Liberal government holds their breath as it waits to find out. Pictured: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answers a question in the House of Commons on Wednesday, September 27, just days after his government honoured a veteran who fought for the Nazis. Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Trudeau government. Despite a concerted effort by the Prime Minister and his team to drive media attention toward announcements on housing and affordability, the narrative the Liberals were hoping to sell to Canadians this fall has fallen completely flat.
The first shoe to drop was a revelation by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons last week that, based on credible intelligence reports, the Indian government may have been involved in the murder of a Canadian citizen this past June. Since the accusations were lobbed in parliament, a series of retaliatory measures have been implemented by India, including the postponement of trade talks that were scheduled for October, the expulsion of a Canadian diplomat and the temporary suspension of visa services for Canadian citizens.
The allegations made by the Prime Minister also throw a major wrench in Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, which relies on partnerships with India and other Pacific Rim countries to work together to counter the growing influence of China. While the Minister of Defence was mum in an interview with CTV News about the fate of the Strategy, the diplomatic spat spells bad news for ongoing cooperation between the two countries moving forward.
If a fight with the seventh largest country in the world wasn’t enough, a state visit and speech to Parliament delivered by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy resulted in the resignation of the Speaker of the House of Commons after he honoured a veteran who happened to have fought for the Nazis during the Second World War.
Following the international embarrassment, questions have been raised about what the Prime Minister’s Office knew about the guest list, and how security screening in Canada’s capital is handled. Regardless of who was at fault, Canadians will no doubt determine that the Trudeau government should wear this mishap.
In some ways, the Zelenskyy visit conjures up the memory of the 2015 election and the international tragedy of four-year-old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi drowning in the Mediterranean Sea as he and his family attempted to flee Turkey. The story ran across the world, and it would later come to light that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada had denied the Kurdi family’s application for refugee sponsorship.
This was just one decision of thousands that get made within the federal government each day, but it was a death knell for former Prime Minister Stephen Harper who was embroiled in a bitter election battle and had already been painted as uncompassionate by his opponents.
Politics requires skill, but it is also a career path that has proven time and again that it is about being in the right place at the right place. As we’ve seen these past couple of weeks, even the best-laid plans can go awry, and the snowball effect can have massive unintended consequences.
Polls show Canadians are disenchanted with the current trajectory of the Trudeau government, and every miscalculation, unforced error or stroke of bad luck creates another paper cut that is quickly turning into an exposed wound for the government that grows bigger by the day.
Josie Sabatino is a Senior Consultant at Summa Strategies, focused on providing strategic insight and helping clients meet their objectives in an ever changing and complex political and regulatory environment. Prior to joining Summa, Josie spent nearly a decade in political communications and most recently served as the Director of Communications to the Hon. Erin O’Toole, former Leader of the Official Opposition.