Ottawa Ontario – Finance Minister Morneau has a habit of walking from one political disaster to another- essentially stepping in one cow patty after another- and for no reason other than his own foolishness.
But behind his missteps lies a bigger issue and that is what did he tell the Prime Minister and what did he tell the Prime Minister’s closest and most senior advisors.
Every minister and Prime Minister, regardless of party affiliation will make some gaffe every now and then- certainly we have seen Trudeau and some key cabinet ministers make some good ones. Usually though it is a slip of the lip when being interviewed or flubbing the answer to a question in the House.
Morneau has taken making mistakes to a whole new level. Either he has poor quality ministerial advisors or he figures he is the smartest one in the room and he knows best. Having been a senior level political staffer for something like 13 years, I know that people who move up to that level are usually pretty good at what they do. That does suggest the minister look in the mirror at the author of his misfortune.
Having been the political staffer in charge of QP for 15 years in both government and opposition roles, I can say that I see Moreau as badly wounded, essentially a dead man walking. Senior PMO staff simply cannot allow this to go on much longer. No matter what channel changing issue they come up with, the finance minister has a habit of knocking those issues off of the front pages every single time.
Morneau is not just in trouble, he is ruining the image of the government while serving as a huge distraction and he keeps knocking the government off its daily message. Speaking from years of experience doing issues management in PMO, that can’t be allowed to go on much longer.
There are other key questions once you move beyond Morneau’s actions and they should focus on Justin himself. It is a simple question- When did he know and what did he do about it? What day did he first learn that Morneau had not set up a blind trust? Depending on that date, what did Trudeau do, suggest, or agree to let Morneau do? Did he know all along or was he sandbagged by his minister? The same questions apply to Trudeau’s most senior staff.
When did Trudeau first learn that Morneau had sold shares, not once but twice? Did he approve of this not insignificant sale of shares? Did no one anticipate the current line of attack on Morneau?
In every government, regardless of political affiliation, your finance minister has to be squeaky clean. In politics perception is reality to thousands of voters. Morneau’s self-inflicted wounds have hurt the government and certainly his own credibility.
While it is time to move him, don’t expect this government to act quickly in shuffling him aside. The general rule is to wait until the attacks are done; a holiday break from the House arrives and then do it. For appearances sake they will leave Morneau in place to swing from the noose that he put around his own neck. Such is life in politics. But in the end we all know where the buck stops and it is not on the desk of the minister, it is not on the desks of his ministerial staff nor the desks of Trudeau’s senior advisors- the buck lands squarely on Trudeau’s desk. Will he move Morneau or not- that decision will tell us exactly what type of stuff this prime minister is made of; it will be fun to watch