As the nation rapidly approaches election day, it seems the Prime Minister’s charming, sunny persona has eroded beyond the point of recognition.
For the most part, that has occurred as a result of his political party’s own incompetent choices.
In a matter of four short years, the Liberal government abandoned their pledge to bring forward electoral reform, embarrassed the nation repeatedly on the global stage, absolutely failed to balance the budget, and broke the conflict of interests act by attempting to pressure then Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould into interfering with an ongoing case against SNC-Lavalin.
While these numerous blunders have hurt both the brand of Trudeau and Canada’s global reputation, it has been the Prime Minister’s own response to these mistakes that has done the most harm.
As the saying goes, “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.”
Throughout the many scandals that have hit the Trudeau government, the response has been largely consistent: Lie when possible, ignore the hypocritical optics, and when all else fails use the powers of government to keep problems away from prying eyes. Do so while smiling.
In the SNC-Lavalin scandal, the government claimed the Globe and Mail story showing Trudeau’s team pressured the AG was false. Untrue.
“The allegations in the Globe story are false,” declared the Prime Minister.
Following an investigation, the ethics commissioner reported that the AG was in fact clearly pressured more than once. The Prime Minister lied.
When the RCMP attempted to begin an inquiry and question witnesses, Ottawa refused to lift confidentiality, largely limiting the ability for police to do their job and actually figure out if the Prime Minister and his team stepped into the territory of obstructing justice.
While many might think this was a one time instance, it appears that the Liberals have taken this problematic strategy and made it a central pillar to the way they run a government.
Take, for example, how the government has approached both press and citizen freedom with its plan to bail out many mainstream media organizations.
In 2018, the Liberals announced that they would spend $595 million in order to rescue the struggling Canadian media, adding that they may even be willing to regulate this venture if need be.
The Liberals justified the bailout on the high moral standing of allowing democracy to function.
“The Government of Canada understands that for a democracy to function properly, it needs to have solid, independent news media,” the government’s Heritage Minister proudly boasted.
Within a matter of months, the party would turn the idea of a truly independent press on its head.
First, they allowed individuals who were directly dependent on the press to influence how the money would be doled out, while also allowing an extremely partisan anti-Conservative union to retain power over that panel of so-called “experts.”
In combination, the Liberals turned the already problematic idea of a bailout into a toxic action through partisan hackery. And that was just the beginning.
While the public began to distrust media organizations supported by Trudeau’s government, the Liberals co-hosted a conference in London on media freedom.
“The Global Conference for Media Freedom is part of an international campaign to shine a global spotlight on media freedom and increase the cost to those who are attempting to restrict it,” wrote a press release by Global Affairs Canada.
At the conference Chrystia Freeland tried to block two news organizations from a presser because their view of the world was simply different from hers.
In both cases, of Freeland and the bailout, the government lied. The bailout would not create independent media, and Trudeau’s government sincerely did not care about press freedom. Most certainly they did not care about the hypocrisy of calling out dictators for crushing media dissent, while they themselves took part in similar behaviour.
Of course, that was only the beginning. The Liberals have only taken their problematic relationship with the press to new heights during the current campaign. First by making a terribly stupid joke regarding how the government always provides preferential treatment to the CBC, something im sure the journalists at CBC did not take kindly.
Secondly, by repeatedly blocking one news organization from asking the PM questions.
In the latter case, the problem delves far deeper, as team Trudeau actually refused to allow a Andrew Lawton, a journalist they previously accredited onto the Liberal bus, or from asking the PM any questions.
When Lawton as a journalist attempted to continue his job, the team refused to give him the location of the next event. When he continued to follow anyways, the RCMP detained him and once again stopped him from doing his job.
Thanks to Trudeau’s government we now seem to live in an environment in which some journalists, who the government pays, can attend political events while others who are not a part of the bailout get a visit from the police. That seriously sounds like the conditions that exist in countries like China or Russia.
Like the limitations placed on the RCMP in regards to SNC, the suppression of independent press is a serious affront to the basic tenets of Canada’s democracy.
The government should not decide which journalists it answers to, especially when the ones getting access are the same media receiving government funding or providing pro-government content.
As these damning mistakes filled with never ending double speak continue, the most interesting aspect appears to be that the Liberals somehow believe they have genuinely taken responsibility for their mistakes.
Taking responsibility for one’s mistakes does not just mean an apology, it means actions need to change. For now, the federal government has done nothing but lie, continue their hypocritical moral arguments, and use the many levers of their power to hinder repercussions.
As a result, In 2019, it’s truly hard to see the formerly sunny prime minister as anything other than a liar, a hypocrite, and a serious threat to our democracy.