What We Have Here Is A Dead Liberal Parrot
Had Justin Trudeau turned the Liberal brand in Canada into a dead parrot? And, in doing so, has he vaulted the Green Party into a permanent fixture in the country’s politics?
For those who’ve been “pining for the fjords” the past four years, Trudeau has done a comprehensive job of turning his Sunny Ways brand into the Norwegian Blue Parrot of Monty Python fame. It’s not dead, he assures voters, it’s just resting.
The now-concluded Mark Norman legal matter was one final roaring success for Trudeau. If your idea of success is to have the entire vindictive prosecution rebound on you leaving people to think you’re A) Corrupt or B) Evil or C) Both. It followed hot on the heels of being schooled by his former justice minister, Jody Wilson Raybould, over attempts to shield SNC Lavalin from criminal prosecution.
The Raybould matter itself was a trifecta of stupidity for Trudeau in that it 1) made him seem like he was on the take 2) cost him at least five of his closest advisers and best cabinet or Party colleagues 3) convinced the West that a Quebec favoured child— SNC— held primacy over the loss of 100 K jobs in Alberta’s energy sector.
But is this enough to finally send the Liberal Party to join the CCF, the Social Credit and the Reform Party in the political party necropolis? To give the Outremont Flash his due, the Liberal Party was on the verge of ex-parrot status in 2013-14 after successive disasters with Michael Ignatieff and Stephane Dion. Oh, and the little matter of the Sponsorship Scandal.
Jack Layton’s NDP looked like it was about to replace them as Canada’s other governing alternative. Then Layton had the misfortune to die while Trudeau— and his Sancho Panza Gerry Butts— resurrected the putrefying Liberal corpse, turning it into a Leo DeCaprio clone. Suddenly politics was out and Much Music was in vogue.
If you can’t recall how the media swooned in a schoolgirl crush over this D’artagnan then cast your eyes southward where the American press corps is currently experiencing the vapours over Pete Buttiegeg, the gay liberal mayor of South Bend, Indiana. His pyjama boy sensibilities have captured the mainstream media.
Much as it had for his predecessor in Your Hit Parade, “Beto” O’Rourke, the Texas progressive who is now so last Tuesday in the hearts of the segment of the population that views politics as Tiger Beat magazine. Whether any of these glossy pinup boys will win either the Democrat nomination or the presidency against septuagenarian relic Joe Biden is looking unlikely.
But Trudeau did win, turning the cover of GQ into the new Macleans. Pierre Elliot’s fils swept to a majority win in 2015 over the dread policy wonk Stephen Harper.
It didn’t take long for Canadians to discover that Trudeau viewed the prime ministership as an extended promotional tour for his brand. It was all work. On Monday. The rest of the week was filled with skiing, surfing and trips to private islands on the tab of the Aga Khan. While some were disquieted by the champagne wishes and caviar dreams of the PMO, the fanboy media stuck with him.
This was followed in rapid succession by the disastrous Bollywood episode in India, a cratering of relations with the West over cancelled energy pipelines, the SNC disaster and now, cerise sur las glace, the abject humiliation of the Norman prosecution. Along the way there was the culling of Butts, privy council chief Michel Wernick, Raybould, Jane Philpott, Andrew Leslie and most of the Liberal governments in the provinces. Even his chorus in the press had to admit he was toast.
No wonder Trudeau rarely shows up to Question Period in Ottawa. And why no Liberal invites him to stump for them in bye elections or provincial votes (when PEI tells a Liberal to stay home you know it’s bad). His personal polling is somewhere below Jian Ghomeshi.
In their rash moments Liberal must be wondering if there’s still time to flip Sunny Ways for a life preserver before October’s election. The Ontario Tories did the late switcheroo, and Doug Ford won a majority. But the Liberals are buoyed by one desperate Hail Mary: No one likes his chief opponents Andrew Scheer (CPC) or Jagmeet Singh (NDP) either.
Were Trudeau not playing the Roman candle himself, attention would no doubt be on Scheer’s vacuous centrism and Singh’s epic drive to turn the NDP into a ten-seat party again. The void to Trudeau’s right and left convinces Liberal hacks that a miracle may yet portend.
The reality is that this will be the election of disaffection. Two themes will emerge: Where to place a protest vote? And why should I vote? Both are prescriptions for randomness in the voting. While it’s folly to get excited over bye elections, the recent Ladysmith-Nanaimo vote may be a fair portrait of the country’s current mood.
The voters doubled the Green members in Parliament to two by electing Paul Manly. The Liberal vote was cut in half, the Tory vote failed to grow in response and the NDP— always a place for disaffected Liberals to park a vote— also flopped as Singh blundered through policy traps.
Extrapolating this we could see a jump to 20 seats for the Greens as they benefit from disaffection with the old-line offerings. Giving the green loons the respectability they crave. And, barring the U.S. seizing the Arctic, a record for low turnout across the country. Meaning, every man, woman and other for himself/ herself/ whatever.
Thanks to the Norwegian Blue PM, Canada is about to be cast into minority party gridlock. Whether the Liberals have a place in that reality will depend on who— if anyone— can expunge Trudeau’s legacy.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the publisher of his website Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). He’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also a best-selling author whose new book Cap In Hand: How Salary Caps Are Killing Pro Sports And Why The Free Market Could Save Them brucedowbigginbooks.ca is now available.