punishing the poor and weak, the Liberals should continue as they have. They may believe they have won, the polls and the results may say they have won, but their loss will be greater than their gains. There is more honour in standing tall in defeat knowing one has done his utmost to do what was right and honourable. May each broken promise cynically offered rest as a stone on your heart and each kept promise with the weight of a feather.

***

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

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