Photo credit: Getty Images/Andrej Ivanov
Well, they are both teams made up of well-paid and talented people who are having a lousy summer. Both were once the gold standard of winning, a machine really that no matter what they did was having success and now they both seem to string together a win.
Besides a bad joke, there is some accuracy in the comparison. The Yankees’ season is not going to plan, and neither is Justin Trudeau’s summer. Instead of travelling from BBQ to BBQ across Canada with good news and a cheque to hand out, the Prime Minister and his cabinet ministers have been plagued with scandal after scandal which is then followed by a crisis.
With slumping polling numbers, the Prime Minister and his team needed to do something to change the tune from summer blues to something a bit catchier. Last month’s cabinet shuffle was just that, hitting the refresh button in hopes of being able to shift to a game of offensive instead of always being on defence.
A cabinet shuffle can be like putting a coat of fresh paint on a room. It revitalizes a house enough and covers some cracks, but the foundation is still there. You can get a few more years out of it before wanting to move.
Well, that was not enough for the Prime Minister. He brought in a sledgehammer and knocked the walls down. He removed a few ministers from cabinet, shuffled some and added a few new faces. When all was said and done, only six ministers remained in place. A clear message was sent that the Prime Minister is gearing up for an upcoming election and is ready to play hardball.
Anytime you swap out a minister there is some delay in the operations of a government and the portfolio of the new minister is now occupying. When you move most of cabinet, the work comes to a complete halt. Not only do ministers move, but staff stay behind to help with the transition, follow the minister to their new role or jump ship completely. Not to mention any projects that staff were working on are put on pause until the new minister is ready. While at the same time, the civil service stops all their work to brief their new boss and gain a sense of their priorities.
For this government, it might not be a bad idea to pause some of the ideas that they are working on. Trudeau and his government have often been criticized for promising too much and delivering too little.
Last week, Cabinet met in PEI for their annual retreat to discuss their strategy for the return of Parliament next month. At the top of the agenda was the likely a plan to reconnect with Canadians and be seen as a government that is getting things done to make life more affordable. The issue of affordable housing has reached a boiling point in recent months and the government has taken note.
For the government, the return of Parliament is an opportunity to put the summer behind them and move forward on their progressive agenda. However, unlike previous autumns, this government will likely be more targeted on their promises. Instead of planting 2 billion trees, the government will concentrate on finding solutions to building houses that are affordable for Canadians.
They will trim the fat in terms of their lofty ambitions and make specific promises that are achievable. They will look to re-tune their listening ear and find solutions to problems that Canadians actually have instead of making their own troubles.
If the Liberals are unable to hit a few out of the park this fall, they could find themselves alongside the Yankees in the bottom of the ninth with two strikes, a full count and a hungry opposition looking to strike them out one last time.
Daniel Perry is a consultant with Summa Strategies Canada, one of the country’s leading public affairs firms. During the most recent federal election, he was a regular panelist on CBC’s Power and Politics and CTV Morning Ottawa.