Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on doing politics differently and he tried. He really did. But when push came to shove, the tried-and-true method of dealing with caucus dissension … banishment to political oblivion … ruled the day.
The old way of doing politics would have seen Wilson-Raybould turfed from caucus the day after she resigned as Veteran’s Affairs Minister. That’s when she smacked Trudeau, deservedly so, upside the head with a steel gauntlet after he made the asinine comment that because she was, at that time, still in cabinet everything was hunky dory.
The new way of doing politics is pulled from the Conservative policy on climate change … ignore it, ridicule it, deny it and hope it will go away.
It hasn’t and, like climate change, it will likely be a harbinger of doom. OK, maybe that’s a little over the top, but you get the picture.
Give Trudeau credit for trying to do things differently and think/hope that the Liberals could move forward with Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott still in the Liberal caucus.
However, in politics, as in life, you should not only learn from your own mistakes, but the mistakes of others.
Trudeau needed to only look across the aisle Conservative leader Andrew Scheer for a prime example.
Last year Scheer was faced with a different, but similar, problem. Maxime Bernier, who many thought would win the Conservative leadership ahead of Scheer, was being openly critical of his new leader. Scheer, like Trudeau, talked about accepting dissenting voices in caucus rather than kicking Bernier to the curb, which is what his predecessor would have done in a heartbeat. Bernier turned around and launched his new political party at the Conservative convention … taking the headlines and the agenda away from Scheer.
Scheer had an opportunity to make Maxime Bernier go away. He didn’t and it will likely cost him in the fall election. It’s unlikely that the People’s Party of Canada will win any seats, anywhere, but any votes the party does get will come at the expense of the Conservatives and that could cost the Conservatives some seats.
Similarly, Trudeau had an opportunity to make Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott go away by turfing them from caucus way back when. He didn’t and that will definitely cost him dearly in October.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t support the old ways of ‘toe the line or walk the plank.’ But the reality is it’s an effective way for leaders to deal with rancour within the ranks.
Trudeau also had another opportunity to nip this mess in the bud … apologize. Raybould-Wilson and Philpott have said an apology would have smoothed the waters. Jeepers, Trudeau apologized to the protestor he made a snarky remark to the other week. You’d think he could apologize to a couple of his cabinet ministers.
It’s too late for that now.