(Re-printed without permission)
Justin Trudeau’s fall from grace has been a tiring path to follow. Once globally admired for his progressive platitudes, the prime minister no longer inspires much enthusiasm from anyone. Even the ever-dignified CNN, who once swooned over every Trudeau policy or hair flip, has predicted a gloomy chance of survival for the prime minister.
Fortunately enough for Trudeau, Canada is not a serious democracy. Accountability simply does not exist north of the 49th parallel. Trudeau, in 2015, promised to “shine a light on government.” After this most recent scandal, the prime minister can, at the very least, point to the fulfillment of this promise: the public are now painfully aware of the rampant cronyism and corruption that exists between the government and various insider organizations.
Over the past few weeks, Justin Trudeau has been fighting to keep his luscious locks above water after the Liberal Party awarded a $900 million, sole-sourced contract to the WE Charity Foundation—a semi-charitable organization that has been described as cultish by no less than fourteen former employees.
After the slightest bit of scrutiny, the prime minister happily told the ever-faithful Candian public that the civil service suggested that WE should administer this contract (Ottawa’s technocrats have vehemently denied this from the outset). Then it was revealed that one of the charity’s co-founders had donated the maximum amount of money legally permitted by Canadian law towards Trudeau’s leadership campaign.
This was shrugged off by the Liberals as a mere coincidence—this is a standard practice of government, they pleaded. What was rather more difficult to legitimize was Trudeau’s familial connections to the organization: Justin Trudeau’s wife, Sophie, hosted a podcast for WE; his mother was given $250,000 in speaking fees; his brother, Alexandre, received a similarly plushy $32,000 from the organization.
There’s a word for all these links: it’s called corruption. Through either arrogance or stupidity, the prime minister apparently never perceived that this could constitute a conflict of interest.
Consider for a moment how the American, French, or British press would’ve reacted to this. In Canada, on the other hand, the establishment media have gorged themselves on government subsidies, and could hardly muster the strength to raise an eyebrow.
What distinguishes this scandal from other Liberal transgressions is that this involves the entire Liberal establishment. Trudeau’s Minister Bill Morneau, for instance, also had connections to WE: One of his daughters proudly brandished the WE co-founder’s endorsement on the front cover of her book; his other daughter is a paid employee of the charity.
Worse still, Morneau (who I remind you, is the finance minister) “forgot” about a $41,000 all-expenses-paid, luxury vacation in Ecuador, courtesy of WE. However, this isn’t out of character. Morneau has been known to conveniently omit exceptionally pertinent details from recollection: What other minister would only remember to pay this money back one day before his hearing; or could forget about his luxurious villa in France in 2017?
“There is scarcely a less dignified entity than a patrician in a panic,” said Benjamin Disraeli. Bill Morneau, who inherited a cool $1 billion, seemed to exemplify that fact last week—spluttering and wriggling as he told journalists that he, like Trudeau, did not recuse himself from the WE contract decision.
As Liberal tradition now dictates, neither the prime minister nor the finance minister will resign. Being the feminists that they are, the two men have employed the tactic of throwing a minority, female minister under the bus. They used a similar tactic against Jody Wilson-Raybould in 2019 after the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
“I made a mistake in not recusing myself. I am sorry,” said Justin Trudeau again this week after these reports began to emerge. The same sort of line was issued after his embarrassing black/brownface photos became public; it was issued after the SNC-Lavalin affair. After racism, corruption, and now cronyism, as long as the prime minister is apologetic, he can keep going. Who, exactly, is to stand in his way?
“This is just how things work,” goes the repulsive platitude, uttered all-too-frequently by members of the progressive, metropolitan blob who form Canada’s media, civil, and corporate institutions. There is simply no incentive to confront this government—especially now that conservatives have vowed to end the practice of media subsidies. The Conservative Party remains incompetent and archaic; and 36 million Canadians are noted for their political passivity (a euphemistic word for apathy).
Perhaps the most revealing point of this scandal is not the cronyism, but the fact the Trudeau government really thought that this would go unnoticed. Morneau and Trudeau “are blinded by their entitlement,” argued the Canadian icon Rex Murphy. Referencing F. Scott Fitzgerald, he argued that the Liberal establishment “think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are.”
I have spent much of my career defending the elite from this sentence. Yet, in Justin Trudeau’s Canada, this ethos is incontestable. The Liberal blob really does believe that this is justified: no matter what they do, they still profess to be more virtuous than the Conservatives. It is a perverse form of noblesse oblige, in a way. The Liberals believe that they simply possess the moral right to govern, whether Canadians understand it or not.
I often feel a bit like the Cassandra of Canadian politics: Justin Trudeau’s government has suffered in the polls, but not significantly. The opposition party has been dogged by an intense leadership contest that threatens irrevocable damage. Whenever the next election is called—and it could be soon—Trudeau will once again limp into the prime minister’s office, wounded yet alive.
Nico Johnson is a political correspondent at The Post Millennial. Originally from the U.K., Nico now lives and works in Montreal, Quebec.