By Uzodinma Ukagwu
In the final weeks before the 2019 federal election, I was going out at least twice a week to knock on doors and spent considerable time phone banking for a Toronto Liberal member of Parliament. This was also around the time when pictures of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in blackface and brownface were released to the media.
This, layered on top of the SNC-Lavalin scandal earlier that year where Trudeau’s office had allegedly pressured the Attorney General to intervene in the prosecution of the company, deterred many Canadians from showing their support for the Liberals.
I felt it at the doors. The blackface scandal swung many votes against Trudeau in those final weeks, and many Canadians felt ashamed of and let down by their prime minister.
The SNC-Lavalin and blackface scandals were the second and third straws.
The first was the Aga Khan scandal in December 2016. Trudeau, his family, and friends went on a holiday to Aga Khan’s private island, despite his organisation registering as a lobbyist with the federal government.
For the Aga Khan and SNC-Lavalin scandals, Trudeau was found guilty by the ethics commissioner of breaching ethics and conflict of interest laws.
Against all these odds, Trudeau won re-election but lost the popular vote to Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, claiming a plurality of seats to form a minority government. To show how close the election was, it was the lowest popular vote tally by the winning party in Canadian federal election history at 33 per cent.
“In less than five years as prime minister, [Trudeau] has accumulated piles of baggage—a weight that would have brought down most leaders by now.”
After three strikes, one would have thought a prime minister, already on thin ice, would not make the same mistake again. But alas, here we are. The ethics commissioner is now investigating Trudeau for the third time, this time for giving the WE charity—an organisation which has paid his wife, mother, and brother to speak at their events—a sole-source contract to administer a 900-million-dollar student aid program.
Canadians have been very generous to Trudeau, giving him chance after chance, and he has squandered every opportunity.
Governing does not necessarily have to be this stinky and rife with mistrust and potential abuse. It cannot be that hard to abide by Canada’s ethics laws.
As a card-carrying member of the Liberal party, I am tired of making excuses for Trudeau. In less than five years as prime minister, he has accumulated piles of baggage—a weight that would have brought down most leaders by now.
Trudeau’s missteps are now badly hurting the Liberal cause, and Conservatives are poised to benefit from them in the next election.
Maybe it is time for Prime Minister Trudeau to step aside and let Chrystia Freeland, the deputy prime minister, take the reins.
Freeland is the kind of no-nonsense, effective leader that the Liberal party and the country need right now. Even the most Conservative premiers in the country have only good things to say about her.
The Trudeau government is a minority government, and this WE fiasco only increases the likelihood that this government will fall sooner than later.
Whatever happens, it is increasingly clear that the Liberal party cannot afford to go into another election with Trudeau at the helm. It is time to move on.
Copyright© 2020 by Uzodinma Ukagwu