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Don Martin: Teflon Trudeau dodges trouble with a gift from the Greens

Don Martin: Teflon Trudeau dodges trouble with a gift from the Greens
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OTTAWA -- Faced with a scathing headline-grabbing committee report into Justin Trudeaus biggest second-term scandal, a gift floated down from the political heavens where, as a wag noted long ago, God is clearly a Liberal.

An all-opposition savage but salient analysis of the WE controversy -- that the prime minister and his finance minister tried to give a half-billion-dollar government contract to friends of their families, some of them having been paid -- had been released just as news broke of a Green Party defection to the Liberal side.

Now, having over Middle East political differences is weird, but its not going to change the dynamics in the House of Commons.

Still, it helped change the channel on a bad news day for the government and, in the longer-term, it delivers a demoralizing blow to a three-seat Green Party rival which grabbed 1.2 million votes which mightve leaned Liberal in 2019.

So, on balance, it was a pretty good day for Trudeau as the prime minister jetted off to London for a G7 summit where hes set to become the elder statesmen of the summit this fall when Germanys Angela Merkel steps down as chancellor.

But I digress.

The point is that opposition MPs were entirely justified in blasting Trudeaus office for delaying, denying, ignoring, obstructing and generally behaving very badly as the ethics committee probed his conflicted family affair with the Kielburger brothers.

But the Liberal lapdogs countered with a watery see-no-evil minority report to suggest some tightening up of ethics and lobbying rules. And that will be that. The public will yawn. Another scandal averted.

Having covered politics for four decades, I cant recall a prime minister or premier who has broken or deferred so many pledges, endured so many controversies, and morphed into the polar opposite of their promised fresh-face start only to retain decent levels of popularity.

For his 2,040 days as prime minister, questionable conduct, bad decisions and scandals have slid off Trudeau with a slipperiness that makes Teflon work like Superglue.

And now hes clearly starting to angle for a fall election by arguing his agenda is thwarted by a parliamentary paralysis that can only be unblocked by a majority mandate.

Trudeaus survivability is particularly impressive given that he has turned into a leader he wouldnt have recognized in 2015.

His feminist credentials should be in tatters after groping allegations, and wilfully ignoring the allegations of sexual impropriety against chief of defence staff Jonathan Vance.

His pledge to work constructively with Parliament has produced a prime minister rarely answering direct questions whose office ignores motions for documents or staff appearances which borders on contempt.

His sunshine-as-the-best-disinfectant pledge of openness and transparency has morphed into a secretive-to-the-point-of-paranoid government.

His mediocre cabinet is filled with ministers of borderline competence who are most prized for their willingness to obey orders from above while backbenchers find themselves PMO-scripted to the comma.

He has bloated the size of government to the point of internal paralysis where, one veteran lobbyist noted incredulously, there are now assistant deputy ministers, senior assistant deputy ministers, associate assistant deputy ministers, acting assistant deputy ministers and expensive layers of support staff for each position.

And, as columnist Susan Delacourt points out, Trudeau has acquired an interesting ability to talk out of both sides of his mouth without hearing the contradiction. He condemns the murder of four Muslims in London as terrorism and yet stays mute on a new Quebec law which prohibits them from wearing religious clothing if they want to work in public professions.

And yet, if the polls are any indication, Trudeaus Liberals are very close to majority territory even before the Green Party under interesting new leader Annamie Paul started its implosion.

As a prime minister of shape-shifting, ethics-bending, controlling, secretive, highly-partisan conduct, Justin Trudeau deserves a serious challenge in the upcoming election.
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