Recent events highlight how quickly a shiny new political party can lose some of its gloss. Last week, at a time the Liberals were celebrating their astonishing comeback under leader Justin Trudeau, we saw some tarnish showing up on the carefully polished exterior of Canada’s third-party.
And, of course, this is a new Liberal party. Gone is the iron fist of Jean Chrétien and the short knives and long memories of Paul Martin. Gone too is the dominance of the Quebec wing and all Liberal senators. This has become a party retrofitted for the new leader—an “as new” version, so to speak.
By now, most readers have heard about Trudeau’s tasteless attempt at a joke that failed miserably and forced him to apologize. Gaffe number one for the week was one that—combined with several others over the past couple of years—reminds everyone that this emperor might, in fact, be naked—at least, naked of the skills needed to lead our nation.
Gaffe number two was Trudeau’s poor media management efforts during and just following the Grits’ biannual convention this past weekend, to wit:
Firstly, on Friday, retired general and star Liberal recruit Andrew Leslie performed poorly at a press conference meant to explain away his $72,000 moving costs.
Leslie had strongly implied in his speech to delegates that the Conservatives had leaked information because he chose not to join them instead of the Grits. Later, though, while facing reporters he was more coy, refusing to say if he initiated contact with the Conservatives. And, subsequently, e-mails published by the Toronto Star show the former general had several conversations regarding him working with the Conservative Party.
Secondly, there was Justin Trudeau’s own behaviour regarding media representatives.
In a confusing announcement to reporters on Saturday, Liberal officials said that Trudeau would not hold a press conference at the end of the convention as was the custom.
One CBC source reported “growing media crankiness over Trudeau’s refusal to make himself available for post-convention scrums.” There were other reports that the mainstream media's attempts at questioning Trudeau as he sat down in the main hall were shot down.
Moreover, The Huffington Post reported this Tweet from Halifax Chronicle-Herald reporter Paul McLeod: “In a bizarre moment, Trudeau wouldn’t look at or acknowledge media as we tried to ask him questions.”
Yes, bizarre behaviour from the Liberal Leader who, apparently, prides himself on openness and transparency. He’s great at talking the talk but not so much so at walking the walk.
Finally, there is the odd behaviour of the Liberal leader towards another of his party’s stars, MP Marc Garneau. After Trudeau made an ass of himself on TV with his flippant remark, Garneau defended Trudeau and blamed the media fuss on partisan Conservative attacks.
Of course, poor Garneau was left to spin in the wind—or, as some might say, the hapless former astronaut was thrown under the Liberal buss—after Trudeau apologized.
Reading Garneau’s spirited defence of his leader, there seemed no reason for an apology, but I guess Garneau was left out of the loop on this one. But was he ever in the loop—a real insider, I mean. After all, during the leadership campaign he is quoted as having said Trudeau has been ducking the big issues.
“I believe that Canadians want to see substance. They don’t want empty words,” Marc Garneau said, referring to his leader.
Hm, I believe Garneau has Justin Trudeau pegged just right.