These colleagues are meeting with grouchiness arriving in two flavours: Hysterical and Dismissive. These flavours are not mutually exclusive. One might say they appear to pair naturally, like ham and eggs. “There’s nothing wrong with having a nice vacation, and what about Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy, and, oh, yeah… nobody cares anyhow.”
As someone who has been off to one side of these discussions, I have to observe that this makes a pretty damned remarkable culmination to a year’s reporting and talk. The prime minister and his circle were caught concealing the receipt of free resort trips that would be a central event in the lives of most of us wage slaves.
The press discovered that the trips were funded by someone who is at once a literal prince, an inconceivably wealthy businessman, and the leader of a global religious and ethnic constituency whose members are affected by changes on the geopolitical chessboard at almost every imaginable corner.
There must be four or five distinct levels on which the Aga Khan’s access to and influence over a prime minister of Canada would be an appropriate topic of public concern and official scrutiny. (Hardly anyone has mentioned the words “foreign policy” this week.)
These colleagues are meeting with grouchiness arriving in two flavoursThe report of the ethics commissioner, which is narrowly and appropriately concerned with the letter of Canadian law, focuses on the PM’s involvement with philanthropic activities of the Aga Khan Foundation on Canadian soil.
These involve sums approaching the order of billions. Commissioner Mary Dawson absolves the PM of having intervened specifically to further the interests of the Foundation (which mostly does nice things for honourable reasons, but which certainly has underlying religious and political purposes).
The last few Canadian governments have all had a pretty cozy relationship with His Highness, and Dawson accepts Trudeau’s plea that he didn’t make any changes to plans already underway when he came to power.
Having conceded all that, she also found that the prime minister had mangled the Conflict of Interest Act, and in several ways.
He did violate the letter of conflict-of-interest law pertaining to Crown ministers, while abusing its spirit in a breathtakingly obvious way.
Trudeau abused the law and its spirit in a breathtakingly obvious wayI can only say I am glad I was not one of those who smelled the scent of decaying fish, much less one of those who actually got out a flashlight to see if anyone had left the odd trout lying around. Their reward has been to be asked why they care so much about some stupid fish…
Don’t they know this room used to smell way worse?… Maybe someone was preparing a Scandinavian rotting-fish delicacy they were brought up eating. Etc., etc., etc.
There is a lot going on psychologically with such imbeciles (and, in fairness, actual Liberal politicians are avoiding such self-humiliation).
Before Justin Trudeau we had a nerdy Conservative prime minister of modest material ambitions and no family background to speak of. This was a strength and a weakness. Trudeau’s posh, globetrotting, prime-ministerial-timber origins also are a strength and a weakness.
Insofar as they blind him to the necessity of meeting super high standards of personal behaviour, they’re a pretty serious weakness. And one that apparently we need to stay on top of. (Dawson’s Trudeau report has a revealing comment about how, before Trudeau became PM, he “did not feel that he had achieved a level of success… that would allow him to have a peer-to-peer relationship” with the Aga Khan.)
If we allow status to become a requirement of the job, that will be a disasterI do not know if anyone is suggesting explicitly that having a prime minister who is comfortable socializing with billionaires and princes is something regrettable. Regarding it as an advantage for Canada is fine. Even self-evident. If we allow it to become a requirement of the job, that’s a disaster.
Without doubt, Conservative and New Democratic partisans will go on trying to exploit Trudeau’s background. The most short-sighted supporters of the prime minister can only see “attacks” on him—up to and including any plain factual description of what he did wrong — as a manifestation of contrived, hypocritical, conservative austerity-mongering.
Clearly many Canadians do not make much distinction between electing a new government and having a handsome celebrity PM with a fashionable wife. Their genuine, legitimate political hopes are wadded together with their sexy daydreams in one glutinous, moist wad of feeling.
Taken to its logical conclusion, this ludicrous tendency ought to make them angry at Trudeau for apologizing for Trudeau’s errors. How dare he? When will he apologize for his apology?