Trudeau retreats, and retreat is his best political strategy

Images are not available offline.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answers a question from the opposition during Question Time March 21 in Ottawa.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau withdrew on Tuesday so his chief of staff, Katie Telford, will now testify before a parliamentary committee. But it turns out that withdrawing is a good plan for his Liberals.

Despite the gossip, Mr. Trudeau would never start an election just to keep Ms. Telford from testifying. That would be crazy political calculation.

Liberals had already expended much political capital blocking opposition demands for Ms Telford to testify, filibustering in committee and being beaten by commentators and cornering themselves.

The story continues below the ad

The withdrawal, on the other hand, brought some technical political advantages.

Ms. Telford’s appearance before the House Procedures and Affairs Committee could still be difficult, although she won’t cover all of the Prime Minister’s intelligence briefings on Chinese interference in the Canadian election.

But it has become increasingly difficult to avoid since the NDP, the Liberals’ parliamentary allies in a confidence and supply deal, broke with the Liberals and backed the opposition’s demand that Ms Telford testify.

The Conservatives had tabled a motion in the House of Commons that called for them to appear and which was due to be voted on Tuesday night.

The story continues below the ad

But when the Liberals relented and Mr. Trudeau announced that Ms. Telford would testify, the NDP voted against the motion. And the Liberals avoided tens of hours of hearings, including testimonies from 30 cabinet ministers, civil servants and representatives of political parties.

Read  10 Best New London Restaurants For Spring 2023

Mr Trudeau’s opponents can crow that he blinked – and Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre said he had turned around after weeks of pressure – but the retreat was good for the Liberals.

There will still be the spectacle of the prime minister’s chief of staff refusing to divulge much about what Canadian security intelligence has told the prime minister about Beijing’s efforts to influence Canada’s 2019 and 2021 elections. Mr Trudeau told reporters that there are many things about intelligence information that Ms Telford, like officials who have previously testified, cannot say publicly.

The conservatives know that. You might really want to ask Ms. Telford — also a key figure in Liberal campaigns — whether CSIS has warned campaign officials that they suspect Liberal candidates could be compromised by ties to Beijing. (Ontario’s progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford answered a similar question on Tuesday by telling reporters that CSIS briefed its chief of staff on MPP Vincent Ke last fall, but only vaguely.)

The story continues below the ad

But at this point, liberals are almost hoping that conservatives will put out their knives for Ms. Telford if she testifies.

Mr. Trudeau keeps saying that Canadians don’t want Chinese interference to become a partisan issue. The Liberals accuse the Conservatives of turning the issue into a political circus, but in truth they hope the hearings will look like this.

In any case, Ms. Telford would always have to testify in the end, at least to avoid worse. The Liberals suffered in a vain attempt to prevent this. Mr. Trudeau should learn a lesson about the value of retreat.

Read  North Korea: Latest missile simulated nuclear counterattack

As opposition parties howled for an investigation, Mr Trudeau appointed former governor-general David Johnston as “special rapporteur” – prompting both Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois to argue that Mr Johnston’s friendship with the Trudeau family made him suitable for the role .

The story continues below the ad

But now the timetable given by Mr. Trudeau to his “special rapporteur” presents an opportunity for another retreat. Mr Johnston has six months to make his final recommendations, but a surprisingly short time, until May 23, to make recommendations on whether there should be any further trial – such as an inquest.

One would think that in this short time, Mr. Johnston can only look at all of the perplexing questions hanging over the Canadian polity and realize that he has no choice but to recommend a move that poses as a truly independent review is viewed, which offers some transparent answers.

Mr. Trudeau should hope so. This is where it all has to go. The Prime Minister would be better off quickly backing out of the corner he’s in and getting to that location with less damage.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button