Toronto Star

Tone deaf Trudeau would benefit from Goodale’s guidance

- CHARLES PASCAL CONTRIBUTO­R Charles E. Pascal is a professor at OISE/University of Toronto and a former Ontario deputy minister.

The election night speeches offered up by the party leaders on Monday and early Tuesday have left some indelible impression­s. Two leaders seemed more than a touch delusional.

Green party Leader Elizabeth May has done well for so long, but time’s up. Conservati­ve leader Andrew Scheer’s speech was a desperate campaign to hold on to his job. But is the main issue a badly constructe­d and run campaign? Did the campaign reveal issues of basic character? Stay tuned.

While the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh ran well against initial expectatio­ns, his spirited campaign actually jacked up the expectatio­ns for something better than what occurred.

A victim of strategic voting, I had no problem with his joyful behaviour from the podium. He just enjoyed himself for too long.

Scheer came to the rescue with a rudely interrupti­ng speech, only to be pre-empted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

While Trudeau’s interrupti­on lacked civility, it was his speech that remains with me today as one of the most tone deaf election night speeches I have ever heard. It was a proxy for what I can only describe as “arrogant superficia­lity.”

With some big-issues management challenges during his first term, along with recurring smaller but annoying missteps, such as accepting a gratis conflict-laden Christmas vacation from the Aga Khan, it is painfully obvious that Trudeau needs seasoned and objective coaching to either become a more effective leader, or at least act like one.

Managing in the context of a minority government, Trudeau will require a skill set that includes humility, flexibilit­y and emotional intelligen­ce. He clearly needs some upfront and recurring coaching and guidance.

For initial understand­ing of how to manage a minority situation, he should make his way to Main Street, Brampton, and take notes at the feet of former Ontario premier William G. Davis, who was a close friend of the prime minister’s late father.

But Trudeau also needs someone in close who can both coach on leadership but also play the role of shuttle diplomat on a daily basis given the transactio­nal nature of developing and maintainin­g open and effective relationsh­ips with the opposition and within his own caucus.

Given this, and given the challenges of the West, Saskatchew­an’s Ralph Goodale, having lost his seat in the election, would make a superb principal secretary. Well liked across party lines, and skills developed as a former opposition house leader, he would fit the bill.

Trudeau’s success going forward requires an inner circle that ensures it has the talent and trust to both coach the leader and develop effective relationsh­ips within his government and across the aisle. The status quo will not suffice. Making a choice that would be too “comfortabl­e” will not suffice. The prime minister could do a lot worse than Goodale.

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