Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday July 31, 2020
Whether Trudeau’s testimony worked or not, the winds of change are blowing for Liberals
Jean Chrétien used to tell his cabinet a folksy allegory that suggests how he would have handled the WE affair.
A farmer is covered in cow dung but knows that if he tries to wipe the manure away while fresh, he will spread it all around and make it worse. So he waits until it dries and then brushes it off.
Reprehensible perhaps but that’s how he survived in politics for 40 years.
Justin Trudeau adopted a different approach, agreeing to appear before the House finance committee, while the muck is still moist.
No prime minister in my nearly two decades on Parliament Hill has appeared before a House committee (Stephen Harper once testified before a Senate committee on his reform bill).
More wily operators were aware that no good could come from allowing lowly opposition MPs a free kick at the prime minister.
As a defensive manoeuvre, it is unproven.
But it is a measure of how much trouble Trudeau’s government is in that he believed only he could come to its deliverance. What self-assurance. What swagger.
But the Liberals need a game-changer, and Trudeau clearly believed he could be it.
The verdict is still out on whether he succeeded but he emerged from his 90 minutes before the finance committee relatively unscathed. It’s possible he even convinced some people of his own innocence, beyond the failure to recuse himself from the awarding of a lucrative contribution agreement to the WE Charity.
“I didn’t do anything to influence that – I didn’t even know it had been made until May 8,” he said, by which point the public service was already recommending WE.
A hirsute-looking prime minister said he pulled the WE contract from the cabinet agenda on May 8 because he knew there would be questions asked about his links to WE (it finally went to cabinet on May 22). But he insisted WE received no preferential treatment.
On its own merits, Trudeau might be able to brush off the WE affair without too much muck being spread around.
But political sins, like sweaty feet, rarely come singly. (National Post)