Andrew MacDougall: In a lot of confusion that featured some curious moves, at least one thing became clear: the prime minister’s focus on keeping his path to victory open.
Andrew MacDougall is Director of Trafalgar Strategy and former Head of Communications to Prime Minister Stephen Harper
On the surface, you wouldn’t expect Justin Trudeau to be an avid student of Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former svengali. And yet here we are, with Trudeau pulling a page out of Bannon’s playbook and “flooding the area with shit,” that is. drowning the press in news lines so they don’t know where to focus, during yesterday’s cabinet swearing-in.
Do you want changes? Well, here are 31 changes, bucko, and more than enough storylines to fuel Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s third season. The title of this Parliament: ‘Suck it up, Alberta.’
Or is that ‘Up With Quebec’? Or ‘No country for old men’? Or ‘Shit, it turns out they can get you out of a Trudeau cabinet.’ Regarding the latter, steps forward Bardish Chagger, whose cardinal sin apparently was not falling accurately enough on WE Charity’s sword.
Meanwhile, in the dark corner of the cabinet where Trudeau piles his dead wood, Harjit Sajjan, Patty Hajdu and Carolyn Bennett were busy laughing at the sheer stupidity of keeping their ministerial supplies and related benefits. Turns out, he can preside over many things in Trudeau’s Canada: serial sexual misconduct in his organization, an awkward and belated response to a global pandemic, and offering vengeful pension remarks for fallen colleagues while not turning the dial on his actual report – And still keep your car and driver.
But enough of yesterday’s “winners”. We should think of the losers, namely Marc Garneau and Jim Carr, two straight shooters and competent performers who were fired from the cabinet for the crime of … what, exactly? And if Garneau is rumored to be in the running for the post of ambassador to France, then surely Trudeau would have known he wanted to do so before the elections that saw Garneau return to the House of Commons in one of the most secure liberal seats in the world. country. Losing an open goal for a star candidate seems like a fitting coda for the election that wasted everyone’s time.
Tellingly, Trudeau did not replace Manitoban Carr with another ‘prairie special representative’, as the prairies refused to send many liberal representatives to Ottawa. When you combine that lack of movement with two moves Trudeau made – Steven Guilbeault to Environment and Jonathan Wilkinson to Natural Resources – you could forgive parts of the country that reliably vote for the Conservatives for thinking that Trudeau may not be on their side. . After all, Wilkinson seems to disdain the very resources that Canada depends on for its prosperity, while Guilbeault is known for donning an orange jumpsuit when talking about the oil sands. But hey, at least Edmontonian Randy Boissonault has his hands on the tourism wheel.
Which is not to say that there weren’t some real winners in yesterday’s confusion. Anita Anand has taken advantage of her strong performance in the procurement of vaccines in National Defense, and Mélanie Joly has made the largest rocket trip of all, going from the Ministry of No Real Consequence or Import to Global Affairs. That’s it, world. In the last Parliament, our new diplomatic chief could not be trusted with any heavy machinery, but in this Parliament she is the ideal person to get our rusty relationship with the United States back on track. Nor is Joly likely to be the right person to come up with a strategy to neutralize China. Oh right, we are friends from China. Maybe it makes sense after all. In any case, Joly informs us that he will go ahead with ‘humility’ and ‘boldness’. So get that out of Joly’s pipe and smoke it.
Look, it could be that Joly possesses previously untapped depths. But given that she is Trudeau’s fifth foreign minister in just six years, it could be that the Prime Minister doesn’t care much about Canada’s role in the world. That it’s a strange place to be when your central proposition is ‘the world needs more Canada’ and that ‘Canada is back’. But there you have it.
Of course, all politics is local. Or at least domestic. No one is elected for their foreign policy or foreign policy successes. They are elected by keeping things going on the home front. For Trudeau, this means keeping his edge in urban Canada and keeping enough of Quebec to cut off an easy route back to government for the Conservative Party of Canada. It may not be good for national unity, but Trudeau has clearly decided that the boldest parts of rural Canada can do one thing, while he caters to the urban professional class.
Seen through this prism, the new Cabinet may not be so bad after all.