The Justin Trudeau brand is in trouble.
The fresh prince of politics from 2015 with celebrity hair and rock star aura is heading for a summer of 2022 of inflation-driven Canadian discontent as a faded force of personality in need of an exit strategy.
You know there’s going to be a shattering of reputation when Trudeau becomes the unnamed star of a children’s book How the Prime Minister Stole Freedom, a satire about his handling of the Freedom Convoy and vaccination orders that has now topped Amazon Canada’s bestseller list .
On a more serious level, an alarm sounds about his leadership style when former top bureaucrat Paul Tellier unleashes in Policy Options magazine, warning that Trudeau’s office control freak is “about to destroy public service…and the word ‘destroy.’ is not too strong.”
“TOO AWAKE, TOO VALUABLE”
And while that’s hardly scientific, the overall verdict on Trudeau, after a week-long poll of just about everyone I’ve met, and many of them liberals by electoral leanings, is that she’s a political slur with shifting body language of despair and eye-rolling.
He’s too bright, too precious, preaches in tone, overly smug, lacks leadership, his fame is fading, he’s slow-acting, he has short-sighted vision, and generally becomes more irritating with every breathlessly whispered public utterance. And that’s just the one-sentence summary.
As a prominent and wealthy Liberal supporter has told me for 40 years, “I won’t send them another dime until it’s gone. He’s a wimp.”
Trudeau is, of course, undoubtedly unaware of any of this. He didn’t even catch a cold during Tuesday’s Question Time, although he appears to have had major trouble answering questions without reading a script as he copes with a second COVID-19 infection.
It was a daunting series of questions that required all his artful evasion to read non-answers to questions. He had to protect his secretary of state for allowing a bureaucrat to attend a Russian caviar party in Ottawa and his minister of public safety for promoting a nose-stretcher that police called for the emergency law to deal with the freedom convoy ( they didn’t) and Shaking off a government analysis obtained by Globe showing its emissions targets for 2030 will be extremely difficult to achieve.
For Trudeau, the theater is as usual, but he delivers performance challenges well beyond the commons.
Take the recently-concluded Summit of the Americas, where Trudeau’s meeting with US President Joe Biden elicited plenty of jargon and rhetoric but no whispers of accomplishment to repair our hitherto unproductive relationship.
While Trudeau is the so-called Dean of the G7 in terms of political longevity, he hasn’t even tried to persuade Biden to reconsider the canceled Keystone pipeline or thwart the Michigan governor’s threat to destroy the Line 5 pipeline , and this at a time when the US is toying with dictatorial-led Venezuela to ease the energy price crisis.
Even when Trudeau springs into action, his motivation seems suspect.
The Wall Street Journal recently ridiculed Trudeau for acting in response to US developments by tightening Canada’s gun laws after the Texas school massacre and suspending a woman’s right to an abortion in Canada ahead of a Supreme Court ruling USA stressed again this month. “Apparently Canadian politics is too boring or narrow-minded or something,” the editorial noted. “If he wants to influence US politics, we recommend that he emigrate and run for Congress.”
But most of the time, Trudeau just doesn’t act. As Globe columnist Campbell Clark noted when targeting the Prime Minister’s hesitancy to end vaccination mandates, a “political inertia” encircles the sluggish Liberal government, where “without a political impetus to do anything, the default is to Nothing to do”. Well said.
WILL TRUDEAU BE RE-ELECTED?
Many of Trudeau’s highly-vaunted commitments — be they targets for Afghan translator immigration, Ukrainian resettlement numbers, greenhouse gas emissions targets, indigenous reconciliation movements, or even planting billions of dollars in trees — are exaggerated promises sent off for lengthy study, only to ultimately be unfulfilled.
A reluctant politician recently insisted to me that after being involved in Trudeau negotiations for a power-shaping deal with the NDP, she is convinced Trudeau is running for re-election to give cement time to live up to his legacy consolidate.
If so, his shaky display of true leadership should reward the Conservatives with a government seat in the next election.
But Trudeau has enjoyed good fortune in politics, and unless coronation-linked Conservative leader candidate Pierre Poilievre flexes somewhat in mainstream thinking, the far-right Conservatives might not do what it takes to dethrone Trudeau from a fourth mandate.
Speaking of pivoting to a recent sign of the Prime Minister’s ailing status: his media party at 24 Sussex Dr. returns with Trudeau in COVID isolation on Wednesday. I asked a colleague if the lack of a celebrity host would hamper visiting the press gallery. “Actually, I think it will be much better without him.”
No doubt many liberals feel the same way about their party under Justin Trudeau.
That’s the bottom line.
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