Ottawa Citizen

Trudeau chose short-term gain for long-term pain

- ANDREW MACDOUGALL

What a bloody week of betrayal in the House of Commons. A lot of relationsh­ips go bust come Cupid time, but few go quite this spectacula­rly. On Monday, Dimitri Soudas took an Eve Adams-sized stick of dynamite and blew out the remnants of whatever bridge remained between him and his “father figure,” the prime minister of Canada, as he supported his fiancée’s move to Justin Trudeau’s caucus.

Try not to get too excited, Grits, as you have spit into a stiff breeze. As good as that greasy breakfast felt going down is as poorly as you’ll feel as it grinds its way through your system.

I’ll admit to being as stunned as everyone, but my first thought once the initial shock wore off wasn’t “What the hell is she doing with him?”, it was “What the hell is he doing with her?”

Meet Mr. New Politics, same as Mr. Old Politics. For someone trying to represent the fresh winds of change, Trudeau just passed some nasty smelling wind. The question is why? The “why” is easy to answer for Adams: She had been barred from running under the Conservati­ve banner and Tom Mulcair wasn’t an alternativ­e, what with the NDP being DOA in the GTA. Ergo, she goes Trudeau. This wasn’t about Adams feeling lost as a “progressiv­e” conservati­ve, it was about her no longer being able to progress as a Conservati­ve.

It’s certainly not about the government’s planned incomespli­tting, which is a watereddow­n version of the policy Adams campaigned on the last time around. And let’s not forget that income-splitting for families was the central policy pillar of the last campaign, not some afterthoug­ht.

There is no deeper meaning here. She was stymied and looking for a lifeline, and Rapunzel Trudeau was kind enough to throw down a lock of his luscious hair.

Now where would Adams get her aptitude for situationa­l convenienc­e?

You can say many things about Dimitri Soudas, my former boss. He is an unbelievab­ly hard worker. He’s bright, and he’s certainly not afraid of a fight. Oh Lord, he’s not afraid to mix it up.

Those are admirable qualities for any political staffer. He was always very good to me. To my face, anyway.

And loyalty, don’t get me started on the loyalty. We’ve all heard chapter and verse about the legendary Soudas loyalty. Turns out that and some loyalty will get you a reliable aide.

This isn’t the first time he’s punked the prime minister.

First came the surprise relationsh­ip with Adams itself. He then accepted the job as the party’s executive director in December 2013, with one condition: that he stay out of Adams’ nomination battle. Guess which condition was ignored? And now he’s supporting his fiancée as she clambers aboard the only ship that would have her.

Will he spill some embarrassi­ng beans? I think he’s proven that he can sneak in under that bar, no matter how low it goes. But there’s a reason Gerry Butts, Trudeau’s most trusted aide, was out inside of a New York minute to barge pole Soudas to the electoral wilderness of pounding in some lawn signs.

Of course this only serves to reinforce the real head-scratcher in all of this mess, namely why Justin Trudeau or his team would want any part of this unholy circus?

There is, of course, the adrenalin rush of stealing someone from the other team. Done properly, a floor-crossing can give the impression of momentum. But the object of your affection shouldn’t come with more baggage than a Pearson carousel at Christmas.

Had the messenger been a heretofore unknown and industriou­s Conservati­ve GTA MP, this would have been quite the coup. Trudeau could have beamed that 1,000watt smile with pride.

But Trudeau had to know that whatever coverage he received for landing his turncoat would also be tainted with the litany of Adams’ alleged misdeeds: the beauty expenses, being MIA at Veterans Affairs, the relationsh­ip with Soudas, and the hijinks of the nomination race.

And Trudeau had to know that the only people who would be reporting on this mess would be the Parliament­ary Press Gallery, who know Adams and can’t be ginned up into writing that this is anything other than what it is, and what it is ain’t pretty.

For the Conservati­ves, there is no loss. Adams was already barred from running. Yes, there was a frisson of scandal, but that has devolved quickly to farce.

For Trudeau, he’s gained a headache in caucus, earned a black eye with the media, angered his GTA candidates, and reminded people who were hoping for a change in Ottawa that he’s just like the rest of them.

As I said, it’s been a bloody week.

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