Trudeau’s Rare Availability To The Media This Week Is Unlikely To Be Repeated
Posted August 16, 2019
As recently as June, the Andrew Scheer Conservatives had a tidy lead over the Liberals in opinion polls. That was not because Canadians had become charmed by Scheer, but rather because they were increasingly disenchanted with Trudeau.
There had been a series of awkward moments: the disastrous trip to India, the tweet inviting asylum seekers to cross into Canada illegally, the use of omnibus bills to get legislation through, which he had repeatedly promised not to do, and the broken promises to indigenous peoples.
The tipping point was the affair in which Trudeau attempted to interfere with the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. As was suspected then and confirmed by the Ethics Commissioner this week there were repeated efforts to pressure then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to overrule the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Two things changed the direction of public opinion. First was Doug Ford, the newly elected Progressive Conservative Premier of Ontario. He has been ham-handed and insensitive and has lost popularity with remarkable speed, tarnishing the Conservative brand.
The second was Trudeau, who has been muzzled. Over the last few months, he has avoided anything but the most mundane statements and has typically denied reporters the chance to ask questions at public events.
The consequence has been the Liberals picking up 3-4% from the Conservatives in the polls, with most of the change happening in Ontario. Things are now about even.
Trudeau could not avoid the press after the release of the Ethics Commissioner’s scathing report this week. He took full advantage of the opportunity to make matters worse.
He said, “I fully accept this report. … I take full responsibility. The buck stops with the Prime Minister,” but added that he disagreed with some of Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion’s conclusions, and would not apologize.
The opposition parties will want to keep this alive as long as possible, while the Liberals will want it to be one and done, so they can resume focus on criticizing Scheer in September. The muzzle on Trudeau will be put back.
So the following fictional press briefing will never take place.
“Mr. Prime Minister, you said that you disagreed with some of the Ethics Commissioners’ conclusions. Which ones would those be?”
Trudeau: “I disagree that I did anything wrong. I was standing up for Canadian jobs.”
“So what you are saying is that you reject the Commissioners’ central conclusion that you breached ethics rules?”
Trudeau: “As I have said, the process should have evolved differently.”
Trudeau: ”Jody should have got the message and done what we asked her to do. And Jane (Philpott) should have stayed out of it.”
“Sir when this story was developing you said a number of things that have turned out to be entirely false. For example, when the Globe wrote that you had pressured former Attorney General Wilson Raybould to overrule the Director of Public Prosecutions you said the story was false even though you knew it was true.”
Trudeau: “We were just doing things the way my government normally operates.”
“Sir, you also said that if Scott Brison had not resigned, Ms. Wilson Raybould would still be Attorney General. That seems not to be true.”
Trudeau: “Everyone in cabinet knows that they are supposed to be a team player.”
“You have acknowledged that you made mistakes. What would they be?”
Trudeau: “I should never have put Jody in an important job like Attorney General. Rural Economic Development would have been safer. Same with Jane. She has a mind of her own and doesn’t always follow orders.”
“Sir, you been quite busy since you were elected, apologizing for actions of past governments that hurt LGBT Canadians, rejected immigrants, residential school survivors, among others. Yet you won’t apologize for the SNC affair.”
Trudeau: “I have nothing to apologize for. I was standing up for Canadian jobs.”
“Speaking of Canadian jobs, some first nations groups are opposing the Trans Mountain Pipeline. How are you going to make sure the pipeline is built?”
Trudeau: “No relationship is more important to Canada than the relationship with Indigenous Peoples. The pipeline will be built. Governments grant permits, communities grant permission. The pipeline will be built…”
Gerald Butts emerges from the crowd and strides to the stage. He turns off the microphone and leads Trudeau away…
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