Even within diehard Liberal circles, it would be difficult to find much disagreement with Rabble politics reporter Karl Nerenberg’s contention that the current Prime Minister “(would) be in a stronger position” if he were heading up a coalition government — although that’s likely, at least in part, because it’s even harder to come up with a scenario in which he and his team could have gotten themselves in a worse position than the one they’re in right now.
Even so, he sketches out an elaborate alternative timeline in which the WE Charity controversy ends up “a scandal-in-the-making averted,” thanks to the quick thinking of the New Democrats — and lone Green Elizabeth May — who were at the cabinet table when the $900-million deal came up for official consideration.
“The Liberal cabinet ministers in the room nodded quiet assent, especially since, officially, the recommendation came from the professional public service,” Nerenberg imagines.
“But the five non-Liberals in cabinet expressed doubt,” with May — who, in this reality, serves as environment minister — noting that “she had seen research on WE that indicated the organization had governance issues” and “tended to blur the lines between its business and charitable activities.” Infrastructure Minister Peter Julian “wondered aloud about the fact that this was a sole source agreement,” and, “for his part, (Justice Minister) Jagmeet Singh … politely but firmly asked Justin Trudeau about the Prime Minister’s well-known ties to WE.”
Such pointed questions “gave the government leadership pause,” Nerenberg notes, and, “in the end, the cabinet decided to ask the public service to go back to the drawing board and come up with other options, within 72 hours.”
(Although his thought exercise ends there, they presumably went on to live happily ever after, at least until the inevitable rift that would bring their fragile alliance to an abrupt and bitter end.)
The moral of this little story, as per Nerenberg: “There are times when a single-party cabinet can come up with a genuinely ill-advised decision, as our current cabinet did on the WE matter,” but “Trudeau lacked the creativity and boldness to think outside the box when he formed a new government after last October’s near-death experience for his party,” he notes.
“Maybe next time.”
Unless, that is, his earlier musings on the ripple effect of the WE scandal are borne out.
“A good many Liberals are growing weary of the Prime Minister’s questionable judgment, and of the — at best, inadequate — advice given by the members of his inner circle,” Nerenberg observed in the immediate wake of Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s admission that he and his family had inadvertently received “more than $40,000 worth of paid travel expenses from WE (that) he only, belatedly, repaid last week.”
With the “entirely self-inflicted WE affair (having) severely shaken many Liberals’ confidence in Trudeau,” some “are starting to talk about getting themselves a new leader before the next election,” he notes. He also floats the possibility that former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney could be the “saviour from outside” who can “actually excite” party insiders.
Over at the venerable Canadian Dimension, foreign policy writer Bianca Mugyenyi calls out the federal Liberals for “empowering a bully” by backing U.S. President Donald Trump’s “efforts to starve Venezuelans,” an assertion she fully admits “may sound like over-the-top rhetoric,” but implores readers: “Hear me out.”
The U.S.-initiated sanctions against Venezuela have caused “immense … damage” to both its economy and health, she argues.
“Before the strongest measures were introduced, a study by economists Jeffrey Sachs and Mark Weisbrot found U.S. sanctions responsible for 40,000 deaths between August 2017 and the end of 2018,” Mugyenyi notes.
“Yet Ottawa has not criticized the devastating U.S. sanctions. Quite the opposite. It has egged the bully on,” which is why she believes it’s time for Canadians to “ask ourselves whether we will continue to accept our government’s participation in a Trump-administration regime-change effort that effectively undermines the ability of ordinary Venezuelans to feed themselves.”
Meanwhile, CD contributor John Clarke contrasts Team Trudeau’s bid to extend the federal emergency-wage-subsidy program until the end of the year with “enriched benefits” with its plan to end monthly payments to “workers and poor people” left in the lurch by the pandemic and accompanying lockdown.
“The termination of the CERB (Canadian Emergency Response Benefit), along with the campaign of character assassination that preceded this move, are instructive when it comes to understanding the role of income support in a capitalist economy,” he explains.
“The basic function is to provide enough income to stave off unrest and social dislocation, while ensuring it is not ample enough to interfere with the supply of low-wage workers.”
In a similar theme, Passage essayist Joël Laforest wonders why the federal employment insurance system — “once a major part of the social safety net” — is now so “emaciated” that it was immediately deemed “woefully inadequate” to support workers during the pandemic, requiring the government to “create a whole new suite of emergency programs (to) fill the gap.”
Finally, Press Progress turns its spotlight on an “Ottawa-area businessman” who “launched a petition demanding an emergency homeless shelter set up in a municipal arena be ‘moved to another location’ so his children can play pick-up hockey this summer,” but apparently experienced a change of heart after being contacted by the unabashedly left-leaning outlet.
Not only did Kardish Health Foods owner Robert Assaf submit to an interview with Press Progress, he also handed over a copy of a letter sent to city councillor Jean Cloutier, explaining that “both (his) boys play competitive hockey and we rent ice often at the Jim Durrell Recreational Centre.”
“I know it’s currently closed and is operating as a men’s homeless shelter,” he added.
“As residents whose taxes go towards community facilities, our family would very much like to be able to use our arena again. Is anything scheduled to change with the recent move to Phase 3?”
Cloutier’s response: “I have to take a moment to remind you that we are still in the middle of a pandemic and our shelter system is among the most at-risk.”
This “was meant to make me feel shame for simply asking when our community facility would be available again,” Assaf told Press Progress.
After the news outlet reached out with its initial list of questions, however, Assaf “updated the text of his petition (to) clarify that none of this is against having adequate facilities to shelter the homeless,” PP reports.
“He later issued a public statement reiterating that ‘helping homeless people is a priority for all Ottawa citizens,’ and closed his petition to new signatures.”
Trending on the right-of-centre side of the activist mediascape:
- Post Millennial raises an eyebrow over Conservative leadership hopeful Peter MacKay’s decision to pull out of a live debate hosted by the newly created Independent Press Gallery after fellow contender Leslyn Lewis was forced to cancel her appearance for health reasons. “In her statement, Dr. Lewis explained that she dropped out on the advice of her doctor,” PM notes. “Peter MacKay, inexplicably, chose to stand in solidarity with Dr. Lewis, saying that ‘to be fair to all,’ the debate must be postponed.”
- After intrepid correspondents Keean Bexte and Sheila Gunn Reid were “banned from the Alberta legislature,” Rebel Media sprung into action with its signature bombast: “We’re Suing Postmedia Under Competition Act,” Rebel commander Ezra Levant declared in a special livestreamed YouTube clip.