Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday March 14, 2019
‘Trudeau? Scandal? I don’t believe it’: As controversy rocks Canada’s PM, the world winces — then shrugs
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s political crisis has shaken Ottawa — and now, the tremors are starting to register abroad.
Outside the white-marble Newseum building in Washington on Thursday, the morning’s copy of the Globe and Mail sat behind glass, displayed alongside the front pages of newspapers from all 50 U.S. states, plus the District of Columbia.
Janet McCarty, a retired civil servant living in Washington, perused the headlines. Only one publication — the Globe — led with the latest on the SNC-Lavalin scandal, in which the Prime Minister’s Office stands accused of meddling in a criminal prosecution case against the Quebec engineering giant.
McCarty grimaced. Like many others on the political left, she’s always considered Trudeau an unimpeachable moral authority and darling of the international left.
“If this is true, then Justin is not the person that we thought he was,” she said.
McCarty lamented that another world leader with a global outlook, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has decided not to seek re-election. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May, a Conservative, has faced at least eight cabinet resignations in less than two years over her controversial Brexit deal.
“Justin. I mean, they’re all — Angela Merkel, Theresa May — everybody’s going down the toilet,” McCarty said.
Trudeau’s brand as a global liberal icon is strong in some parts of the U.S., which might explain why Manuel Macias, 36, was so shocked to hear about the SNC-Lavalin affair when he stopped to scan the Newseum headlines this week.
“Trudeau? A scandal? I don’t believe it.
“In this day and age, we don’t really have a lot of shining light all across the world,” said Macias, who identifies as a liberal. “Unless something really comes out that’s proven facts, why throw dirt on him when we’ve got such a good positive role model?”
If the SNC-Lavalin debacle has been slow to gain traction outside of Canada, it may also have to do with domestic-scandal fatigue, at least in Britain and the U.S.
In London, John Prideaux, the U.S. editor for The Economist, cited Washington’s woes, as well as Britain’s mismanagement of a plan to withdraw from the European Union, as reasons why some Britons and Americans might not be tuning in.
“What’s happening in Canada looks to me like a more conventional political scandal that you get in a healthy political culture, where people are really held accountable for what they’ve done,” Prideaux said.
That said, the SNC-Lavalin affair has “broken through” the British press — no easy feat. (Continued: CBC)