It was quite a week for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. At least we no longer have to wonder how much longer this honeymoon will continue. The question is, how much worse will things get? This is the problem with placing public figures on a pedestal and treating them as untouchable. They soar pretty high. It’s a nice perch to look down from while you’re up there. But the higher they go, the further they have to fall.
This is certainly the case with Trudeau now. But the Liberal campaign convinced the people – and the people clearly wanted to be convinced – that their leader was going to transcend politics as we knew it. Good luck delivering on that commitment.
I vividly remember TV footage of people jumping up and down crying in the streets in elation over the election of Barack Obama. You almost had to feel bad for the guy. There was no way he wasn’t going to let them down. He's a human being not a miracle worker. Now we are reacting the same way to Trudeau, expecting far more than any one leader can reasonably deliver.
Trudeau had a terrible run of things last week, which cumulatively marked the beginning of his return to Earth. It began with the public still fiercely debating whether or not taxpayers who have no domestic help and make substantially less than the Trudeaus should have to pay for Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau to have yet another helper or two in addition to her current retinue. While public opinion was divided, the Trudeaus no doubt lost more supporters than they gained.
Then there was the PM’s unprecedented tantrum on the floor of the House of Commons Wednesday, complete with swearing and shoving, which generated headlines around the world. And the global tone wasn’t: “Hey look at the handsome PM being such a bad-ass once again.” Nope, there was no redeeming angle this time.
But there were other, deeper, problems festering as well. As Kady O’Malley tweeted on the night of Elbowgate: “I still think the attempt to rewrite the House rules to strip the opposition of their parliamentary rights is a bigger deal.”
The whole reason the PM was in a snit was because the opposition parties weren’t passing his bills as fast as he wanted. They were using the procedural rules at their disposal to ask questions, show their opposition and, y’know, do the job their constituents sent them to Ottawa to do.
So even though he already has a majority and knows his bills will get passed, the PM got his House leader to try to pass a bill that essentially strips the opposition of the few tools they have at their disposal to challenge the government.
It’s almost like he’s a particularly entitled birthday boy who won’t stand for the symbolic gesture of giving the other kids loot bags, even though his presents are far nicer and he’s still the centre of attention for every other moment of the party.
Then there was the exclusive interview with Reuters, released Thursday evening. Trudeau alludes to the fact that the deficit might end up clocking higher than the $29.4 billion it’s currently projected to be – which is three times higher than what he promised during the campaign. Right? I want to make sure we’re all clear on this point.
I’ve got the Liberal platform open in front of me and here’s what it says: “We will run modest short-term deficits of less than $10 billion in each of the next two fiscal years to fund historic investments in infrastructure and our middle class.”
Yet in that Reuters interview he turns around and says: "Yes, we need to be fiscally disciplined, we need to be responsible, but we need to be investing in the right kinds of things at the same time, so the arbitrary picking a number and trying to stick with it is exactly what I campaigned against in the last campaign."
Whoa, hold on. So he’s saying he campaigned against setting a deficit limit and sticking to it ... even though he clearly campaigned to stick to a specific deficit limit.
In another six months or so the previously forgiving public will be jaded and sneering that Trudeau’s just like the rest of ‘em. While Trudeau’s rising then declining popularity arc is all to be expected, I certainly don’t envy the remaining tumble that awaits him.
He is in there, attempting to do his job the best he knows how and does have Canada's welfare and well being at heart. But he is just a guy and he will have screw ups and bad moods and make bad decisions sometimes. And feel grumpy because he is constipated. So let's allow him to step down off that pedestal we have built for him before he comes crashing down.