Are Canadians learning to distrust Trudeau?
The botched electoral reform initiative and the access-for-cash mess highlight a growing disconnect between the voters and the Liberals
stressed that they couldn’t defend their actions as being legal.
Neither of these matters is of cosmic significance and the money involved in the latter case is trivial. But as Trudeau doggedly defends the practice in question period, he comes across at the very least as disingenuous. If solemn pledges are treated in such a cavalier fashion, what else may be in jeopardy?
No one believed that the prime minister would coast through his term scattering stardust in his path. Reality was bound to set in and with it disappointment, and the loss of something much more serious - trust. Trust is the most precious commodity a politician can possess. Although Trudeau was swept into power, in part, due to his physical attributes and other qualities, more than anything, voters believed he was trustworthy. There was an authenticity about the Liberal leader that led to visceral support.
While pessimism, anger and disillusionment were sweeping many countries, we had a leader who appealed to the best in people and believed the best of people.
What has changed?
Some candidates for public office embrace positions merely for strategic or tactical purposes - I’ve heard a campaign manager confess this.
If Canadians begin to believe that the prime minister’s stand on certain issues was mere political expediency, they’ll abandon his party in droves.
If this is a misperception and he rectifies the problems, then his reputation can be salvaged and the damage won’t be permanent.
Unusually, Canada garners attention on the international stage as a beacon of hope in an increasingly xenophobic world. Trudeau and embattled German Chancellor Angela Merkel are regarded as the last champions of progressive, open democracies. It’s possible he’ll be the last man standing after the upcoming German election.
With so much riding on his shoulders, it’s essential he regain the trust so many vested in him on election day.
If he doesn’t get the message on his current listening tour and in the months to come, Trudeau might find in 2019 that his warranty has run out.
Doreen Barrie is an adjunct assistant professor in the Political Science Department at the University of Calgary.