Roy Green: Might Justin Trudeau’s election history emulate his father Pierre Trudeau?

Trudeau did not recuse himself from Cabinet decision on WE charity
Speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he did not recuse himself from the cabinet decision on using WE charity to administer the federal government's youth assistance program.

It was 1968. Beatlemania still propelled John, George, Paul and Ringo and in August, the Fab Four would release the iconic Hey Jude.

In a parallel Canadian political universe that same year, a new phenomenon known as Trudeaumania hit nationwide, sweeping aside all political opposition. The subject of this national affection was the charismatic federal Liberal Party leader Pierre Trudeau.

Read more: Tories ask RCMP to launch criminal probe into Trudeau family’s WE connections

Trudeaumania established itself as a coast-to-coast force on the night of June 25, 1968. Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal Party of Canada so dominated the national vote that day that, when tallied together, the combined number of seats won by the opposition parties trailed Trudeau’s Liberals by 44 seats.

A year later, 1969, the Beatles would break up and Trudeaumania began its lengthy slide toward the 1972 election, from which the Pierre Trudeau-led Liberals emerged with a bare minority government and a two-seat lead over the Progressive Conservatives.

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History has a way of repeating itself.

Growing scrutiny over WE Charity contract and Trudeau’s judgment
Growing scrutiny over WE Charity contract and Trudeau’s judgment

Fast forward to 2015 and the son of Pierre, Justin Trudeau, sweeps to national electoral victory with a 184-seat majority government.

The cliche insists, “Like father, like son.” And so it proved to be.

Justin Trudeau’s mishandling of Canada’s oil/energy sector, as I wrote two weeks prior to last October’s federal election, “fostered economic distress for Alberta families, created friction between provinces, bled the economic coffers of the nation and caused six premiers to write an open letter to the prime minister charging that two Liberal pieces of legislation (Bills C-69 and C-48) may contribute to the fracturing of national unity.”

Read more: Trudeau admits he did not recuse himself from WE contract vote

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That wasn’t all.

Harming Trudeau as well was (and is) the SNC-Lavalin scandal combined with the silencing and eventual jettisoning of then-attorney general and minister of justice Jody Wilson-Raybould from the Liberal Party caucus for daring to question Trudeau over his PMO’s interference in how the former A.G. discharged her sworn duties.

Worth remembering is the prime minister’s initial response to the Globe and Mail breaking the story. Trudeau faced television cameras and declared the accusations to be “false.”

Trailing Trudeau into October 2019 as well was his subjecting of former vice-admiral Mark Norman to an ultimately failed yet expensive and no doubt emotionally exhausting trial by innuendo. While Trudeau publicly speculated about a criminal court case against the admiral, arguably compromising Norman’s fundamental right to a fair trial, it was the prime minister who backed down after the case against the vice-admiral crumpled in the courtroom.

The impression between 2015 and 2019 was that the parliamentary ethics commissioner appeared to be on constant standby to address the latest in a continuing series of incidents swirling around Trudeau.

Like father, like son. The federal election last Oct. 21 revealed Justin Trudeau had failed to retain a majority government, with the Liberals shut out entirely in the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Bains says Trudeau cabinet ‘followed recommendations’ around WE Charity contract
Bains says Trudeau cabinet ‘followed recommendations’ around WE Charity contract

Fast-forwarding to today, developments of the last two weeks surrounding the Trudeau-promoted sole-source $900-million contract to the WE Charity for a federal government student grant program has the Conservative Party calling for a police investigation. This, following news members of Trudeau’s immediate family received hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from WE over recent years.

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The prime minister’s mother Margaret Trudeau was paid $312,000 for speaking at 28 events over the period of 2016 to 2020. His brother Alexandre received $40,000 for eight such events over 2017 to 2018 and Sophie Gregoire, the PM’s wife, received a one-time honorarium of $1,400.

Read more: Tories call for answers on WE contract after reports Trudeau’s family was paid speaking fees

Whether police will entertain an investigation isn’t clear. However, the parliamentary ethics commissioner has again been pressed into service to determine whether with the WE contract Trudeau violated conflict-of-interest regulations.

The question of whether Trudeau may call a snap election hangs in the air. His current job approval numbers, with pandemic relief spending likely driving them, are such that the PM might see opportunity to again follow his father’s example.

Two years after seeing his majority government reduced to minority status, Pierre Trudeau emerged from the 1974 vote with a reclaimed Liberal majority government.

Might the script for Justin Trudeau play out identically? Now that’s the question.

Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.

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