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Friday, May 27, 2016

The Trudeau Exceptionalism Doctrine

Published for the Prince Arthur Herald



The Trudeaus aren’t like the rest of us.
Most of us aren’t endowed with $1.2 million inheritance funds, $1 million Mercedes sports cars, $20,000 watches, or attractiveness so dashing as to distract from almost any substantive questions of the Trudeau government.
These are just statements of fact – not envy. And these observations aren’t new: we’ve long-known that the Trudeau family is exceptional. This isn’t illegal or terrible, and we shouldn’t punish wealth. But Justin’s belief that he’s exceptional and special should not extend into the public sphere of how government and Parliament are run.
Since becoming Prime Minister, this exceptionalist attitude has crept into the public square, damaging Parliament and offending the sensibilities of otherwise reasonable Canadians. Call it the Trudeau Exceptionalism Doctrine.
The first hint of the Trudeau Exceptionalism Doctrine was when Trudeau – the supposed champion of the middle class – hired personal nannies for his children as if they were staffers of the Prime Minister’s Office. Canadians were confused. “Shouldn’t your $340,000 salary cover child care for your kids? Can’t your wife – who has no official role and is not a government employee – look after your kids?” were just two of the many reasonable questions asked during that period. But the Trudeaus are exceptional, and so the $100,000-per-year NannyGate controversy subsided.
More recently, we saw Sophie Grégoire complain that she was overworked and needed “a team” of assistants. The personal assistant, the family chef, and the two taxpayer-funded nannies are just not enough. She needs a larger empire. But the wife of the prime minister has no official role; she’s not Canada’s First Lady and she’s free to act as she chooses, whether taking up employment, a speaking circuit, or being a full-time wife and mom – but we shouldn’t pay for it.
As I was writing this column, I wrote that the most egregious example of Trudeau Exceptionalism was Liberal House Leader Dominic LeBlanc’s recently-tabled motion to give complete control of the House of Commons’ agenda to the Liberal cabinet (formally known as “Motion 6”). This exceptional motion would completely remove any say the Opposition Conservatives or NDP might have in determining the House’s affairs. It would have required the Opposition to be on-call, 24/7, at the absolute whim of the Liberals to control the House of Commons. The motion was retaliation for the embarrassment that occurred on May 16, where a Liberal bill was almost defeated because not enough Liberal MPs had showed up to work that Monday morning.
At least, I was going to write that that was the most egregious example of Trudeau Exceptionalism, until the evening of May 18, 2016, when the now infamous “Elbowgate” incident happened. Growing impatient waiting for Members of Parliament to vote on the assisted suicide legislation, Trudeau rose from his seat, reached through a crowd of MPs, and forcefully grabbed another MP by the shoulder, striking a female MP in the process. It was disgraceful, unparliamentary, and blatantly unbecoming of any member of Parliament, let alone a prime minister. Never before in Canada’s history has a prime minister assaulted two MPs on the House floor. It was exceptional: an immature child whose impatience and temper got the best of him, and ended with two MPs being physically accosted. (The government withdrew Motion 6 as a result of the fallout from Trudeau’s conduct.)
That the Trudeaus believe they’re exceptional isn’t new. What is new is that Trudeau’s exceptionalist attitude has tainted how the Liberals are running Parliament. And that should concern every single Canadian.