With Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s resignation on Monday, the precarious situation has left Canadians wondering if this is the beginning of the end for Justin Trudeau.
Bill Morneau has stepped down from his powerful post as Minister of Finance, but has also resigned from being MP for his riding, Toronto Centre. Naturally, unless a general election is called in the near future, which is becoming increasingly likely, the downtown Toronto seat will be filled by way of a by-election.
Morneau’s resignation comes in the middle of the government’s third ethics scandal and during the most uncertain times in the western world perhaps since the great depression. With a global pandemic wreaking havoc on the Canadian economy, the Finance Minister’s resignation casts doubt on the suitability of the current government to rebound from the pandemic let alone their own ethical shortcomings.
Early on Monday, Bill Morneau and Justin Trudeau met to discuss what was reported as “policy differences”. Some sources put out that the Prime Minister and his then Finance Minister could not agree on the amount of money being spent in the wake of the pandemic’s hit on the Canadian economy. It is known that Morneau is closer to the end of being fiscally conservative while Justin Trudeau has shown time and time again that he has no qualms with spending as an obnoxious trust-fund kid would. Dumping heaps of debt on the future generations of Canadians does seem like an issue that many would disagree with Justin Trudeau on, but because of the damage taken by the former Finance Minister in the last few months, it’s hard to believe that Mr. Morneau’s resignation was simply the result of so-called “policy differences” or even his foregone intention not to run for office again.
Even still, what kind of dedicated public servant would turn their back to their nation and the people they represent in these dire times. COVID-19 has had an unprecedented and devastating impact on Canada’s economy as well as its public health and safety infrastructure. Now is the time that the Finance Minister, whoever that may be, must step up to the plate and manage the crisis to the best of their abilities regardless of any prior personal plans. If these reasons for his resignation are indeed the truth, which they very likely are not, how could the Liberal government led by Justin Trudeau appoint someone to such an important cabinet position who has no problems with simply leaving the rest of the nation to suffer when they are needed most only because it suits their personal preferences.
During his final press conference, the now former Finance Minister stated that he had never planned on serving more than two terms in parliament, and so he believes that “it’s important that the Prime Minister has by his side a Finance Minister who has that longer term vision.” He went on to say that he is putting his name forward in a bid to become the next Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in order to expand his dedicated public service. The end of Bill Morneau’s tenure has come amid weeks of opposition parties calling for both his and the Prime Minister’s resignations surrounding their irresponsible governance specifically regarding the WE Charity scandal and their personal conflicts of interest in dealing with that organization.
In a response to Mr. Morneau’s resignation, Conservative Finance Critic, Pierre Poilievre let Canadians in on the truth. With both Trudeau and Morneau being embroiled in their third ethics scandal, Poilievre outlined that “The reason that Trudeau has to invent this phony line about a policy difference is because he knows that if he fires Morneau for breaking the ethics act a third time… then Trudeau himself would have to resign for exactly the same offences.” The embattled Liberals have been torn apart in as the WE Charity scandal continues to unfold, party leadership and top MPs are continuingly being attacked from all fronts by opposition parties, the media, and concerned citizens.
With the new Conservative leader set to be announced on Sunday, the Official Opposition will be reorganizing and putting forth a rigid position on the Liberal government while implicitly posturing for the next election. Both the Bloc Quebecois and NDP will likely be engaging in similar maneuvering, although the latter may take some time to turn their back on the Liberals. Regardless of how long it takes for the Liberal government to fall, one thing is clear and that is that this is the beginning of the end for Justin Trudeau’s rein.
For the time being, Deputy Prime Minister, Chrystia Freeland has taken over the role of Finance Minister while President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, Dominic Leblanc, will take over Freeland’s post as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. These appointments indicate that the Prime Minister is trying to consolidate power in his government and cabinet. Leblanc and Trudeau have a well-documented history as childhood friends, while Deputy Prime Minister Freeland has risen through the ranks in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet and is known to be one of his most trusted team members. Trudeau and Freeland are often described as being in ‘lockstep’ when it comes to political strategy and views on important issues.
As the Canadian government is experiences big shifts in a time when it should be united in fighting the pandemic, Canadians continue to question whether or not this Liberal government is the one to rise to the challenge. Although unprecedented, this pandemic has been likened to the 2008 global financial crisis which Canada weathered, to great international praise, in large part with the leadership of Mark Carney as the then Governor of the Bank of Canada.
In the week leading up to Bill Morneau’s resignation, Justin Trudeau hired Mark Carney as an informal advisor on the economic front of the battle against COVID-19. Despite Carney’s introduction into an otherwise chaotic government, it seems highly unlikely that his role can save a freefalling administration. Mr. Carney, who has been widely touted to take over the Liberal Party at some point, will not be entering the political sphere for the time being and will likely not be running to replace Bill Morneau in Toronto Centre.
Despite Bill Morneau’s resignation, the Liberal Government does not seem to be weathering the storm, but rather becoming more and more the centre of it. Although parliament will not be sitting until the fall, Conservatives and other opposition parties are refining their internal operations and are priming themselves for what’s looking to be an inevitable election in the near future. With that being said, this Liberal government is failing to address the needs of Canadians during a time when they are in need most. Unless this administration can regroup and refine itself to the high demands of opposition parties before parliament resumes, it’s looking as if this is only the beginning of the end for Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government.